For centuries upon centuries, and even to make it a little less abstract, up until less than 30 years ago, sex education in North America was funnelled down to a talk about reproduction, and safety. By and large, the conversation went something like “these are your body parts, this is how to avoid unwanted pregnancy, and this is so and so STD.” Conversation over. That about brings us up to date on sex talks in schools, in the homes, and in conversation amongst friends. But, one very important aspect of sex talk has been left out and it is finally taking its place centre stage: Pleasure.
How can you and your partner have a better sexual experience?
According to Peggy Orenstein, author of many works discussing the discrepancy between a man and woman’s sexuality, being able to articulate your needs to your partner is one of the fundamental ways to have enjoyable sexual experiences. Pleasure-seeking sex is something that has long been shamed or stigmatized, especially for women whose sexual openness would be labelled as something other than normal. But attitudes are changing and with that, so is the conversation.
Speaking up and letting your partner know what you like and need is becoming more and more common in practice and here is one reason why: learning more about your body and all of its parts allows you to better articulate what feels good and where. Another reason is that people are becoming more candid in their conversations and focusing more on mutual trust, connection, and affection, rather than the prior framework of risks and dangers. Of course there is the fundamental mutual responsibility to practice safe sex, and that is still something that should be largely discussed, but once that conversation has been exhausted, there should be one chapter (if not a few) on sexual intimacy, pleasure, desire, arousal, and enjoyment.
“How do you measure your pleasure?” is one thought-provoking question to get the conversation going. What is good sex? What is bad sex? How do you know that you enjoyed (or are enjoying) a sexual experience? In her TED Talks, Orenstein touches on a slew of questions that seem so basic, but are in fact so far removed from the conversation. It’s important, as a sexually active person, to take the time to think about what you enjoy and what the parameters are that make sex fun and pleasurable for you. Communicating that with your partner is the next step to make sure that you can explore your new findings.
Being able to have an intimate talk with your partner about what you like and what you dislike can help your relationship grow and will hopefully create a space for you to enjoy your relationship even more. Sarah McLelland, psychologist, researcher and professor, explains that there is such a thing called “intimate justice” and it’s about who is entitled to engage in enjoyable sex… the short answer? You are.