"You shouldn't be talking about those sorts of things in front of Charlie, Rachel!"
I am often told that I shouldn't be talking about "those sorts of things" sometimes it's because really they don't want me talking about it all, and at others, as in this instance, it's because of a gender difference. I was talking to two female colleagues and one male colleague about a new self-love device that tracks the reactions of the individual user and then adapts and makes suggestions based on the data that it collects during arousal. A female colleague came into the room, quickly gauged what the conversation was about and immediately condemned it because there was a man participating in it. My reply to this (as it always is) was: "It is precisely because he has different bits that it is so necessary to have him included in the conversation! If the opposite sexes talked more about sexual pleasure and shared more information with each other there would be a lot less confusion around."
Why is it that talking about the most natural part of being a human is so frowned on in so-called "polite" conversation? We all think about sex, if not all the time at least a great deal of the time. We all play with ourselves, some more than others, some with societal guilt attached, some with social stigma attached - for a large sector of society masturbation is not just a dirty word, it is also a dirty deed. Why? I mean, okay, so depending on how you like your syllables to roll off your tongue it's possibly not the prettiest of words, but it's definitely a beautiful thing to do. Beautiful not only for how it makes you feel in the moment but also for how it makes you feel the next day and the day after and the day after... The more often you do it the better you feel, the less stressed out you are by day to day life, the more irrelevant that office crush is, the more casual you can be about asking out the cutie at the local coffee shop, and, much more importantly: you will have better sex. If you know your body and know what you like and when and how, in all your different moods and times of the day, the better you will be able to communicate those needs and desires to your sexual partners.
Relationships are all about communication. Your relation with your genitals is a very deep conversation that not enough of us are having in a truly meaningful way. Going to your room or the bathroom to knock out a quick one is only half the conversation. Sometimes a quick she-bop is definitely what the doctor ordered, but too much dynamic masturbating can lead to all sorts of physical as well as mental blocks and injuries. You need to balance out the fast and furious with a bit of the slow and gentle, to really feel into what you are doing with your body and how it is stimulating your mind and where it is telling you to go next to get to that all important orgasm. If you don't feel comfortable doing that 'thing' that your body is screaming out for you to do, then you're not going to feel comfortable asking your partner to do it either and both your body and mind suffer for the lack of fulfilment in that area. All for want of a tiny, but loaded, and often overlooked question: "What do you like?" it's not a hard question to ask, really. What makes it hard in our society is the perceived judgement that we attach to our answers. That is the key. The answers are what freaks us out, not the question. The question is simple. The answers are anything but. One woman might need clitoral, vaginal and anal stimulation to have a really good time, another might need gentle (or firm) choking to reach climax, still others might only need vaginal stimulation but their partner might have to be dressed as a fire-fighter. There are so many, many ways to turn a woman on. Not just because there are so many women and our sexual wiring is always unique and individual to us, but also because each woman is different every day, at any given point during her cycle different stresses and hormones will trigger different sexual needs. If we don't know how to use our own bodies or how to ask our partners for what we want, we are not going to have as fulfilling a sex life as we are capable of. If we can't have these conversations with ourselves or with our friends (regardless of the sex or sexual orientation of those friends) how can we explore these intimate topics fully and comfortably?
I'm so sick of being told that I shouldn't discuss these things with my guy friends, with my married friends, with my teenage friends, with my friends mothers or fathers, with my friends who are mothers and fathers, with my friends who are grandmothers or grandfathers - there is such a wealth of information to be tapped amongst all those groups of people, so much information sharing that can be used and handed out to everyone else. I have girl friends who have been sexually active for decades and have never climaxed, I have guy friends who have just started on their sexual journeys and are trying to figure out how they can keep it in check to last a bit longer with their partners, I have friends of both sexes who are completely disinterested in sex, and also friends of both sexes who find that they've got to a state where they can no longer find any mental relief or let-go when their bodies are ready to orgasm and so the orgasm leaves them feeling empty and unfulfilled rather than on cloud nine like it did when they began their sexual journeys. At some point we've all had that one amazing night or nights (mine was two years ago: seven times in 15 minutes, and before that it was six times in 40 minutes) and we've all had those really shitty nights where it was boring, stale or just plain hurt - and we didn't come. With all our cumulative knowledge and experience we can answer all our friends queries, we can give advice based on proven results, we can help that friend climax for the first time, last a few minutes longer, find interest or satisfaction in sex again, or for the first time. Sex is great! We all know that sex is great. Usually when we find something amazing we try and share it with our friends - our favourite restaurant, perfume, clothes shop, hair stylist - when we find something good we share the knowledge so that more people can benefit from it. Let's bring sex into that category of sharing. It's by far and away the best thing on that list of good things when it's done right.