From a talk by Tim Jackins, at the Black Liberation and Community Development Workshop, in Massachusetts, USA, July 2012

There are lots of good possible things to talk about. The one that several people have suggested, pleaded for (laughs), is something that we struggle with a great deal. The hurts in this area can be used to manipulate us, to keep us confused and distracted enough to not end oppressive societies. They’ve been heavy enough on us all that we haven’t been able to do a lot of work here. Three guesses. (Laughter) Yes, sex.

We continue to go after1 all of our distresses more successfully and consistently, and doing this relies on our having good relationships and being connected to each other. When trying to build relationships and connections, we often run into distresses connected with sex.

Let me back up a little and talk about it theoretically. Then we’ll see what work we can do.


Sex is part of being human. It developed in life forms on this planet long before we came along. Sex is important for creating complexity faster than can be created by simply having mutations happen; we get to regularly mix different combinations of DNA. Things can change faster, and more complexity is possible. We wouldn’t exist unless sexual reproduction had developed. Entities as complex as we are couldn’t have happened this quickly. Sexual reproduction has played an important role in the existence of our species. There are indications that it has been vitally important. Several times we got down to a very small population, perhaps five thousand people, partly connected with the ice ages. So being able to reproduce was vital. Not only is a lot of our structure connected with it, but it has been important for our survival as a species.

The distress recordings of those desperate times have gotten handed down. We all carry distresses that didn’t start in our own lives, or even our parents’ or grandparents’ lives. If there wasn’t a chance to discharge a distress, that distress got acted out and  went on, generation after generation. And some of those distresses got hooked to sex.

We aren’t born sexual creatures. We’re born with that possibility and it develops twelve, fourteen, sixteen years later. If you had been able to discharge throughout your life, you would have learned how to develop relationships. You would have used that time to learn about your body, and how to be close with people. Then you would have become a sexual person. You would have added that into all the other experience, and sex would have been great and fun and interesting, and probably not a very large part of your life. (Laughter)


Well, that didn’t happen (laughs), or at least no one has claimed that his or her life was that way. Of course, it has been essentially impossible for it to happen, given the way our societies have been. Distresses about sex are thoroughly embedded in our societies and have gotten connected to almost everything. They have gotten connected to all the oppressions, and to our economic system and the way it oppresses and manipulates people. So all of us are encrusted with distresses connected with sex, and we were born to people for whom that was true.

Long before you became a sexual creature, all of these distresses connected with sex were being acted out around you and at you. What version of them you got was happenstance. It may have been some general version, without much being directed at you, or it may have been the full harshness of desperation that can get attached to this. There seems to be no limit to what sorts of distresses can get installed on people.

You got targeted with enough of it that by the time you became a sexual creature, it was too late. You didn’t get to figure out sex, because there was a large load of distress in your head and in everyone else’s head. You did the best you could. We all did the best we could. Still, we’re all terribly confused about, repelled by, fascinated by, longing for, and running away from sex—often not able to separate it from meaningful contact with another person.

When we start out, boys and girls get to play together. Then at some point, we’re separated by society and set against each other. Then, after we’ve been forced into that isolation, society says, “Oh, by the way, you do have one chance to be close to somebody. There’s one chance, and it’s sexual.” And most of us, desperate for any sort of contact, run as fast as we can in that direction. Some of us can’t. Some of us get there and then run away. Some of us get there and stay fascinated. But none of us gets the chance to really be thoughtfully and awarely there and experience it and think through it, especially with somebody else thinking through it with us, because our accumulated undischarged distresses get in our way.

Sex is something that’s between people. It should involve minds, sharing what it’s like to be human with each other. That’s what we hoped for. That’s what we still hope for. That’s what is possible for us. We just haven’t been able to create the conditions. Creating the conditions is part of what we’re going to do with our sessions.

So, our great-great grandchildren will have a great time, thanks to us! (Laughter) In the meantime, what do we do? Here we are with this huge collection of confusions and fascinations and desperations. It hits men hard, because isolation is inflicted on males more thoroughly than on females. The desperation for us men that sex is the only possible way to have contact is up a notch or two, or three or four. We don’t even really believe it will be contact. It’s just the closest possible thing. It’s a reminder that maybe someday, somehow, contact might be possible.


A problem for those of us who are fascinated with sex is that it doesn’t take care of anything. There is the illusion, the promise (sometimes) that there will be enough contact to make a difference, the hope that something will resolve in our minds because of it. If we’re really, really lucky, occasionally that happens. Occasionally both minds are there enough that there’s enough contact and something does shift, for a little while. But most of the time it doesn’t. Most of the time, even though we are as thoughtful as we can be, and we reach and do everything we can to be there together, as we get more and more sexual the restimulation takes over. Our mind flips to somewhere else—to some fantasy, some image, somewhere else—and we’re not able to be there together, even though we’ve done our best to have real contact.


This is where we are: trying our best under really difficult circumstances from our having lived through lives filled with these distresses. So what do we do with the fascinations? How do we get to working on them so that we can push them out of our way enough? We’d like to not be confused about relationships, not feel that sex has to be there, or has to be this or has to be that, but instead really get to think about our relationships with each other. And how do we have a real, human, aware sexual relationship with somebody with whom we’ve built a relationship? How do we get this material2 moving enough for that?

It’s a rather sad picture. We’ve been stuck in place. We haven’t been able to move this distress (though we’ve been able to survive and discharge on it enough that it hasn’t gotten worse quickly). We still run into snags. We can’t seem to move in the directions we want to.

Moving is what we need. We don’t need a complete, quick solution. We need to find ways to work on it so that there’s motion. We can make it move forward. We tend to want immediate solutions to all the things our distresses have put in our way, but that isn’t what we need. What we need is the possibility. We need to be able to think well enough to see new possibilities and move our minds and our relationships forward in those directions.


