The Feel Institute

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  • Who is this erection for?

    Who is this erection for?

    Yes, I am talking about hard cocks, erect pricks and big knobs. Maybe you prefer a more technically correct penis, or is it a love muscle when you are in the mood for some Barry White?

    Whether you’ve got a cock or not, erections seem to be a measure of a successful sexual encounter. There is a billion dollar a year industry built on the back of the seemingly elusive, ever present, ready whenever, rock hard cock.

    Why are we having sex?

    This is a question I notice is rarely asked nor can the real answer easily be admitted. There is often more than one reason, most of which are unknown or unsaid. Reasons range from wanting to connect and feel close to each other, from orgasms to intimacy, from feeling something (anything!) to lustful fucking.

    Sometimes I forget I want to give and receive pleasure. If I strip it all back, that’s what I think I am usually wanting when I end up having sex. It is a nice reminder that pleasure doesn’t have to include an erection. Pleasure can come in an almost endless variety of forms, so why is it so focused on the erection and who exactly is this erection for?

    Ego strikes again

    I must confess, I do get a thrill during a deep delicious kiss when a person I am hot for gets a stiffie. It becomes about our erotic possibility and my ability to bring this state on in another.

    Similarly, when I want that cock inside of me, and it is not quite as alert as I would like, and neither of us seem to be able to muster up the rigidity, despite tried and tested measures, a part of me does wonder ‘what am I doing wrong?’. That’s quickly followed by, ‘Do they still find me attractive?’ and ‘Am I losing my touch as a lover?’.

    Where did this expectation of erection come from?

    Is it because the sex education most of us received was reproduction based and to produce semen is the norm, so therefore there must be an erection?

    Perhaps it is as simple as the cocks we see in porn being generally big and hard?

    My intuition says it’s that those with cocks aren’t taught or encouraged to talk openly about this part of their beautiful bodies and they aren’t hearing others say, ‘Yes, that happens to me too!’.

    I’ve definitely picked this unhealthy hard cock expectation from somewhere and I know I am not alone.

    A professional understanding

    The sex coach part of me knows it is natural for erections to come and go. I know that arousal has a natural plateau and that you can feel pleasure without an erection in the same way, I’m not always dripping wet when I am turned on.

    Despite this, I find myself taking on a range of unhealthy and mostly unspoken stories and meanings about the state of another person’s body part.

    Exposed and vulnerable

    This also got me thinking how vulnerable it is for the people who have willies. Having the primary sexual part of your body being external and often on show for all to see, well, that’s a lot to contend with.

    I have a vulva and a vagina. My arousal fluctuates, even in the most erotic and exciting of experiences, however the dips are less obvious. I’m noticing how it seems to be less of a deal breaker and often goes unacknowledged.

    With a cock, on the other hand, a similar fluctuation can bring an abrupt stop to proceedings and it frequently has feelings of shame, judgment, anxiety and embarrassment associated to it for those involved.

    Performing penises

    It is not just about getting and sustaining an erection either.

    Once you’ve got it don’t shoot your load too quickly! Others say ‘don’t come before I do!’, ‘make sure you do come though’ and ‘don’t take too long’.

    Premature ejaculation is defined as coming before you or your partner wants you to. How do we measure that let alone agree how long is long enough?

    I’m getting tense just from writing this. Are we still doing it for pleasure?

    Appreciating touch

    Multiple hands touching a man's back

    Touch, touch and more touch

    I’m reminded how lucky we are to be sensory beings with the capacity to touch and feel.

    The honour of being able to touch ourselves for pleasure never mind other people is a gift. For me it is about seeing the person and having compassion.

    Personally, I love a soft cock.

    If anything, I don’t get to touch soft cocks as much as I would like. Cradling a cock and balls in my hand is yummy and I appreciate the trust. I have had numerous lovers where I would fall asleep cupping them. It was comforting and an honour. It was an incredibly intimate and beautiful experience for me and them.

    Acceptance

    Rather than advocating a flaccid cock fan club and losing the love of the erection, I would love to see a celebration of all cocks.

    Let’s see them in all shapes, all their sizes, in both natural and assisted states, with proper signposting and celebration.

