The more I see, read and experience through the lens of my work regarding feminism, sex and intimacy the more I am convinced it is crucial to the well being of everyone on the planet. Everyone is affected by feminism! (Whether they realise it or not.) Women reduced to gormless sex objects with little to no agency is still part of a mainstream sexual script. Men reduced to gormless sex predators incapable of distinguishing thought from feeling is still part of mainstream sexual script. Women whose eroticism is expected to be as infantile as that of new born babies matched with a male interpretation of sexuality that is brutish, cavalier and constricted. Anyone who sits outside this narrow mould is fucked over by it. And quite frankly, that’s everyone I’ve ever met! The sexual status quo serves no one in its current form. We all suffer under this current system. So yeah, we need feminism in the bedroom as much as anywhere else.
What is it about sex that is so terrifying? Why do we spend billions either pursuing it or prohibiting it? Sex is everywhere, or so it seems.
In an age where we have virtually unfettered access to any kind of sex we want, we are more riddled with social conservatism, isolation, depression and anxiety than ever. In an age where sex rules the web but not our prime-time discussions, it’s time we stepped up the cultural landscape and got a bit real with ourselves when it comes to the power, necessity and function of sex.
Cyndi Darnell − sex therapist and sex educator − tackles the elephant in the room. Filmed November 28, 2013.
One of the most powerful lessons I have received in my life and that I draw on heavily in counselling and education with clients is working with the notion of uncertainty.
Uncertainty is harrowing in so many ways. It brings us face to face with the impermanence of life. Love, Life, Relationships and even Orgasm all eventually come to an end. The trouble is when the end is so distracting to us we miss the richness of what is present-in the present.
Now I get anxious, like everyone does from time to time. I also get sad- deeply sad at times about the impermanence of the things that I long for and desire – namely people and sometimes experiences. It’s in these moments that I am most notably challenged and compelled to surrender to the notion of uncertainty as a permanent aspect of life. Trying to remain stoic in the face of it is unnerving and my challenge is to bring myself back into balance without getting lost in the outcome of what I fear. I have learnt that when I focus only on outcomes, I miss the experience of being alive. I shut down, become disconnected and fear becomes the default that clouds any capacity for texture and relief.
Discomfort is part of life. I cannot see another way around it. And I wouldn’t trade in my capacity to feel in exchange for a life half- lived.
Sex Positivity, can mean many things to many people.
To me, being sex- positive means I embrace the notions of pleasure and sexuality in a positive light. I see sex and pleasure as integral parts of the human condition, and not something that we should be ashamed of or feel embarrassed about – even when it causes distress.
Being sex-positive means not only having an interest in sex, but also educating yourself and others about what sex and pleasure can be. It does not mean forcing one’s opinions upon others nor does it mean casting a judgement on those who disagree as therefore being ”sex negative”. It’s about stepping beyond binary understandings of sex and gender- moving away from ideas around sex that are intrinsically subjugated into dualistic Judao / Christian notions, to more inclusive models of expression that are not dependent upon collective agreement; but rather visceral, mental and emotional liberation and consent. When we only ever see black and white when it comes to sex, we will always miss the dawning of the rainbow.
In the West we confuse Beauty with Value, Worthiness and Relevance. Yet unlike these ‘things’, Beauty is fickle, subjective and impermanent. But Passion ( Beauty’s lesser valued counterpart and source of inspiration) is cultivated and refined over a lifetime. Passion sustains us when the pursuit of perfection decays.
When we limit our value to unsustainable ideals we will forever feel empty. Focus your attention on your intention. Where you spend energy, growth happens.
Cultivate your Passion as a pathway to Beauty that nourishes the totality of who you are.
Request for in depth interviews – My Book! Update
Thanks to those who contributed with the initial request for info about my book. Here is phase two!
The book is about the struggles we face with sex and sexuality and what’s really at the heart of them. Sometimes its not quite what we are lead to believe it is- and I am constructing a book that explains and explores ways of living with, celebrating and embracing your sexuality- what ever that may look like for you. The book will cover our relationships – between the body, mind and emotions and draw on contemporary sex positive theories, practice and personal development as well as some new founded science and techniques to help explore and understand the depths of human sexuality from a layperson’s perspective.
But I NEED YOU!
So many people want to know more about sex and sexuality or struggle with different aspects of it. By participating in this interview- you are contributing to helping others unravel the mysteries of their own sexuality and their relationship to it. This is community service in the highest degree!
