Performance Anxiety Series - Part 1 : Our perception of Sexuality
Performance anxiety is a subject that we've studied for quite some time. Over time I did a number of speeches and even a TEDx talk on the subject. In our performance anxiety series, we'll talk about how our perception of our own sexuality is tainted by a number of sources, how the constant focus on orgasms can create even more anxiety and we'll end this series with our tips on how to overcome it. Enjoy !
Part 1: Perception of Sexuality.
In this section, we’ll talk more about how our view of sexuality is constructed by a number of sources.
A number's game
In our occidental culture, sex is a “relatively” new topic in the public eye, sex used to be confined to the intimacy of the home (read wedding). For a long time, the only influence on how people perceived their sexuality was the church, and the only objective that sex could achieve was reproduction. This objective is still hard wired in our brains and culture, the main reason to have sex for the past 2000 years was to have kids.
The first time our view of sexuality was challenged was in 1948 when Alfred Kinsey, one of the first sexologist, published “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.” By bringing to light statistics about masturbation, homosexuality and sex out of wedlock, Kinsey started to shift the conversation from purely “reproductive” to “pleasure oriented.” But cultural views on sexuality are hard to change and it would take decades before sex with the goal of pleasure was generally accepted, and even then, pleasure was only something accepted for men.
Even with the publications of “Human Sexual Response” in 1966 by Masters & Johnson, the discourse around sexuality was only fueled by statistics. Yes, our society was more open to talk publicly about sexuality but only in terms of statistics, not in terms of feelings or experiences. This means that for the past 70 years, almost every article in a magazine or newspaper is about statistics:
- “20% of men say they masturbate every day.”
- “1 women in 3 doesn’t like fellatio.”
How our view of sexuality is shaped
The way we are informing the public limits the view that we have on sexuality, bringing a “performance” aspect to it. Don’t forget that in many places, the only sex ed classes available are about abstinence and STDs.
This means that for many people their only source of information about sexuality is:
- Limited Sex Ed
- General Sexual Statistics
In the last 70 years our culture has shifted from: “Sex is only a tool to make more little humans” to “the main objective of sexuality is to have as many orgasms as possible.” The second way of viewing sexuality isn’t better or worst, but we think it shouldn’t be the only thing that is talked about. When you limit sexuality to “achieving orgasms” and “stats” what it creates is what we call “Performance Anxiety.”
You’ll start asking yourself questions like:
- I don’t fit the stats, Am I normal?
- We don’t do it once a week, are we too horny or not enough?
- I am a mom, I don’t have time or energy to spend 17 min per intercourse, does this make me a bad partner?
- I don’t feel the need for sexual intercourse every day or every week, but I am a man, does this mean something is wrong with me?
And without an up-to date sex education that includes the notion of desire, pleasure, asexuality and a LOT of other stuff, the only answer to this question might be a troubling one that will impact your sex life in a negative way.
What can we do to change our view on sexuality?
Here's a few ideas:
- Expand your sex-education. If your sex ed classes were abstinence-based or simply inexistant you can always learn more, thanks internet ! You have to take a look at the programs teached at O.school.
- Learn more about mindfulness in sexuality, we'll publish a post about this very soon.
- Consume Porn that is responsible and/or created by womxn. We're big fans of the MakeLoveNotPorn initiative by sex activist, and our fellow Women of Sex Tech; Cindy Gallop.
In the second part of this “Performance anxiety” series, we’ll talk about how the focus on orgasm creates even more performance anxiety.