Not Your Typical Therapy

In movies, we have romance, action, horror, and comedy. Each genre has its own way of portraying sex. These scenes usually involve beautiful, able-bodied people and rarely alter the preconceived script. The Sessions (2012) shatters this stereotype. 

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This true story starts with Mark O`Brien — a paralysed poet and reporter that lives half his days in an iron lung. Mark (played by John Hawkes) falls in love with his aide and takes the sudden leap of asking her to marry him. The subsequent rejection leaves him heartbroken. Fortunately while recovering from that pitfall, he gets a call from his editor, asking him to do a story on the sexuality of the disabled.

Mark, a virgin, is incredibly uncomfortable with the idea of sex: it is a terrifying alien concept for him.  Reluctantly, he takes the writing job after being harrassed by his friends. He interviews individuals with physical disabilities and finds that they are more than willing to give every explicit detail of their sex-lives, leaving Mark horrified and fascinated.

Through the encouragement of his friends, including a Catholic priest that says that God will give him a pass on the whole adultery thing, he hires a special type of sexual therapist: a sex surrogate. The sex surrogate, Cheryl, (played by Helen Hunt) helps individuals with disabilities to understand and enjoy their sexuality. She does this by having sex with her clients for a maximum of six sessions.  Mark's experience with her is a heart-wrenching transition from shame, horror, and guilt to one of striking acceptance.

Helen Hunt is a goddess in this film. Not only does she brave the role with fully nude scenes, she carries an amazing sense of humour and charm throughout the film. Paired with O`Brien, the two brilliantly brilliantly simulate how beautiful, intimate contact can create something fantastic.

The film shows how compassion and sex can heal psychological guilt and fears. It also shows sex honestly and enjoys pulling us along to show just how hilarious, scary, beautiful, intimidating, healing, embarrassing it can be.

"The Sessions" - Official Trailer Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien.


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Andrew Oliveira is a young writer who is currently strolling about Ottawa. He spends time between his writing, entertaining his cat Atticus, worshiping his muse and partner Barbara, saving virtual worlds from a plethora of crises with the power of his thumbs, and dusting his diploma from the University of Ottawa. His poetry has been published in Bywords and in Ottawater, and he has an enthusiasm for fiction, non-fiction, and scientific writing.

Find me on Twitter

Interesting links for more information

http://www.sieccan.org/ I http://www.worldsexualhealth.org/

Taking Marriage for a Walk

You often hear the joke that marriage causes divorce—some broken logic that carries truth. A society without traditional marriage to regulate sexual relations, to some, is chaos. Yet, it is possible.

 Image courtesy of Stock.Xchng

Image courtesy of Stock.Xchng

The Mosuo live in Western China, near the border of Tibet. They are often described as a matriarchy, although the title does not hold perfectly. Each family is led by a matriarch, but men hold political office. The Musuo participate in what is called "walking marriages." When women in the village reach puberty, they are given their own room with a door that exits to the outside. The girl is then allowed to invite any man (discreetly) to spend the night. The men enter the room of their lover after sunset and leave in the morning. Now, this should not be confused with promiscuity. What the Musuo uphold is more akin to our serial-monogamy. The relationships that are created often last for years, although they can be short and numerous.

One night the male may come to the door of his lover and find it locked. This does not mean a flat out rejection at first. However after several nights of this, the male knows that he is no longer welcome. These breakups are quick and quiet (mostly), and children and property are never disputed.

A man in this society may leave gifts for his children with his partner, but he does not raise the children. In fact, the children may never know who their fathers are.

This does not mean that the men do not raise children. When they return home, they become responsible for their sisters’ children as uncles. All mothers, sisters, and brothers live within the same household, and care one another. The Musuo also have no preference for male or female children. Instead, the family wishes to maintain a balance, so much so they will adopt to keep it. There is no fear of abandonment in this society, the young and elderly always have a family to take care of them,

This type of society makes me wonder. What if we encouraged our youths to explore love and accept more than one type of relationship? Let’s allow them take marriage for a casual stroll, and to see if they like the idea. Happiness isn’t one path; it’s allowing the choice of which path.

