“I went into this feeling anxious – like I was opening a Pandora’s box I’d long held shut – but left feeling safe to – slowly and at my pace – explore the unresolved emotional issues (shame) that have prevented full sexual expression and interrupted my pleasure/confidence/power. You’re in good hands with Xanet.”– R.B., Sacramento, CA
“Xanet has cultivated a level of compassion and understanding that is an amazing gift. At a recent appointment she demonstrated the power of touch, of re-contextualizing memories, and how important it is to feel heard and understood. I knew these in theory before, but hadn’t realized how absent they were in my life and exactly what I was missing”. – B.K., San Francisc
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Heal Yourself and Awaken Your Pleasure
A Love Note for every woman who struggles with sexuality and intimacy. Find healing balm in these pages and a way to reclaim passion and pleasure in your sex life.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/lSzsi 8347 views
|Self-Help Women's Sexuality|
|15 publishers interested|
"Xanet Pallet's book offers a modern and refreshing insight into what all women should become aware of: that they are made for love. And that the art and cultivation of pleasure is the langage of love. And that, if they don't learn it, and take the responsability to teach it to their partners, the consciousness of the world will remain stagnant. The power of Pleasure teaches us to become aware in love and to channel pleasure as a means of conscious awakening. There is no better mission. And this book will show you the way."
- Margot Anand, author, Love, Sex and Awakening, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy and many others..
Challenges with sexuality are all too common in our society and not frequently discussed in an open and thoughtful manner. According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 20% of married couples are only having sex once a month, considered a sexless marriage. Those numbers are likely significantly under reported and do not account for the large number of women and men who stay in their marriage for other reasons (e.g. money, children) but have completely unsatisfying sex lives. The number of reported sexless marriages has quadrupled in the last 20 years.
In Living An Orgasmic Life, Xanet Pailet explores the many reasons that cause women to disconnect from their sexuality including: shame, body image issues, sexual abuse and trauma, physical wounding, and fears of intimacy. She teaches practical advice and tools to help women awaken to their sexuality in a healthy way and reclaim their libido.
Filled with lessons and practical exercises that can take your sex life from non-existent or mediocre to fulfilling on every level, it is a must read if you desire better connection with your partner, juicier sex and more passion in your love life.
Why is the message unique?:
The message is unique because it combines the story and experiences of both the author, shared in a very authentic and vulnerable way, and that of her many clients who have also struggled with, and in most cases, overcame sexual challenges. Every chapter contains practical exercises and tools to help the reader better understand and heal their own struggles with sex and intimacy and to reclaim their pleasure.
Who is the book going to connect with?
This book is written for any woman who finds sex challenging, or feels uncomfortable with her sexuality. Women who are alienated from their erotic side due to sexual abuse or trauma will find healing balm in these pages. Women who can’t surrender into pleasure, can’t sustain intimacy, or want to reclaim and feel empowered in their sexuality will greatly benefit from this book.
While not addressed to men specifically, this book will also resonate with men who are themselves struggling with sexual issues, or whose partner is experiencing sexual challenges. The client stories include women, men and couples.
Why did I write this book?
I wrote this book because I am passionate about helping individuals who feel broken reclaim their sexuality and their pleasure, and transform their lives. I want women who are struggling with sex to understand that help is available and that they can have healthy, passionate sex lives. I wrote this book for the 20 year old who was date raped, the 30 year old Mom who was traumatized during childbirth, the 40 year old divorced women who has never experienced an orgasm, the 50 year old who is struggling with menopause and low libido, and the 60 plus year old women who is ready to explore her sexuality and experience orgasmic bliss.
A Love Note:
For every woman who struggles with sexuality and intimacy. They will find healing balm in these pages and a way to reclaim passion and pleasure in their sex life.
