This is the text of a talk I gave at Generation Woman, about "What I Desire":
The simplest way to describe me is as a Sex Geek. I am fascinated by sex and love and intimacy in all its aspects – the physical, emotional, mental, social, anthropological and the spiritual. So, when it comes to talking about desire, well, that’s what I do all day. But it’s other people’s desire, or the concept in general; I rarely talk about my own, publicly, so this is a little different for me. And when I’m talking to an audience of women it’s usually for two days at a time, not five minutes.
So, how do I talk about a topic I have dedicated my life to exploring, in five minutes, in a personal way…?
Well, given that people are always asking me how I became a sex therapist, I thought I’d start with how my desire for desire started. And if a shamanic journey I went on a few years ago is to be believed, it all started several lifetimes ago when I was a Tibetan lama, exploring how sexual energy can be used for spiritual growth – but ended up inadvertently traumatising a bunch of women, and slunk off in abashed horror and didn’t touch the subject again. In that experience, on that other plane of time and space, I was in a circle of those women, and had to bow down to each one and ask forgiveness, and I received it, as a blessing. It was beautiful. It explains why this time, in this plane of time and space, I’m a woman, have always understood the power of sexuality, but had, until that experience, felt some reluctance to express it – this stuff is dangerous!
But, a little more prosaically, and looking at this life-time, I cast my mind back 15 years, not long after my third child was born. It was at a social event for the parents at my eldest child’s school. There was a couple there; the woman had sadly been widowed the year before and she was there with her new boyfriend. They were obviously in the throes of new love and people were teasing them with comments of ‘enjoy it while it lasts’, ‘It never lasts’ and so forth.
Well, I’d had a few drinks and piped up with ‘What do you mean? My husband and I are having the best sex we’ve ever had!’ The group went quiet, there were stunned faces all around, and then there was a rush of comments; ‘How can you say you’re having the best sex you’ve ever had? You’ve got three kids. You’ve got a baby for christssake – how can you be having any sex, let alone the best sex ever?!”
The penny dropped – I realised that all those jokes about sex getting bad in long-term relationships were actually true. This was people’s grim reality. Oh my god, these people needed help! So, I wrote a book for parents, Great Sex After Kids, did a master’s degree in sexual health to qualify as a sex therapist, and haven’t looked back.
It’s been an amazing 15 years, following my passion. My marriage ended not long after. ‘Can’t you just be normal?’ pleaded my rather boring husband, “Ah, no,” I replied. We’d always had a great sex life, but there started an even more amazing journey of discovery, depth and richness. I wish I had several hours to tell you some of my experiences, so that you could really understand how awesome it is to be a sexually empowered woman!
But I don’t, so I want simply to say that my desire is that all women, all people in fact, (but tonight’s about us), that all women become sexually empowered.
We’re only just coming out of the dark ages of female sexual suppression, and we’re all a bit confused about it. We had thousands of years under the patriarchy, with female sexuality being solely used to satisfy men’s sexuality. You were either the good girl or the bad girl. If you were the good girl, the purpose of your sexuality was to make offspring for your husband to continue his family line, and if you were the bad girl, the purpose of your sexuality was to provide pleasure for him – and never the twain would meet. The peak of this suppression was the Victorian era, just 120 years ago. At that time, it was medical dogma that women were not sexual and had no sexual feelings or responses.
But that’s all back-to-front! My secret for you women here tonight, and take this knowledge deep into your souls, deep into your wombs, is that women are more sexual than men. Our sexual response is broader, richer, greater than a man’s. Even Masters and Johnson, the original sex researchers back in the 1950’s, said that women’s sexual response far outweighs men’s.
And this is my second secret to you. I’ve spoken in intimate detail to thousands of men about their sex lives and I always ask them the question: what do you love most about sex? What they all reply, even the dick-heads, is: her pleasure. A man cannot truly enjoy sex if his partner isn’t enjoying it. Men do not like the feeling of masturbating inside their partners.
I have a men’s panel at my women’s workshop, where the participants can ask a panel of five or six men anything at all. Recently someone asked them what it feels like when their penis is inside a vagina. Well, they all looked like they were having a beatific vision, then one said, ‘It feels pathetically grateful!’ and they all looked at each other and nodded.
The penis is not an instrument of oppression. It only is if you feel oppressed. If you feel empowered, it is an instrument of love and pleasure. When you invite that instrument of love and pleasure deep into your vagina, when you embrace it with your warmth and softness and hold it deep, right up into your womb-space, that most powerful and sacred place in the entire universe, that place where the mystery of life is created, that space which only women have. When you invite him there, when you hold him there, in heaven, you allow him to soften, to release all the sexual baggage that men also hold, you allow pure, rich pleasure, a pleasure that makes us porous to love.
‘What the world needs now is love’. ‘Make love not war’. ‘Follow your bliss’. All these slogans from the 60’s, the decade of my birth, are true. It took half a century from the Victorian era to get to that realisation, and it’s taken another half to progress to getting to the #metoo and now the Gillette movements. It’s not that long, really, considering the patriarchy was around for three thousand years or more.
What we need, my sexy sexual sisters, is not continuing a war between the sexes; we’re not from Mars and Venus, we’re all from Earth. We’ve got to break out of this patriarchal mode of thinking that men are still somehow controlling our sexuality and own our sexuality. Own it from the inside. It’s not just about the sex act, it’s about feeling this powerful, creative, joyful energy that is inside all of us, and letting it flow.
That is my desire.