For information on the Musou click here and here.


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Andrew Oliveira is a young writer who is currently strolling about Ottawa. He spends time between his writing, entertaining his cat Atticus, worshiping his muse and partner Barbara, saving virtual worlds from a plethora of crises with the power of his thumbs, and dusting his diploma from the University of Ottawa. His poetry has been published in Bywords and in Ottawater, and he has an enthusiasm for fiction, non-fiction, and scientific writing.

Find me on Twitter

Interesting links for more information

http://www.sieccan.org/ I http://www.worldsexualhealth.org/

Practical Sex-Ed

 Mangaian Male - 1796 Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Mangaian Male - 1796
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Before Europeans came to the island, the people of Mangaia had no word for “virgin” or “celibacy.” Sexual frigidity was unheard of.

Anthropologist Donald Marshall  wrote about Mangaia, a sex positive culture in 1971. There, the children are separated into play groups by gender at four years old, and then the two genders are forbidden to be alone in public, even if related. Husbands and wives also avoid public displays of affection.

Yet, Mangaian stories are filled with passages describing explicit sexual details. Boys start to masturbate around eight years old and the girls begin around their first menstruation. When they begin to grow pubic hair, the parents bring in mentors and elders to teach their children about sex. The youths are taught about coitus and cunnilingus. The boys are shown how to suckle a breast and the girls are shown how to move their hips. The males are specifically instructed on how to make a woman climax several times before allowing themselves to orgasm. Later, their reputation as a lover will depend on this. The male sexual education is a two week long formal ritual including practical lessons with an experienced female.

Sex is very important to both genders. Yet, there is no traditional flirtation in this society. A long glance, a raised eyebrow, the position of a flower in their hair, or a message delivered through proxies is all they require. Then, after night falls, the young teens sneak out of their houses and have sex multiple times.

At age 15 they begin to meet in their home, often a one bedroom dwelling. The parents expect this because they want their children to have sex with many individuals to gain experience. The rules change when the sun rises, so the young lovers sneak back home before dawn.

The people of Mangaia are flabbergasted by the North American obsession with breasts. To them only a hungry infant finds breasts interesting. The male Mangaians are much more interested in the shape of a woman’s mons pubis.

We can learn a lot from this culture. Such as with education, we can teach youths to be safe and have fun. The most important thing to realize is how restricting our ingrained philosophy of purity and virginity is: we have been taught to be ashamed of a beautiful, natural, and enjoyable act. It`s time to reverse that thinking to unshackle those burdens.


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Andrew Oliveira is a young writer who is currently strolling about Ottawa. He spends time between his writing, entertaining his cat Atticus, worshiping his muse and partner Barbara, saving virtual worlds from a plethora of crises with the power of his thumbs, and dusting his diploma from the University of Ottawa. His poetry has been published in Bywords and in Ottawater, and he has an enthusiasm for fiction, non-fiction, and scientific writing.

Find me on Twitter

Interesting links for more information

http://www.sieccan.org/ I http://www.worldsexualhealth.org/

How to Make a Rape Free Society

 Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Sexual assault is seen as an ugly constant in our culture. Males are viewed as potentially dangerous, and women need to be on guard at all times. Researchers have always thought that this was just a staple of humanity. What is often forgotten is that we think our society is “natural” because its culture has spread over the globe via colonization, conquest, and mass media. This means many behaviours we think are natural are actually anything but.

American anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday decided to find out if this was true for sexual assault. In 1981 She looked at dozens of societies from 1750 B.C.E. to now, and found that 18 percent were rape prone (our current culture),  35 percent rarely had rape, and 47 percent were rape-free. Rape-free society. Think on that phrase for a moment. For most, this idea is impossible, like peace on earth or clean energy.