A rich journey through the process of sexual healing and awakening told through personal stories of the author and her clients. Pailet, a former lawyer turned sex and intimacy coach lived in a sexless marriage for over two decades. She uses her own transformational experience as well as those of her clients, to help women reclaim their sexuality and their pleasure
Part One: Healing yourself from shame, sexual abuse and physical trauma
Chapter 1: A night of Goddess Worship can change your life
We are immediately drawn into the book as the author recounts, in a fiction writing style approach, her very first experience with Tantra and sexual awakening in a mid-town Manhattan apartment. We learn that she does not have to be a broken woman forever, giving the reader hope that neither does she.
Chapter 2: Living a life of lies
On paper, the author was living an “orgasmic life” in New York City with a successful career, wall street lawyer husband, two children, and all the trappings that go along with it. But appearances can be deceiving. The chapter recounts the widening divide in the marriage and how she found herself in a sexless marriage for over 20 years. We also learn that she ultimately healed her sexuality and transformed her life, and so can the reader.
Chapter 3: Women are programmed to say “no” to sex
Lack of libido is the number one complaint in women who are struggling with their sexuality. Societal messages around sex for women is a key factor in women’s lack of desire. From being “slut shamed” if they are sexually open, to struggling with the “Madonna-Whore complex”, women are socialized to be disconnected with their sexuality and their pleasure, setting them up for challenges with their sexuality.
Chapter 4: Shame—The nastiest five letter word in the universe
Our sexual blueprint, messages that we received around sex in childhood as well as early sexual experiences, form the basis for adult sexual relationships. Sexual shame and body shame, emanating from the sexual blueprint, underlie many of the challenges that both women and men experience around sex. The author recounts her own early experiences with a pet dog, as well as client stories around overcoming shame from masturbation, sexual repression, genital appearance, and fetishes. The reader also examines their own sexual blueprint to better understand their relationship with sex.
Chapter 5: Sexual abuse and trauma
Sexual abuse and trauma, experienced by one in four women, has an enormous impact on women’s sexuality and comfort with intimacy. We examine how trauma and PTSD show up, and can be healed, in women’s sex lives through client stories. Painful intercourse, disassociation during sex, self-abusive promiscuous behaviors, and recreating abusive relationships are just some of the topics covered.
Chapter 6: The body remembers: trauma and physical imprinting
Sexual trauma can also happen from physical wounds, such as surgeries, accidents, medical procedures and chronic health conditions. Even though the physical wounds might have healed, the emotional wounds and imprint on the body can last for decades. Using her own personal story, as well as that of clients, we learn how routine procedures such as circumcision and gynecological exams, can cause sexual trauma. Healing these wounds involves accessing the emotional impact and helping the body re-wire physical patterns.
Chapter 7: Blocks to intimacy
Our sexual blueprint and relationship with our primary caregiver, determines in large part our adult attachment style, a key indicator of whether or not we will struggle with intimacy. A secure attachment style is a primary predictor of a healthy romantic and sexual relationship. Many women with sexual challenges also experience problems around intimacy. In this chapter, we examine adult attachment styles, including factors that impact it. The author’s own story and that of her clients, demonstrates different ways in which unhealthy attachment styles impact adult intimacy.
Part II: Awakening Your Pleasure
Chapter 8: Beginning the journey of sexual healing and awakening
The author lays down four basic principles to transform one’s sex life. Through this lens, we view the author’s healing and awakening trajectory; spiritual awakening in Unity church, banishing early childhood shame, loving and accepting her body, seeing her attachment wounds play out in the first post-marriage relationship. Along the way we begin our own healing journey by doing visioning exercises, creating a “vagina timeline” to recall seminal events that impacted our feminine selves, and hear other women’s stories of healing.
Chapter 9: Coming home to my body and welcoming pleasure
In this chapter, we learn how the author’s sexual awakening journey turns into a new chapter in her professional life. We see first-hand, all the ups and downs of becoming a sex and intimacy coach. From experiencing her first “G spot Orgasm’ during a Tantra workshop, to struggling with locating a woman’s clitoris during hands-on Sexological Bodywork training, to bringing her own deeply repressed sexual energy into a coaching session, the author welcomes pleasure in her body, which she can finally call “home”.
