Ever had a dream where you woke up suddenly thinking, "What was that?!" I have. In my dream, I was presenting to a group of women where we were discussing how to enhance your sexual pleasure.
One woman asked me what the key was to my definition of the best sex yet. My response was one that woke me up from the dream. I replied that the best sex I have had in my life — the most uninhibited, wild, passionate and sexually adventurous — was with men who were not so tightly bound to gender roles.
This revelation woke me from a deep sleep. And as I laid there wide awake, I gave it some serious consideration. My conclusion: My subconscious is correct. There are some points I need to make here.
I admit upfront that this is strictly anecdotal, and I know the plural of anecdote is not data. The sample I draw from is small and only includes men because I have only had sex with men. Who knows, that might change for me as I age. Sexuality can be fluid for some people.
There is a small additional segment of men not included in the primary data set where I am friends with them, and yet I only had sex with the partner one night. I feel it is important to note that there is nothing wrong with hookups if that is what you are into. However, in these five instances, the men were people I got to know fairly intimately in friendships along the way. These men are also not so rigid about maleness, masculinity or needing to be an Alpha.
Outside of my sample, there is a larger subset of men (and some women) whom I have fantasized about who definitely do not care one bit about the norms of masculinity or femininity. While some are celebrities, others are people I have the pleasure of interacting with in a work setting. They are leather fairies, androgynous and femme, and are certainly the sexiest beings I have seen walk the earth.
People like Prince and David Bowie (men I have not slept with) possess a sexiness that creates a fascination and awe in me. They are certainly giants within the sex-positive sex educator industry.
I will also add that the majority of my positive experiences with sex have been with men within four years of my age. The outlier, who was ten years younger than me (don't you dare call me a cougar) was someone I became friends with over an extended period before we decided to have intercourse. This person is unique from other partners because of his maturity and intelligence, and grew up with a thorough sex education. Such a brilliantly, sexy mind, that one. And he's still a dear friend.
As I think back to each of my long-term relationships, including the relationship with my ex-husband, the above statement about wild, fun sex is real. Also, there is a bit of interviewer bias on my part, given that I also skew toward the opinion that, for myself, the best sex has not happened on my one-night stands. I've found it takes communication to share what I like and what turns me on to really connect with a partner.
I certainly did not understand that about myself in those early experiences of engaging in sexual behaviors with others. My "best sex" is not one, single best act, but came from a connection with the people involved who were evolved.
My current partner (and I share this with his consent) is confident in who he is, what he believes and in his sexuality. A self-professed computer science geek, this guy has a PhD in machine learning and takes computer language classes online for “fun."
He has dressed like Divine for Halloween, worn a dress to Burning Man, rocks a kilt and gets pedicures with polish while also presenting as a sexy, Christoph Waltz body double. Each time he has shocked our friends and family and encouraged some of them to question their beliefs (and fears?) of what is masculine, and how to approach fear of judgment.
Each time he pushes that “male” envelope, it reassures me of my admiration for him. This guy could be The Geek Whisperer because he was exactly like a lot of young men in America: virgin into his 20s, felt undesirable to girls because he was so geeky, wanted to date, but had no confidence or skills.
Instead of watching porn (there was no internet in Germany behind the Berlin Wall), he read all three books that existed about sex. I can see how his expressions of being not-so-rigid have helped him make some more daring chances in his life. He tells me that being a partner who isn't "threatened" by this behavior that violates societal "norms" has made him feel more confident, and things between us more secure and sexier.
As for the rest of my sexual partners, one partner used to wear his mother's black corset and stockings to dress as Frankenfurter from "Rocky Horror Picture Show," without saying much more. I'll put him in the “good sex” column.
Another partner wouldn't have sex anywhere other than the bedroom, and pretty much only in one position. He never received ANY sex education in school growing up. None at all. Sure, it was good at the time. But it got rather dull.
Another was just a typical frat boy. He was fun for a while, but was a pretty hardwired traditionalist. I guess I'll leave it at that.
All of the men I've ever been intimate with were respectful toward women. In my observations, they also held their mothers in high regard. I do not think I could spend time with a man who bashed women, or who was disrespectful in any way. Indeed, the “respectful to others” quality is one I am teaching to my daughters as an essential component of someone to spend time with on a long-term basis, male or female.
The commonality with the long-term relationships that did not work out was an inability to communicate. This included good things, bad things, feelings (mostly jealousy ... that sh*t is so bad for you) and most importantly, what they felt about our relationship.
I discovered my own learnings along the way, but I quickly realized those were symptoms of something deeper going on in the relationship, and not usually about the sex. I learned that telling the truth gave each of us the power to choose how we wanted to proceed.
In three of the instances, I stayed in a miserable relationship for longer than I should have because the sex was good, and I thought it could never be better. Boy, was I wrong about that. Perhaps it's because I've acquired better skills, as well, but I'm happy with where I am now. This guy is not perfect and neither am I, but after much work in this area, I now have a much stronger handle on how sex and relationships can work than I ever did as a young adult. It's amazing what a solid education can do for one's confidence in themselves and the decisions they make.
Thinking back to last night's dream, I may have been influenced by the death of Prince, and before him, David Bowie. Both men were incredibly talented musicians, but had a much more profound effect on the world. They challenged gender norms. I read an article in The Washington Post about the impact of these souls:
But if conventional notions of gender were only one of the things that didn't constrain Bowie and Prince, their transcendence of this particular category is still a particularly significant part of their legacies. In the clothes they wore, the lean bodies they lived in, the way they positioned themselves in their music and art, their relationships to LGBT communities and in so many other ways, Prince and Bowie were living arguments that there is no one way, and no correct way for a man to dress, to move, to decide what he values, to choose who he loves or where he stands in relation to that person.
I know these men and a handful of other musicians helped many others to have the courage to be who they are as a result of the visibility they had. As you can see, my data sample is small and not statistically valid. I am not trying to tell people to start “gender bending,” as my sister calls it. I do want to encourage people to push their own boundaries and question where they find themselves really rigid about a topic.
It's been said many times before: You cannot be what you do not see. If we do not see examples of people pushing boundaries, then it will be harder for some to embrace even the possibility of change.
It's too easy to say, "Oh, that's just how things are," and continue sleepwalking. It takes courage to ask "why," and to challenge the status quo.
However, if it weren't for people like Bowie and Prince (and others like them),we would not have examples of anything different from the stereotypical media images of "ideal."
I hope many more men and women are encouraged to figure out what they like, need, want and desire outside of the influence of others, examine the motivations of others when they get upset that you support something other than what you are "supposed to" and actively support and encourage others who buck this sex/gender-suppressing system.
I am convinced many more people will experience the best sex of their lives — uninhibited, wild, passionate and sexually adventurous — when they stop adhering to strict, binary definitions of gender roles. It has not just been my education in learning about what people do sexually and how they think and feel about it, but it is also my own experience that tells me the most fun you can begin to have in sex is when you stop worrying about that.