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How Atheism May Improve Your Sex Life

Relationship with passionate affection

When it comes to improving your sex life, there’s no one way to go about it that works for everyone. Human sexuality is complex, diverse, and exceedingly kinky. What works for one person won’t work for another and may even be detrimental in some cases.

Conversely, there are also variety of ways to undermine or ruin your sex life. That same sexual diversity that helps the human race find novel ways to get intimate with one another can also backfire horribly. Some are minor, in terms of effect, but other forces can have a much greater impact.

That brings me to religion, a topic that tends to inspire the best and worst in people. Like sex, it’s a complex phenomenon that impacts everybody differently. It can inspire great charity and compassion in some. It can just as easily incur greed, exploitation, and outright atrocity.

For those reasons, and plenty more that are too numerous to list, any effort that involves mixing sex with religion is akin to mixing napalm with TNT. I’ve made an effort to discuss both topics in a fair, balanced manner in the past. I feel as though I can only go so far before I totally inflame certain audiences.

I’m still going to try to push the conversation a bit farther. That means taking a few risks and since religion is still such a prominent force in the world, it’s effect on our collective sex lives is unavoidable.

For this particular discussion, want to focus on what happens when religion is removed from the equation. If religion is really that powerful an influence on our lives, and both history and current politics indicate that influence is not entirely trivial, then it stands to reason that the impact of its absence can reveal something about the extent of that influence.

That’s not to say that this is going to be a glowing endorsement of atheism. I prefer to let the data, the logic, and the implications speak for themselves. Since religion is on decline in many parts of the western world, I think exploring the potential impact is critical and even a little urgent.

Information on the sex lives of atheists compared to those who consider themselves religious is somewhat difficult to come by. The act of assessing and measuring someone’s sex lives, as well as the extent of their religiosity, is extremely difficult without the aid of lie detectors or mind-readers. The information we do have, though, does offer some intriguing insights.

Back in 2011, a survey entitled “Sex and Secularism” surveyed approximately 14,500 people revealed that those who identified as religious had less satisfying sex lives than their non-religious counterparts. On top of that, those same religious participants reported a high level of guilt that came along with their sex lives. Given how some religions build their theology around guilt, that shouldn’t be too surprising.

Conversely, those identifying as non-religious didn’t just report better sex lives. They had better sexual education and were more open to discussing sex in general. Everything from personal fantasies to simple tastes was fair game and less affected by guilt. That openness, along with considerably less stigma, was conducive to a more fulfilling sex life.

That effect was more pronounced by those who had once been religious, but had since become atheist. Between the absence of religiously-motivated guilt and the sexual taboos that are often theologically driven, the cumulative effect is pretty striking. This notable quote from the researchers summed it up nicely.

“People who had lost their belief and became atheists reported a significant improvement in sexual satisfaction,” the paper went on to say. Apparently the guilty feelings that religion creates around sex dissipate after a while.

Now, I can already hear the outrage sincerely devout religious crowd on the conclusions of this study. More than a few people who consider themselves religious will claim that their sex lives are superior and they may even have a case to make. Many religions offer a simple, one-size-fits-all approach to sex that is uncomplicated, straightforward, and safer. The fact that it’s also ordained by a divine power is also a factor.

I don’t deny that there are plenty of religious couples out there who have satisfying sex lives. There are probably plenty of atheists out there who have terrible sex lives, as well. However, in order to draw larger conclusions about the impact of religion on sex, we can’t just go by a few anecdotal experiences. We have to step back and see the forest from the trees.

From a psychological and physiological perspective, it makes sense that guilt, religiously-motivated or not, would undermine anyone’s sex life. Guilt has measurable effects on people. It makes it harder to focus. It keeps us from enjoying things. It’s a powerful distraction that makes us feel stress and anxiety. All of these forces can do plenty to undermine your sex life.

In my musings on taboos, I often cite religion as a driving force behind them. Organized religion has made no secret of its intent to regulate, control, or outright exploit human sexuality. There’s plenty of theology, especially among the Abrahamic religions, that imparts divinely-mandated guilt on sex.

In these religious cultures, sex isn’t just some basic biological act that people do for intimacy, procreation, and recreation. It’s subject to all sorts of holy and unholy connotations. The deities involved in these religions aren’t just interested in the kind of sex you’re having. They’ll actually punish you if you do it the wrong way.

