Performance anxiety – it’s not just for men

Today I read an article in the local paper written by sexual health therapist Matty Silver. You can see it here.

It’s a good article focused on male sexual performance – or lack there of. It’s something that rarely if ever sees the light of day in the media. After all much of the time the media wants to paint men as either macho machines, or one dimension slaves to their penis, so talking about men feeling intimidated by, or unequipped for a healthy sex life rather breaks the stereotype du jour.

In reality men have their own issues around sex. Plenty of them. Personally I fought premature ejaculation for many, many years. I was lucky to come across a book by Canadian doctor Sy Silverberg. Along with some assistance from a kind partner, it changed my sex life forever, and allowed me to enjoy sex in a way that I had never been able to before.

All in all, I think that this article is a step in the right direction – it demonstrates that we are all complex, emotional, and more or less fragile beings. Something that should be respected.

What jarred for me though was the second last sentence:

Women don’t need to perform – they can just lie down and don’t need to do much – they can even fake an orgasm!

I understand what Matty Silver was trying to say with this, yes, there is a very obvious difference between men and women, women don’t need to get an erection to participate in sex, yes they can “just be there”.

But really?  An otherwise sensitive article that accepts that stereotypes about male sexuality are damaging then goes and drops another unhealthy stereotype on women. It seems wrong.

Not all women can just “lie back and let it happen”. Nor should they. And it’s a bad message for anyone with a platform like a major newspaper to be sending.

What I would rather see is the acceptance that women and men both can have performance anxiety. It may not be so clearly evident in a woman as in a man, but for a caring lover it should still be obvious through body language, through lack of vaginal lubrication, and lack of relaxation. These are all things any partner who cares to look for them can see.

I often meet women who come to me because they need a chance to explore their sexuality and build their confidence in themselves and their body and their ability to enjoy sex in a non-stressful, non-judgmental situation. It is something that I can offer, being an escort that (to many people’s surprise) women often can’t get in a relationship.

This really is the problem though, for both men and women, often regardless of age. We are never given the opportunity by life to develop the skills and confidence with our bodies that we need to have a healthy sex life. I do what I can through the services that I offer, but really there needs to be a community wide change in attitude to sex, sexuality, and relationship.

Personally I think that it is time for these issues to be given as much attention and priority in our society as learning maths and (in Australia) English.

John.