Aug 082011

I’ve been looking for an upside to the seemingly endless stream of mediocre, banal, pointless, or incorrect sexuality information available on the internet. (This is quite apart from the insulting, deliberately misleading, profit-driven, or plain old stupid information available.) I think I have found it.

Take this for example: Andrew and Sabrina sent me this BBC radio show, an episode of “Am I Normal?” that investigate sexual desire.

It’s accurate, it’s well written, it’s maybe even helpful… maybe. Those are my three criteria, and I only question whether or not it meets this third because I worry that the take-away message from the radio program is, “Once a week is normal, unless you’re older; anything less is illness and anything more is BONUS!” Which just underscores rather than delegitimizes the idea of “normal” applying to sexual behavior.

Apart from that worry, the information presented feels, to me, so basic, so obvious, so “But everyone already knows that.”

But everyone doesn’t know that.

And what they don’t know isn’t the facts – though often they DON’T know those – but rather the attitude. In this case, the necessary attitude is, “I’m not broken. I am normal.”

Which brings me to the upside of all this probably well-intentioned mediocrity. Last year, NYT reported that the most-emailed stories were uplifting, surprising, and/or awe-inspiring. These stories had a message that drew the reader out of their mundane existence and into a new, enriching point of view about the world.

How’s this for uplifting: Hardly anyone is broken, and pretty much everyone is normal. Mostly people’s belief or feeling or worry that they are broken or abnormal is the most dysfunctional aspect of their sexuality. If they weren’t worried about it, there would be nothing wrong at all.

I forget, and I shouldn’t. I invested literally hundreds of hours writing and giving lectures for my Women’s Sexuality class last fall, and what the students told me they got from it was simply: I am normal. (That’s my favorite of all my blog posts, right there, and I didn’t write hardly any of it myself.) 40% of the students in the class gave THAT answer.

All I have to do to write the kind of post (or indeed, as is becoming increasingly my priority, the kind of BOOK) that will cause you to send the link to everyone you know, is tell you about the many ways in which you and/or your partner(s) are normal. Which is a virtually endless source of content.

In a way, then, the failures of modern education, of mainstream media, and indeed of person-to-person communication about sexuality, make my job embarrassingly easy.

You’re normal. Your body won’t always do what you expect it to; that’s normal. Your partner won’t always want sex when you do; that’s normal. Your desire for sex may go away when you’re stressed, anxious, or depressed, but it might also increase under those conditions; both are normal.


You’re fine.

I’ll prove it.