Just over a week ago I attended an all female sit down dinner at The Winery in Surry Hills, which was of a lets say.. an interesting nature. Kindly put on by pharmaceutical group Menarini Australia, the “Let’s Talk About Sex!” event covered all aspects of male and female sexual health, sexual psychology and relationships. I was incredibly excited to meet the guest speakers, sexual health physician, Dr Margaret Redelman and Dr Ginni Mansberg, who you would notably recognise on the hit TV Series, Embarrassing Bodies Down Under.
Everything was open to discussion and we given the opportunity to ask questions in a judgemental free environment. Interestingly there still seems a huge stigma around ‘sex’ and interestingly ‘PE’ (Premature ejaculation..) in society, which can be seen in some of the facts and figures that were shared.
The Asia-Pacific Sexual Behaviours and Satisfaction Survey was conducted by Kantar Health and commissioned by Menarini in 2013:
- Results revealed more than 50 per cent of Australian couples are dissatisfied.
- Premature ejaculation is the most common male sexual dysfunction, affecting 32% of men in Australia and New Zealand.
- It’s not surprising that 80% of respondents said that PE had a negative impact on their relationship, but 15% reported that it actually led to a relationship breakdown or divorce.
- Physical satisfaction plays a big role in Australian bedrooms, with 74% of men and 72% of women stating that mutual physical satisfaction plays an extremely important role in a successful relationship.
I think what struck me the most, was the discussion around ‘relationships’. Both Dr Ginni and Dr Margaret made incredibly valuable points, which got me thinking about the whole concept of what is a ‘relationship’ in the 21st century. Now I am no Carrie Bradshaw, but I thought I’d share some of my observations and thoughts, based on what I learn at the “Let’s Talk About Sex!” event.
With the influx of technology, I have seen such a change in the way relationships are formed, sustained and maintained. We’ve seen a huge rise in online dating, which seems to be a booming business. We even have an online dating system that can ‘match you with compatible singles’. Now I don’t know if I really need a survey or an ‘online process of elimination’ to work out what sort of man is perfect for me. In a positive light, I suppose, it is giving people the opportunity to meet likeminded others in a non threatening environment, which leads to my next question, is it really that hard to meet people out and about? Can one strike up a conversation with a stranger on the train, at the gym, in a cafe or whilst you are walking the dog?
I would have to say it is proving to be quite difficult as a ‘Gen Y-er’. I will give you an example. I am out with my girlfriends on a Saturday night – strictly a ‘girls night’ (Note: all four of us are currently in a relationship). We’ve gone out for dinner, had a few drinks and decide to head out afterwards to have some cocktails and have a dance. After ordering drinks at the bar, we are approached by a group of guys who are celebrating their friends bucks evening. We are all happy to chat and have a laugh.. Right on cue, I would say 10 minutes into the conversation, we were propositioned about our relationship status. As soon as we mentioned that none of us were actually single, up they got and left, without a second thought. On the same evening, whilst we were having a dance, I would say that close to 12 different men approached us (a good majority, heavily intoxicated). As soon as we would explain that we were just enjoying a girls night, we were thrown a filthy look, with one even swearing at us and one particular fellow, who really didn’t get the message, insisted that he stays, actually cornering my friend. Now in my eyes, that is lack of respect. Not only was our evening interrupted, but we were also sworn at and insulted because we didn’t offer them the attention that they demanded.
Now I am fully aware that there are plenty of respectable men out there, with these only being a few bad apples, but it does seem like a reoccurring scenario. Many of my girlfriends have shared similar stories of being inappropriately propositioned. In defence of the men, there are plenty of women out there, that behave in the exact same manner. With many women happily and readily offering their attention too. Since we live in a society, where everything is so accessible, everything is on demand, perhaps that bit, where you have go through the ‘arduous-task-of-getting-to-know-someone’ chat, seems so unnecessary.
This leads to another issue that we discussed at the event was the rise of STIs in this country. In 2009, the total number of reported STIs in Australia was over 70,000 – including HIV the virus that can cause AIDS. The true number may be much higher, as many people who have had unprotected sex haven’t been tested for STIs. The most shocking part is that three quarters of reported STIs occur in people aged between 15 and 29 years. ‘Generation Y’ and the next generation, dubbed ‘Generation Z’ seem to be the most obtuse to the STI situation, with STI cases increasing yearly.
It seems that there is a growing lack of communication between us all. Sexual gratification and attention is expected instantly. We’re living in the fast paced, ‘now now now’ situation and I think everyone just needs to slow down a little bit. My message to the teens of today, should be relax, it’s not a race and your virtue should certainly not be handed to someone on a platter and treated as a competition.
So what if you’re not a teenager, what if you’re in a long term relationship like myself or even married? We’ve all the heard that sadly, 1 in 2 marriages are ending in divorce. This is such a frightening statistic. Money, work, stress, traffic, low self esteem, weight, children and lack of communication. These are regular blocks and some people might even call excuses, that can break down a relationship. How do you manage to keep the ‘spark’ alight? Dr Margaret explained that it’s incredibly important for couples, dating or married to make sure that they are maintaining their sensuality. Now, when I think of the word ‘sensuality’, I automatically think of something physical. But Dr Margaret explained it in a way that couples can find it together – and sometimes the answer is so obviously in front of you. An example she came up with was cooking and having dinner together at a table (Shock horror!) Yes, not in front of the TV on your knees, but at a table. Giving you a break from all things with a screen, creating a cozy and warm atmosphere for conversation and discussion, where you can solely focus on each other. Take an interest in your partner, ask questions, laugh, joke, sing and dance. Give your partner attention – don’t forget that kiss in the morning before you go to work. Call them rather than text. Remember the reason why you’re in a relationship in the first place.
I came across this video as it was ironically passed around the social media stratosphere, and I am sure once you watch this, many will feel a pang of guilt. Or on the other foot, you might even have experienced the rejection.
If you are lucky enough to be in a relationship, then cherish what you have. It is very important to have ‘alone’ time, to give you an opportunity to find out who you are as a person. But lets not allow technology and the fast-paced lifestyle that we are living in, destroy something as fundamental as as beautiful as sharing your life with someone.
And for those who are still looking for love, treat yourself with the respect you deserve, whether you’re male or female. Live a little, but don’t self yourself short and always keep a little bit of yourself a secret.
I hope that this has given you some food for thought. The “Lets Talk About Sex” event certainly got me thinking.