According to Sanday, in rape-prone societies, sex occurs when a person overcomes the resistance of another, which is often achieved with intimidation and violence. In heterosexual relationships, women are traditionally seen as reluctant, while men initiate sex. A little Victorian, no? Secondly, she finds, these societies hold that one gender is superior, and the traits of the other are inferior. Being emotional or gentle in our society is seen as weak and feminine, while being emotionless and hard is seen as strong and male.  Sexual assault in rape-prone societies can be by ritual (such as a wedding ceremony), religion, or “natural” dominance.

On the flip side, a rape-free society sees little shame in the roles men or women play. A woman can hunt, and a man can care for children without being judged. These groups take on decisions through discussion, as power distribution is relatively equal. Both genders are part of religious ceremonies, and consent is inherent to sex. These societies revere feminine qualities. In fact, being able to give birth is sacred and often attached to status. These groups thrive on solving conflict, instead of letting it escalate. Even violence with outside forces is rare.

These societies are a constant in history. Which means that with education, we can change the way future generations act. We can teach our children that both genders are equal and that being feminine or masculine is not defined by strict behavioural codes.

For more about Dr. Sanday and her work, click here or here. Check out her book on fraternities and rape. It's an interesting read.


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Andrew Oliveira is a young writer who is currently strolling about Ottawa. He spends time between his writing, entertaining his cat Atticus, worshiping his muse and partner Barbara, saving virtual worlds from a plethora of crises with the power of his thumbs, and dusting his diploma from the University of Ottawa. His poetry has been published in Bywords and in Ottawater, and he has an enthusiasm for fiction, non-fiction, and scientific writing.

Find me on Twitter

Interesting links for more information

http://www.sieccan.org/ I http://www.worldsexualhealth.org/

 

Piano Legs and Masturbation

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

I love sex and culture. Which leads to my frustration with the two-faced relationship we have with sex. We flaunt it everywhere, and then we hide it away, ashamed. So, who wrote this broken societal script for sex?

One of the major influences of how we think about sex, deep down, is the Victorians. When the British Empire expanded across the globe, it also spread its ideals. In Victorian England, many men suffered from a disease called Spermatorrhea (Syphilis). This disease caused paralysis, blindness, and enfeebled the mind. Medical experts of the time narrowed the cause to loss of semen, resulting in the British trying to restrict the amount of sex they had Sex was only allowed for procreation to protect men’s health — patriarchal medicine at its best.  

To help, Kellogg and Graham created high-fibre foods to stop urges, because it made people defecate. Words like "bosom" became popular as women hid all their skin — “breasts” was too crude. The naked leg of a bed or piano was covered because they could cause arousal. Masturbation was seen as leading to blindness and mental illness (origin of the myth). Wives slept in separate beds and only lay with their husbands to procreate. For the first time in history, women needed to keep male urges in check. It is also the first time that sex became the duty of the wife, and the privilege of the husband. Now the upper class didn’t need to follow these rules, and the poor were considered too irrational. The burden of being proper fell on the middle class.

With sexual repression, outlets pop up. In the middle ages, it was ye old witch burning. For the Victorians, sex went underground. Brothels and pornographic novels became popular. These novels followed similar plots: A young woman is kidnapped, put in a dungeon where no one can hear her, and the kidnapper teaches her how she actually enjoys sex by repeatedly raping her. After, she thanks her captor and leaves happy. This idea that women want to be raped has helped to set the basis for sexual assault in our culture. It also divided making love and sex.

This is what the Victorians passed on. The good news is that the world is full of amazing cultures, and we don’t have to limit ourselves to negative influences. Now we can create a fun, healthy sexual script.

For more information on the Victorian Sexuality, click here or here.


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Andrew Oliveira is a young writer who is currently strolling about Ottawa. He spends time between his writing, entertaining his cat Atticus, worshiping his muse and partner Barbara, saving virtual worlds from a plethora of crises with the power of his thumbs, and dusting his diploma from the University of Ottawa. His poetry has been published in Bywords and in Ottawater, and he has an enthusiasm for fiction, non-fiction, and scientific writing. 

Find me on Twitter

Interesting links for more information

http://www.sieccan.org/ I http://www.worldsexualhealth.org/