In Nick Roeg’s film ‘Insignificance’, there’s a great scene where Albert Einstein and Marilyn Munro are in bed together. It’s striking, because we don’t expect people like Einstein (geniuses who live in their head) to be any good at sex. They’re just good at thinking.

 

But here’s the thing: in sex, if nothing else, you are Einstein. Most of us are trying to figure everything out in our heads. Except, instead of thinking new things, we’re all thinking the same things, over and over. Things like, could I be doing better, is this working, what can I do differently and so on. But If you go with the idea of creating relaxing connected pleasure, whatever form it might take, you’ve got more of a chance of a surprisingly loving, appreciative, connected and sexy time.

 

Here are 7 tips to take yourself away from the anxiety of performance and simply be where you are:

 

  1. Connect to your breath. Breath is the best sex aid. You can use it to slow down and relax or speed it up to raise your arousal. Also notice if you hold your breath. Try to breathe deeply. Share breath with your lover: shared slow sexy breathing is very erotic and connected.
  2. Connect with your own body as well as your lover’s body. Notice the sensations all over your body. Where do you enjoy being touched? How do you like to be touched? Can you sense sensations on your thighs, collar bone, hips, back of the neck? Your skin is the biggest erogenous zone and the place you can take in the most pleasure. Learn to feel more.Be mindful and give attention to small gestures, feel textures and enjoy scents. Notice everything. Throw your attention wide open.
  3. Slow down. And slow down again. Slow your touch and your breath.
  4. Get more skilled at sensual touch. Slow stroking with the palms of your hands is better than grabby mindless touch. Slow scratching down a mans back, gentle nuzzling around a panty or bra line, gentle hair pulling, a gentle squeeze on a hip or slow finger tips on that sexy line between the bottom and backs of thighs…
  5. Learn how to gently ask for what you want and give appreciation ..please kiss my neck…mmmmm that feels good. We all like praise, be generous with it as it guides our lover with appreciation and helps us relax
  6. Learn how to connect with your own sexual energy instead of focusing on someone else’s. Taking your intention to being fluid in your hips and pelvis really helps in this, a bit of slow writhing or gentle grinding can be very sensual
  7. Eye gazing is beautiful. Before you begin take 10 mins to sit opposite each other and look into each others eyes. Without touching each other, simply through your eyes, connect as two humans who are going to embark on a shared intimate experience and really see each other with a loving gaze.

About a month ago, a friend circulated an article about married people having affairs.  The article was a bit Radio Times, but buried in it was a very questionable assertion dressed up as indisputable fact: women’s libido goes down significantly after menopause.

 

Why do so many people believe this?  It’s possible that we make an unconscious link between fertility and libido, but I think it’s a false inference drawn from something which is true.

 

The bit that’s true is that women have less lubrication after menopause.  That might make the vulva feel less luscious and more brittle. It may make intercourse uncomfortable.

 

But none of that means that desire decreases.

 

Imagine that men, when they reached a certain age – fifty, say – found that their lips became drier than before, and kissing became painful. I don’t imagine an idea would grow up that men would go off kissing after 50. We’d see it as a problem of lubrication. Someone would make a lot of money inventing a lip balm for men.

 

And it’s like that for women too. But here’s the thing: if your vulva feels less comfortable than before, wouldn’t you like something to help with that? And not just during intercourse.

 

Vaginal dryness after menopause is caused by the body producing less oestrogen.  Lubricant is usual recommended, but the focus is too much on intercourse, and on the vagina alone, rather than the whole vulva.  The focus needs to be more on making the whole area feel great.

 

A lot of women post menopause experience the skin quality of their labia change.  It’s as if the lips become drier and more fragile, and the whole area can feel itchy and irritable, particularly to the touch.  And this is an issue that goes way beyond sex.  If you feel uncomfortable and awkward there, how are you going to feel relaxed and sexy?

 

Rather than focusing on lubrication during sex, how can we make all of the vulva plump and juicy?