Chapter 10: So what is Tantra anyway?
Whether or not Tantra is a woman’s doorway to sexual healing, the principles of Tantra, are crucial to sexual awakening and pleasure. The author briefly explains about ancient Tantra as well as modern day Neo-Tantra, with an emphasis on practices from SkyDancing Tantra, which is the lineage she teaches. Chakras (energy centers) are explored as a way to generate and move sexual energy. Using tantric principles, we learn and practices exercises around subtle energy, Chakra activation, and even get to talk to our Yoni (vagina).
Chapter 11: How to reignite your shrinking libido
Understanding where a woman’s desire for sex comes from is key to unlocking her potential for pleasure. Through client stories, we explore both a woman’s internal landscape (e.g. hormones, emotional blocks, boredom) and external landscape (inability to communicate, not knowing what you want). By examining their own peak sexual experiences, sexual styles, and hottest sexual movie, readers will learn what ignites their libido and how to take that into the bedroom.
Chapter 12: Great sex is about polarity
Sexual polarity in a relationship creates hot, passionate sex. Many long-term relationships suffer from a lack of polarity in the bedroom, brought on in part by dysfunctional power dynamics between men and women in the outside world. Through client stories, we learn ways to address the disparity. Sexual role play, re-claiming our feminine self, giving men permission to feel and express desire, and dominance play, all help to create sexual polarity.
Chapter 13: Realizing your pleasure potential
In this chapter, we learn some fundamentals to having more pleasure during sex. Slow everything down, allow sexual tension to build, and allow that tension to ignite the flames of desire. Women’s arousal is constantly shifting, so understanding your own arousal patterns will ensure you get what you want. We explore all the different ways to experience orgasms and create our own self- loving practice.
Chapter 14: Living an orgasmic life
A woman’s sexuality is the center of her creativity and her power and is a powerful doorway into personal growth and expansion. When we are sexually awakened, every other aspect of our life transforms. The flow and ease that we have with our sexuality translates into expanding our creativity, improving our financial status, creating new relationships and projects and accessing our powerful intuitive powers. The author demonstrates this through stories of client’s transformation as well as her own and urges the reader to take steps towards living their orgasmic life.
The primary audience for this book is women, ages 25-65, who have challenges around their sexuality, have experienced sexual abuse or trauma, or are experiencing lack of desire for intimacy. They are single, married, and divorced. Sadly, this is a rather large group of women.
Sexual issues for women are very common and have a serious impact on their relationships. A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that one in ten women in Great Britain experience pain every time they sex. In North America, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that 75% of women will experience painful sex at some point of their life. The percentages are highest for menopausal woman in their 50’s and 60’s and for young women, ages 16-24. In addition, according to the Kinsey Institute, 30% of women struggle with having orgasms.
Sexless marriages are also on the rise having quadrupled in the last 20 years. According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 20% of married couples are only having sex once a month, considered a sexless marriage. Those numbers are likely significantly under-reported and do not account for the large number of women who stay in their marriage for other reasons (e.g. money, children) but have completely unsatisfying sex lives.
Talking about sexual problems is very challenging for many women and they do not have experts to turn to. Western medicine offers very few solutions and many women are afraid to bring this up with physicians, therapists, and partners. There is no magic pill for women’s arousal. Women’s desire is complex and challenging, involving both emotional and physical components.
Many readers of this book believe they are broken and can’t be fixed. In these pages lies hope, as the author demonstrates, using her own very personal story and those of her clients, that women can heal sexual wounds, and reclaim their sexuality and pleasure.
The author already has an established and growing platform with a 3K plus newsletter list, over 1200 FB connections, a Pinterest account with an average of 560K monthly viewers, and an ongoing FB ad campaign which brings in 150 new subscribers each month. The author has access to over 12,000 prospective readers through The Ecstatic Living Institute, which has endorsed and will promote the book to their list of individuals interested in sexuality, an immediate and substantial audience for this book. The author plans to use FB, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to promote the launch of this campaign. FB groups such as (Return of the Divine Feminine, Spiritual Awakening, Intimacy for Passionate People, Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse), all have large followings with active members and fit the audience of this book.
