There’s No Rule Book for Sex

Sex is a lot like religion: there’s no shortage of people eager to tell you the One True Way. And should you be heretical enough to disagree then you will deservedly be cast into the Fiery Pit of social media opprobrium.

In fact, both sex and reality are far too complex to be encapsulated in simplistic rules that are applicable to everyone everywhere and all the time. Just as the tribal myths of a group of genocidal sexually-repressed goat herders make a very poor basis for determining how to live in the twenty-first century, so the tribal myths of Freudian analysts and self-appointed online sex gurus are for the most part equally worthless.

Why do people want to prescribe what ought to be done and proscribe what they believe ought not to be done? It’s because of fear. Sexuality makes a lot of people fearful and so they seek to diminish their fear by telling others what to do. That way they can feel in control. By creating a few simplistic rules they feel as if they are bringing much-needed order to a terrifyingly complex and stochastic universe that is utterly beyond their comprehension.

The problem is, the rest of us don’t necessarily conform to those normative rules. For every woman who’s reassured that low desire is normal in the human female there are many other women who in consequence come to feel their frequent and strong desire is somehow abnormal. For every woman who’s told she needs to be “warmed up” by means of plenty of cunnilingus before penetration there are many other women who can’t wait to get a hard cock deep inside their aching pussy and they may start to wonder if they are abnormal.

Sex, aside from its obvious role in propagating the species, is simply what two or more people do to give one another pleasure in ways that are mutually agreeable. Perhaps it’s four minutes of slow but intense staring into each other’s eyes before simultaneous orgasm brings the whole thing to a conclusion. Perhaps it’s hours of kink play without even a single orgasm for anyone. Perhaps it’s some hard pounding for an hour with lots of orgasms for one partner but only a concluding orgasm for the other. Perhaps its three tangled bodies exchanging fluids and plenty of laughter along the way. Perhaps it’s a bath full of warm water and rose petals, or a gimp suit in a dungeon. The possibilities are nearly endless, and certainly a lot more interesting than the supposed norms of clinical studies and sex therapists.

In addition to the obvious fact that different folks like different strokes is the fact that we like different things at different times and with different people. One lovely woman I knew liked her husband to be gentle and loving with her in bed but wanted her lover to spank her, fuck her hard, and bring out her latent submissiveness. I’m sure you’ve had experience of wanting different things with different people too. One size does not fit even one of us, all of the time.

We’ll all be a lot happier — and more able to experience great sexual pleasure — if we just stop pretending there are norms to which we should be conforming. The very idea is quite mad. It’s as if every time we go out to a restaurant we expect exactly the same meal. Here’s Jane and Mary going into a fabulous Thai restaurant and ordering… tomato soup, spaghetti carbonara, and chocolate mousse. Because that’s the normative menu; they know it must be true because they read it in a food magazine.

So I really think it’s time to junk the glossy magazine articles, ignore what the “experts” are telling us this week, and just experiment a bit. Find out what you like and who you like it with. Don’t be afraid — there are no rules except mutual consent. You don’t have to be like anyone else and it doesn’t matter if you’re the only one on the planet who gets turned on by the thought of a plate of spicy shrimp served on a bed of julienne-stripped fennel stalks. Just find out what you enjoy, and enjoy it as often as you can.

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Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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