What is sexually normal?
You can be in a crowded restaurant outlining your average day as a sex therapist when you casually mention the word orgasm, or erection in the context of a clinical discussion, all of a sudden, conversation around you stops and everybody strains to hear more of your sexual talk. It’s human nature, everyone wants to know if their neighbor, co-worker, or friends are doing it better, hotter, or getting more than they are.
As a therapist I am constantly asked to gauge whether someone’s sexual behaviour falls in the realm of what society dictates is normal. Most people fall into statistical averages with what’s going on between the sheets, in the car, or on the Mexican tile covering the kitchen floor. The average Canadian has sex twice a week, except for Newfoundlanders who copulate more frequently and engage in a lot of what’s known as “whitebread” or straight missionary position sex.
Even if people appear to be engaging in some of the weirder aspects of sex that everybody wants to know about who am I to judge anyway? Besides you can’t judge a book by its cover, often it’s not the people wearing the chains and black leather that are participating in the more extreme and alternative lifestyles, it’s the girl next door and the distinguished gentleman in the three piece suit.
In Anne Rice’s book Exit to Eden there is a quote which graces the back of my agenda. ”…It’s that nobody has ever been able to convince me that anything sexual between consenting individuals is wrong. I mean it’s like part of my brain is missing. Nothing disgusts me. It all seems innocent, to do with profound sensations, and when people tell me they are offended by things, I just don’t know what they mean.”
I asked her in an interview on a book signing tour at the Chateau Laurier if she had ever been “slammed” for her erotic writing or her open attitudes in expressing such sentiments. She said “she hadn’t been spared criticism, but personally she had been married and monogamous for decades, and that it was like part of her brain was missing when judging others, and besides, look at how interesting it all is.
Consensual sex by its definition, needs two interested and informed parties. Sex should never be boring, what’s normal depends on who you’re talking to. I think there are so many people who beat themselves up because they think a lot about sex. So many people think there is something off simply because they want to try something a little out of the mainstream. I say “if it’s safe and consensual, and you can find a willing partner, knock yourself out”. The truth is that everyone, and I mean everyone has something private about their sexuality that they think ever so slightly off. It also means that there is no “one size fits all”. Be gentle with yourself. As the singer Jewel says, “if you could tell the world one thing is that we are all okay.”