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 S*xual Awakening  (not spelled out as precaution to censorship)

Coming to accept our s*xuality can be the most traumatising yet humanising experience we encounter. Most religions treat it as a taboo which can create psychological problems throughout life.  

As part of  Maslow's five interdependent levels of basic human needs the fulfillment of our sexual urges is vital for a well balanced life. It is an integral part of each of these:

Physiological needs for survival (to stay alive and reproduce) and security (to feel safe) are the most fundamental and most pressing needs.  Social needs (for love and belonging) and self-esteem needs (to feel worthy, respected, and have status).  Personal - the highest level needs are self-actualization needs (self-fulfillment and achievement). 

Human beings are 'wanting' beings: as they satisfy one need the next emerges on its own and demands satisfaction ... and so on until the need for self-actualization that, by its very nature, cannot be fully satisfied and thus does not generate more needs.

We all want to be valued and appreciated.  As a teacher I was having extreme difficulty with an out of control year eight class.  I asked a colleague who seemed to manage them better what his strategies were. 

His reply went:  "The worst thing you can do to someone is to take away your approval of them;  if you have never given them that approval;  how can you take it away"?

Once I began to find things to praise, discipline and control became a lot easier.

Loss of innocence also applies to our s*xual awakening; coming to terms with our  s*xuality and its function in life. As all aspects of life, S*x can be personally fulfilling or damaging to us.  Good experiences can enhance our self-esteem but exploitive, manipulative or coercive experiences can lead to self loathing.   There are many links between s*x and thinking. The mind can be both slave and master of the body’s appetites, but it is an absurd and terrifying task of stabilizing that dynamic, in theory and in practice.

S*xual needs and urges, biological, instinctive and imperative, emerge during puberty causing confusion and misunderstanding.  In many Aboriginal initiation rituals older women introduce young men to the act of love.  Other societies attempt to repress s*xuality only to cause serious psychological problems.  Since the 1960’s, western civilisation has become “liberated”, at the risk of creating a hypers*xualised world or a s*x soaked culture, through the casual s*xualisation of billboards, television programs and advertisements er-ticising children. 

The Catholic Church has had problems with sexuality ever since the policy of celibacy was introduced to protect the assets of the Church from the 11th Century.  With the increased s*xuality of the sixties, it appears many priests could no longer repress their s*xual drives and developed an attitude of entitlement as compensation.

Barbara Ellen writing in The Guardian:  Far from porn being the great inspirer of sexual play, could too much early exposure contribute to erectile dysfunction and male performance anxiety?

Porn has been shown to alter the brain too, and not in a good way.

Just as young women might feel intimidated by how sexuality is depicted in porn, likewise young men. Moreover, sustained exposure to porn from a young age would give boys clear instructions on how they’re expected to “perform” as mythical “real men”. In a twisted way, male porn stars almost become role models, with impressionable young minds going away with the feeling that porn doesn’t just portray a certain kind of sex (an option), but, rather the only kind of sex worth having. To add to the confusion, the hypersexual, perma-impressed porn actresses are not the kind of women they’re likely to meet in real life.

But we can’t just blame porn here. Performance anxiety has to be linked to the wider phenomenon of social media, Instagram et al, and the fake perfection it imbues on young people.

Young girls are increasingly conditioned into seeing themselves as mere s*xualised products and develop early anxieties over body image and rejection.

Here is film director Lynn Sheldon on her experience:

Adolescence “squashed” me; it was about coming of age s*xually.  I felt betrayed by my body, which became very womanly.  It screwed up my head and my friendships. 

From being on a par with boys, suddenly you are objectified.  It was very much, “you’re looking at me, don’t look at me, look at me!”   I have visceral memories of that time.

Today’s young women need to learn how they can resist the s*xual pressure they feel from a very young age to be "hot", to "hook up" and to be able to "perform" and essentially satisfy a commodified version of male desire - without considering how they really feel about what is happening to them. Many teenagers become s*xually vulnerable and active merely because they are starved of other forms of affection.  