Help is now at hand. The remedy is [cue trumpets]:

Castor Oil

 

Indeed. It’s a wonderfully rich, lubricious oil.  Just warm and apply liberally.  So why don’t we hear more about it.  Well, apart from women’s comfort and pleasure being a matter of little importance throughout most of recorded history, nobody stands to make money from it, because nobody owns it.  Like aspirin.  So nobody has a monetary incentive to encourage its use.

 

But we have an incentive.  Love.

 

One of the often reported symptoms that women experience after menopause is vaginal dryness, caused by the body producing less oestrogen.  The recommendation is that lubricant is used, but the focus is too much on intercourse, and on the vagina alone, rather than the whole vulva.  The focus needs to be more on making the whole area feel great.

 

A lot of women post menopause experience the skin quality of their labia change.  It’s as if the lips become drier and more fragile, and the whole area can feel itchy and irritable, particularly to the touch.  And this is an issue that goes way beyond sex.  If you feel uncomfortable and awkward there, how are you going to feel relaxed and sexy?

 

Rather than focusing on lubrication during sex, how can we make all of the vulva plump and juicy?

 

In our experience, regular massage with warm castor oil is the best thing.  The oil really soaks into the skin, plumping it up and reviving it, enabling it to welcome touch, rather than find it an irritant. And the warm lubricious heat relaxes and opens the whole area.

 

We generally do this as part of a more general massage, waking up and re-sensualising the body, and it fits into our general philosophy: the quickest way to feel differently is through pleasure, and the quickest way for your body to feel different is through bodily pleasure.  Try it.

If you ask a heterosexual man what bad sex is, he’s likely to say it’s when sex is boring. He’s unlikely to say, for instance, that bad sex is painful sex, or unwanted sex, or humiliating sex.

 

Yet, that is often women’s experience.

 

At least ten women friends have sent me an article by Lili Loofbourow, ‘The female price of male pleasure’, which goes into this in considerable, painful detail. You can find the article here ( www.theweek.com > articles > female-price-male-pleasure )

 

One of the points the article makes is that we frequently still have a bizarre idea of what consent means. It doesn’t appear mean active, enthusiastic participation. Rather, it seems to be everything short of determined refusal. Oh, Sir Jasper!

 

Who does this serve really?

 

I am doing brilliant new training later this year with Betty Martin. She’s most famous for inventing The Wheel Of Consent, and it’s particularly helpful as we try to negotiate a more fulfilling, satisfying notion of sex, leaving behind a Harvey Weistein entitlement without falling into a new Puritanism.

 

Her work is vital for these times, but consider this: how easily can you answer these questions:

 

What would you like to do to me?

What would you like me to do to you?

 

Simple questions, aren’t they? But very difficult to answer. Maybe I feel that I couldn’t ask for something unless I knew you were going to enjoy it. Maybe I couldn’t ask for something unless I knew you secretly wanted to give it to me, and you’d be thrilled to do so. The questions can get really tangled up with not knowing what we want, wanting to please our partner: myriad questions.

 

But unless we can actually answer these questions, we’re always going to have bad sex, because clear communication is impossible. We’re always thinking of the other person, and are resentful they don’t seem to be thinking of us, or if they are, they’re pretty clueless. It’s a real mess.

 

So, we can’t really separate sex, bad or otherwise, from more general issues of power, autonomy and communication. And you want to address that, don’t you? Me too.

Ages ago, before the internet, I had an affair with a woman who liked porn. We’d have sex, and while I was recuperating, we’d watch some of her porn. The only one I remember was one involving a vacuum salesman and a housewife. You can imagine. I can’t say it did much for me.

Years later, Karen and I were in Las Vegas, at a bizarre French themed establishment. There was a huge screen in our bedroom playing non stop porn. It was incredibly repetitive, just lots of shagging in various positions. I vaguely hoped they might speed it up a bit and play the theme music from The Benny Hill Show, for variety. I found it marginally less erotic than the Goverment’s economic policy.

When I was doing my Sexological Bodywork training, I spoke to one of the other participants about porn. I said that I needed to have a bit of a story and some characterisation. She said she’d fast forward through that to get to the shagging, which was all she was interested in. To each their own, but it did make me think that gender stereotypes about porn are rather patronising.

