How Much Sex is Too Much Sex?

This question came up many years ago during a conversation about marital sex. A couple in relationship stress were with friends, when the man suddenly said “I like sex more than my wife”. All eyes stayed with him a few moments, and then, as if choreographed, all together turned to the wife. She meekly said “I can’t satisfy my husband, because he likes too much sex”. Again, as if rehearsed, all eyes looked to the floor for another few moments, before, one by one, gently, carefully, coming back up. No-one could look at either of them. No-one wanted to be accused of taking sides.

Who has been schooled enough in the area of handling marital relationships? Those with professional counselling skills know that this is the make or break point in most relationships, and needs to be handled with absolute caution. Many relationships are sick and on the verge of collapse because the protagonists in the marriage cannot speak about the real issues. Instead, counsellors are lumbered with hours of accusations that almost bother on witch-hunts, such as “he didn’t take out the bin three times in a row”; “she burnt my favourite food”. The list is endless. The real issue started hours ago, in the bedroom. Many people were brought up in a way that does not encourage talking about these issues. They get married because they claim to love each other, and proclaim their love for one another before many witnesses.

On the other hand, some people feel that they should live together first before determining if they are “right” for one another. Common Law arrangements have all the stress and problems of real marriages, without all the benefits. I always ask myself why anyone would want to go for a “Test Marriage”, especially the women. People have been conned, for too long, that marriage has no benefits, until you try it out first. So, what if you try it out, and you don’t like it? Does that erase the years you spent together as ordinary “partners”? That’s another word I like very much “partnerships” because of the business profitability angle. Do “test marriages work like “business partnerships”? A sort of “You bring, I bring: We share the profits”, kind of arrangement? If so, where is the “test” in that? After all the bible says there is “that, which every joint supplies” referring to the anatomy of the human being. Take the right arm for instance. Joined at the shoulder with the rest of the body, and at the elbow to the forearm, it is joined at the wrist to the hand, which normally has five fingers.

A business partnership assumes that each partner is good at “something”, and supplies “some degree of value” to the relationship, like our right arm. Now, imagine if the elbow says to the upper arm, “I really like you very much, but let’s just stay together for now and see if our relationship will work”. If it doesn’t work five years later, I will drop off, and you can go your own way.” Now, that would be something, wouldn’t it? Otherwise, imagine going into a brand new car showroom, and asking for a “test drive”. Five years later, three children and many photographs down the road, you abandon the car on the road, and tell the dealer, “sorry, here are your keys. We are just not compatible. That car has given me too much problems”; “he is always attracting too many women”; “she doesn’t like my mother”. Ah! Get with the program, please. Make up your mind. If a woman is good enough to have your children, she is good enough to marry.

OK, that was a diversion. How much sex is too much sex? Our couple were waiting for a response from all the wise men and women in the room. Suddenly, in about the same time it took you to read the above, the most elderly of the men in the room asked the question. “How much sex is too much sex”? Directed at no-one in particular, I guess the question hit everyone like a bombshell, because I saw every eye go back to the floor, and for a good while, no-one attempted to look up. Suddenly, the woman ventured a weak reply. “Well”, she said slowly, and brought all eyes back up. “I guess there is really nothing like “too much sex” if you are allowed to enjoy the process.” Again, all eyes went to the ground. There must be something on that carpet that attracts so much attention!

Many women are forgiving in other areas of a relationship, but when hurt during sexual encounters, they go for broke. Majority won’t say what is really biting them, because there is still that compelling need to protect the man’s ego. A wise man in a relationship needs to work more on the area of marital sex. This is not about using Viagra for dexterity. There is a certain gentility and finesse that conjures a loving attitude, which, if learned by both sexes, has the capacity to reduce the tensions in relationships. Sex education has been prominently omitted from the learning experiences of people, creating the majority of stress related and mental health symptoms we have in the world today. Every relationship is unique, because the people involved are unique. If you are sexually related to someone and are hoping for a lasting relationship, then you need to find out, how much sex is too much sex?

