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Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012

A Year of Trying Something New

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Sex-related news in 2012 was definitely dominated by the runaway success of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey. Whether you loved it or hated it, you can’t deny that it got us talking about sex, kink, and women’s consumption of erotica and porn. People often ask me what I think about the book. While I agree with critiques which point out that it’s not particularly well-written and that the relationship between Christian and Ana is not healthy, the overall effect of the book seems to be that many people are eager to try new things with their sexual partners, and that is awesome.

I get a steady stream of questions – from readers of this column, at workshops, and in the store – about how to “spice things up” in a long-term relationship or how to talk to a partner about something new you’d like to try. Fifty Shades seems to have been a catalyst for these kinds of relationship conversations, which might otherwise be difficult to have. Although it’s normal for people in long-term relationships to fall into sexual routines, and although it’s important for people in relationships both new and old to talk about what they like and don’t like, we aren’t given a lot of social permission to discuss these topics. Fifty Shades was the excuse some people needed to do so.

As we get ready to turn the corner into 2013, I challenge you to take this opportunity to talk with your partner(s) about something new you’d like to try. What are you curious about? What would you like to change? If you’re a resolution-maker, add a sexy resolution to your list. You don’t need to have a sexual partner to do this. Maybe you’d like to spend some time on your own exploring new genres of erotica or porn, playing with prostate toys, or learning about female ejaculation. Maybe you’ve never had an orgasm before, or you feel like you have orgasms too quickly, and you want to take time to learn about your orgasmic response with no pressure. Go for it.

Fifty Shades
gave us permission to talk about a specific type of kinky relationship, one with a submissive female and a dominant male. What about men who fantasize about being submissive? Since this falls further outside our socially accepted gender norms, it can be even more difficult to bring up with a partner, yet it is just as normal and healthy as any other consensual desire.

If the Fifty Shades phenomenon has any legs beyond 2012, I hope it’s that people continue to talk about their sexual fantasies, wants and needs. If you need a peg to hang that discussion on, let it be the New Year and a resolve to try something different sexually.

Laura Anne Stuart owns the
Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than fifteen years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.
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