The Business of Sexual Satisfaction
I have only very recently begun discussing the next “big thing” I’m going to try. Yes, it’s a business. And yes, I’m scared, because JUST CAUSE got so close, but never quite came to fruition. I haven’t given up on it, but the market is still too nascent – and volatile – and it’s not the right time. However, it is exactly the right time for the next one, which is still sort of secret. But not so secret. Just a little secret. Because, well, I’m getting into the sex business. With friends. Three of them. (Kinky, huh?)
If you know me, or have read my writing, you probably know that I am very comfortable with sex and sexuality. And hell, I like sex, a lot. I have often found myself either confused or angry by people’s reaction to their own sexuality and the sexuality of others. It seems like there is so much fear, shame, judgment, manipulation, disappointment….. you name it. And to me, in the most innocent possible way, it seems like sex should be about joy, pleasure, curiosity, play, experimentation, discovery…. It is pretty much the most natural thing that a human being can do, right up there with eating, sleeping and pooping. (But more fun than any of those.)
I’ve been toying with doing “something” sexual for years. As a business, not an activity. I’ve thought about magazines, movies, clothing, education centers. But in the last couple years the vision got clearer and clearer. And my drive to do it got stronger and stronger.
I didn’t know what, exactly, it was going to look like. But I knew what I wanted to accomplish, clear as day.
I want to find a way to get women to have the best sex of their lives. But, to get there, I have to find a way to help women to open their minds and hearts to what it is that they really want – and in most cases, that’s different from what they have, and what they’ve been told they should have. I explored my own sexuality – not by way of exploring acts, but by paying attention to what triggered me to feel either sexually aroused or sexually shut down. To observe the things that would pique my curiosity, and then the experiences of looking for information when I was curious about something. I watched the sex lives of my friends – most of which are far more interesting than my own – and wondered how they compared to the sex lives of “average” women. Not because I was judging, but because I believed that the spectrum must be much wider than people know, and that people’s proclivities are probably predisposed to wider dispersion than their current activities illustrate. I want to find a way to help women figure out what they really want, and how to get it in a way that is safe, satisfying and consensual. And fun.
Anyway, I’ve started telling people that I am working with an amazing team to build a business that I think will accomplish my goal. When I tell people about it, a few things happen, pretty much every time.
First, it needs no real explanation. People get it, immediately. They say, “thank god,” followed either by “I need that” or “my girlfriend will love that.” So that’s good.
However, it’s the next thing that interests me. Pretty much every time, the conversation turns to the fact that I must be wildly kinky and have a fascinating sex life and be totally fascinated by porn and sex and….. I’m really not. Not any of those things. Don’t get me wrong, I have a rock solid sex-drive, and am currently blessed with, well, someone with whom I am extraordinarily compatible. But I have no fetishes. No necessary kinks. I don’t particularly enjoy watching porn (unless, you know, it’s been a while, I can’t sleep…..) And toys? Eh, I could take or leave ‘em.
So then, people ask me why I am doing this. Why would a perfectly sane(ish), smart, mother of an adolescent girl throw herself, balls to the wall, into the world of sex, and not from an academic perspective?
Because I think it will make the world a better place. Really. I think that people who are empowered and engaged in their authentic sexuality are happier. Happy people are kinder and more productive.
More than that, I’ve seen the pain that is caused by having to hide your sexuality, by being afraid to show who you are – or discover it. The pain of feeling isolated, alone, like a freak. The fear of being judged, or losing the life you built for yourself if your sexuality is discovered. I’ve seen what happens when people deny their deepest needs for an extended period of time, and it’s not pretty.
I believe that our sexuality lives in the deepest part of our soul, and that when it is fractured and decaying, our lives are not on the solid foundation we need in order to be the best selves we can be.
And it makes me sad.
I was watching the Discover Health show called Strange Sex tonight, and I had an experience that really summed it all up for me. There was a segment about a guy with a balloon fetish. I’ve been around the block – and through the library stacks – enough that I’m not often surprised. But, really? Balloon fetish? This was news to me.
Seemed like a nice enough guy, and as far as fetishes go, this wasn’t particularly gross or anything. In short, this guy was sexually aroused by playing with balloons. Ultimately, by blowing them up until they were so big that they popped. When they did, he did. People didn’t really do it for him, balloons did.
Backing up… a fetish, for those of you who don’t know, is generally considered to be something that is absolutely essential in order for a person to be sexually gratified. I like having my ears chewed on, but it is not a fetish. I don’t need it, I just like it. Fetishes are often focused on things that most people do not think of as inherently sexy. Balloons, for instance. Or toes. Or being vacuum-sealed into laytex.
So this perfectly fine seeming guy had a balloon fetish. And he lived in a small town in Vermont. He figured he was “weird,” and generally hid his fetish from everyone, including women, and had mostly been single all his life because of it – even though he wanted a girlfriend. He was depressed because of it.
When he finally learned that there were about half a million people in the US who shared this fetish, his world changed. When he found out that he could meet them, and not live a life of shameful isolation, he became a happier human being. YAY!
Thing is, most of us aren’t so extreme. But many of us live with the same shame, fear and guilt about what we do want. I don’t have enough fingers to count the people – some friends and some relative strangers – who have confessed to me that they want to try something new and are afraid to. Afraid to even research it, or ask anyone about it, or ask FOR it from their lovers. But whatever it is, I PROMISE you that within one square mile of where you are standing, someone else is doing it. Or at least thinking about doing it.
It’s probably not weird. Really. You’re not alone. And if people could be open, you’d know that.
So I have this one vision, in which people are able to be open and comfortable and communicative about their sexuality. Which seems, at first glance, contradictory to my other vision – the one in which people stop giving a damn, at all, about other people’s sex lives.
I think that by “normalizing” the spectrum of human sexuality – in a way that is safe, fun, informative, inspirational, amusing and non-threatening – then people will stop being afraid of what other people are doing in their own sex lives. I think about it in terms of gay marriage. People get all worked up about the idea of gay couples, as if the fact that men have sex with men, or women have sex with women, has any impact on their own lives whatsoever. Seriously? I know perfectly “normal” seeming straight couples who lock each other up in cages, string each other up from the ceiling, have sex with multiple partners and draw blood. And they’re “straight.”
And their rope-burns aren’t messing with your life at all.
So, yah, I’m throwing myself into the sex-industry, big time. But I think of it as throwing myself into the satisfaction industry. I want people to be happy. And fulfilled.
I don’t think that it detracts from the fact that I am smart, sane and the mother of an adolescent girl who has fundamentally old-fashioned family values. I think it would be downright stupid, and insane, to think that we can thrive as a society while shaming and marginalizing people for who they are, and in so doing forcing them to make choices that hurt them psychologically and physically by encouraging risky behavior. And even if “society” at large is willing to do that to people, no good mother would knowingly do that to her child. So, if the only thing that I accomplish is that I raise a daughter who is empowered enough to stand up for what she wants while avoiding what she doesn’t, then I will feel like I have done something great.
But this is bigger that that. I want to do that for everyone. Okay, maybe that’s a little altruistically slutty. But I can’t resist. It’s the right thing to do. And from a business perspective, it’s a huge market that is wide open and has yet to be penetrated in a satisfying manner. I’m going in. (With an amazing team. The more the merrier. Kinky, huh?)