I wrote this piece in part as a response to a surge in what I call the “Hollywood sex starlets” who market brilliantly by promising desperately unhappy and sexually frustrated women in pretty videos that they can have the best orgasms of their life if only they do a few magic things. Buy this little course, pop this egg into your vagina, get a tantric massage... and your deepest fears and pains will be relieved. They enhance your feelings of deficiency and promise to have the answer. Well here is an answer, and you don’t have to buy it… though any decent education is paid for in time and effort. Is sexual education worth your investment of time and energy?
In working with the subjects of libido, desire, and erotic pleasure I have noticed some patterns that plague women who have difficulty with their sexual response. This is not by any means an exhaustive article or meant to cover all of the reasons why women may not enjoy sex or to invalidate trauma-based issues that need to be resolved, but it’s one that hits an important subject that is relevant for many women.
Here are some of the statements I hear on this subject:
Yes, of course, every situation is unique and in breaking down what is happening with an individual woman and her relationship, there are things that are specific to her, and to them. Assuming that the husband/partner is reasonably competent sexually and has a clue how to touch and arouse the female body, I will discuss the ways that a woman hinders and can help herself be sexually responsive. If the partner is sensually uneducated, I highly recommend learning how to touch from a somatic sex educator who will do hands-on teaching. I do hands-on teaching for couples in my Salons, or you can seek out someone local to you.
Obstacle 2: Refusal to make sex something that is important to enjoy, and instead of being fully engulfed in erotic thoughts and feelings, she will occupy her mind with things that inhibit arousal. “I can’t help it” is the excuse. There is a way to control thought through mindfulness and intentional trance. It’s a skill, something that people who naturally are excellent at enjoying sex seem to be good at and those who have difficulty “letting go” or being present are not good at. It’s a skill that can be learned!
Obstacle 3: Women have rules around when and how they should have sex and what it takes for it to be good. The planets have to be perfectly aligned, the house clean, the laundry washed and folded, and every other detail that they’ve thought about in the last week needs to be taken care of. Their partner cannot have irritated them in the last 24-48 hours and they should be already horny. The sex should flow smoothly like in a romance novel or Hollywood fantasy without any hiccups. The slightest distraction will ruin everything.
These criteria or reasons to sexually engage are way too complicated! Sex is not just an expression of desire, it’s a social lubricant, and it literally creates the chemicals of love in the body. The bottom line is that unless you’re actually in the midst of a passionate affair that is relatively new, or you’re someone who enjoys turning herself on with a variety of juicy activities, the criteria for giving yourself permission to have and enjoy sex is probably way way way too high, and it will take a deliberate effort on your part to change that.
My suggestion to women who feel they are blocked, sexually -- or that something is preventing them from being aroused is to make a decision to make learning how to get into their erotic state a priority. Yes, I teach this. The same way a woman decides to make her diet, or her exercise regime her yoga practice, or her work a priority and takes responsibility every day to get into the correct mental state for performance or achievement in those subject matters….. She can make the decision to be not just an active participant, but the one who is the executive. The driving force behind her erotic pleasure.
What does it actually take to start doing this?
At its most basic, it takes a woman who has sex because she makes a decision to have sex (there are a million reasons to have sex, just as there are a million reasons to NOT have sex so take your pick!) and in alignment with that decision, takes enjoyment from the experience. Notice that I did not say passively waits for her partner to do everything perfectly without her ever saying a word. I said she takes enjoyment from the experience… whatever it ends up being. That’s it. You don’t need your chakras aligned, or to go to therapy for 10 years and find out just how much your parents fucked up in raising you, you don’t have to rage against the church and you probably don’t need a new husband with great pectorals, a six pack and a bigger harder magic penis. Not that there is anything wrong with getting an erotic charge out of those things, having a lover, or fantasizing about a lover with those attributes. You simply need to learn how to take pleasure from sexual experiences.
Not every sexual encounter is going to be mind-blowing, or result in an orgasm. I don’t think that is the point. I think the point is to get curious!! What kinds of pleasures can be taken from each encounter? There is satisfaction to be taken from harder faster and furious sex that maybe does not provide the stimulation or pleasure necessary to have an orgasm. But it can be FUN!!!! There is a deeper sense of connection, of love, warmth and intimacy in erotic cuddling that may or may not include intercourse, in languishing for hours gently exploring the skin’s surface and playing with how sensation shifts and changes and where pleasure spots are. It is immensely satisfying to play a lover’s body like a virtuoso musician -- something that happens only with true enjoyment of the other’s pleasure and surrender to your touch, and in gifting your body’s ecstatic response to your lover in the same way.
This attitude paves the way for deeper experiences that become spiritual, tantric, and “mind-blowing.”
All you need do to be excellent at being sexually responsive and aroused is to step into the space you’ve created for your sexuality and BE THERE. Leaving behind the things that do not belong in that space.
What doesn’t belong?
Anything and everything that is not conducive to your arousal and pleasure. Things that are outside of being fully present in your body, and with his (or hers if you have a female partner) The laundry does not belong there, neither do the bills, your ex-husband, neither does your list of 1000 things your partner does to make you angry, your mother, your kids, work, critical thoughts about your body or about his body. Really, stop criticizing your body in the sexual space. You want to be thinking about how good your body can feel, not how imperfect your body looks. Leave those things behind and think about them at the appropriate time. Focus. Control your thoughts, and be with your feelings and sensations.
I hope this provides some perspective on personal responsibility for sexual pleasure and gives some food for thought on what you may or may not be doing to help yourself.
If you’d like to explore this subject further, please do not hesitate to contact me
Looking for more agency?
See "Permission Slips For Pleasure" to give yourself permission for all the things.