The author is well connected in the field of sexuality and plans to promote the book through some of the leading sexperts in the country, including Dr. Emily Morse’s “Sex with Emily” Podcast (40 Million downloads), Reid Mihalko www.sexwithreid.com, Layla Martin, and Good Vibrations, one of the largest sex stores in the nation. The author will also promote through online magazines (e.g. Cosmo.com, Elephant Journal) that she has previously written for, as well as the Huffington Post and Medium, where she has connections. In addition, the author will promote to the 100 most read sex and intimacy related bloggers.
A book launch is being planned for Good Vibrations in San Francisco and the author will attend several sex positive conferences in the next 6 months where she will network, speak, and promote her book.
The author is creating a group of book ambassadors, early readers and adopters, who are influencers and will also help to promote the book through their platforms.
Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. (Simon and Schuster, 2105). New York Time’s Bestselling author Emily Nagoski helps women understand the complex layers of their sexuality and why there will never be a “Viagra” for women. Nagoski’s book focuses on the context of sex for women and the emotions behind it, noting that issues such as body image, stress, mood and emotional connection are central to a women’s desire. In Nagoski’s view, women’s desire is less about putting the foot on the gas pedal and more about taking the foot off the brakes. Living an Orgasmic Life embraces many of the concepts in Nagoski’s book when it comes to helping women connect to their desire. But Orgasmic Life also addresses arousal and desire from the perspective of sexual embodiment and teaches women specific body based tools they can use such as breath, sound, movement, and touch to connect with and move their sexual energy. Nagoski’s book also does not address issues of sexual shame, trauma, abuse, and wounding, all of which cause women to be disconnected from their sexuality.
Women’s Anatomy of Arousal: Secret Maps to Buried Treasure, Sheri Winston (Mango Garden Press, 2009). The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, awarded Winston it’s 2010 Book of the Year. Winston’s book is packed with information about women’s erectile network, their orgasmic potential, and the way to have out of this world sex. The book contains anatomy lessons, “do it yourself” explorations, and hot tips for men. It is an outstanding and comprehensive guide to achieving orgasmic bliss. Orgasmic Life embraces many of the tantric principles contained in Winston’s book. It also discusses the physiology of arousal and orgasm. But Orgasmic Life takes a slower and gentler approach to women’s arousal. It is geared more towards women who want to understand the entire context of their sexuality, not just the physiological component. It is also sensitive to the shame and discomfort women feel around touching themselves and offers a gentle “self-loving practice” to reconnect with one’s sexuality.
Slow Sex, Nicole Daedone, (Grand Central Life & Style, 2012, Reprint) Nicole Daedone, the founder of “One Taste”, lays out her philosophy about female orgasm in this book. Daedone says that sex is an art form rather than a science and that the journey is much more important than the destination. The book is primarily about the practice of Orgasmic Meditation, a 15 minute, slow sex approach to female orgasm, which has received widespread international and national exposure. Orgasmic Meditation is a powerful doorway to female orgasm and to learning the power of slowing sex down. Orgasmic Life also talks about slowing sex down, losing goals and expectations, being grounded and present. Orgasmic Life takes a more holistic approach to women’s sexuality and helps readers explore sex in the context of peak sexual experiences, fantasies and other desires. Orgasmic Life also focuses more on the emotional connection and intimacy between partners as well as introducing principles of Tantra and sacred sexuality.
