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.

One of the main complaints that people seem to have is that sex is boring. Not usually at first, but after a while. I remember one friend, talking about monogamy saying “ Not many people can put up with the boredom of having sex with the same person for 20 years”

 

And yet, in other aspects of our life, we take boredom as a sign that something needs to change. But often, this doesn’t apply to sex. The attitude seems to be that Bad Sex just is, like a wet Scottish summers.

 

One reason for that is that we lack a language to talk about sex. But there are languages. Lots of them. Here’s one language for Sexual Exploration:

 

When I was exploring tantra, I came across Quodoushka. This is a type of neo-shamanistic teaching on sexuality claiming to originate in Native American Indian spirituality. It’s most famous for classifying 9 genital types for both men and women, which, to me at least, is very liberating, because it gets us out of ideas of “normal”, and I intend to write about this further, but for now, I’d like to talk about one of their other teachings, The Wheel Of Sexuality.

 

The wheel has 4 modalities, North, South, East and West, and 4 intermediate modalities, North-West, North-East, South East and South West. Each of these corresponds to an aspect of sexuality.

 

North is Contract. South is Innocence. East is Spirit. West is Body. North West is power over/power under, North East is energetic practices. South East is conventional sex and South West is edgy, challenging sex.

 

It’s a map which gives us a means to look at ourselves, and what we might do differently. Shakti Tantra do a regular workshop on the Wheel, called Aspects, where you can explore the various modalities.

 

In my experience, some of these will be looked at more than others. The north east, for instance, isn’t explored so much, because it assumes a technical knowledge that the participants might not have, normally knowledge of the Chinese and Indian exercises for a couple to circulate energy between them, classically, Yab Yum.

 

My most vivid enactment of the Wheel wasn’t actually at a sexuality workshop at all, but when I was learning body mind centering. Part of that training is is regress to earlier stages of development, and on this occasion we regressed to the oral stage, innocently and openly exploring ourselves and the world around us through our mouth. We were blindfold. I found it incredibly erotic. There was no nudity or overt sexuality, but it was a revelation to me, just this taking of everything into my mouth.

 

The Wheel can also expand your sense of what a modality is. The easiest way to express North West is through fairly cliched BDSM stereotypes, but if you can stay there, other things can emerge, like fantasy role play, for instance, which opens up a whole other world.

 

Language plays a crucial role in our liberation. If we can talk about something, we can imagine it differently. If we have a map, we can explore. It’s one of the critical roles of a sex coach, replacing blankness with possibility.

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.

 

The Women’s Sexuality Group Dates 2018 for the Glasgow Meetup Group are now available for the whole year.  We meet every four weeks between 18.00-20.00 on Wednesdays in Hyndland in the West End of Glasgow.  The schedule is:

24 January

21 February

21 March

16 May

13 June

11 July

8 August

5 September

3 October

31 October

28 November

We are enthusiastic about making this a very lively meeting that is all about inquiry.  We  share our interests and our experiences.  We also create new learning through our inquiry into women’s sexuality for ourselves and in general.  We are always interested in experimenting with the best way to facilitate great conversations. So this year we are starting the year with introducing John as a co-facilitator for our group.  John brings a wealth of different training and coaching style to working with women’s sexuality.  He can also give us a male perspective which can be very helpful in exploring the issues that arise.

 

This doesn’t mean we can’t have a woman only space.  We usually agree the subject of the next meeting at the end of the session.  If a subject comes up where we want to just share as women, we can set that up whenever we want.  The idea is to have as much flexibility as possible and create somewhere that brings in a wide range of new ideas.

 

You may have more questions about how this forum works or how we create intimacy and safety.  If you want to know more please contact Karen through our contact form with your questions.  If you provide a phone number and she will be very happy to arrange a time to chat to find out more about what matters to you and how we can make the group most welcoming for you.

 

To book a place in the group you just need to let us know that you are coming.  The cost is £15  and then you receive all the details for you to join us.  The group will never be more than 12 members at any one session so that we can feel cosy with one another.

 

 

When we talk about premature ejaculation, we’re really talking about several different issues, and it’s helpful to distinguish them.

 

The first is a euphemism for unsatisfactory sex, particularly for the woman. The man just comes too early. But what is it that is really premature, the ejaculation or the intercourse?

 

Because culturally we’re so fixated on intercourse ( the giveaway being that we regard everything else as foreplay, the warm up act for the main event), men will frequently initiate intercourse before the woman is ready. Women, understandably, are likely to find this selfish. But it’s important to be aware of men’s anxiety around their erection.  They are very frequently worried that their erection will suddenly go away.  This would, they think, expose them to shame and ridicule. So, they have to ‘use it before they lose it’.

 

One of our friends did a social history film about sex. The film is about 30 years old now.  She got a group of older people to talk about their early experiences of sex.  One of the participants, a man, said that it would never have occurred to him that woman got pleasure from sex. He paused and said “I would have thought that orgasm was a kind of beer”.  There was then a long pause, and his face got sadder and sadder, thinking of all the waste.