What Parents Should Know About the University of Minnesota Casual Sex Study

Some say the world has flipped on its side, leaving parents in a quandary. Long gone are the sugar-coated days of Ozzie and Harriet and their well-separated twin beds. No such sweetening of reality for today’s young people. No, sir. Now such comedies as Two and a Half Men portray casual sex as an entertaining end-goal, and ads extol the benefits of Viagra and KY Intense.

Meanwhile, “adults” can simply head to Craigslist, click on “Casual Encounters,” make a few promises, like being at least eighteen, and then connect with some stranger. No more complicated than seeking a used crib or laptop. The message nowadays is clear: nothing is taboo anymore.

It’s been an uphill battle for parents and schools for some time now, and the forecast doesn’t look promising. Despite pleas to abstain, make commitments, be responsible, and appreciate the risks-unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and HIV/AIDS–our kids continue to engage in oral and casual sex at ever younger ages. Our all-encompassing media makes no-strings-attached-sex seem so appealing. Face it: nowadays, enjoying “friends with benefits” is no longer out of the ordinary.

Previous studies, such as the one out of England’s Dunham University last year, confirmed what many of us have been thinking, and that’s that there is an emotional downside to the one-night stand. Indeed, while 80% of the surveyed men in this instance reported positive feelings afterward, only 54% of the women said so, reporting that they regretted having been “used.”

Yet now comes word out of the University of Minnesota’s Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) suggesting that young adults engaging in casual sex don’t appear to be at any more increased risk of negative effects than those in more committed relationships. Of the 1,311 sexually active 18- to 24-year-old participants-574 males and 737 females:

o 55% reported that their last sexual partner was with an exclusive partner;

o 25% said their most recent partner was a fiancé, spouse, or life partner;

o 12% said their last sexual partner was a close but not exclusive partner;

o 8% had been with a casual acquaintance.

Said lead researcher, Maria E. Eisenberg, Sc.D., M.P.H, “We were so surprised. The conventional wisdom is that casual sex, ‘friends with benefits,’ and hooking up is hurtful. That’s what we’ve been teaching kids for decades.”

For some, this study’s conclusions all but sanction such behaviors. As one Internet post reads: “But the mentality that young people’s sexuality needs to be controlled, especially young women’s sexuality, is what’s responsible for this so-called ‘conventional wisdom.’ If you haven’t been brainwashed by abstinence-only education, you can see with clear eyes that hooking up is about enjoying pleasure… Casual sex only becomes harmful when it’s stigmatized.”

Still, despite the Minnesota study’s findings and the progressive attitudes held by many, it should be noted what the researchers also found: more than twice as many males as females reported that their last sexual coupling was casual. It seems reasonable, then, to conclude that such findings underscore more than ever the need for parents to remain vigilant, advise their children to protect themselves, and be wary. Schools, too.

As Dr. Eisenberg cautions about the study, “… This should not minimize the legitimate threats to physical well-being associated with casual sexual relationships, and the need for such messages in sexuality education programs and other interventions with young adults.” The risks are very real– physically, as most agree, but emotionally, too, and parents must take note. This is, after all, just one study among countless others that contradict its conclusions.

Why Pornography Should Be Introduced and Critiqued In Sex Education Programming At All School Levels

The phrase love that dare not speak it’s name was coined by Lord Alfred Douglas. It first appeared in his poem, “Two Loves,” printed (in the Chameleon) in 1896. It’s a reference to homosexual love, in Lord Alfred’s case, of Oscar Wilde, who was subsequently charged with gross indecency. Homosexuality was a criminal offense in England and just about everywhere else in the 19th century. Today, there is another sexual outlet not so much forbidden as not addressed in polite or other society – a new form of love the name of which sex educators dare not speak: pornography.

This is most unfortunate: a new study suggests that while parents may not be aware of the fact, pornography is the leading sex educator of the young. Alas, the porn industry has no interest in serving a sex education function and certainly does not do so, at least not in a positive, constructive or healthy fashion.