    I reckon we’d be kinder and more appreciative to each other and ourselves if we did.

  • Supporting healthy male practitioners working with sexuality

    Trigger warning – this article deals with challenging content around non-consensual sexual behaviour and will be uncomfortable for many people to read. Please check in with yourself and consider whether you want to continue…

    Trigger warning. Please stop and check in before continuing...

    Trigger warning. Please stop and check in before continuing…

     

     

    I have a burning desire to work with men. It has always been there and each day it gets stronger and stronger.

    I think it must be hard to be a man today, let alone be a man who wants to work with sexuality.

    One by one some of the men we knew, or at least suspected, were using their power to torment, manipulate, in some cases abuse people, often women, were being called out.

    Publicly denounced in an article as having raped or committed another form of non-consensual sexual touch is what is expected when the word is out.

    And then what?

    What happens then?

    Without a criminal case, they seem to disappear.

    Angry, ready to fight and pushing away

    Angry, ready to fight and pushing away

    Without hard facts, a judge or jury, no-one really knows the truth. Speculation on past abuses becomes a talking point. People keep quiet, people defend their position, people are left hurting, fearful and isolated.

    I rarely see those who have worked with the named abuser make statements on how they will no longer be associated with, nor work with the abuser again. I get that it is tricky without a judicial ruling. There comes a point where there must be sufficient noise to say a pause is needed. Some time out to investigate is warranted before we move forward.

    Those that have made statements, thank you. It matters.

     

    Silence erodes trust

    The problem is when any brand, organisation or community who have worked with a perceived abuser says nothing, there is a credibility issue in my mind. How do I trust you when you have been their advocate and then go silent? That silence makes me feel uneasy. Over time that silence erodes my trust.

    There is a school of thought for some men wanting to work in this field of connection, intimacy and sexuality that they will wait until the storm passes. They will put their profession aside for a period and hope that everything calms down and they can try again when there is less fear of being targeted.

    I am almost certain that this strategy wont work. We need healthy, skilled, ethical male practitioners in the world of sexuality now and there are going to be more and more people who have been put up on a pedestal by many, that will be unveiled by some brave souls as being perpetrators. On some level we know this don’t we?

    I understand why men are staying out of the spotlight

    There are huge barriers to male practitioners continuing to work in sexuality, let alone those wanting to enter the community as practitioners for the first time.

    There are people out there who have been hurt by men and are fearful of men as a result. They want someone to pay for what has happened. Many men believe they are good, healthy and ethical. Hannah Gatsby did a brilliant short speech about this which you can watch here.

    I know that there are men who have done some awful things. I do not expect all men to apologise on behalf of all men, but I wish they would acknowledge that many other men have behaved in an unacceptable way and as a man you represent those people as well as yourself.

    Being observed

    Tape measure wrapped around a hand

    Being sized up and scrutinised

    All practitioners, consciously or unconsciously, are being sized up by others in the community. I wonder how many people would be comfortable asking some direct questions to any practitioner about their ethics, boundaries, and consent? Are people more fearful of the answer or asking the question in the first place.

    I want to be clear here that I am not in any way saying that this is only a male practitioner abuse problem.

    This is about people, people who are offering services, running events and creating workshops who may have good intentions and lack the necessary awareness, ethics, support, education and motives for working in this delicate field of intimacy.

    High alert

    I know that some male practitioners are collaborating with women to run workshops and events to feel safer. It feels less risky. I also know men who are changing their offering to work with couples, again to not have to be alone with women, or being the sole person in charge. They are on high alert. They are also unsupported in this largely unregulated industry.

    Regardless of what we do as practitioners there is always a power dynamic at play when we are holding space. It is part of the role. Being clear on the boundaries and creating a healthy ethical container for that dynamic is an ongoing practice. I’ve witnessed first-hand and heard countless stories of messy boundaries, poorly held containers, and an urgent approach to sexual touch with little time for the brains, bodies and nervous systems of all involved to feel safe, seen and respected.

    Making mistakes

    Person walking on a yellow line in the road

    On the line and not over it

    As humans we will make mistakes. To say we will never get it wrong or cross a line is naive. That attitude and mindset sets us all up to fail. We need to understand and be trained in how to recover from accidental human error which can support both the client and the practitioner. There are occasions where boundaries get crossed by mistake. Finding ways all parties can be empowered and grow from the experience is essential.

