Sexpectations: Myths About Sex

Sexual myths are untrue assumptions or statements about sexuality that are propagated throughout our lives and our culture. These sexual falsehoods can carry prejudicial undertones of sexism, racism, and homophobia.

Some of these common myths include “Men only like curvy women”, “Men want sex every second of every day”, “women have no interest in sex”, “gays will have sex with anyone they meet”, certain races have certain penis sizes, certain races are frigid or hypersexual, and that certain sex acts are effeminate, gay, selfish, or immoral. Many distortions function as a way of controlling and defining others’ sexuality, their lives, and dogma. We need to look deeper into the assumptions that we hold about sexuality and why we believe them to be true. How did we come to learn these myths? How are they propagated in today’s culture and media?

While most sexual myths are stereotypes that we can laugh at, there are some that we know are untrue, yet we still allow ourselves to be unnerved by them. Certain myths are so ridiculous that we know they are fake. Yet, they can still cause a certain fear and apprehension about sexuality. For example, the myth that if you masturbate too much you will grow hair on your palms or go blind, still propagate an uneasiness with pleasure, that it is wrong, that you will somehow be punished for it. Throughout our lives, especially in our youth, we try so hard to conform to “normal” sexuality, formed through familial, social, and institutional rules, and it can be scary to discover that we may be outside of that box. That we may actually be wired a bit differently.

One of the biggest sexual myths today exists in the porn industry. Many young men and women are having trouble today because of the template for sex that porn provides and that many people strive to bring from the screen to real life. I am not discouraging porn, for many it can work as a breakthrough in sharing fantasies with one another, but it lacks a more educated and connected sexual experience that most find more of a turn-on. Some people even begin to measure themselves against the impossible standards of the porn industry, “why don’t I seem to be enjoying this?” “I don’t look like these girls on screen, he must not find me attractive” “She’s not screaming at the top of her lungs, maybe I’m not doing it right”.

What are some sexual myths that you’ve encountered about yourself and others? How do you feel about them? How they are portrayed in the media? Consider your own sexual stereotypes.

How have they affected your own relationships or sexual encounters? If you were to write down your own honest sexual narrative, what would it look like? What is happening in your love life so far, and what would you like it to look like in the future? Think about the answers to these questions and think about how sexpectations have effected your sex life, your self esteem, and your relationships.


Ooooh BURN!: A Culture of Burnout

It’s Sunday night and you groan and moan as you dread tomorrow being Monday. It never used to be this way, you used to be able to handle the juggle of work and life responsibilities. You feel disconnected to your work and have trouble finding the energy to get through the week.

We have a burnout epidemic. We are TIRED. Burnout is a unique type of stress that is compounded with physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. Just think of how often you you see “Thank God It’s Friday”, “TGIF” or “Ugh Mondayzzz”, “Hump Day!!” posts you see on social media. It’s not simply tiredness and stress that come with burnout; its cynicism, lethargy, depression, and a likelihood to cause accidents on the job. Burnout can be caused by repetitive long hours, blurred boundaries between work and home life, lack of social support at work and home, working toward goals that don’t resonate with you, and a lack of self-care.

What is so twisted, is that we are a society that PRIDES itself on our high level of burnout!  We compete with each other to one up each other’s “work ethic”. We have blurred our lines between work and home. More and more people are bringing their work home with them to fit as much as they can into a single day.

How many times have you gone into work, taken conference calls, written reports, answered emails, created schedules for staff, ON YOUR DAY OFF? I know I have done it. What makes us so prone to burnout? Why as a culture have we embraced burnout as the norm? I saw a friend who lives in Germany say that her company held a meeting to reinforce that people take time off and when they are off the clock that they not answer emails. The Spanish have midday siestas! How have other countries embraced the benefits of self-care but America seems to be lacking?

Three big signs of burnout are:

Feeling ineffective, like nothing you ever do is good enough.

Feeling cynical, apathetic, resentful, frustrated, or angry all the time.

Utter exhaustion, withdrawal, and even emotional withdrawal from your partner and/or your kids.