Tantra Goddess: A Memoir of Sexual Awakening, Caroline Muir, (Monkfish Book Publishing, 2011). Muir, a well-respected Tantra teacher, wrote a personal memoir about her journey from innocent Kansas girl to skilled sexual and spiritual healer and leader. She chronicles her life, her lovers, and her quest for ever-lasting love. This “tell all” book is a juicy and fun read, especially for those who have been in Muir’s circles. The Orgasmic Life author, unlike Muir, experiences sexual awakening from a place of being sexually disconnected, after a 20-year sexless marriage. Her journey is unique, in that she came from the corporate world, and did not experience sexual awakening until middle age. Orgasmic Life is part memoir, and chronicles the author’s experience with sexual shame and trauma in a very authentic and vulnerable way.
Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma, Stacy Haines (Cleis Press, 2 edition, 2007). Haines is a very well respected sexual abuse and trauma educator and therapist. Unlike many other books on this subject, Healing Sex encourages women to learn how to say “yes”, rather than “no” to sex. Haines uses a somatic based approach to help women reconnect with their sexuality. Healing Sex is a must read for women survivors of sexual assault who are ready to address their sex life. Orgasmic Life does not hold itself out to be a comprehensive, how to manual, on re-creating your sex life after abuse. Orgasmic Life is geared more towards women who struggle with sexuality and intimacy for reasons other than sexual abuse, although the author recounts the healing experiences of clients who are abuse survivors. Orgasmic Life also focuses on healing sexual wounds from physical trauma, which is rarely discussed or mentioned in any book on sexual abuse.
For Women Only: A Revolutionary Guide to Reclaiming Your Sex Life, Jennifer Berman, MD and Laura Berman, Ph.D., (Henry Holt & Co, 2 ediiton, 2014). The Bermans are New York Times best-selling authors on women’s sexuality. Jennifer Berman, a urologist, and her sister, Laura Berman, a sex therapist, are dedicated to women’s sexual health and have their own women’s sexual health center in Boston. They approach sexual dysfunction from both a physiological and psychological component using a western medicine approach. Like Orgasmic Life, the Berman’s book chronicles the stories of women with sexual challenges. Much of the book focuses on their research on female sexual dysfunction and there is much less focus on how to awaken sexual pleasure and deal with the emotional components of sexuality. Also, unlike, Orgasmic Life, their book does not have a personal element to it, which many women will find very relatable. Orgasmic Life also speaks about men’s sexual challenges, although that is not the focus of the book. However, when one partner has sexual challenges, it is very common for the other person to also experience problems with their sexuality.
Apocryphile Press is a small, new-paradigm publishing company based in the San Francisco East Bay. We specialize in edgy spirituality, and pretty much anything that snags our fancy.
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How does a woman who has lost all interest in sex and whose libido has been in a decades-long slumber, wake up to discover the delights of love making, reclaim her sexuality and begin to live an orgasmic life?
The concept of an “Orgasmic Life” first appeared on the vision board I created five years ago when I started The Power of Pleasure. To me, living an orgasmic life means that you are living a life that flows easily, without struggle, just like the way an orgasm happens. What I learned on my journey of sexual healing and awakening is that sexuality is at the core of our being. It is powerful beyond words. Not only can it help us achieve a state of sexual bliss, but it can also alter the course of our entire life. Dynamic personal growth and transformation is available when a woman fully connects with her sexuality and orgasmic potential. When this happens, she will inevitably experience a flood of new life force energy and surge of creativity. The result is typically a profound shift in her intimate life that ripples out into every part of her world.
In the pages that follow, I will share my story and the stories of other women and men who have made this surprising transformation. Read with an open heart and you will begin to feel the vital flame of your sexuality begin to flicker. In each chapter, I will share essential lessons that can take your sex life from ho-hum or non-existent to fulfilling on every level.
