Somatic S*x Education- Part 3
Written by Barry Carl, Certified Somatic S*x Educator
I fortuitously read an article a few moments ago that does an outstanding job of explaining and contextualizing S*xological Bodywork. It is an interview with the author Katherine Rowland, discussing her newly published book, “The Pleasure Gap: American Women and the Unfinished Sexual Revolution.” I briefly considered trying to cleverly paraphrase the work of the writer of the article, Malaka Gharib, but that would be intellectually dishonest and besides, she says it so well it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to try to rearrange it and mess it up. So before I say more about the work, I’d like to direct you to the article itself: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/02/14/803725591/real-orgasms-and-transcendent-pleasure-how-women-are-reigniting-desire.
If you don’t have the patience or interest to read the article, which isn’t long, here are a few of the highlights.
“A landmark study from 1999 found that over 40% of women surveyed experienced sexual dysfunction-the inability to feel satisfied by sex.”
“Our national obsession with sexual frequency and the terrifying specter of dead bedrooms overrides the fundamental importance of sexual quality. There is no volume of sex that’s more or less good.”
In answer to the question, “How can women regain control over their sex lives?” the author replied, “I think the most powerful intervention that I documented in my book was the realm of s*xological bodywork.”
When queried about the nature of s*xological bodywork, this was her response:
“It’s a somatic approach to sexual healing that can — but does not necessarily — include genital touch. There’s a profound opportunity there for ethical violations, especially because it’s not a regulated practice. But for some of the women who I spoke to, they’ve said that this was the missing link in understanding their bodies.”
“S*xological bodywork practitioners facilitate your self-knowledge of your body, pleasure, comfort, boundaries, feelings of confidence and being able to articulate “no.” For example, “No, I don’t want you to touch me here” and “I don’t want you to look at me here.” This helps women ask why they feel this way — and get to a point where they can say “yes.”
There’s more to the article and it sounds like an interesting book!
So what about a s*xological bodywork session? What does that look like? What happens? It is important to note and remember that these sessions are guided by the client (as mentioned in the above quote) and held for the exclusive benefit, healing, empowerment, and wellbeing of the client. The bodyworker is always there in service, and is a combination of steward, guide, teacher, coach, friend, and clinician. There may be a number of sessions at the beginning of a course of work that involve no touch whatsoever, and touch proceeds only at the client’s pace and with the client’s express consent at every step.
In a s*xological bodywork session we practice one-way touch, from practitioner to client. The session is an opportunity for the client to dive deep into her own erotic experience without having to think about or take care of a partner, and to rise from that deep dive with greater s*xual self-knowledge. The bodyworker always remains clothed. There is no kissing, no oral or genital sexual contact. Surgical gloves are used for any genital touch.
The focus and content of the session depend entirely on the client’s intention. Some clients seek to heal s*xual trauma and physical pain. Some seek to expand their ability to receive pleasure and experience heightened levels of arousal in their bodies, and others are seeking to experiment with new and different sensations and erotic activities in a safe space with a vetted professional and good boundaries.
Next week’s post might include some observations on s*xological bodywork from the practitioner’s viewpoint. Or some aspect of the work that’s more interesting and less narcissistic might come into focus and inspire me in a different way. Please come back and find out!
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