Porn is pervasive, particularly where it is most highly censored. China, for example, is the world’s leading consumer of porn. Jerry Ropelato, author of “Internet Pornography Statistics” at the research website Top Ten Reviews, notes that $3,075.64 is spent on pornography every second of every day. In this one-second period, 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography and 372 internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines. Two of the top twenty search terms are teen sex and teen porn. The pornography industry has larger revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined. Data from 2006 reported worldwide pornography revenues at $97.06 billion.

Australian researchers David Corlett and Maree Crabbe filmed 140 interviews with young people in what was called “The Reality and Risk Research Project.” They discovered that teens are increasingly turning to the net for sex education. (Source: Denise Ryan, “Teachers urged to address porn factor,” The Australian Age, February 13, 2012.) Porn sex education exerts a destructive influence in the lives of the young. One of the investigators said, “Every young person we interviewed told us that pornography is a significant part of youth culture and particularly of young men’s lives.” She added, “Pornography has become harder, rougher, more hardcore.”

Porn, as you might expect, does not commonly offer instruction in matters relevant to conventional sex education (e.g., the nature of contraception, the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, the value of intimacy, principles of effective relationships). On the contrary, what it inadvertently communicates to young men, according to “The Project” research group, is reckless, coercive and abusive treatment of women. There is an absence of realistic perspectives and a dearth of respectful treatment of sexual partners. In addition, sexual practices of an unsafe nature are commonplace. While informed adults may have the maturity to manage such depictions, teens with little or, more often, no sexual experience clearly do not.

Since parents usually cannot keep porn from being accessed one way or another or one time or other by their children, the more likely best strategy is to include porn awareness in sex ed instruction. This is the focus of efforts by “The Project” team. Several grants have provided the resources to prepare and test programs for use in training sex education teachers for varied school grade levels. While teachers need skills to address this issue, teens need exposure to effective critiques of pornography’s representations of gender and sex. Among the objectives of the Project team is to develop teaching materials that present diverse scenarios for classroom discussions that will enable young adults to distinguish between what they see depicted in porn and reality.

The overwhelming majority of parents believe their child has never seen pornography. However, a 2003 Australia Institute investigation citied in the Australian Age article cited above reported that 84 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls had access to sex sites on the internet. A 2006 Australian study of youths aged 13 to 16 found that 92 per cent of boys and 61 per cent of girls had been exposed to pornography online.

Of course, Republicans in this country might favor a simpler solution: Pass new laws banning pornography or otherwise make it nearly impossible for young people to gain access to it. Given the widespread availability of social media of all kinds in the wired culture of our age, a reliance on censorship does not seem promising (not to dwell on the consistency of such a Draconian tactic with that troublesome First Amendment in America). Good luck cutting off porn – shy of creating a police state. Better sex education is cheaper and quicker, more likely and better suited to personal liberties and sound education.

Everyone, including the young, needs a broad set of knowledge and critical thinking skills to reject a sexuality that eroticises degradation and violence, glorifies unrealistic body types (particularly large breasts and out-sized penises) and undermines relationship elements founded on respect, courtesy and the common decencies.

It is hard enough in the current climate of Right Wing evangelical Republican culture war wedge politics to gain acceptance for sex ed of any kind, let alone adding porn assessment to the mix. If a school board or individual educator in this country tried to address pornography, he or she would be cited by Santorum, Romney or Gingrich as an example of what’s wrong with Obamacare. Try dealing with this crisis only if willing to deal with a firestorm of controversy from the Right.

Yet, all evidence and the lessons from Prohibition and the Comstock era suggest that ignoring or trying to repress the pervasiveness of pornography as it affects youthful sexual expectations and behavior is pernicious and irresponsible.

In my view, we need to make clear as part of sex ed that porn has nothing to do with love. We dare not NOT speak its name – and dare NOT ignore the reality of pornography’s dreadful influence on the sexual miseducation of the young. If this upsets Republicans, well, that’s just too bad. If they had enjoyed better sex education, they might be more sensible about such things – and probably less interested in porn, as well.

Be weller than well, give ’em hell and try always to look on the bright side of life.