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Taking On "The Big O" for Women

Was It Good for You, Too?

What Do We Mean by Good Sex? continued...

So what's the whole answer? "Sexual response is incredibly complex. I don't mean that it has to be a lot of work or it's like a crossword puzzle or something. But there are many elements to sex working," Ogden says.

Watching Samantha, Carrie, and the girls chart new orgasmic territory on Sex and the City may have taught us that we have the right to ask for what we want, but that message may have also come with some undue pressure. "Most women feel their fears and ignorance are unique to them. They think: 'Everybody else is ****ing like a bunny and hanging from the chandeliers, except me.' That's the result of the marketing mentality," says Leonore Tiefer, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and the founder of the "New View" campaign (www.fsd-alert.org). "The first step is to share and find out that everybody else doesn't know anything either."

So maybe you want peel-you-off-the-ceiling orgasms. Maybe you want tenderness and cuddling. Maybe -- gasp -- you want both. Or maybe your dark, dirty secret is that you don't really care all that much about sex. "There's nothing natural about one script vs. another script. It's totally up to you," says Tiefer. "It's like dance or a cuisine -- something you can do whatever you want with. But like fine cuisine, you can't expect to walk into the kitchen and whip up a soufflé if you don't know what you're doing. If you want to be good at sex, you have to study and practice."

Getting Yours: Tips for a Better Sex Life

  1. Remember: "There is no normal," says Berman. "Sexual dysfunction is defined by each woman. If she's unhappy with her sexual response, that's what matters.
  2. Know that it's totally OK to have sex for your own reasons. "Having sex for just sex is fine, if that's what you want. Sex only in a committed relationship is fine, if that's what you want," Berman says. "Some women have no libido, no orgasms, and couldn't care less. That's fine, too."
  3. Understand those reasons. "Ask yourself what sex means in your life. Is it about your self-image? Is it about nurturing -- feeling loved and accepted? Is it about power?" asks Ogden. "Maybe it's very simply about pleasure, about feeling good, which is very scary in this culture."
  4. Involve your partner. "If you have a male partner, don't let him get away with saying that cuddling for its own sake is 'just for women.' There are men who want that, too," says Ogden. "It doesn't mean that you're half a man because you like cuddling as much as sex. This is America's best-kept sexual secret."
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