You will learn a practical approach that is simple, but not always easy. Through a process of inquiry and self-reflection, coupled with self-directed activities, you will discover:
· The many factors that cause women to shut down their sexuality
· Why it’s so hard to talk about sex in a world where everything is about sex
· The #1 reason women lose their desire for sex and what to do about it
· How sexual trauma can occur and how to heal it
· Your sexual blueprint: what it is and how to read it
· How attachment theory relates to your intimate life
· What the journey to sexual healing looks like
· How to find your path to pleasure
· Awakening your body through somatic and hands-on healing
· How to reignite your libido
· The truth about your pleasure potential
· What you can do to start living an orgasmic life in the bedroom and beyond
If I could transform my sex life at the age of 50, I know for certain that you can as well, whether you are 25 or 65. If you feel broken, disconnected from your sexual self, find yourself avoiding lovemaking, or can’t sustain intimacy, this book will help you reclaim your sexuality and move towards living an orgasmic life. Welcome to the journey.
He smiled, said, “Nooooooo…” and with the sweep of his arm, led me into the apartment, which was rather warm. I decided he must have chosen the sarong due to the heat and felt myself relax.
He directed me toward his beautiful leather sofa and I sat down. He placed a lovely tray of cheese, nuts, crudités, and crackers on the coffee table, along with an expensive bottle of red wine.
Hmmm… I thought. This, too, was a break from his usual. He’d never served appetizers before. What in the world did he have in mind?
I’d met this man, let’s call him Eric, several months earlier. When we first crossed paths, he was recently separated from his wife of many years. I found him to be incredibly needy, even clingy, and sexually aggressive in a way that really turned me off.. Our relationship, such as it was, had been rather rocky. We’d broken up a couple of times over the first few months. He really hadn’t a clue how to treat a woman, but he was extremely smart, interesting to talk to, and a successful businessman. We were so well matched intellectually, that I stayed in the game. Not in a gazillion years would I have guessed he’d be the man to change the game for me entirely.
Eric sat down on the couch a good foot and a half away from me. I was thankful for the space and, once again, noted this break from his usual. In fact, he was displaying none of his typical neediness, which gave me a chance to feel a desire for closeness I’d never felt around him before.
He spread some soft goat cheese on a cracker and handed it to me. “Please have some.”
I accepted and looked into his eyes. But I couldn’t find the words to wonder aloud about the big surprise so I simply said, “Thank you.” I was completely certain that he’d read the quizzical look on my face.
He smiled, moved about two inches closer to me on the couch, reached for some cashews, and turned his body to face me directly.
“I suppose you’re wondering what’s going on,” he said. “Well, I spent the last two days in a workshop with a Tantra master.”
I didn’t have a frame of reference for a Tantra master, so I just nodded and waited for him to say more.
As he began to share his experience, I noticed that his demeanor was completely different than how I’d experienced him before. He was confident, kind and loving, and his passion for this Tantra thing was so intoxicating that I barely heard a word he said. Nonetheless, as he continued to speak, I found myself leaning in, hoping to understand what he was saying.
“The really intriguing thing about Tantra,” he said, “is the focus on worshipping the Goddess.”
Again, I didn’t have a frame of reference, other than the small big-bellied figurines I’d seen in a book about ancient matriarchal societies.
He moved back away a little and seemed to be taking my temperature on this idea, then said, “I was thinking we could dedicate this evening to Goddess worship.”
Unsure of the meaning of this proposal, I said, “I’m not sure what you mean. Goddess worship?”
He explained that the workshop with the Tantra master had opened his eyes to a whole new world, a world he wanted to share with me… if I was willing. He described it as a world that would involve all of my senses. A world in which I would be the focus of his attention. A world where he would put his sexual desire aside and focus solely on my pleasure. “I simply want to worship you as the embodiment of the Goddess.”
I stammered. Looked around the room for a place to hide. Battled my urge to race out the door and finally convinced myself that it couldn’t hurt. I could always get up and leave if this Goddess worship thing turned into yet another failed romantic attempt. “I suppose,” I said. “What do you want me to do?”
He smiled, picked up his iPad, and put on what he called his new “Tantra playlist.” Then for the first time since I’d stepped through the door, he moved close, touched my knee and said, “You just sit there and enjoy the music. Have some cheese and nuts. I’m going to draw you a bath.”