     

    I would like to see support networks for the healthy ethical practitioners and neutral spaces for practitioners to voice fears and doubts, and that includes tailored support networks for healthy male presenting practitioners.

    Recognition of abuse by men in this field is needed

    The slate can’t simply be wiped clean. There is an ancestral gender debt.

    That needs to be acknowledged and followed up with direct action to be better, to know more, to do the increased awareness work, or those impacted by the abuse are soaking up the pain yet again for those wanting to learn about the misuse of power and privilege.

    Taking responsibility

    More men need to take responsibility for increasing their awareness, working on themselves, owning their part of this situation and not waiting for others to come to their rescue. There is an inherent irrevocable entitlement and privilege that most men are born with in our society.

    Far too often at sexuality and intimacy type events I see men waiting and expecting to be paired with a female, and don’t even consider that they could take the opportunity to work with each other.

    A cup with mind written on it next a cup with yours written on it

    Yours and mine are not mutually exclusive

    We can’t turn our backs and say it is not our problem either. For those able and willing, for those who feel safe enough, there must be a collaborative effort. There needs to be a way for men who want to offer high quality work and are committed to continual professional development to have help. Support to increase their awareness of the impact the past is having on the present.

     

    Working together

    Part of the reason I want to be involved with men’s groups is that having men only groups can only go so far. If men are working with clients and workshop participants who are not men, surely, they need to have a representation and perspective from those parts of the community to gain knowledge and awareness of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a power dynamic with a male practitioner.

    I was in a small working group of men talking about the subject of supporting men who want to work in sexuality. As the only person presenting as a woman in this group I asked if they recognised that a significant majority of women would be uncomfortable and potentially avoid talking about this subject with a group of men the way I was. They all acknowledged that there was some awareness of it in the background and by simply saying it out loud brought it to a front and centre awareness again.

    Collective awareness

    What collective awareness could be harvested from working groups including women, LGBTQ, non-binary, gender fluid, with a range of ethnic and generational backgrounds on this topic?

    Imagine what we could all learn if we stepped into this highly emotive and deeply uncomfortable area with a mindset of broadening our awareness and really hearing each other?

    We are healers on the edge

    How do we safeguard our clients and ourselves to ensure we are not the next scandal 3 or 4 years down the line? Can we adapt to recognise what is on its way so we are not the next example of abuse? Can we call out other practitioners on their shadow behaviour?

    Person standing near the edge of a big drop

    We take people to and outside of their comfort zones

    Having a diverse group to gain an educational understanding of trauma with continued professional development, confidential sharing, a space to own what has happened, to be vulnerable in and, most importantly, comfortable in the uncomfortable could make a significant difference.

    It would also help combat the loneliness of being in this profession. The loneliness that men often feel. The isolation of working with sexuality and trying to get it right. I feel that too.

    Personal fear and anxiety

    I am also aware that I have had this article circling in my head for months and months. There is a resistance to putting it out. I finally got it written over a week ago and here I am reading it again.

    Have I said enough? Have I said too much? Does anyone even care?

    There is a part of me that has been scared to even write this down never mind publish. A fear of the backlash. It is a really challenging subject and I want to see quality practitioners covering the whole spectrum of being human, and that includes men.

    If you want to help support ethical healthy male practitioners or are a male practitioner wanting this kind of support and supervision, please contact me and let’s start talking.

  • Pleasure based Sex Education for children AND adults please!

    It is arguably well-known that Sex Education in schools is, overall, inadequate.

    Both despite this and because of it, there is an enormous amount of shame, stigma, fear and judgment for most people around the subject of sex.

    When I think back to my childhood, I cannot recall any sex education in primary school. The sex education in schools back then was strictly for secondary school and was exclusively focused on reproduction.

    I never heard the word pleasure uttered once.

    Many people agree that our desire to connect with each other is what makes us thrive. It is what makes us happy. In contrast, pleasure based sex education seems less worthy, less important than the sex education around making babies.

