The Naked Advice

with Model & Writer Liz LaPoint

Liz: “I discovered you and your website, www.sextherapytoronto.org back in November of 2015 when I needed to defer to someone with professional experience in treating sexual dysfunctions and other issues. I had received a letter from a foot fetishist who wanted to know how to “get rid of” his fetish. Your website provided me with great information for my letter-writer, and you’ve been helping me ever since.

Your practice is based in Toronto, Canada. Do you see any differences, generally speaking, between the U.S. and Canada regarding attitudes toward sexuality, gender roles, and nudity?”

Rob Peach:I think that Canadians are typically more progressive, accepting and more mindful of the sexual rights of others than Americans are and there is some good evidence to back that up. We decriminalized homosexuality in 1969, we threw out all laws related to abortion in 1988 and we were the fourth country in the world to allow same sex / trans identified individuals to legally marry in 2005. These laws are a reflection of our values and political will. And, I don’t need to point out where the US is on these issues (let alone where things seem to be going these days…).”

Liz: “What inspired you to study human sexuality and become a psychotherapist?”

Rob Peach: “I don’t think that I was ‘inspired’ in any way, to be honest. I needed a job after grad school and I was offered one working with men who had been convicted of sexual offences. Lucky for me, in this job I not only learned a lot about sex, but found my professional ‘home’.”

L: “What was the best and/or worst advice about sex and relationships you heard when you were growing up?”

R: “I grew up on a VERY WASPY household. Sex and relationship issues were not dinner table talk, so actually can’t recall receiving any direct messages or advice about sex and intimacy.”

L: “Why do sexual fetishes and paraphilias seem to be more common in men than women?”

R:Good question. And, as soon as I figure that out, I will let you know and then collect my Nobel Prize. In the meantime, we just accept it as fact that men typically are more likely to have paraphilias and fetishes.”

L: “A lot of my readers and YouTube viewers with a fetish for feet or navels express confusion about why they’re labeled fetishists when men who admit they have “a thing” for breasts or women’s butts aren’t. Is there a difference, or do they have a point?”

R:So, a ‘fetish’ is when someone has an erotic attraction to an object (or body part) that is NOT conventionally associated with or seen as sexual. Navels and feet are not typically experienced as erotic, so it is seen as a fetish and referred to as ‘partialism’. It’s not deviant, just different.”

L: “What’s the most common issue presented to you in your practice?”

R: “The most common issue I see in my practice is likely erectile dysfunction. We have fallen, hook line and sinker, for the idea (and myth) that men should be ‘rock hard and ready to go’ at all times. Not being able to experience or maintain erections during sexual contact is, therefore, seen as dysfunction despite the fact that, in reality, arousal, for both men and women, has a natural ebb and flow. If a woman stated that she achieves differently levels of physiological arousal during sex, we would accept that without judgment. Men, however, are much more likely to label this as a problem or as indicator of ED.”

L: “Culturally speaking, what would you say negatively impacts or influences our adult sex lives the most?”

R:I’m going to give you essentially the same answer to this question that I offered for question #1, progressive, informed and evidenced based social policy creates opportunity for individuals to develop healthy attitudes towards sexuality. Oppressive, fear based institutional policies informed by ignorance and discrimination cause disordered attitudes and values towards sexuality on the individual level. Having individuals in positions of power who endorse racist, misogynistic and conservative values hurts us all.”

L: “I completely agree. I researched and discussed what’s called Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction for one of my YouTube videos last year. I shared anecdotal evidence for its existence but also explained it’s not a confirmed diagnosis by scientific standards. What is your professional opinion on PI ED?”

R: “Spending hours online, watching porn and masturbating is not a healthy way to develop rewarding and satisfying sexual relationships with others. The absence of engaging with partners and exploring your erotic self with people you find attractive can negatively impact your ability to have healthy sexual experiences.

Having said that, let’s wait for the science on this one… keeping in mind that unproven and anecdotal theories of sexuality are often funded and promoted by those with phobic and conservative agendas.”

L: “What would be the ideal way to respond to your mate/spouse if they open up and disclose to you that they have a sexual fetish?”

R: “I think that people should react to a spouse or partner who shares a fetish the same way they would react to learning anything new about someone they care about. People should be themselves and react in an authentic way. Honest and direct conversations make for healthy relationships.”

L: “The eternal Nature versus Nurture question: do our sexual proclivities exist naturally (or genetically) and we discover them as we grow up, or does something happen to us that causes us to develop atypical sexual desires?”

R: “Nature. All the way. Sometimes, in our search for understanding ‘why’ we like what we like, we might look back and ‘cherry pick’ examples of incidents or experiences where we became aware of our erotic selfs and mislabel these events as causal of what we find arousing in our efforts to make meaning of our sexual desires.”

L: “Do people tend to open up to you at parties and gatherings when they hear what you do for work? What’s the most interesting story you’ve heard about someone’s sex life?”

R:I make a habit of NOT telling people what I do for a living. So does my spouse, who is a plastic surgeon. Neither one of us like or seek attention and, most importantly, if people are asking me about my work, I don’t get to learn about them or their lives.”

L: “And last but not least, was the Marquis de Sade just a misunderstood guy persecuted because people were ignorant, or was he justifiably imprisoned? If he lived today, would he run a BDSM dungeon or be a serial rapist/murderer?”

R: “I think that the Marquis had intention and desire to push the social and sexual conventions of the time… and ruffled a lot of feathers in the process. If he was truly a serial rapist / murder, he would have done so at the time, and not just wrote about it!”

L: “Good point!”

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