Evelyn Resh is a certified sexuality counselor and a certified nurse-midwife with over 20 years of experience as an integrative health and sexuality practitioner. She has also written for many websites including Oprah.com and The Huffington Post. Her second book: Women, Sex, Power, and Pleasure: Getting the life (and Sex) You Want will be released in Spring 2013. Her previous book: The Secret Lives of Teen Girls: What Your Mother Wouldn’t Talk About but Your Daughter Needs to Know takes a distinctly sex-positive spin on the topic of sexually active teen girls.
Despite all the time I spend thinking, studying, and talking about sex I still can’t fully understand why people often talk about their sex lives as if they’re talking about going in to hospice. Grave and sullen voices whisper feelings and facts - both good and bad - in hushed and secretive tones. It’s as if the person I am talking to is disclosing something unlawful or horrific like; “I’m counter-fitting twenties in my basement”, or “I know it’s hard to believe but I love dealing crystal meth. at the elementary school.”
Last I knew, sex was one of the nicer things in life so why the tones of covert operations? With all due respect to men and women who have suffered and are working hard to recover from the horrors of sexual abuse, survivors and the untouched alike struggle equally when it comes time to voice their opinions, experiences, and desires. Even folks who come to see me for suggestions on how to make good sex better tend to drop their voices at least one octave when they recite the specifics. I feel as if people are worried about being marked like Hester Prynne should they reveal the truth. Meanwhile, suggestive or frankly sexual content is in our in faces every day, so why the hesitancy to have earnest conversations in a normal tone of voice?
In order to talk about anything with confidence and fluency you need a basic vocabulary and plenty of practice. This is the basis of any language acquisition program and the language of sex is no different. People speak in hush, grim tones because they are under-confident and have no sense of sureness that they’ll say things the “right “way. And, they’ve never been given the opportunity to practice. Let’s face it, how many families consider human sexuality an appropriate topic for dinner table conversation? Maybe if the kids bring up sex ed. in school, the parents might deign to discuss human reproductive biology. But that has nothing to do with lust, arousal, orgasm, or desire. This is where and when the seeds of muteness are sown. Of course parents have no fluency themselves so it’s hard for them to be helpful.
I say, practice in your mirror. Come up with your most difficult vocabulary list of sex words and phrases – masturbation, anal sex, oral sex, nipples, BDSM – and practice saying them in your mirror in a normal tone of voice. No whispering allowed. Lastly, try adding a lilt. When you tell yourself: “I L-O-V-E having my hands tied above my head!” say it with happiness, not as though you’re headed to the guillotine.
Save the hospice talk for when it’s absolutely necessary.
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