The story is emerging of 17 year-old Daniel Perry, a victim of webcam blackmail, who last July jumped to his death from the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland. He thought he was Skyping a girl of his own age in Illinois but, in reality, he was being set up. The blackmailers then demanded money not to post the images on the internet. We don’t know exactly what images the blackmailers recorded but if Daniel had been showing his erect penis he wouldn’t be the first. Or even the millionth.
That someone could be pressured into suicide in this way shows that we’re just not living in the sexually open society that we think. In 1994 President Clinton sacked the Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders over her views on masturbation. All she had said, in response to a question about the role of masturbation in preventing AIDS was: ‘I think that it is part of human sexuality and perhaps it should be taught’.
Recently I blogged about the Masturbate-A-Thon in San Francisco, a commendable event designed to make people more open about one of their favourite activities. Numerous studies have shown that almost all men and the vast majority of women masturbate. Including presidents, prime ministers and princesses. Yet we’re all so coy about it.
The sad story of Daniel is far from an isolated case. Thousands of youngsters have been made to feel humiliated and, indeed, suicidal, after private pictures appeared on the internet. Educators need to make it plain. Everybody has genitals. Everybody masturbates. It’s not a big deal. And, yes, masturbation alone, as a couple, or in a group, is safe sex. Bring back Jocelyn Elders.
May, if you didn’t know it, is Masturbation Month and today (25th May) is the Masturbate-A-Thon at San Francisco’s Center for Sex and Culture. The event will raise money for charity but the main purpose is to get people talking about masturbation in an open, relaxed, guilt-free way. You get people to pledge a certain amount for every, say, minute or orgasm. The event runs from 7pm to 11pm with a special ‘women only’ area as well as a larger ‘all genders’ area. The organisers point out that the Masturbate-A-Thon also allows people to participate in group sex without risk. However if you’re not in San Francisco you can still participate at home, which is what most people will be doing. If you’d like more information go to http://masturbate-a-thon.com/
In my book Have Great Sex I listed plenty of reasons why everyone should masturbate as much as possible. Here they are (with slight variations according to gender):
- Masturbation teaches you how to orgasm/control orgasm
- Masturbation helps you become more responsive
- Masturbation teaches you about your own body
- Masturbation teaches you about your partner’s body (because men and women are far more similar than you might imagine)
- Masturbation lets you test techniques in private before getting together with your partner
- Masturbation provides sexual activity vital to mental and physical health when no partner is available
- Masturbation keeps your sexual organs in good working order
- Masturbation releases tension
- Masturbation is readily available
- Masturbation is free
- Masturbation is safe
- Masturbation is good for the prostate (men only)
- Masturbation can relieve period pains (women only)
- Masturbation releases pain-killing endorphins
- Masturbation makes you happy.
And, of course, you don’t have to masturbate on your own. You can do it with your partner and, as the Masturbate-A-Thon shows, you can do it in a group – there’s still a week of May to go. By the way, the masturbation record stands at close to 10 hours.
I’ve just been looking through some figures from a survey carried out for the Channel 4 Sex Education Show and I have to say I’m embarrassed on behalf of my fellow Boomers. Here are some of the findings for the 55+ age group :
- 33% haven’t had sex at all in the past year
- Only 29% have sex once a week or more
- None have sex daily
- Only 25% masturbate once a week or more
- Only 55% have ever even tried oral sex and only19% had oral sex in the preceding month
- Only 19% have ever even tried anal sex and only 1.5% had anal sex in the preceding month
- Only 35% have ever even tried a vibrator.
The catalogue of shame goes on and on. The products of the Swinging Sixties have, it seems, turned into the Boring Boomers.
On the personal front I’m doing my best to up these averages but there’s only so much one man can do. So I’m asking for volunteer couples who will pledge to redress this humiliation by at least trying to have sex every day and to use as many different techniques as possible.
Here’s the Mission Statement. If, as a couple, you agree with it please leave your names, and anything you wish to say, in the Comment box:
Yes, we agree that Boomers generally are not having enough sex and pledge to do our utmost to increase the averages for the 55+ age group.
I’m joking about it but actually I found the survey rather sad. So I’ll be blogging regularly on ways Boomers can improve their sex lives and an ebook is in preparation.
