E&L: Do you think it’s possible get addicted to sex toys? What would you say to the woman who can only get herself off with a toy, not with her hand?
JW: I don’t think it’s possible to get addicted to sex toys. I use sex toys often, and when I take a break I can get off with a hand or a tongue. Even when I’m using sex toys I can get off with a hand or a tongue, it just takes longer than it does with a toy. I’d tell a woman who can only get herself off with a toy, to remember first off that the brain is your biggest sex organ ever and that what you’re thinking about when you’re playing with yourself can make all the difference. If she’s thinking that she can’t get herself off, she needs to start talking up the fact that she can, and that it feels good to do so with her hand. She needs to visualize having that orgasm, and how happy she’ll be that she did it without outside help and that she did it for herself. Also she shouldn’t give up after fifteen, twenty minutes. Time doesn’t matter. She can’t let herself get stressed out about how long it might take, she needs to set aside as much time as she needs to get off, and she needs to just let herself go there. Go with the flow so to speak. If she can’t reach orgasm that first day, there’s always tomorrow. Oh, and she should use lube so she doesn’t irritate her clit or her vagina. Even if she’s got her own natural lubricant, which she probably does, lube is a great helper for all things sex.
Deborah Siegel interviews sex therapist Esther Perel on her blog Girl With Pen about her book Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Domestic and the Erotic (check out my Village Voice column “Keeping Married Sex Hot” on Perel from 2006 too)
Siegel: “I think it’s Fear of Flying meets Jane Sexes It Up—an implicitly sexy and intellectually fearless 21st century manifesto on sex inside marriage, for both women and men. According to Perel, mating in captivity is not a problem to solve. Rather, it’s a paradox to manage. And manage we can.”
DS: You write, “American men and women, shaped by the feminist movement and its egalitarian ideas, often find themselves challenged by these contradictions.” Please say more about how younger men—the sons of feminism, that is—are challenged by contradictions. Of what sort?
EP: In heterosexual couples, I see men who struggle to find a place for themselves sexually with their partner, and with how to express a masculinity that includes a striving force, a drive, assertiveness and that will be welcomed by the women. They are reluctant to reveal their sexual turn ons to their partner for fear of insulting her. Moreover, having lost the male privilege of a woman who’ll perform her wifely duty, they need to keep her erotically engaged, seduce her, make her feel desirable and interested in him. The idea that committed sex is intentional, premeditated consciously willed clashes against the myth of spontaneity. Another point is that if women can do all what the man does, where does that leave him? What is specific to him? Ou est la difference?
It is important for him to convey to her that the language of intimacy for him is often not verbal, but physical and sexual. Additionally, he wonders how to bring the erotic home, be safely ruthless with the woman he loves and respects.
Given the power shifts, men often struggle to integrate masculinity and sexuality in their intimate relationships.