 

We’re not suffering from the results of patriarchy in this way anymore, thankfully. But instead of making our focus a lot wider than the act of  intercourse, we’ve simply added an insistence that men should be able to control when they ejaculate.  And then it is shameful for a man if he can’t do this. Where are we to find intimacy, connection and pleasure in this jailhouse of expectations?

 

Oftentimes, men look for technical solutions, so they can go on and on, like Sting!  But the solution is embodiment and connection, not a technical fix.

 

We work by reconnecting men to their bodies, by resensitising them, and by providing a safe space where these issues can be talked about, free of shame. We teach men about breathing, about how to be more aware of rising levels of excitement, and how to bring those energies down.  So rather than experiencing a sudden spike and it’s all over, you can reach a plateau and then continue. But the most important thing is that we emphasise connection, rather than performance.

 

If you think we can help you, please get in touch.

One thing that affects Sexual confidence for couples is that a surprising amount of people have only had sex with one person: their present or former partner.

 

I sometimes get couples coming to me who have had a long relationship, but somewhere along the way, one of them loses interest in sex. Or, somehow, the sex has become perfunctory, or repetitive, or unsatisfying.

 

The nightmare couple, for me, comes in two versions.

 

The first is where the partner who has lost interest  and isn’t interested in enquiring why, or doing anything about it. They are there reluctantly, to humour or placate the other partner. I am probably their second stop, after Relate, which won’t have worked either.

 

The second, but less often nightmare couple is where one partner wants us to change their partner, without countenancing any change for themselves. So, someone might want me to magically make their partner desire them. Good luck with that.

 

I can’t work with either of these type of couples. They would be much better seeing me separately. That way, they can reclaim their sense of themselves as a feeling, sexual being, distinct from the relationship. Often, the pressure of the relationship, and the weight of familiarity leaves people feeling a bit disembodied.

 

The couples I can work with are people who are brave enough to look at their own behaviour, their way of relating, their expectations and their assumptions. Sometimes, I might think it better to refer them to a therapist I know and trust, for example, where one person doesn’t want to have sex because they’re resentful about something else in the relationship.

 

But very often there isn’t that. It’s just that the fire, mysteriously, seems to have gone out.

 

Familiarity is often the enemy of desire. What I mean by that is that couples often get into a way of having sex, and that way gradually becomes more and more impoverished, until it stops working altogether. It isn’t helped by us thinking that Sex is all about having an orgasm, rather than being an opportunity to connect, feel and experience, within which orgasms may happen.

 

So one of the ways I can help is by shaking things up a little. Identify who initiates, and change that. Experiment with different modes of sexuality. If one is always the do-er, change that. If one never asks for what they want, change that. Introduce The Wheel Of Sexuality, to give people more options to experiment with. And always, focus on embodiment, connection and communication.

 

We can get very fixed around sexuality. Imagine you had to start and end every conversation with a joke, wouldn’t you get tired of that? Wouldn’t you see that there were loads of great conversations going unspoken?

 

If you want to work with me , I’ll usually meet up with you in a public place for a coffee and chat, to see if we’re a good fit. If we are, then I’ll design with you a bespoke programme of sessions to take you in the direction most satisfying for you. If you feel a bit stuck, and you both want to do something about it, please get in touch.

Everybody thinks that every one is having great sex.  Everybody but themselves, that is!

 

Lack of sexual confidence can take several forms. Some people haven’t had sex at all.  Others have only had one partner.  Sometimes sexual experiences have been disappointing and frustrating.  And more often than you would expect, people experience their partners as critical and blaming.

 

We’ll write about the challenges of having had only one or two partners in another post, but what about those who have never had sex?

 

Given how sexualised we are as a society, it may seem surprising how many people, of all ages, haven’t had sex at all. And, although it seems odd to say, the sexualisation of society itself is a problem. If you’re well into your twenties, or thirties, or fifties, you probably think you’re ‘abnormal’, and so there’s likely to be a lot of shame too.

 

How can we help?

 

Most importantly, we provide a warm, supportive and completely confidential space where all these issues can be explored, at a pace that’s right for you.

 

We work with the body, so you get a chance to fully explore, appreciate and amplify all your bodily sensations and pleasures. This is particularly useful for people who might identify as asexual.

 

We provide different perspectives, so we can guide you through the whole field of sexuality.

 

We can provide information and knowledge.

 

But most importantly, we can ensure that you’re not having to do this on your own.

 

If you think you might be interested in working with either of us, it’s our practice to meet you for a coffee and a conversation in a public space.  Then we can both see if we’re a good fit.  If we all agree then we’ll work with you to create a bespoke series of sessions to help you grow and flourish.

 

We look forward to hearing from you. And remember: the only antidote to shame is courage.

It’s that time of year again when some of us will be delighted and some others of us will be horrified by the ‘Spirit of Xmas’.  Whatever your approach is to the festive season, there is a different wee addition to the usual fare is you are a woman who is interested in exploring your sexuality with a group of like-minded women.

 

The Women’s Sexuality Meet Up Group in Glasgow is a two hour discussion group where we can relax as new friends and share our views and experiences, our hopes and dreams and fears in a confidential and warm environment.  We can seek advice from each other, offer our opinions about life and share a good laugh about all the weird and wonderful aspects of sexual expression that we have to come to know in our experience so far.  And we can also bring up things we are wondering about exploring in the future.