Today’s tip is this. Study the illustration and then copy it. Oral sex is a great way to get an older woman’s lubrication going, and to stiffen an older man’s erection.
The actress Jane Fonda has a new book out called Prime Time and a big chunk of it is devoted to sex for older people. She writes about masturbation, sex toys, Viagra, porn films, hormone replacement and especially testosterone for women who have lost their libido. At 73 Jane is still bonking away. Good for her.
Contrast Jane’s attitude with that of another icon Germaine Greer who, in her book The Change, astonishingly wrote: ‘Some women, the lucky ones, I shall argue, lose interest in sex after the menopause.’ She went on to suggest that many older women might wish to ‘opt out’ if their partners are no longer very virile and take ‘a good deal longer about it’ than they used to. I suspect the difference between Jane and Germaine has to do with love. Germaine had a lot of sex with men she barely knew. When you love someone you think in a different way.
My top advice to older couples is this. Buy an artificial lubricant and use it as a matter of course. If you’ve never used one before, I suggest you buy two or three different kinds and see which you prefer. The advantage of silicone lubricants is that they remain very slippery for a long time. The disadvantage is that they don’t actually feel wet. For that reason I recommend water-based lubricants, which are more natural.
A good, fun tip is to fill an indoor plant sprayer with warm water and keep it by the bed. When the water-based lubricant dries out, refresh it by squirting a little warm water over your genitals.
Breaking taboos was a vital part of traditional Tantric sex. Scholars argue about which were the specific taboos, but the principle counts more than the detail. The idea was that Tantrikas needed to open their minds, and sweep away their prejudices, in order to be able to comprehend the reality of the universe and experience the state of ecstasy in which rasa-juice floods the body. Nowadays we have scientific evidence of what an extraordinary place the universe is, but a couple of millennia ago the Tantric stages were still able to come up with some startling insights. They had already developed the Big Bang theory, for example, and perceived that everything in the universe was composed of vibrations.
More than ever we need to have open minds to cope with the pace of technology, the latest discoveries about the nature of the universe…and the same old personal barriers that have always existed to hold us back.
For example, do you have a taboo about admitting to masturbation? About admitting to fantasies of people other than your partner? Erotica? Being naked at a nudist beach? Oral sex? Anal sex?
In Tantric sex your body is simply a tool to help your mind reach the highest level of ecstasy, known as samadhi, and by various other names. So examine your taboos, especially taboos to do with sex, and if there’s a sound basis for them then stick with them. Of course. But if there’s no basis for them, then liberate yourself, and set yourself on the path to samadhi.
What can a man do if his erection suddenly fades away during sex? The most important thing is not to get anxious. It’s most likely to happen in a woman-on-top position due to the effect of gravity. So the first thing to do is separate and simply relax. Anxiety is the enemy of erection. Reflect that women, too, often ‘lose erection’ but it just isn’t so noticeable. So your partner will understand.
When you feel calm, try stimulating yourself – you’re the best one to do it. Hopefully you’re perfectly open with one another about masturbation and can do this in front of your partner without feeling guilty – otherwise it just won’t work. If you’re not used to masturbating together then that’s something you need to work on. Saliva is a readily-available lubricant but there are commercial ones that are better – so that’s something else to investigate, if you’re not already using lubricants. Just focus your mind on the underside of the glans (the most sensitive spot) and gently stroke it with your lubricated fingers. You’ll soon know whether or not it’s working.
If you’re not responsive it could be that something about the ‘atmosphere’ is affecting you at the unconscious level. Have there been some disturbing noises from outside? Is the music all right? Sometimes the wrong kind of music can put you off. Is the light too bright? Too dark for you to be visually stimulated?
The scent of a woman’s vagina is an especially powerful aphrodisiac, so giving her a little more oral may help. The effect will be magnified if she recounts your favourite fantasy at the same time.
If your erection returns, resume lovemaking in an ‘easy’ position (in which gravity is a help rather than a hindrance). If not, you can still caress and cuddle one another, and, of course, you can still give your partner orgasms with your fingers and tongue. How to deal with a slightly more intractable erection problem is something I’ll blog about another time.