What "Big Talk"?
Discomfort with sex is passed down through the process of what me and my fellow marriage and family therapists refer to as a "multigenerational transmission process," which is just a fancy way of referencing family patterns that are passed down. It takes a change in the system to make this kind of change, and, in regards to sex, without support, this change is more than difficult to achieve. Looking back, if I was to design my own experience with the talk it would include all the basic facts of course, but a presence of BOTH parents and discussion about the emotional components, sexual pleasure, masturbation, body image, positive messages about my vagina, how to handle unhealthy sexual advances and an open forum in which to ask any questions I wanted. Like many, I too was left to my own devices, to figure things out on my own, with the alternative option of consulting my equally naive friends. Such experiences ultimately lead to countless misconceptions. For my clients, asking about messages received during childhood and adolescence about sexuality are scant. This questioning is often accompanied by another type of discomfort at the realization that their current sexual discomfort was many moons in the making. For many, this is a very sad though! Given the family systems perspective on change that I referenced above, for change to occur there needs to be a precipitating event of some kind. If parents and caregivers could become more proactive in their willingness to address their own sexual issues head on, they would be much better equipped to engage in dialogue surrounding this unnecessarily uncomfortable topic. In essence, they would be serving as agents of change. Research shows that parental discomfort around sexuality is not only passed down but a product of one's own discomfort around their own masculinity and femininity. The more comfort a parent has, the ore likely they are to address sexuality in an open and honest manner.
A healthier "Big Talk" would include discussions about plumbing and prevention, but also about the sexual response cycle, which is often far too uncomfortable for most because it targets desire and pleasure. As a result, the model of sex is left to imagination, media, and socially constructed messages. Recent research indicates that in a study aiming to determine how long, on average, sexual intercourse lasts for the study's participants, the mean average was less than 5 minutes in duration. This number correlates closely with images in porn, and leaves much to be desired sexually. Particularly, for women who take, on average, about 13 minutes to climax. When giving workshops on sexuality around the Midwest, so many fallacies are present which are relevant less than effective approach to sexuality. Masturbation is a consistent topic around folks tend to be exceptionally uncomfortable. In the same vein, I have often been asked if masturbating should be used as a measure to signal sexual abuse/trauma. Just one indicator of beliefs that exist around our oneness with our bodies and sexual selves.
Until next time...#Withlovefromyourlocalsextherapist