What do you think about sensuality? Do you consider yourself to be a sensual person?
The truth is that we are all sensual beings. This is the way we were intended to be – so that we would be able to feel the multitude of experiences that life is constantly offering us. But throughout time, religion and culture have been in charge of transforming our experience of our own sensuality. At what point in history was it that we, as a whole, decided to become thinking beings instead of feeling beings?
I remember this question being raised in the 60’s when an entire generation broke away from the habits of their parents, who were perceived as traditional and repressive, and began to experiment with drugs, new psychological theories, rock and roll, and ‘letting go.’ The idea was to live in the moment, to just be and feel and experience. This is also when the Neo-Tantric movement began to gain popularity.
But what is happening today?
Have we become more attached to our mobile phones, tablets and apps than to our partners? Have we forgotten how to really connect with others by actually looking them in the eye and experiencing them as living beings with all the complexities they may have? Has it become simpler and more enjoyable to communicate by texting or email, or just looking at a computer screen, with all its innumerable possibilities, than to put in the effort to communicate with a living person?
It seems that life today has become so stressful that when we get back home from work, all we want to do is to take off our formal work clothes, put on our grubby hoodies or ‘onesies’ and sit in front of the tv. Or else, fill our time with the requisite zumba classes, Spanish lessons, jogging, the gym – leaving no time for partners or forging a romantic relationship. By the time we do fall into bed, all we lust after is six precious hours of uninterrupted sleep.
This new immersion in everything virtual has had disastrous effects on our sensuality. The latest research shows that both older and younger people are lacking interest in sex, or don’t take any joy out of it, or are anxious when they are doing it, according to Dr. Cath Mercer, senior lecturer in the Centre for Sexual Health at University College London. She adds. ‘there are too many distractions, there’s always something else to do….. something on television, there’s always the internet. For couples, you can always take a tablet into the bedroom……’
Part of the problem is because people nowadays compare their sex lives to what they see in porn or in films. They think: ‘The sex I have is crap because I don’t orgasm immediately and it doesn’t last all night….’ Women may immerse themselves in Fifty Shades of Grey, largely ignoring the boyfriend beside them, or the opportunity to meet new partners. Relationship psychologist Susan Quillam believes that we have developed an awkward relationship with the reality of sex.. ‘It seems obvious to me that the appeal of the book has more to do with it being an antidote to reality. And the reality is that sex and relationships are difficult.’
When a 2013 survey by the Japan Family Planning Association found that 45% of Japanese women aged 16-24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact” and more than a quarter of men felt the same, the Japanese media coined the term ‘celibacy syndrome’. Young Japanese people were shunning physical relationships for tech alternatives: online porn, virtual reality partners and anime cartoons.
A smile, a glance, an attitude, the subtle signals of sensuality become lost in our new world of ‘sexting’ and pornography. Even tantric massage is now being offered by escorts, in combination with all kinds of other services. It seems that plain old sensuality is not good enough anymore.
But the truth is that real life is much more satisfying than all the porn and the illusion which is being propagated. However, we do need to slow down and take the time to savour it.. Noone can taste anything when they are in a hurry. Life is complex by nature, but that is what makes it interesting. We just need to make time for it, for the reality, as opposed to the fantasy. We need to get in touch with ourselves again, and in a slower, deeper way.