The first part of the interview is just basic demographics. The following questions are more self- reflective questions about your own personal experiences within yourself. I have chosen open ended questions as each person’s experience of sex is unique. I invite you to include information relevant to the question being asked. At the end of the interview – please include information for me to contact you for further in depth verbal interviewing if you would like to be included. ( this is not necessary)
By filling in this document Individual Interview_ with Cyndi Darnell you acknowledge that the information is for (possible) publication purposes. The information will not be used to identify you without your explicit consent. This means ONLY the information you provide (with the exception of contact info which will NEVER be disclosed) will be used – e.g. not your actual name etc unless you want that!
Where possible try to be succinct in your answers. If your story lends itself to further exploration – please indicate at the end if I have permission to contact you further via phone or Skype.
Please complete in Word format and email back to me firstname.lastname@example.org with BOOK in the subject line. If you cannot use Word – please copy and paste the questions into an email and respond that way.
With Deepest Gratitude
Its the intersection between thought and feeling that rattles us so deeply about sex . Not just the acts – but ALL that it is, personal, physical, political, emotional spiritual and beyond. Its this land of the unknown that invites us to examine and be present to the fullness of who we are. But more importantly all that it lets us FEEL. I see, hear and feel people’s struggles with this daily.
On one hand we FEEL the call to embrace it with everything we have and on the other we reject it, favouring logic and reason over the deeper murmurs of the heart and soul.
There will always be ”reasons” (excuses) to keep Eros at bay, being too busy, too tired or too fearful – will always be constants. But what if sexuality were NOT an EITHER / OR situation? What if…………sexuality’s natural home was actually between the many components of our otherwise solid identity? What if sexuality was in fact, a kind of friction caused by the different parts of ourselves brushing against each other as we go through life? What if the very reasons we remain estranged from our deeper callings were in fact at the heart of our eroticism?
Sexuality is the mortar that holds together the bricks of our identity, our persona, our form. To know who we are within, to see it and let it be seen – is to know what binds and keeps us whole.
I am writing because I have been struggling for many years with my sexuality. I have had several sexual experiences, but most of the time I end up feeling like sex has no meaning or purpose for me. I feel like everyone else is having great sex all the time- and I am just missing out. Is it just me? I just don’t get it.
It really sounds as if you are at the end of your rope with your sexuality. The good news is you are not alone and what you are experiencing and feeling is very common – especially among women. In my practice I meet a lot of women for whom sexuality feels like sex is something that happens TO them- rather than something they create or participate in. A lot of women just ‘’zone out’’ during sex – and they don’t even realise they are doing it. No wonder they feel nothing, experience nothing and sex leaves them feeling cold!
The reasons this happens can be complex but in many cases the antidote boils down to just one simple thing – The women who prioritise the worthiness of their sexuality have a better time in bed. Thats all! There are no magic secrets, magic potions or magic pills that can change this for you – but what CAN create the change you need – is a little C.I.C. Curiosity, Investigation & Courage.
Curiosity is fundamental. Seems simple enough – but when was the last time you embraced sex with the curiosity that children use to approach play time? Sex is playtime for grown-ups. It deserves the benefit of open curiousity.
Investigation means having a genuine interest to enquire more deeply into yourself and what turns you on and what drives your desires.
Courage means being able to step fully into experiencing your erotic potential- and leaving behind the fear and judgement that for so many of us , keeps us from the freedom & passion we so deeply crave.
For a lot of women sex is an area fraught with danger. Women from a young age are taught to protect their sexuality while men are taught to flaunt it and embrace it. While for guys that can be pushed to the extreme and they feel they need to be constantly ON in order to be a fully charged sexual man- women can feel that they need to hide their sexuality, to keep it safe or maintain a veil of mystery.
The result in both cases is that they keep themselves from their worthiness – and from their full erotic potential.
People of many genders deeply struggle with sexuality. The truth is you are not alone and it’s not your fault. But often we can feel really alone in this because the way sexuality is treated in our society is about a series of acquisitions ( how many, how much and how fast) rather than valued for the experience it provides and the opportunities for reverence and connection. Beacuse we don’t have enough meaningful discussions about sex in our day-to-day lives, we are left feeling isolated and as if there is something wrong with US – rather than the messages we get about sex from the world we live in.