People often say that there’s no porn for women, but the more general point is why is the general standard so terrible? Is it because 100 years ago people got excited by the transgressive, and pornographers since then have just kept serving up the Old Fayre?

As it happens, there is now quite a bit for the discerning female customer. For instance, www.feministpornguide.com is a brilliant site, taking aim both against terrible mainstream porn and terrible mainstream feminist puritans, like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon, who equate porn with patriarchy.

If you were interested, you could also have a wee look at www.erikalust.com and www.frolicme.com

When Karen and I were at that funny hotel in Vegas we attended – not as participants – the Porn Awards. It was like the Oscars, but more sincere. Somebody who had been awarded awarded Miss Rear Entry 2007 or something would tearfully clutch her award and say “ I’ve taken a lot of cock for this!” And everyone would cheer and applaud. Then they sung the national anthem. Very American all round. But again, all the material was as erotic as old socks.

Annie Sprinkle said “ The solution to bad porn isn’t no porn, it’s better porn.” She’s right. Happy exploring.

 

One of the clients I found most challenging when I started as a sex coach was a delightful young woman with cerebral palsy.  Let’s call her Rachel.

 

The challenge was threefold.

 

Firstly, there was a change in the normal way of setting up the contract.  I was contacted not by her, but by one of her carers, who sent me an email, as Rachel couldn’t type.  We set up a telephone call with the three of us (I’d normally have met up for a preliminary chat, but Rachel lived in Bolton, and I only visit the NW sporadically), and most of the conversation was with the carer, as Rachel seemed shy.

 

So, that was very unusual.  Normally the contact is just with the client, and it felt weird to have another person involved.

 

Second, because I try my best to be scrupulous about what I offer and what we agree to do each session, I really prefer to meet.  If that isn’t possible, I send a very detailed email outlining what we have discussed and agreed to do in the session.  But here, my correspondent wasn’t my client but her carer, so I was concerned that I would be going into a session without clear agreement.  What if her carer was doing something of her own bat, or was in some other way not acting in good faith?

 

And third, I was painfully aware that I hadn’t worked with a person with disabilities before, and I wouldn’t really know the extent of her disability until we met for our session.

 

In all of this, I was aware that I was reflecting some of the discomfort that our culture has with sex and disability.  The assumptions, often completely unconscious, that we have, include:

 

  • the unexamined idea that people with disabilities don’t have the same sexual needs as the rest of us

 

  • then the related idea that, somehow, the disabled are like children, and so, by extension, anyone like myself seeking to address their sexual needs is akin to a pedophile

 

  • and the strong idea that sexual matters should be private, and natural

 

Having at least some awareness of this reactivity, I tried to keep at the forefront of my mind, that I needed to see the person, not the disability.

 

Rachel had never had a sexual experience with a man, and this is what she wanted to explore.  The people around her were overwhelmingly female. She had a lot of experience of being ‘done to’ but none of receiving pleasure collaboratively and in dialogue.  So I decided that was where we would start.

 

I would have preferred if she had been able to make specific requests for our session, but as she didn’t – or, more probably, couldn’t.  So I structured the session by asking her permission each step of the way.  “Can I touch your face?”  “What does that touch feel like?”  “How could it be better?”  “This is what firmer/softer/slower/faster feels like, which do you prefer?”, and so on.  Sometimes, particularly for women, this dialogue can be annoying, as it can take them out of their felt experience, but here it felt absolutely the right thing to do.

 

It was necessarily slow, and in that slowness, a confident sexual person could gradually emerge.

 

It was a lovely session.

 

Where to go for sex and disability support

 

Rachel contacted me through a colleague in Liverpool who works with the Outsiders Trust (www.outsiders.org.uk).  They do wonderful work for people with disabilities. They offer a Facebook Clubhouse, local meet-ups and lunches, group chats and a Sex and Disability Helpline.  They also offer access to a wide range of therapists and workers in the sexual field.  More power to them!