With sex openly discussed on TV, in magazines and on the internet have we finally thrown off the crushing of our Victorian ancestors? Or is the reality that we are just fooling ourselves, believing we are now sexually liberated, when in truth we are still as hung up about sexual pleasures as our great grandparents? Ask yourself, when it comes to orgasmic pleasures, are you getting what you really want, or are you just having the kind of sex you believe you are supposed to have? Sexual repression is about the devaluing of sexuality, beginning in infancy and often expressed by threats to the inquisitive child, “if I catch you doing that again, I’ll cut it off,” or “you’ll go blind if you do that.” It can be exerted more subtly by maintaining the mystery around sexual activities with the use of allusive language and lies, “the stork brought you,” or the creation of taboos through those much-loved middle-class provisos of modesty and decency. Sexual repression can also take the form of a more general devaluing of the body, regarding the sexual organs as dirty, impure, or coarse, as opposed to the spirit, or “soul” which is considered to be of much higher value. Sexuality is thus lowered to the satisfaction of basic instincts or crude material needs. It is essentially within the middle-class patriarchal family unit that the process of sexual repression and the learning of obedience to authority are reproduced. Our society places the utmost value on control, on hiding what you really feel. Primitive cultures are ridiculed, while pride is taken in our Western civility and our ability to suppress natural instincts and impulses. This is especially apparent in northern European countries, such as Britain, where the influence of protestant thinking has had a direct affect upon attitudes towards sexuality. Sexual repression is regarded as one of the essential causes of neuroses arising from traumas and the repression of sexual emotions, feelings, and expressions experienced during childhood. According to the 20th century German psychoanalyst and pupil of Freud, Wilhelm Reich, the body produces a sexual energy, which circulates along the longitudinal axis of the body, from the brain towards the genitals. The function of the orgasm is to dissipate this energy. The most important feature of an orgasm is the experience of pleasure; with pleasure, energy is able to reach the genitals and so can be fully discharged. Within sexually repressed individuals, obstacles are formed at various points along the brain-genital axis, so preventing the effective circulation and dissipation of sexual energy. These obstacles, formed gradually during the development of the individual, are called “character armours”; they appear both on a physical level, as muscular rigidities, and on a psychological level, as neurotic characteristics, such as various phobias, stammering, hysteria, timidity, instability and depression.
These neurotic characteristics are the basis of irrational beliefs, of feelings of frustration, violence, fear, and rejection by others. Individuals unable to dissipate their sexual energy in a fully carried out orgasm, are known as “orgasmic impotents.” For these individuals sexual energy is released via alternative outlets, in particular mysticism, irrational behaviours, the development of non-respectful sexual behaviours, of fascistic behaviours (the need to yield to another), sadistic or sexual perversions. Inhibited sexual desire or response, arising from sexual repression, refers to the lack of desire for erotic sexual contact. In most cases when there is a lack of sexual desire, the underlying causes are psychological in nature. Avoidance of sexual contact because of fears of rejection, failure, criticism, feelings of embarrassment or awkwardness, body image concerns, performance anxiety, anger towards a partner, lack of attraction towards a partner, all play a part in reducing or eliminating the sexual response. Most men are too uncomfortable to talk to their partner or anyone else about these issues, preferring to simply avoid sex or attribute their lack of sexual appetite to stress, worries, etc. Some of these men have a very active fantasy life and prefer the solitude of masturbation to the intimacy of sexual relations. Peter, a single gay man in his 40s, accepted he had a problem with anal sex after visiting a sexual therapist. He was then able to connect his fear of anal sex to both his childhood and the experience of losing his virginity. “I was brought up to accept the only thing you did with your bottom was sit on it and shit out of it. The first and only time I was ever fucked was horrendous; it hurt so much I thought I’d never walk again and on top of that, the other guy said I should have douched. The embarrassment, coupled with the pain stopped me from having sexually fulfilling relationships as an adult. My fear of anal sex led to arguments with lovers and once or twice I admit I became hysterical and violent towards my boyfriends.” Terry and Chris felt their sexual relationship was becoming boring so they decided, as gay couples often do, to have an open relationship. Hoping this might bring the excitement back into their sexual relationship, they tried threesomes, groups and one on ones. Nevertheless, all this pleasure seeking only left the two of them feeling sexually unfulfilled, “Yeah, it was fun, but it lacked something, and we both ended up feeling guilty about what were doing.” After visiting a sex therapist, they began exploring other ways to enjoy sex together. By doing so, they were once again able to achieve a fully satisfying sexual relationship with each other. So what are the cardinal rules for freeing yourself from sexual repression and achieving a good sex life? Firstly, you need to respect your partner and adopt a healthy attitude towards sex. You need to share your thoughts and feelings with your partner, talk about what you like and do not like to do and most importantly be honest. Experimentation is essential; trying something different can open up a completely new way of enjoying sex, having fun, and learning about yourself and your partner. There are many ways to spice up your sex life, make a list of sexual preferences, be flexible, and experiment. Arrange intimate times with your partner, or “sex dates”. Think about activities, which can lead to sex, use your imagination, and learn to focus on other aspects of intimacy using all five senses. Indulge in sex-play with one another, which will lead to orgasm, but without intercourse. Be generous; gently ask for directions if you are not getting the kind of response you expect and take notice of your own reactions. Get the big picture; understand that what happens in your relationship is generally reflected in the bedroom. If your relationship is in trouble, difficulties will frequently show up in the bedroom. Finally, if you cannot make these suggestions work then seek out a sexual therapist like Mr Cox. Such experienced sexual facilitators can help you work through your issues and allow you to begin enjoying a satisfying sex life, free from sexual repression. TOYNE Dillon