June is Adult Sex Education Month, apparently. You could've fooled me - these things need more publicity. Like, a lot more publicity. I'm taking a sex education training course this Autumn, so I'll ask around then to see if anyone there has an idea about this sort of thing. Anyway, in honour of this, today's TMI Tuesday questions are on that very important but oft-neglected subject.
1. Have you ever investigated having an open relationship? / Have you tried to have an open relationship?
No. It's not really my sort of thing. I am friendly / acquaintanced with a few people both in an "open" relationship and "polyamorous" - two terms which, despite what some people think, aren't interchangeable. I once tried to draw a diagram to describe the difference between monogamy and polyamory on a whiteboard (don't ask)... it involved stick figures and arrows.
One of the reasons I'm not the sort of person who would investigate this sort of thing is a lot of stuff that happened with my first girlfriend, Rebecca, who gave a few of her numerous excuses for her indiscretions such gems as "I thought it was an open relationship" and "...I thought I was polyamorous" (after reading The Ethical Slut). This was pretty damaging for me, and I'd never want to do that to anyone.
Mind you, that's cheating. Which, again, is totally different.
2. Do you have any sexual phobias? / What have you done to manage or overcome them?
Yes, I have a phobia of pain during sex. And yet I quite like it... well, very mild pain. Like, very mild. A simple spank while I'm on top to get me going a little faster. I don't like inflicting pain (I'm a pacifist, for Glod's sake!) and when I do it's either too hard or too soft, or in the wrong place... yeah, I'm nervous and have a worry about what might happen if I go too far.
And I don't like pain inflicted on myself, either.
3. What is the best new sexual activity you have tried in 2013?
Sensation play. Jilly bought a (fake, natch) feather from Sh! and I've stroked her with it a few times... her on me, too, although I prefer to give than to receive.
The first time she used this on me, I wasn't aware that I was meant to say "stop" when I actually wanted it to stop. I was enjoying it, but I was being teased so much that I said "stop" accidentally. Jilly was relieved, as this seemed like a cue to have sex. (It kind of was). I need to know these things sometimes!
4. Have you ever called into a sex advice radio/television show or written to a sex advice columnist? / Was it helpful?
No on both counts, although I read a lot of them... both Pamela Stephenson Connolly's column in the Guardian (summary: go to a sex therapist) and the regular one in the Metro (summary: talk to each other, also read my book). I also used to watch things like The Sex Show, which had regular phone-ins ("My penis isn't big enough!"). And I've always enjoyed problem pages in women's magazines: people writing in because they think their pelvis is the wrong way around, and the like.
5. Would you use the services of a sex therapist? Why or why not?
If I had to, sure.
6. Should sex therapists be allowed to engage in actual sexual activities with clients? Why or why not?
I highly recommend watching the movie The Sessions, based on a true story of how a sex therapist helped a disabled man live a full, rich life that included sex.
I think this is the job of a surrogate, rather than a sex therapist. So in answer to the actual question, no. It's not part of their job description.
The ides of using a surrogate for sex is an interesting one, though. I will admit that my awareness of surrogacy is almost entirely sourced from soft porn... Passion Cove's episode "The Surrogate", with Kira Reed in it... but there has been evidence that it helps. I'm not sure it would work for me, though. I'd get jealous, as is the way.
Bonus: Have you read any adult sex education books lately? What do you recommend?
Last night I read a book about different sex positions, but I don't really think that counts. The last one actual sex education book I read was Tickle My Tush, but I wouldn't call that "adult", really. Calling it a "book" is going a bit far, as well.