Before Amy Schumer made it ok for us to speak up for ourselves in the bedroom (or on the desk or in the shower), Dr. Erica Goodstone had already logged thousands of therapeutic miles helping both women and men express their sexual needs. One of the country's leading sexologists, Dr. Erica brings intelligence, warmth and a smart sense of humor into the sexual conversation.
"Unstable men make better lovers," she advised a friend who fell in love and left her husband for a man who was great in bed but not so great everyplace else. "A normal guy is going to work and thinking about how to advance so he can provide for his family. An unstable guy will write poetry to your breasts." (Move over, Amy!)
From Monday June 6th through June 26th, Dr. Erica is hosting a free virtual summit featuring 33 of the world's leading sexologists talking about what it takes to have really great sex. From orgasms--real and faked, male, female and trans--to mindful sex, internet porn and fetishes, experts who have spent decades studying human sexual response will share their expertise and contact information. She says, "My goal is to bring together sexologists who have done research on subjects like how orgasm suppresses pain and how to have extraordinary sex." If you would like to discover ways to enhance your sexual relationships, overcome pain and shame from abuse and betrayal, and/or take control of your sex life and return to passion, you will find an expert here:
If you are a fan of Law and Order: SVU you'll want to hear Dr. Daniel Watter speak about forensics and sexuality. Linda Weiner will talk about a series of mindfulness activities called "sensate focus." Originally developed by William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the originators of sex therapy, sensate focus encourages couples to explore touch and sensation with a partner, starting with non-sexual touching and leading up to greater physically intimate touching. Need a boost of Sex Esteem™? Sexologist Sari Cooper offers some tips on sexual confidence building skills. And if you've ever wondered about sex in space--and seriously, who hasn't?--Dr. Ray Noonan will discuss what he learned from working with NASA to research his masters' thesis. Dr. Erica Goodstone has brought together many of the men and women who have devoted their lives to sexuality. "I want to highlight the work of my esteemed colleagues in the sexology world," she says.
"They are the ones who are doing the research, teaching the courses, training other therapists, counseling, working therapeutically with clients, and publishing the manuals and books to help us cope with our sexual issues."
It's a New York story: Dr. Erica and I met in a midtown elevator where we were both speakers at a New Life Expo. It was the early 90's, B.I. (Before Internet) and soon after we exchanged phone numbers I interviewed her for a Men's Fitness assignment: Sex and the Modern Male (August 1992). In discussing reasons for the explosion of phone sex (remember, this was B.I.) Dr. Erica said, "Nowadays, men are feeling split between their professional lives and their sexuality. Men's intellects and bodies are disconnected. In other times, they could go to a hooker together (with other men) to relieve sexual tension." Today, she notes that the internet delivers "instant gratification on steroids," adding that "a lot of men watch pornography and it's hard for them to be intimate with somebody who is real. The internet gives people access and not enough training to connect with a human partner." There are benefits: you can't get pregnant or catch an STD. Whatever your gender, watching porn online has the additional benefit of giving you total control. "You turn on the computer, you watch what you want, and you masturbate. When you have a partner, you don't have control," says Dr. Erica. "You have to court the person. You have to have conversation. Your partner might be tired or not interested and you have to develop skills." Although many people get their sex education from porn, that exposure leads to unrealistic expectations about what a sexual relationship requires.
There is some discussion among therapists as to whether online and phone sex qualify as fetishes, meaning that you need a specific object, like a shoe, in order to achieve orgasm. "If you can't have regular sexual relationships, non-intimate sex can be considered a fetish because it requires a piece of equipment and it does not involve touch of physical contact," Dr. Erica says. (The author of more than 100 articles on sexuality on eZinearticles.com and 15 books on amazon.com, her most popular book covers the most popular fetish of all: Beautiful Bare Feet: Fetish or Fantasy. (For a free copy of Dr. Erica Goodstone's Love Me, Touch Me, Heal Me, go to: ebookhttp://mindbodynetwork.com/library/book/love-me-touch-me-heal-me).
Helping real human beings have great sex together drives Dr. Erica and the sexologists featured in her Sexual Reawakening summit. "People come to me when they're about to get divorced and they're very frustrated because sex has not been working out right," she says. But times have changed. "It used to be that women would drag their men in for therapy to deal with a relationship or marriage problem. But now, if it's a sexual problem, men will drag the women in for sex therapy." Sexual issues have changed with the times, too. "It isn't so much what it used to be, like a particular sexual dysfunction like erectile dysfunction (ED) or a woman not getting an orgasm. I'm now seeing issues that pertain to libido and sexual desire more than sexual dysfunction, like one or both partners having lower sexual desire. Or one partner connects with someone online and starts sexting, sharing intimate thoughts, or having an affair." Online affairs disrupt many marriages and Dr. Erica has found that the lure of online intimacy is equally compelling for both sexes.
Coping with dysfunction and differing sexual preferences pose the greatest challenges to sustaining a sexual relationship. I think Amy Schumer will agree with Dr. Erica when she says, "It's important to learn how not to be afraid to talk about what you want and need," she says. "You need to learn how to not get hurt if another person's responses aren't what you want or expect."
Expecting the unexpected can be a turn-on...or a rude awakening. Soon after I met Dr. Erica, a young woman fell in love with another patient whom she saw in the waiting room. The French call it coup de foudre, "lightning bolt love." The man weighed 400 pounds but the young woman was dazzled. "I can't stop thinking about his beautiful soul," she told me. Despite my tactfully explaining that a therapist's office is not a dating service, the next time they crossed paths in my waiting room she gave him her phone number. Soon he was flying her first-class to the Bahamas for luxury weekends at 5-star resorts. (He discontinued treatment with me but she continued. The relationship was turning out to be frustrating.) Despite her expressing her needs and desires to him, he avoided her sexual advances for several months until finally, the big reveal.
Returning from that weekend, she called me from the airport in tears. Her giant man's penis was the size of a pencil eraser. "Doc, I really love him," she said. "What should I do?"
Seriously, I had no idea. But Dr. Erica, who studied with pioneering sexologist Dr. William Masters, knew what to tell her. "It's not the length, it's the width," she explained. "Sometimes the guy with a small penis can have more drive. If he has a small penis but he can move well and touch you well, you can be aroused." (Dr. Masters believed that size didn't matter and he was worried that someone would do a study on penis size and sexual satisfaction which could, so to speak, blow his theory out of the water.)
According to Dr. Erica, "In the end, it comes down to how the angle of one person's body can fit yours. It's mechanics or geometry."
But even Dr. Erica's advice could not prevent the pencil eraser issue from becoming too large and complicated for the young woman to handle. Soon, she'd had enough of "not enough" and went on to bigger and better things.