Every single day in this culture of ours we are bombarded with sex-centric messages—how to be sexy, how to have better sex, how to increase the longevity of your sex life, the meaning of sex and the overwhelming importance of sex in all aspects of our existence.
If we were visitors from another time or place, we would easily, quickly (and accurately) assume we are a sex obsessed people.
And while I agree whole heartedly that sex is an important cornerstone in our lives, I vehemently disagree with how is it portrayed. Thanks to capitalism, it has become a product to be bought and sold, and the reality of normal people’s sex lives has become eclipsed by the empty promises of magazines, books, TV and the internet, and all of us consumers who buy into them at the expense of no longer being able to connect to our authentic desires.
We are taught to believe that every sexual encounter must be transcendent, that we must represent ourselves as sexually desirable at all times and that if we don’t manage to achieve these things we are somehow inferior.
The latest crop of so called “E.D” or erectile “dysfunction” commercials is a perfect example. They advertise—via a sexually alluring older woman—a pill to make middle aged men “last longer” and therefore give their partners “more pleasure.” What they don’t say is that E.D. isn’t actually a dysfunction or a medical condition as they imply–-it can simply be a natural outcome of aging.
As women have been made to feel for so long, now men can share our shame about the normal process of growing older. Well-played, big pharma companies—that guilt trip is making you a nice tidy sum at the expense of the egos of millions of Americans.
The thing about sex is, it isn’t always great and we don’t always look, feel or act sexy, and that is 100 percent okay.
We need not judge our own sex lives or our sexuality in such limiting terms. As with anything else, sometimes sex will be amazing and sometimes it will be perfunctory or even unsatisfying. Our sexuality likewise shifts so that some days we will look and feel like sexually empowered dynamos while other days we may just be a frumpy frump laying around on the couch watching Netflix and eating Pringles.
And all of that is okay.
Rather than comparing ourselves to the illusions about sexuality we are bombarded with via media, we can instead make an honest assessment of our own sex life and how fulfilling it does or does not feel.
We can ask ourselves questions like:
Do I have good or great sex more or less often?
Do I have a real sexual connection to my partner which—despite naturally waxing and waning—always has a baseline presence?
Do I feel sexually satisfied in general?
Am I comfortable with my sexuality or does thinking or talking about it make me uneasy?
Do I trust myself to make good decisions regarding sex?
Asking such things takes the power away from the advertisers and puts it squarely back in our own hands.
Even if our sex lives aren’t what they are “supposed” to be—maybe you make love to your spouse once a week or once a month instead of two times weekly as is said to be the ideal, but that works for the two of you, maybe you identify as “straight” but you still find yourself attracted to the opposite sex, maybe you like watching porn and or maybe you hate it with every fibre of your being—all of that is fine as long as these likes and dislikes come, not from a place of fear, but a place of self acceptance.
If we look at our sexuality as part of the sum total of who we are, not a separate piece of ourselves and certainly not how we define our self worth, it becomes a lot more interesting, just as accepting that our sexual experiences can fall on a wide spectrum from “meh” to “wow” takes the pressure to be perfect off.
Whatever our sexual deal is we need to learn to turn inward rather than outward to understand and maximize it. If we can learn to feel the throbbing of our own erotic hearts rather than the constant whine of others telling us how we ought to be, we can begin to trust ourselves and let our true sexuality unfold.
Author: Erica Leibrandt
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Wikimedia Commons