“Most people are mirrors, reflecting the moods and emotions of the times; few are windows, bringing light to bear on the dark corners where troubles fester. The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” -Sydney Harris
We come into our erotic consciousness in our early adolescence. The process is mostly subconscious as the maturing brain establishes unique patterns of pleasurable stimuli, often in response to painful events or relationships that it is working to resolve. Like our fingerprints, or the subtle distinctions in our sense of smell, our arousal mechanism evolves outside of our control and often, to our surprise. It is no wonder that the first and often long-standing issue most of us begin our sexual journey with is – am I normal? As we come to know what turns us on, even in its most subtle forms, our sexuality pushes our boundaries of normalcy. Our sexual selves are the unique, wild streak in us that won’t be easily contained and whose full pleasure potential is achieved the less we try to control it. Since the Biblical verses in the Garden of Eden, human sexuality has been considered dangerous, serpent-like.
Instead of healthy dialogue and reliable information about what it means to become and embrace who we are sexually our overwhelming curiosity and confusion about our emerging sexuality is often met with archaic religious teachings, generational discomfort of our elders, misinformation from our peers and a bi-polar cultural obsession. The majority of us never have the opportunity to adequately explore the questions that arise from our earliest adolescent erotic awakening. Maturing beyond our initial discomfort requires education, and real sexual education is hard to come by. In many places it is still against the law.
Evidence of our adolescent approach- avoidant sexual consciousness is visible in the typical range of reactions to any discussion concerning sexuality; for some the very mention of sexual education is an outrage, an insult to moral decency. For others, low-grade anxiety prevents them from engaging in any real conversations, whether with a friend, doctor or worse, even their partners about their fears and the obstacles they face in growing up sexually. Often, even the more progressive will turn their sexual concerns into a joke, laughing at their discomfort and communicating either that sexual concerns are not to be taken seriously or at least not to be discussed seriously.
What we suppress becomes more powerful. Suppressing our sexual nature only grows our obsession with it. Yet, most of this obsession plays out in uninformed and extreme displays that only distances us from our core sexual nature that is waiting to unfold. We legitimate our unwillingness or inability to have honest and authentic conversations about our own sexuality with erroneous beliefs about privacy. Sexual education does not erase privacy, it enhances it. Asking honest questions about our sexual selves and being able to get reliable information allows us to use sexual privacy in healthy ways. Studies show that the kids who are given the most sexual education are the last ones to engage sexually. They don’t need to learn about it by doing it, their learning allows them to make healthy choices about what and when and with whom they want to do it.
Likewise, adults who move beyond their adolescent sexual anxiety through education gain not only the courage to take ownership for their erotic preferences but also the skills to engage in sexual behavior that is consistently pleasurable. Sexually mature adults are not waiting for someone else to make them feel sexy or give them permission to explore the range of their sexual function. Taking full responsibility for their own sexual needs allows them to also be truly responsive to the sexual needs of others, which makes them attractive partners that tend to stay partnered. Aspiring to sexual maturity evolves a host of other essential skills for life- sexually mature adults tend to also be emotionally intelligent and capable of dealing with life changes.
Our sexual selves are misperceived as a locked box of bizarre fantasies and out of control impulses toward carnal pleasure. While it is true that a mature sex life employs these tools for pleasure, working at our sexual evolution is more like developing core strength. Because our erotic identity is so central to who we are, people who have come to terms with this essential aspect of their being are happier and more satisfied in every other aspect of their life as well.
There have never been more incredible resources available than there are today to enhance your sexual education. Below is a short list of authors that will take you on a journey into your sexual self:
Sheri Winston – Women’s Anatomy Of Arousal
Tammy Nelson – Getting the Sex you Want
Debby Herbenick- Because It Feels Good
Ian Kerner- She Comes First