Sex expert Paul Joannides visited Yale just in time for Valentine’s Day to spread an important message: “Even if you’re just having a one-night stand, make sure you have a good time. Life’s too short.”
Joannides, a research psychoanalyst and the bestselling author of “The Guide to Getting It On,” kicked off Sex Weekend with a Saybrook Master’s Tea on Friday evening about sexual pleasure, and how to attain it. Joannides’ event was so popular that Saybrook Master Edward Kamens was forced to turn students away at the door; ultimately, close to 50 students attended.
The theme of anatomy and positive self-image recurred in Joannides’ discussion. During a visit to Dartmouth Medical School earlier in the week, Joannides met a young student who was pressured into seeking cosmetic genital surgery by her boyfriend.
“That really concerns me,” Joannides said. “What is our society doing so that women as smart as the women in this room don’t feel good about what’s between their legs?”
Joannides discussed the negative impact of women’s magazines and the media upon perceptions of sexual normalcy. Pornography in particular is to blame for distorted body image and sexual expectations among young adults, Joannides said.
“I have an issue with the way the male is objectified in straight porn,” Joannides said. “He’s a robot with a really big dick and no emotion. Guys ask, ‘Why can’t I be like that?’ It won’t provide you pleasure to be like that.”
Joannides encouraged couples to spend time exploring each other’s bodies to learn what feels good. He emphasized the importance of pleasure above orgasm, saying that sex can often be more pleasurable when couples take time to enjoy each other’s bodies, “forget about penises and start to explore,” Joannides said.
Younger couples especially should focus on communicating what feels good. Joannides cited the results of a survey he administered to Dartmouth undergraduates, which found that communication was the No. 1 problem among his respondents.
“Just evolving a shared language for things is a real challenge,” he said. “We don’t know what to call things. When was the last time you said, ‘Oh, darling, can I have some cunnilingus?’ That doesn’t set the mood.”
At the end of the tea, Joannides answered anonymous questions — submitted by students in attendance — about threesomes, female ejaculation and furry sex (intercourse while dressed up in animal costumes).
Then he revealed his No. 1 tip. “How you treat each other when your clothes are on determines how good your sex is, and it’s more important than how many orgasms you have. I hope you use sex to comfort each other, because it’s a pretty nasty world out there,” Joannides said.
Yasmine Hafiz ’12 said she appreciated Joannides’ enthusiastic speaking style, and the chance to hear an expert’s take.
“I’m taking Porn in the Morn, and I saw a lot of correlations with what we’re studying,” Hafiz said. “It’s great to hear different perspectives on it.”
Sam Gottstein ’10 attended the tea with a copy of “The Guide to Getting It On” in hand, but was ultimately critical of Joannides’ emphasis on heterosexual sex.
“As far as Yale culture goes, it’s weird that he didn’t discuss homosexual relationships,” Gottstein said. “The emphasis on the female is necessary, but maybe it’s not as great for others in the audience.”
Kamens said he was pleased with the audience’s reception of Joannides.
“We were thrilled to have the house so full this evening for an informative conversation on what is everyone’s favorite subject,” Kamens said.