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This is a continuation of my article ‘What do men want from sex?’.
How can we develop sexual empathy?
How can we know what it feels like to be another person, to experience what they experience?
I say that there are two primary ways, and a prerequisite.
The prerequisite is to abandon the idea of sex as a performance, with orgasm as the desired outcome. That can be difficult to do, as it’s almost hardwired into us by our culture, but if we can do it, even once or twice, and replace performance with presence and connection, that changes everything. A good way to start is to agree to exclude the habitual things -intercourse, most obviously -while you recalibrate.
What are the two primary ways?
The first is through the body, and the second is through the imagination.
Although the sexual nerve structure of men and women is remarkably similar, it doesn’t look similar, and our socialisation – what our role is supposed to be sexually – isn’t similar at all. So, a good place to start to develop empathy is with a part of the body which, at least in most respects is similar, and which would facilitate a reversal of our social conditioning as men and women. And that good place to start is …
… the anus. There. I’ve said it. Why?
Rather than pontificate, let me tell you a story.
A long time ago, I was on holiday with a lovely Swiss woman in Ticino. We were staying in a house overlooking Lake Como. One morning, without telling me what she was going to do, she started playing with my anus. It changed my life. At first I was a bit shocked, worried about being unclean and disgusting. But gradually I relaxed into it, and for the first time ever, I felt I was the object of the love and desire of another, and all I had to do was to receive and experience. I didn’t need to do anything.
That was profoundly changing. But equally transformative was that I understood for the first time the power of delicate, presence focused touch. I understood how exquisite it could be. I didn’t need to get anywhere.
And because, for the first time I understood that, then my behaviour could change.
The most viewed Post I’ve written, by far, is ‘The Benefits of Anal Massage’ (published on this site). Which was a surprise to me, as I couldn’t remember writing it. Obviously, many viewers – probably most – are Porn Fiends, who bounce straight off again, but it’s plain that quite a lot of people read and think about the article, and they do this, I think, because they’re aware that the heteronormative performance idea of sexuality is deficient and limiting.
Turning to the Imagination, a lot of you will have seen my recent posts on the work I’m doing with Rachel Connor about The Erotic Imagination.
The essence of that work is the belief that we can enter into the interior erotic space of another, and we can do that in a number of ways.
We can do it by opening up their erotic fantasies so we, and they, can get away from the story and understand the underlying bodily feeling, and that we can do this by a process both of elaboration and by the generation of images memories and associations, which in turn are rooted back into body feeling, which in turn generates fresh images and memories.
We can also do this in an interactive, spontaneous way by generating images, and hence a story, from body sensation, which the other can then have a body response to, and hence complimentary images, propelling the story forward
So, that’s what I’d like to share with you about sexual empathy. My purpose isn’t to give you a blueprint, but to give you a key, so you can consider the possibility that your sexual life could be different, and in a very positive way. And, of course, if you’d like any help with that, please get in touch.