There is a new era of sexuality dawning where things like gender and gender binaries, sexual orientation, expectation and social convention no longer necessary aspects of personal sexuality. What is this era? I call it Conscious Sexuality.
As a somatic sex therapist and educator it's my job, and my passion, to support those that are wanting more from their sex lives to achieve it. Yet there are so many out there who are resistant to the inevitable change that is sweeping the world. Whether this change started in the 60's with the free love movement or evolved during the AIDS crisis of the 80's, within the last 5 years, and especially since the end of 2012, conscious sexuality is becoming the norm for sexual standards. What is conscious sexuality? The most widely known version of conscious sexual teachings is Tantra. Unfortunately, most Tantra teachings have been narrowed down to just sex, are dualistic in nature and are missing the bigger picture that Tantra is a life practice, not just about sex.
In my understanding, and experience, conscious sexuality is about being fully present with oneself, ones body, ones partner (if there is one), being able to state ones needs, being able to 'differentiate' between self and the other, being able to accept a 'no' from the other and being able to say no, or even stop in the middle of 'sex' for oneself. Sounds like a lot of work. It is and it isn't.
In some ways consciousness means going beyond the 'learned' version of oneself to find a deeper, richer sense of self. To do this usually requires some form of 'death', which is usually spiritual in nature, and this alone scares the bejeezus out of most people. But like all things pertaining to self development, at least from a personal perspective, the past experience of the event is usually easier than the thought of it coming. It tends to take courage to grow, to go beyond where one is comfortable, and usually, ultimately rewarding beyond words. The way I see it is that a little time taken now will create benefits beyond belief later. It worked for me and has worked for a growing number of people already.
I would like to spend a little time addressing gender and gender roles, both being hot topics both in the sexuality world and the legalities of everyday living. There are over 300 identified biological variations to gender alone, so genetically it would be rare that a person is pure male or female. As an identity, terms such as Man and Woman are fast becoming blurred with so many people offering so many definitions to what defines the actions and traits of a normal, healthy, honourable, loving, integral, true etc Man or Woman. Not to mention that by defining what, or how, the genders should be tends to create a propagation and continuation of sexism. It's subtle but it's there. By talking in terms of people instead of Woman/Female and Man/Male, where appropriate, there is more chance of gender inclusion, leading to tolerance and then acceptance.
Why conscious sex? Why not the sex you're already having? If you can honestly answer no to all of the following questions, then I would say read no further.
Do you need another person to feel sexually fulfilled?
Do you need toys or porn for arousal?
Does sex equal intercourse?
Is your orgasm involuntary (does it happen after x amount of time/friction)?
Do you try to orgasm every time you masturbate?
Is your desire to stay as you are greater than your desire to grow sexually?
Does the thought of making love to yourself fill you with anything other than joy, excitement etc?
The road to sexual freedom is not easy but it sure is pleasurable - mostly.. One of my trainers once said that Ecstasy isn't nice. I could not agree more. Think about it and I'm sure you'll agree as well.
For this next section I would like to spend some time addressing Men and Sex services. In particular Erotic massage and Prostitution. Firstly I would like to say that I believe there is a real need for this work and shaming sex work says more about those doing the shaming than about sex workers. I'm noticing that there is a vicious cycle happening within this paradigm and I would like to name it here and see if there is something in it for those it is effecting. Namely, that by men accessing 'passive' services (those where men "lie back and receive") constantly, habitually and even as a dependence, many men are disempowering themselves. They are taking away the opportunity for some real contact and some real sexual depth by not at least trying to create the feelings they get from someone else, themselves. The men accessing these services also tend to treat the women like a commodity rather than a person. This can lead the women providing these services to foster or reinforce a hate/disrespect for the men that come through their doors. I personally know more than a few women in this line of work and a lot of them don't like men (at least the 'typical types that access their service) and are only doing what they do for the money. There is a vicious circle and I would like to see it broken. Again, there is a need for this type of work and I believe that it can be mutually beneficial and can be done in a mutually respectful and even joyful way. One of the best examples of how I would like sex workers and sex professionals treated was in Joss Whedon's "Firefly" series. There was a character named 'Inara' who was a 'Companion' - something similar to the old-style Cortisan, and the way she was treated was with respect and honour - something I believe all people can have and do. When accessing these services I think, as well as using this list, see if the person who is providing the service is genuine about wanting to be there for you or if you can tell if they're in it for the money. Again, I would like to clarify that not all people offering these services (mostly women) are only in it for the money! Also, ask yourself if you are being dependent on that person for your pleasure.
I would like to add that people need to make a living and so money will charge no matter what the industry or service. My point here is that some of the service providers don't give a shit about their customers/clients and are attracting clients that don't give a shit about themselves. As a customer you will know the quality of who you're paying by what you're wanting to receive and the way you're wanting to receive it. I often think of the men in my Father's generation who were no better off than a small child when their wives left them, often for other men or in some cases, women. These men didn't learn how to cook, clean or wash, much like a lot of men these days wouldn't know what touch they like if they weren't being stimulated from outside by another. There are a surprisingly large number of women in this boat as well. The only reasons I haven't mentioned them is because I'm talking about paying for sex services, and as a generality women don't, which is another thing that is changing within conscious sexuality. Women are learning, better than the average man, to take care of their sexual needs and look for the sex professionals that can teach them how to be sexually independent. By being independent one can then come into contact with another without the need for validation or expectation around an outcome. Look again to the above questions. If your external stimulation is taken from you, would you 'survive'?
My wish is for those of you who are willing to move beyond the 'normal' into an ecstatic realm of new sexual discovery to take the time to find a way to do that. As people living normal lives we will find a professionals for our growth around diet, exercise, physical and mental health and yet find it hard to access the services of a sex coach/therapist or a sacred intimate, instead opting for plodding along doing the same things hoping for a different outcome, stuck in the same patterns and being unhappy. I invite you to find a change, if it's what you want.