Where have we gone wrong with our ideas about sex? Oh boy. This little column just ain't long enough to compile that list. Suffice it to say, there is, at best, an awkwardness about sex that pervades our cultures. It manifests in ways from little giggles to abject despair. Is sex really something that should carry such weight? This week's Sex Stories We Love looks at different ways sex is going wrong. Can this be solved?
A New Reality
A new world was thrust into our collective consciousness this past week with the horrific van attack in Toronto. As news unfolded down the street from me, and the word "terrorist" was banded about so casually, it didn't seem comprehensible that yes, this was terrorism. Yet, it's not the type of terrorism we've become accustomed to seeing. This was a direct attack on women. Ten innocent people murdered, eight of whom were women. Another 16 people injured. Why? Because the accused perpetrator is allegedly part of a group calling themselves "incels." Short for "involuntarily celibate, this word is now etched into our sexual reality. If all of the allegations are proven true, this man is just the latest to use the idea of being a beta male to explain away a vicious swath of misogynistic violence. He couldn't get any so he'd rather kill? Dark times, friends.
Shouldn't Be So Awkward
One significant way that sex has become so challenging is because so few parents and children have open and easy discussions about sex. Even when people reach adulthood, some just cannot discuss sex with their parents. This should be a lifelong conversation, initiated by parents to establish trust for later conversations down the road. Instead, we get situations where families watch something sexual or involving nudity on television and a film and everyone freaks the fuck out - in silence. The awkwardness of being confronted with something sexual with a person you're not comfortable talking about sex with is discomforting, to say the least. Yet, these cinematic situations are everywhere. Talk about a mixed message! Hey, there's an easy icebreaker of a needed conversation.
Let's consider another key cause of general societal discord: we don't listen to each other. Historically, women have been listened to the least because their sex and pleasure was not considered a thing that needed to be known and understood. Well, we certainly know now. And if you're someone who is interested in having sex with women, you really should be aware of what women consider "bad sex." Research is being done, polls and surveys are being taken. Women are giving you direct access to their needs and desires. Pay attention!
It almost seems odd to think, but one of the ways we are losing sight of positive sexual experiences is by not being mindful enough during these experiences. In a society that both praises and shames sex, a confusion is bound to occur. And, as noted, we're not talking about sex to understand our challenges and difficulties. Yet, we're also a society that is busy with so many things. Go here, do that, fill this expectation, check off those boxes. Sex can become such a low-priority checkbox, disassociating your mental and physical desires. Mindfulness can help some folks bring back that connection. If you are experiencing these challenges, it could be something to explore.
Are there little lights of understanding sex being lit? Fortunately, there are. They might be hard to see in the broad darkness, but they are little glimmers of hope. One is dispelling the stigma around HIV. The devastation that HIV/AIDS brought to a generation will always be remembered. It can still impact our lives today. However, science has improved and treatments have revolutionized that way people now live with HIV/AIDS. As a result, we can now resume a focus on regaining and understanding the sexual pleasure that was lost in the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Women, who aren't often the focus of these discussions, are now being heard. This is a good forward movement.
A Step Forward
Finally, another bright light. Bill Cosby was found guilty. This is being hailed as the first high-profile conviction of the #MeToo era. Will it be a watershed moment?