That does more than just impart extra guilt for doing anything that strays from what priests, mullahs, monks, and rabbis deem appropriate. It also instills a very rigid family structure, one centered around a specific manifestation of sex that has very little room for fun, kink, and exploration.

That manifestation involves strict gender roles where men do the hard labor and women do the child rearing. The only sex that is sanctioned is the one that involves producing babies who subsequently grow up to be adherents/soldiers/patrons of a particular religion. The fact that type of sexual expression indirectly benefits religious institutions is probably just a coincidence.

The act of enjoying sex for non-procreative purposes would constitute a distraction. A distraction is dangerous in any religion because if people become too distracted, then they pay less attention to the religious institutions and the duties they espouse. As such, it’s in the interest of any successful religion to maintain a strict control over someone’s sex life.

That kind of control is naturally prone to stress. Given how the biological wiring of human sexuality is not conducive to that kind of narrow expression, there’s bound to be temptation. The best way to combat temptation is through stigma and taboo. By hijacking powerful feelings like guilt, it’s possible heavily influence peoples’ sex lives, even if it’s impossible to control them.

It’s akin to putting lead weights on somebody’s limbs and convincing them that the weight is normal. Even if they come to accept that, the weight still skews perceptions and that can only do so much in terms of circumventing basic biology. It also means that when those weights come off, the effect is pretty striking.

Suddenly, the stigma that once kept someone from seeking the sex they desired are gone. The burdens associated with thoughts and feelings that religious institutions deem unholy are lifted. Like any form of stress relief, it can be pretty liberating.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the 2011 survey is conclusive. It has been criticized for being unscientific in some aspects. Some of those criticisms are valid and the researchers concede that, but to the extent the data is consistent with what we understand about how religion can affect our sexuality, it passes some critical filters.

Our sex lives are complicated. Religion, in its many forms, is complicated as well. Regardless of how you feel about one or the other, mixing them is almost certain to compound both. Atheism, like not playing a sport or not having a hobby, simply removes one of those complications.

It’s not a universal fix. It doesn’t subvert other potential issues that may undermine someone’s sex life. There’s plenty more research to be done and religion is still evolving with each passing year, but when it comes to removing divinely-imposed, theologically-driven guilt, atheism stimulates the necessary aspects that make for a satisfying sex life.

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Filed under gender issues, human nature, Marriage and Relationships, philosophy, psychology, religion, romance, sex in society, sexuality

Sex Advice From Porn Stars (And Why We Should Listen)

There are certain people who just love giving advice, but overestimate the quality of that advice. Usually, their heart is in the right place. They genuinely believe they have something to offer and are willing to share it. Sincere or not, though, their advice doesn’t always line up with their expertise.

When it comes to advice about something as expansive as sex, everyone likes to think they have a unique skill to offer. Ask anyone who isn’t a priest, mullah, or monk and they’ll claim to have the secret to a satisfying sex life, especially after a few beers. More often than not, those secrets are just a bland mixture of common sense and basic anatomy.

For the more advanced stuff, you need to find people who really do have expertise. When you want to learn more about building houses, you go to an architect. When you want to know about finances, you talk to a licensed accountant. Following that same logic, if you want advanced advice on sex, then you should consult a porn star.

No, that’s not the basis of a dirty joke or a kinky anecdote. I’m as serious as a rug burn on a newlywed’s honeymoon. A satisfying sex life is a major ingredient to a satisfying life, in general. It’s also the kind of advice that’s more than a little awkward to get from your parents or family members. As such, porn stars are uniquely qualified to help.

Granted, porno sex and actual sex are as different as drag racing and your typical morning commute. Sure, porn can be a great way to spice things up, as can reading sexy novels. It shouldn’t be your sexual baseline any more than Ron Jeremy should be the baseline for penis size.

Even if porn is essentially a Photoshopped version of sex, those involve have more experience with sex than 99 percent of us ever will. You don’t have that much experience without gaining some level of expertise. That’s why I’ve compiled a few tips from famous porn stars, courtesy of the fine folks at Women’s Health Magazine and Maxim.

Beyond the advice, I’d also like to highlight its merits. Porn stars may engage in the kind of sex that most people without fake tits or a nine-inch cock can only dream of, but experience is experience. That’s why their advice should carry more weight than most.


Porn Star Sex Tip #1: Alternate Between Foreplay And Intercourse

This one comes courtesy of Jessica Drake, a veteran porn star that most men will claim not to know, but are definitely aware of. It’s also my favorite sex tip ever and one I try to employ in my sexy novels at every turn.

