Monday, June 30, 2008

Speaking the Unspeakable?

One thing I hear time and time again from my clients is that they don't know how to communicate about their particular fetish or fantasy to their significant others. In a perfect world, partners would hold for each other a space of unconditional love within which the couple could explore together like children in the playground of their mutual imaginations. Unfortunately, due to the prevalence of sex-negative conditioning in the way most of us have been raised, we don't know how to do this for each other.
When a man, for example, tries to think about how he might communicate with his partner about his desire to be submissive in a sexual encounter, he might imagine being received with one of the following responses:
"Men are supposed to be dominant in sex."
"I want a real man, not a sissy."
"There's something abnormal about that. You should see a psychiatrist."
"Are you gay???"
While we live in a society where, on a very general scale, gender roles are relatively relaxed, when it comes to ideas about what constitutes normal sex we are still very polarized: Men are assumed to be dominant sexually, and women as sexually submissive. Both men and women are afraid to turn the tables, for fear of challenging this core belief. Generally speaking, women are just as afraid of their dominant sides as men are of their submissive sides. This fear is merely of the unknown - of the undeveloped parts of ourselves that form the basis of our shadow selves.
So the next time you have a frustrating conversation with a partner regarding your less than socially acceptable desires, have compassion and a little patience. The problem is not attributable to one individual but is a wider social issue that affects us all.

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