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Rethinking Erotophobia

The conference for the Society of Sexual Scientists was fascinating. The people who research, teach and counsel around sexuality are as diverse as the topic itself. It taught me all over again that the human experience of sexuality is far broader, wider, wilder than most of us let ourselves imagine. The fact that this is true and not just true about other people is the source of our own private Erotophobia. Yes, this is a real word…

Apparently the most pertinent question which drives most sex therapy sessions is “Am I normal?” I myself have asked myself and my psychiatrist husband this question on numerous occasions. Trying to recall or worse still, recount my fantasies (that were thrilling during the act of sex), left me feeling bewildered and non-plussed afterwards. How could I even entertain those thoughts- where did they come from? I was relieved to find out that I was not alone in this concern about my own normalcy around sex, in fact, this is true for most everyone.

Our need to understand and feel normal about our sexuality is a double edged sword. Sexual problems and concerns are totally normal and the range of experiences that create sexual satisfaction is more diverse than most of us imagine…and yet, one intense encounter or even fantasy that leads us too far outside of our own sense of normalcy can tip the balance of our sexuality (in our own eyes) into perversion. This balance point lies on a very thin edge, partly because our sexuality is so little understood or explored. Thus, our erotophobia, our own personal drama and fear with our own eroticism. The degree to which we don’t trust our own sexual urges or completely repress them, makes us in turn, mistrust the unspoken and potentially dangerous sexuality of our neighbor, and maybe our neighbor’s neighbor…

This mistrust of our sexual natures has grown to epic proportions in our current cultural view of sexuality. The need to “protect” the family, the church, the community from the sexual part of human nature has only served to further pervert it…as we saw in the recent fall of the popular minister from Colorado. That this fear has crept into public policy, like the fact that there are still six states where it is against the law to sell sex toys (but not guns) is a prime example. Weird when firearms are seen as safer than sexual aids…

At any rate, the solution I think is not in the current practice of policing everyone’s private sexuality and turning it into public policy. Rather, it is in reinventing the questions that help us to understand and live with our sexuality peaceably. Those nights when my fantasy life seems to lead me astray, I try to focus on the pleasure that those ideas allows me to experience and not get too lost in how I got there. It is a way of trusting myself and abandoning myself to the wilder side of human sexuality that really does live in all of us.

Look for our new and more beautiful improved Making Love Sustainable blog coming out in the next few days. Stay posted, this topic is just the tip of the iceberg of recent leaps in understanding and creating a language for a greener, healthier shade of love.