I’ve already made my love of foreplay known, but it’s one of those things that’s worth belaboring. Using it in conjunction with all the juicier bits of sex makes for a potent combination. With it, the physical act of sex gains a whole new dimension.

It becomes intense, emotional, and even a little exhausting. A porn star knows all those things in their work, but it works just as well for ordinary people. A little sex here, followed by some foreplay, followed by some more sex, and followed by even more foreplay doesn’t just mix it up. It turns up the heat, the energy, and everything else that goes into sex.

If you only follow one tip from one porn star, make it this one. You and your lover will be glad you did.


Porn Star Sex Tip #2: Talk Dirty

This is another one of those tips that uniquely appeals to aspiring erotica/romance writers. I kind of have to have my characters talk dirty in order to set the tone, build the passion, and create drama.

Porn stars have to use it too. It’s how they keep a scene hot and sexy to improve the overall experience. Again, this comes from Jessica Drake, who is known to have as dirty a mouth as any porn star can claim. However, that kind of talk isn’t relegated to porn stars and erotica/romance writers.

A big part of great sex involves communication. Talking dirty, while not the most refined form of conversation, helps convey your desires. Sure, it can get vulgar and crude at times, but that kind of rhetoric is uniquely appropriate for the bedroom. Also, crude and vulgar also tends to be blunt and easy to understand. It might just be the easiest way for lovers to communicate their desires so it makes sense to use it.


Porn Star Tip #3: Listen To EVERYTHING

This tip is deceptively simple, but exceedingly important. It comes from a male porn star named Ryan Driller. You might not recognize the name, but if you’ve been on the internet for more than a year, you’ve probably seen his face or his penis. The man has acted in both straight and gay porn so he knows how to tend both sides of the field.

Unlike dirty talk, though, this kind of listening involves more than just getting the right moans out of your partner. When Ryan Driller says listen to everything, he means everything. That means listening to your partner’s breathing, their heartbeat, and the way they react to every move you make.

Even with dirty talk, some people are going to struggle to convey their wants and needs in the bedroom. Sometimes, you have to be the one who listens to those subtle queues and make the most of them. Sure, it’s more work, but the end result is a more satisfied partner who think you can read their mind. Is there any other kind of work that’s more worth it?


Porn Star Tip #4: Make Your Lover Feel Desired

This is one of those sex tips that should be common sense, but is easy to forget in the heat of the moment. It’s also another one of those tips that takes center stage in erotica/romance novels like mine. However, in the real world, that sentiment becomes an afterthought all too often.

This tip comes from Veronica Vain, who doesn’t have the same pedigree as Jessica Drake, but still has enough experience to know the value of desire. Porn stars may make their living having crazy kinky sex with people they don’t have any emotional connection with, but they still have feelings. They still share in basic concepts of desire.

Making your partner feel desired is another one of those things that takes work. Again, it’s the kind of work that’s worth doing. It gives depth and meaning behind the basic mechanics of sex. Put in that work and those actions become more than basic. The more desired your partner feels, the more they’ll desire you. Everybody wins and has orgasms. That’s as big a win-win as you’ll ever get.


Porn Star Tip #5: Pay Attention To Your Needs

This is one more tip from Jessica Drake. Like I said, she has a lot of experience. As such, she has a lot of intimate wisdom to share. This is also a tip that most other porn stars tend to give, on and off the camera. Porn stars don’t always get to prioritize their needs any more than a baker prioritizes theirs when they’re making a cream pie. Actually, that might not be the best terminology for this discussion.

Whatever the case, the nature of a porn star’s work means they know the value of their needs better than most. They also know that taking care of those needs can add to the spectacle, as many porn scenes and sexy novels. This is one of those tips that works as well in real life, as well as porn and novels.

Sure, it’s important to put in the work, as I’ve stated with other tips. However, that doesn’t mean doing all the work. Sex is supposed to be mutual. Sex that involves one person doing everything while the other just lays there is barely a step above masturbation.

Meeting your needs is an important part of sex, although it’s not the only part. However, taking care of them helps ensure that everything else after that is just a bonus. When used in conjunction with the other tips, it can make for one hell of a bonus.

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Filed under Marriage and Relationships, polyamory, sex in media, sexuality

How Poverty Affects You (And Your Sex Life)

I concede that poverty is not a very sexy topic to discuss. It’s right up there with dead kittens, crying babies, and Paulie Shore movies in terms of unsexy issues. However, it is worth discussing because, like it or not, poverty profoundly affects people.

