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Sex with Dr. Jess


November 15, 2012

Gateway Sexual Activities

Gateway sexual activities

When Tennessee passed their new Gateway Sexual Activity law, I laughed out loud. Surely, this was a joke, right? The Onion had somehow gotten control of…. NO? They were serious! It is written right into their laws that hand-holding has to be taught as a “gateway sexual activity” in sex ed classes in public schools. Hand holding is now pre-sex, and banned in schools. Which is going to be regrettable when people start posting photos of all those GOP politicians holding their children’s hands. Or when all those sweet pre-schoolers with hands holding that big long rope get classified as pre-BDSM.

What the hell is a Gateway Sexual Activity? Something that will eventually lead to sex, maybe? Like adolescence? Eyesight? Birth?

Here’s the thing about sex: Everything about us is sexual. Our sexuality isn’t this little thing that is neatly partitioned in one little aspect of our beings that can be brought out just now and then like a holiday elf that you stick on the mantle. Our sexuality lives in our heart, our soul, our brain, our muscles, our fears, our dreams, the way we use our bodies. It has its salty little fingers in every area of our saucy selves.

Everything we do is a “gateway sexual activity.”

I have always been very aware of the things that I do that “turn me on.” It doesn’t mean that I am going to go have sex the minute the switch is flipped, but it does mean that I am aware of how deliciously sexual I am, and my world is. Most of you would never recognize it in me, unless you are the one man in my life who reaps the benefits of it. But all this nonsense has had me thinking seriously about my personal Gateway Sexual Activities.

1.Working out. For sure! When I am hitting it hard, whether it’s weight lifting or distance running, and I get all sweaty, and exhausted and I can feel my energy and my muscles, I get really turned on. Seriously, almost uncontrollably horny. Except that, as an adult I can, in fact, control my sexual impulses. I’m not going to fall through some carnal gateway and swap sweat with the hot bodies around me. (Though I certainly do think about it.)

2.Writing and Speaking. I love to think and speak and write. It is one of the things that most defines who I am, and when it’s going well, yup, I get horny. My thoughts and words are swirling through me, touching all of my internal nooks and crannies, letting loose all my juices and, yup, I get all sexual. Just like that. 9 times out of 10, this does not actually lead to sex, it leads to more great thinking and writing. You see, when you are truly turned on, it turns on all of you. Brain, heart, soul – this is the good stuff. Your sexuality is a great key to creative genius. And vice versa, shut that down and watch everything else shut down with it.

3.The weather. Pretty much all of it. Sun heating the skin on my shoulders, that smell of warm skin. Horny. Blizzards outside that cause fires in the fire place, blankets, the slow settling-in to stay warm? Horny. Dramatic thunder storms with lightening and pounding rain? Especially that!

4.Eyesight. When I look around me and see the incredibly diverse and dense beauty of things, god, I get SO TURNED ON! This is like the writing and speaking thing, where all of me is so tuned into the magic energy around me that it just resonates and my body is an erotic echo chamber, full of fecund possibility like the world around me.

5.Great Food. Have you slowly sucked a homemade noodle through your lips while a bit of morel mushroom browned butter drips down your chin? HOT!

6.Watching my boyfriend work. Yah, he’s drop-dead gorgeous, so that doesn’t hurt, but that’s not the thing. He’s a CrossFit Trainer, and when I watch him patiently helping other people unleash their own power and potential, it turns me on. The level of intimacy, engagement, trust and potential that is inherent in those interactions remind me of why I love him. And why I love sex. And why humans have such potential. He’s also a firefighter, so when I see him in his ill-fitting and ugly uniform, it’s the same thing. Exactly. (Maybe even more, so you know it’s not a visual thing.)

I could go on, but there’s little point. Everything we do is a gateway sexual activity. Or it should be. And there are two very good reasons for that.

First, as I already said, our sexuality is not a discrete ingredient that can be isolated. It is woven into everything we do and are. That’s how we come to know it and ourselves, and tapping into its multi-dimensional nature is the very thing that allows us to have safe and fulfilling sex. Being aware of what makes you feel good and bad is what allows you to define the boundaries of what you do and don’t want in your sex life. It is incredibly important to pay attention to it in every way.

Conversely, it is vitally important not to try and shut it down and force it into something that it is not. You cannot be sexually autonomous if you are being controlled by the expectations of others – whether those others are a church, your parents, or some person who wants you to have sex that you don’t want to have. You must pay attention to your sexuality in order to nurture it in a safe, healthy and fulfilling way!

It is just as important for society at large that we acknowledge the largess of our sexuality. Not because we can and should be sexualizing everything, but precisely the opposite. Because if we don’t get real about what sexual energy is and isn’t, we are going to continue acting out in ways that harm ourselves and others. We have to admit that we have sexual energy all the time, and teach people how to control it and use it responsibly. Pretending otherwise is like giving kids the key to a Hummer without ever giving them Drivers Ed, or even talking about the basic components of cars and laws of physics.

Because here’s what’s happening now: We are so cut off from our sexual energy that every time we feel it (which is all the time) we actually think we want to have sex. No. That’s not it. At least not with the thing or person that triggered it.

And, actually, that’s the most important part. When you feel that rush of energy, it actually has very little to do with the person or thing that triggered it. That feeling is all you. Someone, or something, snuck into you and triggered something in you that turned you on. But that thing that was turned on is you, not them. That power that it creates is yours, not someone else’s. And you can do whatever you want with it – write, cook, run, travel, create. And if you know yourself well enough to know your boundaries and your desires, then you may just use it to have sex.

But regardless of what you do with it, OWN IT! It’s yours. Feel it, fully. When I’m working out and feel horny, it’s not that I want to fuck the glistening mound of muscles in front of me, it’s that I know how powerfully strong and sexy I am, and what I deserve and want, and that I have earned the right to have it – later, when the time is actually right. When I get all turned on from writing or speaking, it’s not because I need to go have sex right now, it’s because I am aware of the magic of being me, and what amazing things I can do with that, maybe with my lover, later, because we’ve built a relationship in which we can make magic together. When the sunshine on my shoulder turns me on, it’s not because I need to go have sex on the sidewalk, it’s because I am reminded of the many things in the world that give life and love in many forms, and I am excited by being amongst them.

Sexuality is everywhere. Confusing sexuality with sex creates unnecessary fear and shame. Being turned on is not only natural, but optimal. It is where our life force lives, in every way. Feel it. Turn it on. Live it and love it!
About The Author

Alyssa Royse is the co-host of Sexxx Talk Radio on the progressive Radio Network and the co-founder of and is doing her best to create a sex-positive world for her 3 daughters.

About Dr. Jess

Jessica O'Reilly

Dr. Jess is a sexologist, author, international speaker and television personality. She has a PhD in human sexuality and travels the globe to promote deliciously pleasurable sex. From hosting Playboy TV’s SWING to running workshops for couples’ in the Caribbean, she relishes in every moment! Check out her tour schedule here.