We’ve come a long way since the 19th century, when women were being cured of their “hysteria” by innovative doctors who simply stimulated them to orgasm. Lord knows we all can get a bit edgy when it’s been a while since we’ve had some relief, so to speak.
Human sexuality is a broad topic that’s traditionally been not talked about, not shared amongst friends and the community in conversation. These days, it’s not uncommon to have a gay uncle or aunt in the family, a trans sibling. Your friend at work might pop down to the dungeon for a session with a dominatrix to help relieve their work stresses. Your friend might tell you all about the latest 3-day Tantra workshop she attended down the coast.
Sexuality covers behaviours and feelings regarding sex and how someone feels and interacts as a sexual being. It also involves whether they repress or express desires, fantasies, and the way they behave sexually. It’s less about romantic relationships and more about sex – and everything surrounding it.
In Australia, we’re lucky to have a fairly relaxed attitude towards human sexuality, although there’s still a long way to go. Same sex marriage was only just legalized recently. But we can compare it to other cultures where women are required to cover up lest they distract men. Lord knows it wouldn’t be easy to hang out in a burka on a 40+ degree day in Australia – respect to those that do, it can’t be that comfy!
An individual’s sexuality has been said to be a combination of nature and nurture. That’s to say that some of their sexuality is simply “the way they’ve been born” and some is shaped by their early childhood experiences. If you watched a lot of porn growing up, then when you reach the time to have sex yourself, you might think that real life should be like porn. Hint to anyone young and reading this – it shouldn’t be, or at least should be all the time, unless you’re role playing, but that’s another topic.
The way that you feel about your own sexuality changes across the course of your lifetime. As a teenager you might be ashamed and embarrassed about masturbation, as an adult you might be asking your friends for advice on which is the best new vibrator or fleshlight on the market. Your interests may also change. Someone who has only ever dated men may suddenly find themselves sexually attracted to a woman, which can be confusing or exciting, or some combination of both.
The way that you feel about other people’s sexuality is important, too. It is best to try as hard as you can not to judge people for their sexuality and sexual choices, so long as they are not harming anyone. In a recent episode of Broad City, it was joked about that all teachers “jerk off” to their (upper high school) students. While it was horrifying to Abbey, Illana explained it away as “jerking off isn’t a crime” but putting hands on a child is horrifying. While this is a little extreme, it speaks to people’s attitudes towards sexuality. Just because it isn’t your “thing” doesn’t mean everyone has to be the same as you. We aren’t lemmings. As humans we are beautiful because of our diversity and that includes in sexuality, too.
There are plenty of issues that can arise within people surrounding sexuality. Anxiety over performance may cause premature ejaculation, or even the inability to get an erection for men, or vaginal dryness or “clamping up” of the vagina in women.These sorts of issues are best worked through with the help of a therapist specially trained in sexuality and can often be alleviated by cognitive therapies and medications.
People may be ashamed of certain practices that they fantasize about. However, that’s why the internet is a wonderful place. While you might not have worked up the courage to tell your new girlfriend or boyfriend that you’d like to try swinging, you can join online groups and message boards and talk about these sorts of things with others in the same boat. You can be sure, whatever your sexual issue or preference, there are plenty of other people out there going through the same thing right now or have been through it before.
So, if you’re concerned about anything in the realm of sexuality seek out some forums to chat to others about the same thing or visit a doctor or therapist who has experience in working with sexuality.
Sex and everything surrounding sexuality is a wonderful thing and nothing to be ashamed of. We should all adopt the mantra of the BDSM community in reminding ourselves that so long as something is safe, sane, and consensual (and legal) then let people be who they want to be and do what they want to do.