We are women  who are different ages with different levels of experience so we try to bring in a range of aspects to the conversations.  We can look at what the words we are using mean to each of us.  We can share how the people around us in our lives may respond to the subject.  We can talk about what these experiences feel like in our bodies and our emotional responses.  We can laugh at the surprises that turn up along the way.  And we can share some of the pain of disappointment that we all feel from time to time when life is bringing us the experiences we had hoped for.

Xmas Women’s Sexuality Meetup Group Glasgow – Save The Date

 

We aim to cover a different theme each time and usually to set this in advance.  However at the Xmas meeting we will decide what is important for us on the day.  This will be on Wednesday 20 December between 18.00 and 20.00 in the West End of Glasgow.  You can book your place by contacting us and paying the £15 in advance.  See you there.

Talking about sex sounds easy to many of us.  Some of us can’t shut up about it!  So it was interesting for John and I when we ran a workshop on Pleasure for the national Sexpression conference at Edinburgh University recently.  Young, mostly medical students are running a fantastic sex education programme for 16 years around the country.  It is more comprehensive than anything I could have imagined when I was young.

 

How much I would have welcomed knowing then so much that I learnt the hard way through trial and error in my romantic relationships.  Not having a brother, the male body was a strange and unknown landscape and I worked my away around it without a map.  Burt more importantly my own body was a wonder and a surprise as I discovered what I did and did not like myself.

 

I learnt along the way that pleasure is about the senses and my willingness to be in my body.  And once in my body pleasure is about how much I am willing to feel not just joy but all my feelings, to be intimate with myself and to let other people be intimate with me when I choose.

 

So how does this relate to talking about Sex?  In our first Women’s Sexuality Meetup Group in Glasgow we dived into conversation about what interested us.  And what we quickly noticed was that every term we used meant something different to each of us.  Simple words like sex and sensuality and pleasure were not really a common language.  Instead our cultures, our life experiences, our age and our social context all meant that there was a rich sharing of what matters to each of us that could enlarge our understanding of what can really be meant when we talk to another person.

 

We agreed some simple rules for our future discussions

  • We don’t need to have the same views but the inquiry is really valuable
  • The value of sharing what happens in our bodies when we have experiences. We don’t want to be disassociated from our bodies and so need pay attention to how the subjects we are discussing really feel like within us
  • To reflect on our experience of ourselves and our personal peer groups. We come from different backgrounds so we see and can share the ways different groups understand and act on sexuality in their lives
  • To focus on one main topic for each meeting.

Future Topics

1. What is sexual attraction and flirtation
2. What is sex
3. Tantric Goddess session
4. Relationships and sexuality (not the same thing)
5. Desire and wanting
6. What Feminine and Masculine mean and the impact of these words
7. Beauty

And the topic for the next meeting is PLEASURE

If you are a woman who can make it to the West End of Glasgow for 6 p.m. on Wednesdays we will be meeting every four weeks.  The next meeting is 15 November and the cost is £15  Please contact us to book a place.

 

It is a real pleasure for me to see how the community of women who are interested in exploring sexuality and intimacy is growing in Glasgow and Edinburgh.  Our August women’s sexuality weekend workshops, “Reconnecting to feminine wisdom for health and wholeness” and “My Body My Self” with Pauline Mc Cluskey brought together a great group of women who dived straight in to the exploration with honesty, vulnerability and strength.

 

It felt a heart warming to come together with old friends and make new ones.  The workshops gave us the opportunity to  connect with the glories and challenges of living  in our women’s bodies and learn from our different ways of being feminine.  It inspired me to set up a regular meeting for women to support and learn with each other about the different paths of pleasure and find more freedom in self-expression.  So the Women’s Sexuality Meet Up group Glasgow was born!

 

Conscious sexuality and body confidence give us a fantastic springboard for tapping into our creativity and living life with more passion. As women, most of us are less confident than we could be in this area and so we can limit our enjoyment in life and underestimate our positive impact on others.

 

For the first introductory meeting we will be holding an informal and fun session to identify what would really make our group a stimulating, expansive and place to be. We will be setting the agenda for the types of subjects we will be exploring together over the next few months. We will be agreeing how to ensure that we feel safe, supported and also challenged to express our sexuality as women in a way that is fully authentic for each one of us.  https://www.meetup.com/Women-Only-Sexuality-And-Wellbeing/

 

The  Women’s Sexuality Meetup Group Glasgow will meet in Hyndland (West End) and there are only 10 places available. The date is Wednesday 18 October between 18.00- 20.00. We will agree our schedule at this meeting.  The cost is £15.

 

In addition, John and I will be running a workshop for students on the lovely subject of ‘Pleasure’ for the Sexpression National Conference at Edinburgh University on Sunday 4 November 2017.  I am looking forward to bringing some of the wisdom we have been sharing in our women only forums to introduce to young women and men at the start of their adult lives.  The more we can pass on our hard won learning, the more joy will be spread in the world and that feels like a great move in the right direction to me.