S*x just isn't worth it if it doesn't have much meaning, and isn't even that enjoyable. The most important thing is to take control, examine one's motivations and feelings rather than just "doing it" unthinkingly. This is a whole new approach to s*xuality that has little to do with the virgin pledges of the US moral majority kids or the abstinence campaigns of the Reagan and Bush administrations. It has a lot to do with women, and men, of all ages being truthful with themselves.

Younger women in Australia and elsewhere are pressured way too young into sexual relationships and into porn role-playing which can be a negative in their overall development. This world of a toxic raunch culture; drug and alcohol-fuelled "precocious sexual debut", as the experts term it, was explored in titillating detail in the teen-TV series Skins, and earlier in films such as Larry Clark's Kids.

Teenage girls under attack

Steve Biddulph
June 2, 2007

Teenage depression has doubled in the past decade, eating disorders affect one girl in eight, self-harm, binge drinking and unhappy sexual experiences stalk even the average teenage girl.

Psychologists (here and overseas) believe the attack on girls is coming on two fronts. The first is an erosion of self-image by the corporate media sector - the creation of anxiety about physical appearance and sexuality in pre-teen and mid-teen girls….. the casual sexualisation of billboards, television programs and advertisements seen even by small children going about their day.

Adolescence is all about finding who you are. To explore potential life partners, to find a meaningful educational and career path. You do this among forces internal and external - neither too compliant with one's parents, nor with a fickle and demanding peer group.

Sexuality is powerful in this. It can bring the most intense, positive and tender rewards of new-found young adulthood, or it can be a rushed and empty disappointment. Today scores of 16- and 17-year-old girls are already bored with the selfish fumblings of a series of boy partners and the disappointing lack of intimacy, meaning or real enjoyment. They have lost the energetic charge that comes from unfolding this aspect at their own pace. The media says sex will get you loved, and the reality is for about five minutes. Mall culture turns girls into a product, used and discarded.

Women should celebrate their s*xuality:  

In Colour Purple, ironically it is Shug Avery, Mister’s mistress, who ultimately rouses Celie’s self worth by her approval.  Theirs is a bizarre but mutual relationship; Celie accepts Shug into her home, baths her, feeds her, combs her hair and encourages her to start singing again.  In turn Shug gives Celie her self-respect by singing for her, dressing her, stopping Albert’s beatings, helps her achieve financial independence and teaches her to enjoy her own body.

Despite her initial comment of: “God, you’re ugly”, Shug and Celie develop a mutual rapport after Shug’s realisation of Celie’s inner beauty when she sees Celie’s smile. This develops into a wholesome, esteem building, lesbian s-xual relationship and Celie first becomes aware of s-x as a positive morale boosting force.

"Sexual pleasure in a woman is a kind of magic spell" according to Simone de Beauvoir, it commands complete abandon; if the moment opposes the magic of caresses the spell is broken."  Nikki Gemmell continues:  "How easy it is to dissolve that spell.  The female path to organism is such a fragile, delicate one, so easily lost. Our organisms are shy little things to coax out, insisting on concentration and focus and then of course complete abandonment; such a tricky combination.  

As Alice Munro said,  "Sex seems to me all surrender - not the woman's to the man, but to the person - to the body."

It takes time to surrender; to enter the sacred, exhilarating zone when we're jolted into life, combusted into light.  The best sex involves a sense of connecting on the deepest level, with two people who are utterly in the moment.  

All good sex aids self-esteem for both parties.

Thank you, God, for giving us the only organ on the human body devoted purely to exquisite sensation: the clitoris. That tiny little pleasure dome has 8000 nerve endings crammed into it (twice as many as the penis). In Greek mythology, when Zeus and Hera visited the hermaphrodite Tiresias to determine whether it was men or women who experienced more pleasure from sex, Tiresias replied: “If the sum of love’s pleasure adds up to 10, nine parts go to women, only one to men.”Nikki Gemmell

Or as Sister Margaret Farley expresses it in Just Love

“Many women have found great good in self-pleasuring – especially in the discovery of their own possibilities for pleasure – something many had not experienced  or even known about in their ordinary sexual relations with husbands or lovers.”