That first night of Goddess worship was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I literally just lay on his bed and allowed myself to be pleasured with no expectations. I did not have crazy, screaming orgasms (those came later), but I did experience my body in a way I never had before. I didn’t know I was capable of experiencing such an immense amount of pleasure. And the connection I felt to my sexuality was completely new to me.
That night was the beginning of a wondrous journey. I had a long road ahead of me, but that night lit a flame in my belly and gave me a mountain of hope. I did not have to be a broken woman forever.
Sadly, most of us don’t have anyone we can talk to about our sex life, our sexual problems, our sexual desires, our fetishes, and our fantasies. Talking to our partner can be highly charged and not without repercussions. Many couples fear that even bringing up the subject will open up a Pandora ’s Box they will never be able to close. People often worry about bruising their partner’s ego, or fear the conversation will quickly revert to blame and shame. Better not to bring it up and just put up with a bad sex life. This was certainly my experience. Every single time my ex and I tried to talk about sex, I ended up feeling even more guilty, broken, angry, and disconnected from him.
Some women talk to their girlfriends about their sex life, or lack of one, but rarely in great detail. Most OB-GYNs and urologists are ill-equipped to provide useful advice about how to make our sex lives pain free, better, and more pleasurable. Even couples’ therapists are often extremely uncomfortable talking with clients about their sex life on any level of detail that could actually be useful. This came to me as quite a surprise initially, but in time I realized that most therapists haven’t dealt with their own shame around sex.
You would think we’d be sexually open in a society that constantly throws sex in our face. In fact, the opposite is true. The United States is a sex negative and sex-starved nation. The latest statistics about the lack of sex in this country is horrifying. According to “The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior” (2010) the average married couple has sex about once a week. 20% of couples are only having sex once a month, which is considered a sexless marriage. I suspect those numbers are significantly under-reported. This study does not account for the large number of men and women who stay in their marriage for financial reasons and/or “for the children”, but have completely unsatisfying sex lives. Sex workers report that the vast majority of men who see them for sensual massage or escort services are happily married men living in virtually sexless marriages.
Sexless marriages are so pervasive in our society that there seems to be an attempt in some sectors to “normalize” the fact that couples stop having sex, especially when they get into their 50s and beyond. Recently the Huffington Post, which is arguably the most sex-positive mainstream media in the US, published an article titled, “Over 50 and in a Sexless Marriage: Don’t Despair.” Essentially, the author’s position was that people can thrive in a sexless marriage. But there was something missing in the article that I feel is important to take into account. It’s true: couples often decide not to engage in sex. However, the majority of the time, the decision is forced on one of the partners. In fact, a common scenario is that one partner loses interest, becomes unresponsive, and starts to avoid anything to do with sex. The still-desirous party keeps trying for a while, then gets tired of rejection and simply gives up. Often this unfolds with no discussion at all, much less a conscious decision.
· Women are socialized to say “no” to sex
· We hold shame and fear around being fully sexually expressed
· Motherhood transforms us from sexual beings to maternal beings
· Sex becomes boring and rote
· We are not sufficiently aroused and don’t experience enough pleasure
· Women are not connected to their sexuality
In these and many other ways, we women are essentially programed to say “no” to sex. In contrast, men literally wear their sexual arousal equipment on the outside of their body. As teenage boys, they were constantly getting aroused and getting erections, often at inconvenient times, but it made their sexuality front and center. Men also receive much more positive messages around sex. “Always use protection”, “don’t get her pregnant” while you “go out and sow your wild oats”. High fives in the locker room after “scoring” the night before is part and parcel of male culture. Teenage boys growing up with porn turns women into sex objects creating unrealistic expectations about body parts and what sex really is like.
Given this socialization, there is no surprise that when I ask men how often they think about wanting to have sex, the most common answer is, “Multiple times a day.” Women, on the other hand, typically say that they think about sex at most once or twice a month! Why are we so disconnected from our desire?
