For example, the May issue of body + soul, Martha Stewart Omnimedia’s health magazine (it used to be a subscription to Dr. Andrew Weil’s hippie newsletter which folded and/or sold itself to Martha so I was transferred against my will, okay?) had an article about sexual desire that actually surprised and pleased me.
The article opens, as they do, with a case study. This time the focus was a 40 year-old married woman who has low sexual desire. That means sex about once a month, even though she swears she loves her husband and their relationship is not at issue. We then get some data, something I’ve read over and over, that about one-third of adult women experience little interest in sex (the typical breakdown is one-third are “average” and one-third show great interest in sex; not surprisingly, frequency of orgasm correlates directly according to most studies).
So far, so boring, but here’s where it got my attention. A common treatment for women with low desire is testosterone therapy—and indeed I’ve always attributed my interest in the deed with a lab-verified higher-than-average amount of the horny hormone coursing through my veins. However, the researcher in question, a Dr. Lori Brotto, found that there was no relation between hormone levels and a woman’s reported interest in sex. Okay, wow, so pills aren’t the answer, as much as the search for a female Viagra inflames the imagination. Moreover (isn’t “moreover” a great word?), women who said they weren’t interested in sex still manifested the same physical responses to sexual stimuli (Dirty pictures? Warm caresses from a handsome lab assistant?). They just didn’t realize their bodies were turned on.
Dr. Brotto found that the main difference between sex-obsessed females (you know who you are) and the woman in the article is a disconnect between body and brain. Her solution? A program of mindfulness training to bring them “back into their bodies” and override the stress and other factors that ”snuff out sexy feelings.” The program involves exercises like taking twenty minutes to eat an orange and enjoying every drop of sweet juice, the moist flesh on your tongue. In order to displace negative associations with sex, she suggests you focus on and savor the positive, whether it’s the emotional closeness or the physical pleasure—“feel the sensation going into your body like a sponge”—and thus strengthen neural pathways that associate sex with fun. The woman who served as the article’s focus found it took about six months to see results, but she noticed definite improvement.
Now, the reason I’m blogging about this here at “Sex, Food, and Writing” is not just because the orange exercise sounds like fun (it can be a raisin, too, or hell, even cheesecake), but also because it struck me that being mindful and paying closer attention to your sensual and sexual experiences is exactly what we erotica writers do for our professional development. In other words, being a writer improves your sex life. Now, my sex life was pretty good before I started writing, but after I started paying very close attention to what’s going on with me and my partner, after expressing the “truth” of sex became my passion, well, the fulfillment of my marital duty benefited accordingly. I’d never really thought of this as something that could work for non-writers, just more as a perk for poor smut scribblers who don’t get many breaks in life. But hey, the results look promising for everyone. Not to mention nurturing the spirit and mind always beats a quick-fix pill in my book.
There is a certain irony to the fact this “look within because the best things in life are free” article is embedded in a blizzard of ads for therapist programs, anti-aging probiotic mints and Home Depot. But it sure as hell is a welcome change from the standard emphasis on all the externals like “new” sex positions (how do those weird handstands and office furniture contortions ever help with female pleasure anyway?), pills and potions, body-enhancing bras or porn tapes for couples.
And let’s face it, even erotica writers can use a little reminding to slow down and pay attention.
It’s as simple as that. Pay attention.
You can bet next time I eat one of the season’s plump, glossy, fresh, organic strawberries, I’m going to make it last a long time!