Longer lasting sex, the reality
The commercial success in 2008 of 'Longer Lasting Sex' advertising campaigns speaks volumes about society's dissatisfaction with sex, or at least a dissatisfaction with the distance between our sex lives and that which the media tells us is desireable.
In this, the first in a series about sex and lovemaking, Mark O'Brien discusses some of the issues and in part 3 offers some simple solutions.
Few things so reflect the malaise within our society and nothing reflects the apparent success of it as its attitude towards sex. From the (now banned in Australia and shortly to be banned in the UK) billboards promising longer lasting sex to the erectile enhancement therapies sold to us via TV, to the endless spam detailing drugs and penile enhancements that drowns our inboxes, we are literally bombarded with sex all day every day.
As parents we are also concerned that our children are also being bombarded. How do you answer your 8-year-old daughter asking what ‘longer lasting sex’ means, or what is written on a Wicked van you are following with all kinds of sexual innuendoes and lude statements?
We are told that we are more sexually free and liberated that our parents, that the attitudes of various religions and societies towards sex are antiquated, producing adults mired in the mores of days long gone by. We are told that in our liberation from sexual taboos we will find freedom, we will find peace, we will find contentment and we will find ‘the one’. But is it true?
It would seem from the increasing prevalence of porn, of porn-spawned sexual attitudes (that bring what used to be fringe and extreme sexual experimentation to the doors of our teenagers) the sexualisation of our society has occurred much faster than our ability to deal with it.
Of course, sex sells, we know that, so all the clever marketing gurus link just about every promotion to sex, whether it be selling sexual products directly or via intimating that this particular product will make you more sexy, more sexually attractive. Some advertising, particularly beer commercials, actually use apparent freedom from sex (ie from having to be a certain way in order to get sex from women) to increase sales.
Ours is a peak experience society with an obsession with orgasmic experience, of pushing boundaries to get the next high that of necessity has to be higher than the last – the popularity of drugs like cocaine, speed and ecstasy taken in cocktails and the proliferation of porn sites full of women who may or may not be slaves, of paedophilia and the constant lowering of the bar with regards to demeaning another to satisfy a perverse power lust.
Porn has started to influence sexual norms, as more and more men take what they learn from increasingly hard-core porn into their bedrooms with profound effects upon women's self worth, in particular that of teenage girls and younger women. (See There's More to Sex Than a Cum Shot to the Face: What Men Should Unlearn from Hardcore Porn) It can be hard therefore, to shift the focus to what is ultimately more important to most of us, what is more reflective of our humanity - our relationships.
What does longer lasting sex advertising imply?
Immediately it says sex is over too quickly, and because the time span of sexual encounters is usually defined by a man’s ejaculation (because ejaculation, an obvious, outer event, and orgasm, a subtle, inner event, are not necessarily the same thing we shall just speak of ejaculation) then it says there is something the matter with the man who should do something about it, be it by taking drugs, enrolling in a Taoist or Tantric retreat, anything, as long as he ‘gets over it’.
This is way too simplistic and actually misses the point entirely. The point is that this kind of ‘premature’ ejaculation is produced by any of a multitude of causes, not all of which belong in the man’s domain. Any man who has been sexually active with many women knows the experience of making love for longer periods with some women without any thought or anxiety about ejaculation, and with other women it being over virtually before it has started. And every man knows that sometimes it is a sign that he or she was not really into sex in the first place.
In my own experiences I have become aware that the time span of a lovemaking session is sometimes as much to do with the woman as with the man. While often the timing of ejaculation is wholely the responsibility of the man, all men know the feeling of their lover moving in such a way, whispering in his ear, or even very subtely ‘dropping in’, energetically pulling the man in, that they know guarantees ejaculation.
I would suggest all women recognise there are times when they have deliberately ended sex in this way, and left the man to deal with whatever feelings of inadequacy or guilt that may arise. There may also be quite valid reasons for all supposedly 'sexual' dysfunction, regardless of where the root cause lies.
Our society has become so fast, so busy, so exhausting, that most of us do not have the understanding nor the tools to have a satisfying and fulfilling sexual relationship as well as run after a mortgage or a two-year-old or keep a business afloat and food on the table.
Longer lasting sex also implies that there is a certain time sex should last. Which raises the question: Is the question about time spent having sex prior to ejaculation, or is it about quality of connection, in bed or in day-to-day life?
The truth of the matter is that most supposedly-sexual dissatisfaction is related to a lack of connection and intimacy, of being on the same page as the other. Do we listen to each other? Do we give enough of ourselves to each other (eg, helping each other out, foot massage, being considerate) or are we content living in a selfish bubble that sees everything in terms of what ‘I’ am going to get? Beyond the reproductive imperative, sexual relations have the potential to be the glue that binds us, that supports us to keep our heart and minds open, and it can also be a way in which we close down.
In the quest for longer lasting sex, are we talking about 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, two hours, 3 hours? And is it really the time span of sex that is the issue, or the quality of intimacy?
Men and women are quite different with regards to how they experience sex, and this is a good thing. One of the danger signs appearing in our culture is that some women, particularly younger women who have not understood or learnt or even heard about the sacred feminine aspect of becoming a mature sexual woman, are starting to treat sex in a more archetypically male way, and are more concerned with their experience than with what they are feeling; eg, they are more concerned with how many orgasms they have than how they feel in their heart or in their body.
Women are starting to view men as the same means-to-getting-one’s-rocks-off-end that men have long viewed women, as an unnecessarily complicated orgasm producer. They have abandoned the desire for intimacy, of connection, for the more readily achievable orgasm. (See The Orgasm and Happiness Connection for research linking the type of orgasm a woman experiences to emotional maturity) This has dangers for women whereby the quality of feminine receptivity is being lost in a minefield of hurts, betrayals, denial and inexperience. It also has dangers for men also, because if their lovers are not teaching them about intimacy, about feelings, about love, then who will? And if men do not learn about love, feelings and emotions, from their lover, then who are they going to learn from? TV role models? Big Brother? Porn?
It is in our DNA that males and females are quite different. (see Sex and the Senses for recent research that indicates that male and female sensory perceptions may be totally different) In our primitive brains basically males just exist to throw their seeds over the evolutionary fields, while for females it has been far more a matter of choosing the seeds she will accept inside her body and nurturing what is conceived with her whole being.
I think this is why rape of women has become such a weapon of war while male rape has not, because there is not the same sense of violation, of defiling the sacred role that women have of birthing the future. It is the very understanding of the sacredness of women’s bodies that everyone born of a mother knows at the core of their being, that gives rape its potency.
For parts 2 and 3 of this article, see also Common Reasons for Unfulfilling Sex and How to have more fulfilling sex and for a side piece, Making Love
By Mark O'Brien