Giving Thanks For Sex

While always accurate, Sexual Intelligence is nevertheless often critical, snide, and cranky. In a world full of sexual ignorance, bizarre impulses, and fear-based, wacky public policy, we roll our digital eyes here a lot.

This Thanksgiving holiday let’s take a break. Today let’s give thanks for some of what’s wonderful in the world of sex.

* Sex toys

Sex toys are humanity’s answer to the question “just how long can someone move their hand in the same direction at the same speed without getting bored or injured?”

Marshall McLuhan would be proud: just as the telephone is an extension of the voice, and the car an extension of the foot, sex toys are an extension of the hand. And of the penis, vulva, and mouth, as the case may be.

There’s little recession in this industry; even if your 401k is now a 201k, you can still buzz or probe yourself happy.

Toys are mainstream now, as even Amazon.com carries dozens of them—from the “Pink Fantasy G-Spot Magic Wand Vibrator Dildo” to the “Smartballs Kegel Exerciser” to the “Horny Girl Next Door Realistic Pussy Male Masturbator.” Every person and couple should have a bunch.

* Contraception

Most adults love little [choose one or more:] (munchkins) (rugrats) (screaming bundles of scary impulses). But there’s a limit to how many of these weapons of mass destruction one wants to love. I suggest the number of hands a person has is a good clue to the number of children one should parent in a lifetime.

Enter Captain Contracept! There are styles for everyone: hormonal, mechanical, vegetarian, you name it. And for gentlemen who have finished the quest for biological immortality, science has a special gift for you: vasectomy. It only takes an hour, then you get the weekend off, then back to work. You’re wise to hold off ejaculating for a week, and then you’re shooting blanks for the next half-century. Yes cowboy, you still shoot—wet, warm, voluminous loads of blanks.

The only people who can honestly condemn birth control as “unnatural interference in God’s order” are those who shun other modern comforts like electricity and gossip. But even the Amish have begun taking advantage of contraceptive wisdom.

* Pornography

I’ve been in countries where pornography is simply illegal. You don’t want to live there.

Trust me, you’d rather live in a country where people are free to make their own entertainment choices, even if you find them baffling or repulsive (American Idol, anyone?).

Pornography paid to build the internet. Pornography made The Sopranos, David Mamet, and The Daily Show possible. Pornography is the sexual outlet for a lot of lonely people who are not going to meet Mr. Good Enough or Ms. Right for a long time. Or ever.

Pornography has many, many, many, many faults (is that enough acknowledgment?). It is also one of the few places you can get an honest look at America’s subconscious. And what you find there is simply human: childish curiosity, adolescent yearning, adult confusion, an overwhelming interest in sexual body parts, fluids, power dynamics, and yes, feelings. Healthy human sexuality has a noble, wholesome, loving side.

That same healthy human sexuality has a dark, aggressive side. Pornography shows it all, complete with big smiles, happy orgasms, pretend coercion, lame music, and stupid dialogue (“ooh, is that for me?!). But pornography doesn’t show anything that isn’t common human fantasy.

I’ve counseled patients who felt deep, deep shame for watching pornography. I’ve also counseled terrified or enraged patients who believe that their partner’s watching porn is infidelity, rejection, or perversion. You don’t want to live like that.

* Lubricants

Spit will only get you so far.

So a special salute here to lube—the magic stuff that makes sex more comfortable for people of all ages and persuasions.

I still have patients who resist using it, saying they don’t “need” it, as if it’s some medicine for losers. No. To the extent that sex is about friction, lube helps you custom-design the friction. The slippery stuff in lube helps turn the geekiest guy into Fred Astaire, the clumsiest woman into Ginger Rogers.

If you don’t know who they are, the second thing you should do is sign up for Netflix. The first thing you should do is get some lube.

* Female Sexual Desire

Plenty of Americans remember the days when Good Girls Didn’t Say Yes.

Unfortunately, even today, many women across the globe can’t say yes even if they want to. Single women in Muslim countries; patriotic women in war-time Vietnam; African women struggling with clitoridectomy—these women have learned bitter lessons about an enthusiastic yes.

The great uber-gift of legitimizing female sexual desire is the way it allows sexuality to be a form of intimacy between two people. When female sexual desire is considered abnormal or slutty or threatening to her partner, she has to hide it or her (male) partner needs to control it. This is the case around the world, where men pursue and women submit or dissemble.

When two people can acknowledge and celebrate a woman’s sexual interest, they can be themselves and connect physically. She doesn’t have to manipulate her partner or spend her life unable to speak for herself.

A great accomplishment of modern America is that we have established a moral code that isn’t based primarily on the number of sex partners a woman has, or when she has them. Women are now free to be unethical independent of their sexuality—by bribery, say, or theft or child neglect. Yes, judging women on their public behavior rather than their private sexual choices is a big advance in civilization.

* * *

Finally, let’s enjoy today by taking the perspective that all those erotophobic activities we hate—laws and customs limiting sexual expression, narratives of sexual danger, efforts to trivialize sexual knowledge—are essentially compliments to those working for a world of sexual justice and responsible erotic expression.

If those forces of fear, hatred, and sexual denial weren’t afraid of the continuing and inevitable success of our work creating a sexually progressive world, they wouldn’t be fighting us so hard.

Oh, I give thanks for one more thing: for all my readers, who encourage me with email, suggestions for articles, financial contributions and book purchases. Your affection and support are very, very important to me. On more nights than you might imagine, you make the difference between me working and me…well, me not working.

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