I’m not just talking about starving kids in Africa either. According to the World Bank, over half the global population lives on less than $2.50 a day. That’s right. Half the global population has to survive on the price of a mid-sized latte from Starbucks. Even though we are getting better compared to several decades ago, it’s still a big deal.

So why am I focusing on poverty? Why am I, an aspiring erotica/romance writer, making a big deal about this issue? Well, there is a sort of kinky pragmatism to it. I understand that sexy erotica/romance stories aren’t necessities. You can’t eat it or pay your rent with it. That means a world full of poverty is also a world where nobody has money to by my books. In that sense, my concern is somewhat self-serving.

That’s not to say I’m of the Ayan Rand branch of philosophy when it comes to poverty. That’s why I made such a big deal of the Universal Basic Income, which I believe will become more and more appealing as we enter an age when machines do more work. However, there’s another reason why poverty matters to me and should matter to everybody with functioning genitals.

It’s true. Poverty affects people in profound ways. So naturally, it would also affect your sex life as well. Believe it or not, people do get paid to study this stuff. Research has correlated poverty with risky sexual behavior that leads to very unsexy impacts. However, the data gets even unsexier than that.

According to census data, birth rates plummet during recessions. That makes sense. Poverty causes a lot of stress and nearly every bit of credible research shows that stress is right up there with bloody rectal warts in terms of things that kill the mood.

Stress makes it hard for a man to get an erection. It makes it hard for a woman to get moist. It makes it hard to set a nice, sexy mood. Stress is the equivalent of kryptonite to sex and what causes more stress than concerns over money?

That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. That’s a serious question that many people, who are much smarter than me, have asked and studied. According to the American Psychological Association, the biggest sources of stress involve money, work, and the economy. These are the top three and they’re all tied to poverty, both directly and indirectly.

The impact of stress and poverty on our sex lives is painfully obvious. However, the way in which that impact manifests in the modern world is changing. It’s still as big a mood-killer as it ever was, but it’s using an exceedingly flawed system to its advantage. If it were a super-villain in a comic book, it wouldn’t even need a master plan. It just needs to work smarter and not harder.

The current generation of young people, the Millennials as they’re often labeled, are at a severe disadvantage compared to previous generations and it has horrible implications for their sex lives. For one, they had the misfortune of becoming adults during the worst job market in a century. People are living longer, working longer, and not giving good-paying jobs to the generation that reveres selfies and Kim Kardashians ass.

Beyond fewer job prospects, there’s one other burden that’s crushing Millennials and their libidos. They are entering the adult world with crushing levels of student loan debt. At the moment, the average student loan debt it approximately $37,172. According to Pew, that’s a 352-percent increase since 1990. Other than stock in Apple, Netflix, and Amazon, few assets have increased that much over that span of time.

This is where it gets personal for me because this has impacted me directly. I went to college. I graduated from a major public university with honors after four years. I did have to go into debt and work a summer job to pay for college, but it was not $37,172. It actually came out to around $10,000. However, I worked my ass off, and lived at home for a few years, to pay that off. It’s as unglamorous as it sounds.

It’s also an option that not every student has when they graduate. Some students have parents who aren’t there to support them for whatever reasons, be they tragic or trivial. Even if they are, they may still end up getting a job at Starbucks to pay off that debt and that’s just not going to cut it.

When I was in college, I had classmates who had over $100,000 in debt, just to attend. That’s basically a mortgage and we still expect these young people to come out of college, get to work, and start making babies to keep the species going? Then, they have the audacity to wonder why some students end up doing porn on the side?

With all these burdens, is it really that surprising that Millennials are less sexually active than any previous generation before them? It has nothing to do with prudishness either. I’m sure many Millennials would like to have more sex, but how can they? Between the stress of a lousy job market and massive loads of student debt, how can they even get in the mood?

This is why poverty matters, both to starving kids in Africa and young people in America. These issues do have solutions. Europe already has policies that make college affordable, and even free, in many cases. There are also absurd legal practices like not allowing students to discharge loans in bankruptcy that can be changed.

Throw in other measures like a Universal Basic Income and maybe, just maybe, people will be less stressed and more inclined to get intimate with one another. More intimacy means even less stress. It also means stronger bonds, stronger families, and better lives in general. If it also means that people will be more inclined to read books by erotica/romance writers as well, then that’s just a nice bonus.

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