We’ve worked on our early sexual hurts. Everybody needs to do that. We all need to go back and see how the distress got planted in us. But that hasn’t always made things move much. It begins the work and provides a way to think about and understand these distresses and their effects, but it doesn’t always move things forward enough. We need to do more, because our society is so immersed in this distress.

Because society is collapsing, all the sexual distress is getting worse. When did society try to sexualize you explicitly? At what age? Well, it’s a lot younger now: the toys, dress, everything. Play make-up is making its way down to, what, six-year-olds? As society collapses, distresses that are even more restimulating are being acted out. They are keeping people confused and distracted from taking on3 real issues. This confuses many important struggles. Women’s liberation has been sold as women having the choice to have sex any way they want. Because they appear to get a choice, they’re “liberated.” Essentially women are being offered men’s distresses as progress. Well, it’s equality in a certain sense (laughter), but I don’t think it’s what we are after.4


So how do we work on this material? Well, what do you want? I mean, really, what do you want? Because of distress, you don’t know! But you need to talk about it in Co-Counseling sessions. You need to try to think about it. For all of us, distresses about sex are tangled with having a real connection with someone. We have a difficult time separating sex and closeness, and they are separate. We can be completely intimate with someone, our full minds knowing each other; we can be committed to each other, be close physically; and it doesn’t have to be sexual. But given what happens to us, it can be difficult to see that.


Sex often doesn’t work as a way to bring us closer. It can work to keep us separated. We have to fight against acting out frozen longings. For example, there was someone I cared deeply about and was sexually involved with, and sex got in our way. I wanted to be sexual, and I could tell5 that it didn’t work. It didn’t work for her; it didn’t work for us. So I told her to stay on the other side of the bed while I longed for her and cried, and I said that she could not come and comfort me.

Part of women’s distress material is to comfort, but comforting can salve over the distress instead of helping men face and discharge it. “Taking care of” the frozen longing doesn’t take care of the distress. Smoothing it over and quieting it for the moment may make it feel better, but we know that acting on our feelings is not going to get us out of this. What’s necessary is to face the longings that are frozen. We can keep the warmth and closeness but not allow the distress to take over and determine the way we are together.

There’s an interesting set of difficulties right there that I want to describe. In general, in heterosexual relationships, it’s going to be the women saying no to men. God knows, we men will never say no. (Lots of laughter) Not for a while anyway. But what’s the basis of the woman’s no? It has to be “I actually want more of you; I want to be more with you than sex allows us to be now.”

Early in a relationship a woman may try to establish that there won’t be sex, because of frozen longings pushing for it to happen. This can be confusing to a man. It can sound like the woman is labeling him as inadequate before she knows him, like she’s closing a door. It can be perfectly correct for a woman to take such a stand, but there’s also that message tangled with it that needs to be contradicted. What she can say is, “I want more than that. And I can’t find a way to be close to you that way now. I hope we’ll find it in the future. I hope we’ll figure out everything that’s possible between us, but I’m not going to pretend about it, and I don’t want you to pretend about it, even though you long for it.”

A lot of us men won’t be able to hear that. Sorry. You women will have to find ways to say it, preserving the caring and the possibility while not allowing the unworkable to happen. It’s a tough line to draw, but it’s a good line. Your intelligence will let you figure out how to do that. We males have to figure it out, too.

We need to do this in new relationships and ongoing relationships, and in relationships in which we’ve given up having sexual contact with each other.


What should sex be? Is it the activity of two thinking minds, or is it something that happens because of compulsions that come out of distress? We could vote on what’s out of bounds, what’s interesting, what’s too dull. None of that is relevant. What’s relevant is our minds functioning as human minds together. Then it’s up to us6 to figure it out. If we can think, we can figure it out. Our job is to notice that none of us can think very well in this area, and to begin the work and discharge to move the distresses out of our way so we get a chance. It looks like sex isn’t a big thing and would not occupy our minds a tenth as much as it does except for the distresses surrounding it and the lack of connection we’ve been forced to live with.

Once we get things established so that people are connected, sex will be a small and interesting thing. What will be the basis on which people have sex? I don’t know, and I don’t care, as long as they’re thinking about it. I’m sure it will include sharing affection and being good to each other. I’m sure there will be things related to curiosity.

The basis for it needs to be figured out by minds rather than patterns. That’s our issue. And at this point I can say quite confidently that that’s not the way it works in your life. Sorry. I wish it did, but it’s not. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have caring relationships, but we’ve all been too hurt in the area of sex to make it work consistently well. We either get pushed away from it by distress or pulled into it by our distress or that of the person we care so much about—we go along with the distress. We haven’t found a way to discharge on it enough that we can make progress together.

So that’s my best picture at this point. Now you need to discharge on it. Go!

F—: Is this what you have found out from heterosexual persons?

Tim: It’s from counseling lots of people, heterosexual and non-heterosexual—it’s not too small a sample. There are a lot of people trying to work on this.


So we need a mini-session before we go off to our longer sessions. This is a little like working on our other early heavy distresses. We do it best all in the same room, working on it together. So would you look around? We’re going to do a short mini-session on “true confessions.” You get to “confess” your version of this material, so look around and find someone whom you think could hear it. We’re all going to stay in the same room. Help is nearby.

Talk about three things that fascinate you about sex: bodies (yours, theirs, whatever), or three things connected with sex that you don’t want to think about ever again. (Laughter) 

1. In this context, go after means intentionally discharge.

2. Material means distress.

3. Taking on means confronting and doing something about.

4. After means seeking.

5. Tell means notice, perceive.

6. Up to us means our job.

Last modified: 2018-04-14 02:18:16+00