I’ll be frank: republicans have ruined my sex life. Sometimes images of Rudy Giuliani’s teeth pop into my head and I dry up. The very thought of Mitch McConnell’s doughy cheeks, Steve Bannon’s drowned complexion, or the way Jeff Sessions looks like a young boy turned into an old man by a witch makes sex the absolute last thing on my mind. Which is a problem. Because I like sex. And I don’t like explaining to my significant other that I’m not in the mood because I’m terrified for our country pretty much every waking moment.
There we were, November 9th, 2016, sitting quietly in my SO’s basement because neither of us knew what to do other than eat the ice cream we had bought for coping purposes. He leans in for a kiss and I… I lean away. I kept thinking about Donald Trump’s lips, and the way they manage to look like an anus when pursed together. That night (and for probably a week afterwards) was a night for sitting quietly, and with my high sex drive, I knew that couldn’t continue.
The news is a constant source of terror. I wake up and check Twitter to see that a band I like released a new track, that my friends were at a party last night, and oh no Trump did something bigoted again. As a bisexual, genderfluid person it can be hard for me to tear myself away from the news. I am concerned for my safety, I’m concerned for the safety of my muslim friends, for my black friends, for my Latinx friends. I dedicate a lot of time to reading articles written by activists, planning for local protests/rallies, brushing up on political texts, and checking the Facebook group I am a part of that’s dedicated to intersectionality. I realize that being able to simply turn off the news and forget what is happening to marginalized people is a privilege, it’s a symptom of cognitive dissonance that allows people to think that they don’t need to be involved in revolution and leads to the dissolving of solidarity. But politics, if you will, are an easy thing to become overwhelmed by. And I know I’m overwhelmed when I can’t focus on making out with my SO because I’m thinking about an NPR segment I just listened to. So I’m learning to toe the line between activism and going nutso so that my sex life doesn’t suffer. Here are my tips and tricks to being able read the latest Shaun King article and also check out the nearest Lover’s Lane.
I will typically immediately click out of any article that gives the advice I’m about to give you, but trust me and heed what I’m about to say: put down your phone. Put it down, and if you want to get real crazy, turn off your notifications. Your phone has Twitter, Facebook, and can stream from pretty much any major news outlet. That’s why you have to take a break from it. Obsessively checking headlines on HuffPost is not going to help you feel horny, it’s just going to add stress. If you can not check your phone for a couple hours, you can focus on just the person you’re with (or even just yourself- masturbation is good for the soul). You can even try putting your phone somewhere else, out of sight, out of mind. And after you’ve had your fill of sexy times, you can turn it back on/grab it from wherever it was, and read Trump’s tweets to your heart’s content.
Ok, telling someone to relax is way easier said than done. But it can be done. Kind of. Once you’re off your phone (or newspaper, if you’re my dad) your brain will start to freak out, so you have to distract yourself quickly. Depending what you and your partner are like, your definition of “relax” may vary. For me and my SO, it might be unapologetically eating nachos and watching That 70s Show reruns or taking a walk through the local nature preserve, depending on the mood. But whether it’s reading a book, going on a hike, or going to a local shelter and petting puppies, do it. Find something that occupies your mind, but not too much. Because if you opt for Netflix and start watching The People v. OJ Simpson instead of The Office, you’re going to feel very weird if things start getting flirtacious between you and your partner.
Now that you’re (somewhat) relaxed, remember what you like about yourself and/or your partner. Remember how they make you feel. Or remind them about you by holding their hand or pulling them in for a quick kiss.
I wouldn’t exactly say that sex needs focus the way a chem test or a track meet might, but it still needs a good amount of your attention. That’s where intrusive thoughts bust in: you’re about to start fooling around and BAM you start worrying about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. As a professionally diagnosed obsessive compulsive and a ninja worrier, I’m really good at thinking of everything besides what I actually want to be thinking about. Whether it’s the alarming rate at which bees are dying or Lil Yachty’s rise to fame, I’ve probably briefly considered it while someone has gone down on me. You can’t control your thoughts, but you can stop them from overpowering you. I like to think of my thoughts as more of a stream of conscious, I try to let them roll through me rather than wash over me. I focus on my breathing (it’s tacky but it works, yoga doesn’t lie), close my eyes, and consider the sensations I’m feeling. What do my partner’s hands feel like? What does their hair smell like, or the nape of their neck? Does their skin taste salty? Do they look good naked? etc, etc. Apply the five senses to your sex life.
These tips aren’t infallable or perfect, and they don’t always work for me, but they’re the best I have to offer in this time of terror. Now get… uh sexy? I wanted to end this on something catchy.