Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sex is Learned

I remember a joke from my childhood about a frum couple that was completely inexperienced sexually. The wedding night, both bride and groom were told to call their mothers to help talk them through it. I don't remember the exact details, but the groom's mother said to put the hardest part of his body where she pees and the bride calls her mother, crying that her husband put his head in the toilet.

While I didn't convey it well here, the story serves us well. Sex has to be learned. Granted, in many ways sex is innate, but if left completely to men, one might say it would likely be more akin to rape. Wham, bam and roll over and go to sleep. Similarly, some might say that, if left to some women, it would be all romance and preparation.

That's silly. Everyone is different and the most important part of sexual exploration is discovering what kind of a sexual being your partner is and what kind of a partner he or she wants. I know some women who "think like men" and some men who love to spend time romancing their wives, almost neglecting the actual sexual gratification.

The point is, spend a lot of time talking about sex with your spouse.

Women, ask him if he enjoyed it when you stroked him. Encourage him to teach you how to do it better. Maybe ask to watch him masturbate so you see how he likes his penis handled. If you've gone down on him, ask for feedback.

Men, be mindful of your wives and how they react to various types of touch. Ask her if you performed well orally and if she prefers penetration or licking.

Don't be shy. The privacy of your bedroom is exactly the place to shed inhibition and explore without fear of shame or ridicule.

I feel better already!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Preparing for Sex

Last time, I began to address what I see as a major failure within the frum community regarding preparing young couples for sex.

Also, I mentioned that our rabbis place great emphasis on sex for procreation and not nearly enough on recreation.

Boy, did I hear about it on both fronts, so allow me to clarify. Or at least try to.

Yes, I understand that according to halacha, sex is supposed to be enjoyable and that orgasms for both are to be pursued to the nth degree. However, if you look at what is being taught to young women (and in some cases, men), there isn't nearly enough information being given on how to please yourself and your partner. There's plenty of time spent on colors of stains, counting days and thorough self-inspection of a woman's vagina.

But how much time is spent talking candidly with young men and women about the emotional aspects of sex? How much time is devoted to encouraging young couples to explore, within their own homes, what works and what doesn't? How much time is being spent teaching brides and grooms that they have to trust one another and not be ashamed to voice their desires?

That's what I meant about procreation/recreation.

I talk to my friends about sex or, I should say, they talk to me (which is one of the reasons I am remaining anonymous). It is depressing the number of sexless marriages that exist. He doesn't take her needs and desires into account. She withholds sex regularly. He refuses to go down on her yet expects her to eagerly swallow. She wants him to caress and hold her, but she lays in bed, practically immobile when he enters her.

Good lovers aren't born. They are taught. No, we don't need to show our young couples porn - that isn't really sex, anyway - but we do need to have a more candid conversation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Seems like this topic - sort of - is starting to get out there a bit more...

I've been doing lots of surfing lately, trying to see who's saying what about Jews and sex. Check out this handy list of blogs. Read them; they're illuminating.

But, it should be noted, most of these bloggers seem to be using their blogs as outlets for their frustration. I think that it's good to talk about what you're feeling, but ask yourself this: why are so many people so frustrated?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Proper "Chosson and Kallah Classes"

Many young women, once they are engaged, usually go to a "kallah" class where they're supposed to learn the various halachos of niddah. Depending on who's teaching the class, the young women may also learn other tidbits such as which sex positions are allowed ("missionary"), acts that aren't (oral sex, male masturbation), and even what to think at the moment the man ejaculates.

How about enjoying yourself?

Unfortunately, the view of sex within the frum community has become rediculous and untenable. Sex needs to be taught and young couples need to understand that sexuality must be explored, together with a willing partner. How anyone can mandate what happens in the privacy of a couple's home is ludicrous. There is no "spilled seed" within a married couple's bedroom. Ther ought to be nothing off-limits.