Boys too can have great difficulties comprehending the changes to their bodies, urges and developing testosterone.  At first they may sublimate their energies in other areas such as sport to assert their manhood but ultimately their s*xual needs will manifest themselves an irresistible physical attraction to others.  Freud contended that all human activity is ultimately sub-consciously motivated by our s*xuality.  Society,  our Super-ego, guides us in satisfying those needs in a socially acceptable manner.  Boys too can have traumatic experiences that affect their self esteem and well-being. Repeated rejection by others can be soul-destroying and can result in anti-social behavior.  

It is imperative that young men in their early formative years be "educated" properly on how to satisfy their s*xual needs in healthy acceptable ways.  The ubiquitous availability of all kinds of p*rnography provides the seedbed for a distorted view of women as mere objects of s*xual gratification for degrading servile images of domination and exploitation.  Instead of inducing tenderness, intimacy and empathy, p*rnography instils false expectations of fulfilment through the release of s*xual urges by the use of raw power. The false images of female degradation and submission may foster arrogance and aggression towards women resulting in a young man’s ultimate social rejection leading to increasing isolation and dependence or addiction to further p*rnography deadening real relationships.   This perverts the true meaning, value, understanding and fulfilment of the s*xual aspect of a full life.

Australian author, Tim Winton  writes with great insight into problems and support for young boys - on side bar menu.

Star-crossed Lovers

Among the most famous lovers of Medieval times, Abelard and Heloise, celebrated their love making by experimenting with unconventional methods. Abelard detailed their irresistible passionate relationship:

Our desires left no stage of lovemaking untried, and if love could devise something new, we welcomed it.  We entered on each joy the more because of our previous inexperience and were all the less easily sated”.

Because he was her tutor and twenty years her senior, her father, took exception when she became pregnant and sought revenge by having Abelard brutally beaten with castration.  Humiliated by the loss of his manhood, the lovers take religious vows as monk and nun; are separated for twenty years, and when they meet again though the physical aspect of their relationship is no longer possible declare their eternal love and oneness. 

Heloise writing 12 years after the separation admits: “Even in sleep I find no respite”.  Though brief, the lovers found eternal true love

Other great tragic love stories include:

Romeo and Juliet

Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor

"The Orgasmic Mind"     by Martin Porter. Unravelling the mysteries of the orgasm:

"The relative weights of sensory and emotional influences on orgasm may differ between the sexes, perhaps because of its diverging evolutionary origins. Orgasm in men is directly tied to reproduction through ejaculation, whereas female orgasm has a less obvious role. Orgasm in a woman might physically aid in the retention of sperm, or it may play a subtler social function, such as facilitating bonding with her mate. If female orgasm evolved primarily for social reasons, it might elicit more complex thoughts and feelings in women than it does in men. 

In men, during ejaculation, the researchers saw extraordinary activation of the ventral tegmental area, a major hub of the brain's reward circuitry; the intensity of this response is comparable to that induced by heroin. 'Because ejaculation introduces sperm into the female reproductive tract, it would be critical for reproduction of the species to favor ejaculation as a most rewarding behavior,'.

"But when a woman reached orgasm, something unexpected happened: much of her brain went silent. Some of the most muted neurons sat in the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which may govern self-control over basic desires such as sex. Decreased activity there, the researchers suggest, might correspond to a release of tension and inhibition. The scientists also saw a dip in excitation in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, which has an apparent role in moral reasoning and social judgment -- a change that may be tied to a suspension of judgment and reflection.

"Brain activity fell in the amygdala, too, suggesting a reduction of vigilance similar to that seen in men, who generally showed far less deactivation in their brain during orgasm than their female counterparts did. 'Fear and anxiety need to be avoided at all costs if a woman wishes to have an orgasm,' Holstege says. He went so far as to declare at the 2005 meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Development: 'At the moment of orgasm, women do not have any emotional feelings.'

"The Orgasmic Mind",  Martin Porter  Publisher: Scientific American Mind,  Date: 2016 Special Edition,  Pages: 8-9

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