You can experience burnout from school, work, parenting, and even caregiving. Here are four ways to combat burnout:

  • Replace perfect with “good enough”.  Instead of trying to make everything perfect, re-adjust your frame of thought and try and settle for “good enough for now”.
  • Have a sounding board or outlet. Try and find a support system to bounce ideas off of, for example, co-workers, friends, or loved ones. If you find a group or person that you feel can be your vulnerability outlet, you can ask things like “is this normal?” “I feel this way, have you ever felt that?”  and seek support to help you cope with job/life stress and feelings of burnout.
  • Evaluate your options. Do you have the option to work from home? Can you ask for extensions? Can you hire a babysitter or trusted relative to take the kids for a night out of self-care? Are there any ways you can rearrange your schedule to allow more time before deadlines? Could you take a vacation? Practice being assertive with your boundaries in your work/life balance.
  • Assess your interests, skills, and passions. Take an honest assessment of your thoughts and feelings and determine if this is really the right job for you. Are you living along side your value system and surrounding yourself with things that enhance your character strengths? If I value creativity, but do not surround myself with it or at least have an outlet available to it, I might not feel inspired or at my best. If you find that your job or life is not living up to those values, can you find a job that is less soul sucking or make time for these values in your life?

Many people have come to accept the fatigue, depression, and cynicism as part of life with a job/tiny humans/caregiving. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t use effective tools to help the quality of your down time, help to establish good boundaries, and to be assertive. If you notice that you are feeling burned out, try some self-care strategies to reduce immediate stress (think of activities that make you feel good, productive, and feel centered). If that doesn’t seem to work, practice being assertive and creating boundaries at work. For instance, consider giving yourself permission to tell your boss that you need to have lunch where you do not answer emails regarding work or setting limits so that you can be at your most productive for the company’s benefit.

Finally, remember that things can change. Nothing stays the same forever. You can get through this! If you feel like you can’t, you can always seek the help of a professional or loved one to help you make some serious changes or reassessment in your life.

World Mental Health Day: Diagnosis with Dignity

Mental Health is a highly debated topic in today’s world of news, campus shootings, political agendas, and word on the street. It is used both as a scape goat to decrease attention toward gun control policies and as a rally for more attention toward the homeless population and suicide prevention. This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is “Dignity”. This perfectly aligns with a cartoon that I found online the other day.

If you were to ask anyone on the street what the first word they thought of when they hear mental illness, it most likely is something close to “crazy”, “sick”, “psycho”, “sad” and “weak”. These perceptions of mental illness do not inspire someone to have dignity within their struggle. Mental Illness is not only Schizophrenia and Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is only what the media likes to highlight and depict on famous television shows. Mental health also includes things like Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Post-partum depression, Eating Disorders, and Addictions. These are issues that an average person can develop at any point throughout their lives. It affects human beings WORLDWIDE. One in four adults and one in ten children are likely to have a mental health struggle in any given year. Thousands of people with mental health conditions can experience fear of judgement, discrimination, emotional and physical abuse, lack of resources, lack of qualified mental health professionals, and poor quality of appropriate care. These people are average people who more often than not try to conceal their struggle in order to feel normal.

What can we do about it? Know the facts, show compassion, advocate for mental health rights, and help reduce the stigma (#OwnYourIssues).

If we shift our perception from pity and fear to hope and encouragement, mental health might not be such a taboo thing for people to accept. Working in this field, I get to witness clients who feel so much shame talking about their struggles with anyone, let alone someone they have loved and trusted forever. So many clients feel alone in the process and fear being labeled. The way society looks at people who “need help”, it makes it incredibly difficult for others to seek assistance, let alone admit there is a problem to begin with. Instead of judging someone’s struggle, hand out a stick. Dignity and respect is deserved for the struggle that thousands, if not millions, have with their own brain chemistry and circumstances. Dignity and respect for the rehab visits, the therapy hours, the doctor visits, the medications, etc. The more caring and empathy that we show towards people with mental illness, the more we can do to help.