    In my sex education classes I recall nothing being said about gender identity or status, sexuality, attraction or the different relationship styles.

    LGBT was not an acronym I even knew back then.

    As for masturbation, it was certainly discouraged and usually one for the boys.

    The unspoken message I received and continue to receive to this day is that the things I think about, and the things I want to know more about and do are wrong.

    For many, the sex education they receive is via conversations and experiences with others and watching porn.

    It seems very much like the uninformed informing the uninformed, or maybe it is the unempowered passing on what they knew. As for porn, it is often lacking real life information, intimacy, verbal consent, boundaries or healthy role-models.

    Generations of stigma and loneliness

    This lack of sex education in schools means we have generation upon generation who are learning the hard way if at all. Many of my clients are adults in the forties, fifties and beyond, who are wanting to discover their sexual selves before it is too late.

    The majority of adults do not, or cannot, talk to their friends, families or partners about sex. It certainly isn’t talked about in a healthy way in any religious capacity I have seen and I am yet to see any work lunch and learns relating to sex. Have you?

    I know that we must talk about this more openly and engage each other in conversation. By doing this we can counteract the loneliness and the lack of intimacy and connection prevailing our society.

    Sex Education Role Models

    As adults, those of us who want to work in this area are often targeting for gossip. We are deemed as living ‘alternative lifestyles’. We are shamed for wanting to talk openly about the secret stuff and regarded as less than. It goes with the territory.

    I struggle to think of any mainstream role model who is openly talking about sex and is celebrated and championed for it. Can you?

    I have a memory in the 80s or 90s of tales of Sting, the lead singer of The Police, being know for his  tantric sex moves. The tirade of jokes and newspaper stories that followed that reveal were mocking, shaming and made the common man look like a joke too.

    Part of my work as a sex educator is to unpick the stories and experiences from school and beyond. To nurture the parts that have been hidden due to shame, stigma, judgement, bullying and abuse.

    Empowerment comes from understanding our bodies and allowing our sexuality to be seen and expressed in an consensual way.

    Sex Education Resources

    For adults who want to learn about their bodies there is a fear or having to get naked. You do not have to get naked anywhere other than the comfort of you own home. You can learn about your body without the need to be touched by anyone. Similarly, if you want to get naked and you want to be touched, you can be. It can be done consensual, ethical and honouring.

    Anatomically correct vulva cushions, soft cocks, photos and books

    Anatomically correct vulva cushions, soft cocks, photos and books are the new resources available

    I use anatomically correct vulva cushions and soft cocks to encourage engagement. This part of our bodies can be explored in a fun and interactive way.

    I can show images of bodies, including genitals, to re-frame the images we have about what is acceptable.

    Through embodied coaching I encourage movement, breath and self-touch to soothe, stimulate, nourish and excite.

    Sometimes I wish I could take a photo of the people I work with before a session and after a session. The relief is palpable, and their bodies and faces are visibly different. More open, more relaxed, more seen.

    Sex Education in Schools

    Progress is being made in schools. On 5th April 2019, the government published a news article introducing compulsory Relationships Education for primary pupils and Relationship and Sex Education for secondary pupils. You can read more about it here.

    The target dates to start this new approach are September 2019 for early adopters and September 2020 for the remaining schools.

    I wonder who will be training the teachers. Will they be bringing their own legacy of mis-information and their own lack of sex education with them to the classrooms? I hope not and I am looking for ways to be involved in this essential change.

    How can I help you?

    Do you, your partner, your friends, your work colleagues, your community, dare I say it, your family, want to know more about real sex education?

    I am based in Central London and offering in person and video conference sessions and programmes for individuals, partnerships and groups. You can find out more about these sessions here.

    Programmes include Sex Ed on Tour, which is a clothes-on experience, open to all genders, all sexualities and all identities. I come to your location whether it be office, public venue or home, suitcase in hand, packed full of materials to give a playful, information and personalised experience.

    Finally, My question to Corporate colleagues:

    Will you be the first to bring Lunch & Learn Sex Education sessions to your business?

    What would it be like to know you have made a difference to the people you work with? Could you empower the people who work for you in a way that helps them be happier in themselves and in their personal lives?

    Something to ponder…