Sex and Sen­si­bil­ity

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - NEWS -

Christchurch jour­nal­ist Anke Richter has be­come Sun­day’s un­of­fi­cial sub-cul­ture correspondent. If it’s un­der the radar and at­tract­ing whis­pers, she knows about it. Last year it was Cir­cle, the con­tro­ver­sial “se­cret sis­ter­hood” crop­ping up here and around the world. This year it’s the grow­ing in­dus­try of sen­sual body­work­ers (page 10) who pro­vide a more in­ti­mate form of sex ther­apy than a more tra­di­tional ther­a­pist would. They can, for ex­am­ple, re­move clothes and use phys­i­cal touch in their ses­sions. But whereas when writ­ing about Cir­cle, Anke was driven to ex­pose some­thing she viewed as sus­pect; this time she wants to shed light on a move­ment she sees as ben­e­fi­cial to hu­mankind, though she’s well aware it will find its de­trac­tors.

“There’s so much taboo around this area,” says Anke. “It’s a big thing for peo­ple to go and spend $300 and let peo­ple touch parts of them­selves. But it’s some­thing that’s re­ally com­ing for­ward and I be­lieve it will be much more nor­malised in 10 years, as it al­ready is in places like Cal­i­for­nia and Europe.

“Yes, it comes out of a sort of New Age move­ment, but peo­ple are re­al­is­ing it’s founded in proper re­search. I see it as an area of per­sonal growth, no dif­fer­ent to some­body do­ing yoga or med­i­ta­tion.”

Anke first wan­dered into this world sev­eral years ago when, re­search­ing a mag­a­zine fea­ture, she at­tended a “con­scious sex­u­al­ity” fes­ti­val in By­ron Bay. She en­tered as a cynic but ended up in­trigued, and now sees th­ese ther­a­pies as hav­ing much to of­fer, and not just to those who’ve suf­fered sex­ual trauma in the past. “We could all do with someme in­spi­ra­tion in this area. We think we know how w to have sex but there’s so much more that cann be ex­pe­ri­enced, that can help our emo­tional well­be­ing.ll­be­ing.

“I see a lot of re­la­tion­ships around me where e peo­ple don’t live their de­sires or they feel stuck, ck, and they tend to deal with it by shut­ting downn and los­ing their sex drive or by turn­ing to drugs andnd al­co­hol and af­fairs... I think it’s fair to say that we have an epi­demic of sex­ual dys­func­tion.”

Sen­sual body­work, con­scious sex­u­al­ity, tantra, tra, so­matic sex, slow sex – it’s a bur­geon­ing move­ment ement with many names. And no doubt some read­ers rs will con­clude that one of those could be snake oil.

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