We were taught that sex is tied to our menstrual cycle, a subject which for many young girls is shameful and embarrassing. I know I am not alone in having experienced embarrassing “accidents.” Many of the women I have worked with have shameful memories about their periods. The situation is compounded by the fact that many of us did not have mothers who were particularly helpful or empathetic. Being handed a pad and told to read some instructions, reinforces the belief that sex and our periods are dirty. This creates further distance between our body and our sexuality.
For the most part, sex education for women focuses on preventing pregnancy, protection against STIs, and—for many in this country—abstinence. We are told to “keep our legs shut” because the only thing boys want is to get into our pants. Sexually active teenage girls are called “easy” and slut-shamed by both their female and male peers. Pleasure is not mentioned anywhere in the sex education curriculum.
Fear and shame around sexual expression is rampant. We have a belief that expressing our pleasure by making loud noises is not appropriate or lady like and threatens our idealized view of how women are supposed to behave. Sexually expressed women are depicted as vixens, sirens, or femme fatales. Every girl watching Sex and the City wants to grow up to be “Carrie” and not “Samantha.” Historically, sexually expressed women have been burned at the stake or tarred and feathered. And we continue to be slut-shamed in public and in private. When is the last time you heard of a sexually expressed woman being elevated in the media in a positive and non-sensationalized way? This sexual atmosphere carries over into the bedroom. It prevents us from being able to fully surrender and connect to our desires and our pleasure, making it impossible for us to lead an orgasmic life.
While much has been written about the Madonna Whore complex and its impact on men, it also has an enormous impact on women. “Should I have sex with him on the first date?” is a common question single women ask themselves, a question that is made ever more difficult to answer when there is lots of chemistry. We fear that if we do have sex, we will get labeled as the whore and won’t be considered long-term relationship material. He will disregard our intense passion and chemistry the minute he encounters the nice girl who meets his ideal image of a wife.
The Madonna Whore complex often influences our choice of long-term partner and how we behave sexually once we are married. Before the wedding, sex is lustful, playful, experimental, and highly erotic. Not long after the wedding, it’s all boring, vanilla sex. I often talk with women who, in their single days, were fully expressed and enjoyed their sexuality with the bad boy types, but ended up marrying a good boy. Then, out of fear that their true sexual nature will cause their more conservative partner to leave, they repress their sexuality and succumb to boring sex. No one is happy about that. Ironically, it’s usually the good boys who lust for playful, hot sex and often end up seeking it outside of marriage.
The Madonna Whore complex also shows up as women move into motherhood and often disconnect from their sexuality. Motherhood consumes us, especially in the early years. Our identity as a sexual woman and a lover gets subsumed under our new identity as a Mom. New mothers often complain that they used to love it when their husband sucked and fondled their breasts, but it was a turn-off once they had nursed a child. All of the sudden our breasts transform from sex organs into milk machines and it’s often hard to lose that association.
When a woman starts to experience physical pleasure on a regular basis, her desire for sex will go through the roof. But most women never even come close to experiencing sex as pleasurable. In fact, women often have intercourse long before they are sufficiently aroused. In the best-case scenario, this makes for sex that is “only OK” and, in the worst-case scenario, outright painful.
I totally get it. If sex is “only OK”, and you are doing it more to please your partner or out of obligation than to please yourself, it becomes low on your ever growing To Do List. If it starts to feel like work rather than play, resentment builds up. If you are putting up with touch that really doesn’t feel good—which is the number one complaint that women have about their sex life—you start harboring even more anger, disappointment, and regret that further disconnects you from your partner and your sex life. If you, like most women, desire strong, masculine energy and want to be “taken” and your partner comes to you with sweet, good boy energy that does not turn you on, you start losing attraction to him. All of this creates a downward spiral, further tamps down your desire, and disconnects you from your sexuality. But the number one reason that holds us back from experiencing pleasure, connecting to our desire and the true potential of living an orgasmic life, is SHAME. In the next chapter, we will explore all of the ways in which shame shuts us down and why it happens in the first place.
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