Women‘s progress in the UK reflects on America’s sexual training

The path to orgasm and what it means for couples: Elisa Brune investigates!

Probing ever deeper into what Freud called the “dark continent”, the essayist and science journalist Elisa Brune is currently conducting a study of feminine sexuality. She has brought together many different experts and a large number of women in her quest to understand female sexual pleasure.

Doctissimo: You state that a revolution in sexual pleasure is taking place. What have you been able to observe of the evolution of female sexual behaviour, and how exactly is female sexuality experienced now?

Elisa Brune: To answer this I want to point out that this new investigation has revealed a revolution on two different levels. On one hand, it would seem that sexual practices have become really varied; women experiment more and their sex lives have intensified! On the other hand, our relationship with pleasure is always unpredictable, especially in couples. The path to orgasm remains complex and a source of anxiety for many women. To sum up: a new wave of sexual liberation is definitely underway in terms of morals, but, at the same time, pleasure is not always invited to the party!

Doctissimo: How do you explain this?

Elisa Brune: It seems as though sexuality might not (always) be oriented towards female pleasure. Even today, the way sexual relations take place is focused on an ultimate goal, a conclusion, which equates to male ejaculation. Apart from this, the difficulty of achieving orgasm essentially comes from lack of communication. Women hesitate to ask their partners for what will arouse them, mostly because they are scared it will be taken the wrong way, but really being in harmony requires communication…

Doctissimo: Is it still fair to say that women are more sexually liberated?

Elisa Brune: Yes, to a certain extent. Autoerotic exploration is in development. Women have acquired a better understanding of their bodies, their anatomies and their pleasure. The factors which have contributed to this are numerous, including articles in magazines, the internet, books on the subject and, of course, the availability of sex toys and lingerie on the high street, an innovation by feminists in America in the seventies, which has hit our shores only recently. This fun and glamorous approach to sex seems to me to break down certain taboos which have persisted for our gender, starting with masturbation. Pleasure is, above anything else, a personal quest, which women seem to be embarking on more and more.

Doctissimo: You devote part of your book to “sexual training”, a practice which can be found in the United States. What is this exactly?

Elisa Brune: Becoming sensitive to sensuality and able to achieve sexual pleasure requires training! There are many women who have not really connected with their vaginas as sexual organs, for example. How many know how to use the muscles in the perineum? In California, there are workshops dedicated to this sexual training. Individuals are taught, for example, about vaginal massage in different ways, which then creates a gradual increase in sensitisation. Make no mistake, straightforward coitus just won’t do the trick! These workshops dedicated to sexual training include tantra, of course, but also entail therapy and discussion groups. In general, the information is practical, but also fun and simple…

Doctissimo: Why do we need this training?

Elisa Brune: Workshops are places where we can feel uninhibited; where it is possible to talk about your sex life without tying yourself in knots. Two thirds of the people who use these workshops are women. It seems that men are less at ease with the idea of “learning” to pleasure a woman, or even to experience pleasure themselves in a new way. Among these women, some are in a couple, while others are single. Whether in a relationship or on a path to self discovery, they seem to have decided that something has been missing from this area of their lives for far too long.

What seems evident to me, is that women have brought about a new understanding of pleasure. You can see how this change has had a ricochet effect on men. The need to rethink sexuality in a different way is setting in fast. While men can satisfy themselves with the body’s “reflex” action, this is not the case for women. However, the quality of the orgasm is an issue for men as well, even when it is just a “reflex” ejaculation, and it can still be a no-show.

When you consider the fact that sexual pleasure is a major element in your wellbeing, you realise the subject deserves some real attention as well as further exploration both alone and as a couple! Learn to experiment with pleasure and treat it as an art form!

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