The Rise of Pragmatic Sex


We live in an age of options and solutions.

The average Joe can learn how to participate in the stock market. A 50-year-old homemaker can go to law school. A longtime couple can figure out why one of them keeps falling asleep during sex.

“The pragmatic approach is the only one that makes sense — and that is for everything,” says Bernie Zilbergeld, the author ofThe New Male Sexuality: The Truth About Men, Sex and Pleasure.

Perhaps because boomers were the first generation to talk about sex compulsively, the subject has become pragmatic and ordinary. That means people can seek practical solutions, like talking about problems or taking a pill.

We live in an era of options, Zilbergeld says. Would you benefit from counseling? Great. Get it. Need a boost for physical or psychological reasons? Try Viagra. Do you wonder if your partner would enjoy something? Try it. Or better yet, ask.

Zilbergeld says progress on the man-woman front is not advancing as quickly as, say, Internet technology. But there is progress.

“We are in an era of growing personal freedom, and people are adopting the religion of pragmatism,” he says.

Zilbergeld says making sexual relationships work calls for communication, conflict resolution, experimentation, assertiveness and sensitivity. It doesn’t mean mystery-enshrouded tantric yoga or hand-me-down ideas from the ancients.

“There are grounds for hope,” Zilbergeld says. “I am cautiously optimistic.”

Even recent history is littered with many outdated models.

“Women were led to believe that a so-called vaginal orgasm was for truly mature women. Guys were killing themselves trying to learn how to give them one. Women felt as though they had to be multi-orgasmic. It was always how things should be. Today, we just say, `Try a bunch of things and see what works. It no longer has to be any particular way.’”

This kind of openness and pragmatism is only possible if people believe, as Zilbergeld does, that sex is good and natural and private.

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