The State of Sexuality and The Need to Create a New Sexual Culture
By Maya Block
2017 was a watershed year for sexuality, but not because we crossed a great divide into the realm of consciousness and freedom in our erotic lives. Instead, the cultural dysfunction that we live in finally became undeniable — and thank goodness!
The restriction and shame that inform our attitudes towards sex are coming to light and we are being challenged to rethink our beliefs. What we now face is a critical turning point: We can either retreat back into puritanical and polarized dynamics or build something entirely new.
history as an informant
It’s entirely possible to make progressive changes within our culture. Simply look to the way we now exercise, think, and eat as compared to 20 years ago. Yoga changed the world of fitness, meditation is now prescribed by doctors as a way to combat anxiety and depression, and the organic farming movement has transformed the way we grow and buy our food. Why not make our sexual lives the next arena of conscious transformation?
A Personal Disruption
Ten years ago, I was living the fast food version of sex. Even though I had an amazing partner, I couldn’t shake this feeling that something was missing. We would have acceptable sex most nights, yet afterwards, I’d lie in bed thinking there had to be more.
It was as if I was a hungry animal who was getting fed but not getting nourished. In fact, the more I ate, the more irritable I became. The hardest part was I didn’t even know what I wanted or how to ask for it. But something was undeniably pushing me to change. I was experiencing a disruption of my own personal sexual culture.
Now, a decade later and a human sexuality coach, I see the same malaise and frustration in my students: the 40-year-old marketing director who just doesn’t understand the women he dates or know how to tune into their needs; the 30-something executive who can rock her workplace but can’t speak up when it comes to sex or intimacy; the 25-year-old start up entrepreneur unsure how to express his desire in the era of #metoo.
Then there are the women who are too stressed to experience pleasure, completely stuck in their heads, and unable to feel their bodies. Next are the men who make porn their nightly ritual. Or the many women who feel their sexual appetite, but hold it in for fear of being “too much.” Each of these groups serve as signifiers of our underlying cultural dysfunction.
Creating a New Sexual Culture
In the face of such dissonance, it can be easy to just give up on sex or dating altogether. Why not just stick to a simple life of Netflix and Friday nights at Whole Foods? Well, if you’ve tried it, you know that retreating from connection may provide temporary relief but avoidance never creates happiness. So how do we turn towards this discomfort and create a culture of sex that works? That is, a culture that is conscious, turned on, and fully expressed?
The first principle I learned (and that I now teach my students) is that desire is our compass. As women, we have been socialized since the dawn of time to suppress our desire. If we go for what we want we’re called a slut, aggressive, or a bitch. Nine years ago a friend challenged me to dismantle that conditioning and embrace the intelligence of my desires. What if they had something important to tell me? Listening to and speaking them was the beginning of my personal freedom.
When I see people start listening to their desires, I notice something magical. Instead of spending their energy on repressing their thoughts, their attention is liberated — and attention is gold. Just like making gains in the gyms, you can grow your ability to notice, tune into, and truly feel where others are at.
Being able to trust your own desire is like having a strong anchor in a stormy sea. Recent science supports this idea, showing us that every mammal has a built-in system designed to sense the feeling states of others. We humans have just forgotten how to use it. Abandon formula and follow feeling to get back in touch with your natural ability to connect.
New Year Experiments For Your Sex Life
Here are a few ways you can begin to institute cultural change in your own dating life and more deeply connect in your relationships:
1. Every morning write out 10 desires. Small or big — it can be anything from a double shot latte with almond milk to expressing how you really feel to your date from last night. The point is to get to know what’s inside and learn to listen to your voice.
2. On your next date, express 3 real-time desires and ask your date for 3 of theirs. Talk about what you most want in the moment, whether it’s the Thai red curry or a specific desire in your sex.
3. Take on a practice to cultivate your attention and ability to feel — both your internal world and the world around you. Begin with very short, basic meditations and, eventually, set your eyes on the worthy prize of Orgasmic Meditation.