I went to a rather unusual event last week, called Brighton Talks Sex. It was organised by a lovely colourful bunch: a mix of people interested in and working with sexuality, ranging from sex coaches, tantra workers, psychosexual therapists, and sex educators, to sexological bodyworkers and sexologists. You name it, they were there!
The night was described as a sex education session for adults (with the strapline: “The sex education we never had at school!”) and within a single evening we managed to cover a wide range of juicy topics, including the usefulness of fantasy and porn; the benefits of slow mindful masturbation; tips on reaching orgasmic potential; how to love and play with a soft cock; and a demonstration of Shibari rope tying (an artistic form of Japanese bondage).
Not your average Tuesday night out, I think you’d agree!
But, seriously, it was just wonderful! So refreshing, explicit, honest, and inspiring! By the end of the night, the windows had steamed up and the room was full of chatter and good humour. It really made me wonder… why don’t we see this kind of bold and sex-positive dialogue more in the mainstream media, or in schools, colleges, universities, pubs, coffee mornings, and the workplace? Why can’t we receive information about sex and sexuality – throughout the lifespan – delivered in as open, tolerant, progressive and celebratory way as I witnessed last week?
Information and education were very much at the heart of this gig. The underlying messages were about giving and receiving pleasure; about the amazing diversity of sexual experience and variation in sexual interests; about the power of language; and about the importance of self-awareness and… being in your body.
In my role as a sex and relationship therapist, I meet a lot of people who are somehow out of touch, disconnected from, or fearful of their bodies and genitals and, in many cases, of their partners’ genitals. The effect this can have on people’s capacity for pleasure, desire and intimacy can not be underestimated. This also has an impact on relationships, quality of life, and mental health. Sometimes the disconnect may stem from a past trauma or unhelpful attachment patterns learned in childhood; sometimes it might be simply that a client has lost themselves in the world of work and parenting, multiple responsibilities and social media. What I have noticed over the years, however, is that almost always these clients report having received no decent sex education or having grown up to learn that sex and masturbation were dirty, wrong and sinful.
A large part of my work therefore involves encouraging people to learn about their bodies in a safe, non-judgemental and sex-positive environment. I might do some educational work with a client and talk about the genitals as well as the processes of arousal, self-pleasure and sex, using colourful and anatomically-correct illustrations and resources. I will support clients in rebuilding a relationship with their bodies by making time for themselves, slowing right down, and by tuning into their senses of touch, smell, taste, hearing and vision. As they start to become more aware of the sensations in their bodies they can slowly move towards relearning pleasure, sensuality and eroticism.
It is a journey, and there is no right or wrong way of doing it. However it can also be a very powerful and transformational process.
So, last week’s sex talk was a breath of fresh air. We got permission to talk about all the things which can feel embarrassing, taboo or a bit edgy – and to ask questions without the fear of being shut down.
And here’s something new that I learned last week:
Did you know that singing makes you feel sexy? When you sing openly and fully, especially at a deeper, lower resonance, you are triggering and using your vagus nerve. The word “vagus” means wanderer, as this nerve wanders throughout the body to many important organs – including the female sex organs (cervix, uterus and vagina). We are still trying to better understand the role of the vagus nerve in female sexual pleasure and orgasms. Needless to say, when you sing openly and deeply (like you just don’t care!) the vagus nerve connects your throat and chest to your genitalia and this creates a lovely sensation of pleasure and relaxation in the pelvic area… a bit like some of the sensations you might feel during arousal and orgasm!
Oh, and next time you indulge in a little bit of self-pleasure or lovemaking, if you remember to emit deep, slow sounds from your abdomen and with your mouth wide open, this can sometimes lead to longer-lasting, powerful orgasms and even female ejaculation!
Hopefully the neighbours won’t mind too much about the noise…?