Fascination

It will be no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I am fascinated by sex. The only “career” that has really appealed to me in recent years is getting involved in sex therapy of some sort. I consider myself a bit of a “sex nerd” who reads books on sex, sexuality, and relationships for fun. I’m fascinated by how our species evolved our sex organs, all the weird quirks about what we are attracted to, and the variety of ways that people arrange their sexual relationships. I do think about sex a lot in an intellectual way, but I also think about it a lot in a personal way.

I’m interested in the sex lives of my friends and am curious about what it would be like to sexually involved with them. I would never push these issues or violate the trust of my partner, but the curiosity stands. I view my friends as sexual beings and I would love insight (or experience) in that part of their lives. I don’t view them solely as sexual beings, but that is part of how I view them.

I’ve often wondered why I have this fascination with my friends and have trouble viewing them 100% non-sexually. Is there something “wrong” with me? Do other people wonder these things but are afraid to discuss them or admit their thoughts (if this is the case with any of my friends please feel free to start a dialogue with me)?

I think a large part of it for me is my desire to be seen as a sexual being or to be sexually appealing to others. I am interested in sex, in part, because I want other people to be interested in sex with me. Maybe this all goes back to my childhood that treated sex as kind of evil. Maybe it is because I’ve never really felt attractive and was a nerdy kid in school (I still kind of am a nerdy kid). Or maybe I am just wired to be interested in things that our culture finds taboo, maybe if I lived in a world where singing was seen as this secretive, intimate thing a la the Adem (See: The Kingkiller Chronicles) then I would be that person singing in public and talking about it openly.

I’m not sure if this is something that I really need to unpack or change. Though, when I start seeing a therapist again I’m sure it will come up. I hope it doesn’t freak my friends out if they know that I think of them as sexual beings and am curious about their likes, dislikes, kinks, fetishes, and fantasies (no judgement here… you do you and have fun doing it). Maybe, just maybe, being transparent about this will just be another freak flag I raise that other people will gather around. Maybe I’ll start getting messages from people who feel the same way or view me sexually too… or maybe I’m just hoping that will happen.

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Opening Pandora’s Box

Originally posted over at Sex And The State… because Cathy likes to give us amateurs an opportunity once in a while. If you haven’t checked her blog out you probably should, it is fucking awesome.¬†

When I first heard about Daniel Bergner’s book “What Do Women Want?” I wasn’t really impressed. I knew the premise from hearing an interview between Bergner and Dan Savage, and to be honest it sounded like several books I’ve read about the changing view of sexuality, love, and romantic relationships. While I was skeptical in the beginning that I would encounter anything new I am really glad I read it. In fact, I highly recommend it to everyone interested in the subject of a woman’s sexuality, particularly if they are unsatisfied with the Victorian-era narrative that women are made for monogamy and must act as gate-keepers to keep men’s uncontrollable lust in check.

Bergner (a journalist by profession) skillfully weaves the most cutting edge scientific research with personal tales of love, lust, and loss. Each chapter introduces new information and characters to convince the reader that the modern view that a women’s sexuality has evolved to be the more monogamous sex is little more than a societal enforced fairy tale. Women, in fact, may have evolved to actually crave more variety and more sex than men and it is centuries worth of social control by churches and governments (which historically have been male-dominated) that have created a puritanical ideal. An ideal that pressures women to fear, hate, and neglect their own passions and feel shame when they desire pleasure.

The research Bergner showcases in his book takes several approaches to remove nature and nurture, at to find out what women really want. Experiment’s include everything from Meredith Chivers’ measuring women’s arousal while watching a sexual and non-sexual movies (and comparing it to the women’s subjective rating of their arousal) to studies of the sexual practices of other animals like rats and rhesus monkeys.

The scientists Bergner interviews sees evidence for women’s sexual drives in biology. Multiple orgasms, quicker orgasms for men, and sexual arousal from observing many situations point to a drive for many sexual partners. Add that to the common decrease in arousal for their partner after a few years and the standard narrative for female sexuality starts to crumble. For generations we have been told that real love means a lifelong sexual attraction to your partner and if that attraction stops there is something wrong that needs to be fixed, usually through a psychologist or medication. To treat lifelong lust and sexual monogamy as the norm is to invite disappointment, causing harm to individuals and relationships.

With scientific research confronting (and often defeating) established social norms we all become more free. Increased knowledge allows for more opportunities, greater happiness, and more healthy relationships than in the past. What we do with this information is a choice each individual must make, but at least it is a more educated choice. As a person who is primarily attracted to  women I hope this information will help me be an understanding, supportive, and responsible partner when the woman I love eventually feels more lust for another. I hope women will read this and realize desire and fantasies are natural and they should not feel shame. These sexual desires and fantasies should not be translated as lacking love. Love and sex have become unnecessarily intertwined in modern cultures, and many of the interviews highlight how much the women love their partners even if they do not lust for them anymore.

Bergner has helped open a door for people to gain knowledge about their bodies and minds. This can revolutionize society. To free women from socially (and often politically) enforced mythological views of sexuality is to encourage self-actualization that is inevitably unique to each individual, and we all benefit when individuals are free to pursue their passions, desires, and dreams. Science is helping us approach a new revolution of individuality but it is all still in it’s infancy, as Bergner states in his closing chapter:

The science and thinking I have brought together in this book are a beginning, only that. None of the researchers I have learned from… would claim to have definitive, fully formed answers about female desire… Eros lies at the heart of who we are as human beings, yet we shun the study of our essential core, shun it perhaps most of all where it is least understood, in women.