Work on your C.I.C and see how you go. Embrace the fullness. Enjoy the Ride.
I am seeking your stories for my book.
How do YOU manage to work towards maintaining a sex positive life in a sex negative culture? What kinds of things do you do to help you on the days you feel the struggle harder than others. How do YOU manage the feelings / thoughts and difficulties that arise in living a sexually whole life?
I am asking you to send me BRIEF emails- brief being less than 150 words.
Please include (if you want):
*your nom de plume
*preferred gender ID
*any other relevant info
By doing so you are allowing me to read this info and for it to be ”potentially” included in my book under your pen name ( not your actual name)
please email email@example.com
The book is about the struggles we face with sex and sexuality and what’s really at the heart of them. Sometimes its not quite what we are lead to believe it is- and I am constructing a book that explains and explores ways of living with and embracing your sexuality- what ever that may look like for you. The book will cover the relationships between the body, mind and emotions of contemporary sex positive theory, practice and personal development.
I am 23 years old and I’m facing a difficult moment sexually because I have lost my libido. I have no interest in sex and the worst is that I don’t enjoy it anymore. What are some ways I can get my libido back? (Ps: I’ve been on the pill for a couple years now and my libido has decreased gradually since I started being sexually active)
Libido and desire are two words often associated with women’s sexuality. Increasingly there is more and more attention being paid to what is referred to as low desire or low libido. While in some cases there are a variety of pharmacological treatments for ‘’low desire’’ – they are not always the best option, nor the most relevant option. AND- there is no guarantee that they will actually work.
Women (and men) of all ages and orientations experience shifts in their levels of desire. This is normal. It’s not unusual for many life factors including stress, relationship problems, The Pill, time management and family issues to affect the way we experience sexuality. Changes in libido are natural and to be expected. But when desire wanes for an extended period of time ( and that is to be defined by the person themselves- not a statistic) it may be time to inquire further as to what issues might need to be addressed.
For many people it’s the absence of opportunities to discuss sexuality that is at the root of ongoing desire issues. Increasing pressure to perform and have ‘a lot’ of sex can sometimes be part of the problem. Many people confuse the frequency of sex with the quality of sex. Having a lot of sex – doesn’t necessarily mean it will be good- and sometimes just meeting a criteria of what’s expected, rather than what is desired, can contribute to feeling our libido isn’t quite on target.
While The Pill and all other hormonally-based contraceptives can and do have an effect of decreasing libido, for some women it’s a necessary part of adult life and one they are not willing to give up. Fair enough. Bear in mind there are other non- hormone based alternatives to contraception- namely female & male condoms- which will protect you from pregnancy and STIs – but require a different approach to intercourse than without them. It might be worth deciding which of the two options is less intrusive for you- after all- what is the point of having intercourse- or doing anything sexually for that matter- if there is no or little enjoyment in it for you?
In my practice I meet A LOT of people who want to discuss low libido concerns with me. I also train health professionals to discuss libido concerns with their patients, when pharmacological options are not relevant or haven’t worked. It’s important to ask yourself what YOUR motivations are for having sex- and even what sex means to you. For many people- sex is something they have never been taught much about. Because it’s ‘natural’, it is assumed that sex will just organically happen and be blissful and amazing. For some (few) folks this is true- but it is an exception rather than a rule.
Like with any skill that needs to be cultivated- prowess and enthusiasm come with focus and practice. Consider the ways you prioritise learning about sex in your life. Just like eating is natural (the reflex is an instinct- just like the sex reflex) cooking is not natural necessarily- it’s something you learn.
- Consider the ways you learn or have learnt about sex?
- Where did your info come from?
Chances are sex is not something you learnt much about at school or at home, so unless you have actively sought information, it’s likely you’re running on minimal information and minimal satisfaction. It seems logical then that the best approach to sorting out what’s happening ‘behind the scenes’, is to learn more about yourself in the context of sex and sexuality.
I run a variety of classes and workshops for adults of all genders to address the education gap in sex-ed in Australia. You are not alone in what you’re feeing and I urge to you to know there are ways and means to help you feel that connection to your sexuality again- and perhaps more deeply than before.
It won’t require endless interventions, but it will require some enthusiasm commitment from you. Sex is one of the most fabulous sources of pleasure available to us. It would be a shame to let a lack of information stand in your way of accessing this potent source of wellness and freedom.