Our rabbis teach us that sex is primarily for procreation. Why don't they also teach that sex is great recreation? Granted, Judaism places great emphasis on raising families - as it should. However, I maintain that many a failed marriage would have been altogther more successful had the newlyweds been granted "permission" to explore their sexuality together. I am willing to bet any amount that the vast majority of divorces take place because of sexual incompatibility. One partner wants to try something and the other is afraid to perpetrate an avairah. I say, as long as nobody gets hurt, why not?

If you don't think sex is a major issue, take a look at Craigslist or Otherwise frum Jews are starting to find ways to help themselves. If our rabbis don't step up to the challenge, the future won't be so bright.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Changing the Way we Think

I read an essay online last week that bemoaned the trend of being more Chareidi than the Chareidim. Essentially, the author went on to talk about how we went from separate seating in shul to separate "everything."

I wonder if she shares my views on why this is a root cause of many of the evils found in today's frum community.

I can't possibly address all the psychological issues of the innate desire of that which is forbidden, but I think it's rather obvious. One way the frum community can address the issue of pre-marital promiscuity and extra marital affairs is to address the general issue of sex in a somewhat more responsible manner.

But that begins at a very early age. If you wait until your child reaches the age of sexual ability, it's too late.

Children must be taught early on that there is nothing "wrong" with playing with those of the opposite sex. If boys and girls are friends, no ill will come of it. If they play board games, or hide 'n seek in an appropriate manner, they will develop into healthy young adults with healthy appreciation for the opposite sex.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The radical separation of the sexes

Everyone knows the joke about the yeshiva student who goes to his rabbi and asks about various sex positions. They're all OK, said the rabbi, except having sex while standing; it may lead to mixed dancing.

If you take a step back and look at the evolution of Judaism over the past two generations, it becomes strikingly clear that the separation of men and women has taken on a life of its own. Yes, "fences" are a good thing, but not when they create depravity.

We all know that by nature we want that which is forbidden. Does that mean good Jewish boys and girls ought to be allowed to see, hear and experience anything they want? Absolutely not. But, the insane, fundamentalist approach of keeping the sexes separated makes no sense.

These days, every simcha is separate seating. If not at a simcha, where should single Jews mingle? Is there a better environment? I think not.

We've gotten into this mess because of the not-so-gradual shift to the right of mainstream Judaism. It's a result of several factors: wealth, overindulgent parents and insane rabbis. (The great rabbis of yesterday all had academic degrees - some more than one! - and all encouraged their talmidim to get "real" jobs. It was only a select few who sat and learned. These days, everyone is a "top learner at Lakewood." But that's off-topic for here.)

These days, we all look over our shoulders and worry about out-frumming our neighbor. What does that mean? Among other things, it means we say to our girls and boys, "You can't play with one another. You can't talk to one another. You can't even LOOK at one another."

What do our children hear? "Because he's off-limits, I'm going to sneak out to see him."

I read an article once that claimed the Jewish community is no different than society in general. We have adultery, divorce, sexual abuse and incest at pretty much the same levels as everywhere else in America. We're just talking about it more. I'm not sure I buy that. I think - and I've conducted no research to back this up - that it's happening more in the frum community today because people don't know what to do with their feelings. Grown men - rabbis - feel it necessary to fondle their students. Upstanding members of the community seek sexual release with prostitutes . Divorce is gaining popularity because neighbors can't keep their hands off one another.

I think we - the Jewish community - have unrealistic expectations. It's time to change how we think.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why "Sex and the Married Jew?"

We're in the middle of a crisis and I want to do something about it.

Jewish marriages are failing. Otherwise Orthodox people are engaging in behavior that is usually viewed with disdain.

It's time for some new thinking on the role sex plays in the lives of Jews and I don't think Shmuley's getting it completely right.

Of course, I need to remain anonymous because many of my observations of real-life situations will be played out here and we can't go upsetting the apple cart, can we? (Take that as a hint to the salaciousness you'll read of herein.)

My goal is to post about once a week and, of course, comments are welcome.