Extra: Sex - Out in the open, talking about a taboo topic

7:52 AM, Nov 6, 2007   |    comments
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On an October night in downtown Minneapolis, it's fair to say some people aren't dressing for the weather. Short skirts, high heels and low cut tops hardly qualify as fall-wear in Minnesota. We could all scratch our heads and ask why, but really, we all know why.

"Buck up, let's talk about this like grownups because it's important and it applies to everyone," Minneapolis store owner Jessica Giordani says. The 'it' is something, we, for some reason don't really talk about.

"I think some of it is because it's taboo, we don't talk about it so it gets kind of mystified," U of M psychologist Bean Robinson says. But we do suggest it in what we wear to a downtown club on a Saturday night. At least, some of us do.

"I think it would be really, really good if people talked about it more rather than this big thing, or this tittering thing," Dr. Robinson says. Somehow, it's aligned with etiquette, to strike down the once popular lyric 'Let's talk about sex.' Instead, let's not talk about it, is more prevalent. "Because we are kind of obsessed with sex.

We think people are doing it all the time and if you aren't we then you aren't really comfortable talking about it," Dr. Robinson, a licensed sex therapist, says. Well, nine years ago four fictional female characters became very, very famous for breaking the silence.

HBO's big hit, "Sex & The City" can be called a lot of things, but one truth is that it was honest about sex. "It did push the boundaries, those women did talk openly about sex," Dr. Robinson says.

So what's our problem? Why do we shy away from having discussions about the one thing we all have in common? "It all comes back to access to information people aren't sure what there is to talk about," Giordani says. Giordani is trying to fill that access void with what she calls a sex positive store - The Smitten Kitten in Uptown.

"We are here for people who are interested in sex and that is pretty much everyone," Giordani says with a smile. Amid hundreds of sex toys, Jessica provides a library of information and a 'come as you are' attitude for people who want to come in, and have a conversation, about sex.

"We have lots of people who call and ask if it's ok for them to come in which is interesting to me because of your course you can come in! It's a store. You don't call Target and ask if you can come in there," Giordani jokes. And Jessica claims her clients come from all over Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

"People of all ages, all races, all sorts of economic backgrounds. People from the city, the suburbs, rural areas," Giordani says when describing her client base.

Behind the lights of the more risqué stores there is another kind of sex industry that is taking off, just ask Alexis McKinnis. "It's something I'm totally comfortable talking about and I always have been," McKinnis says, referring to sex. "Alexis on the Sexes" is a column in the Star Tribune published vita.mn. The online editor of vita.min says Alexis is a big reason people read the weekly publication. Every seven days Alexis answers questions from readers who send them in via email. McKinnis says those inquiring minds usually submit under a fake name asking not about traditional date etiquette but about everything they wanted to know about sex and were afraid to ask publicly.

"Everyone has sex and we all, hopefully we all, have good intense sex. Why not talk about it; we should be able to talk about it," McKinnis says. And even if you think it's not so, talk is happening. Head on down to about 38th and Grand in South Minneapolis, go into a store called The Fairy Godmother, and ask for Terre. She will talk, and talk, and talk to you about sex.

On a chilly Monday night you can find Terre in the company of several other middle-aged Minneapolis women, chatting over wine and cookies, about sex. The meeting is really a class named 'Restore The Tingle.' Terre Thompson describes it as a sex-focused, sex class, for women. To help women break away from the myths, and embrace, the realities.

"Many of us got our education about sexual pleasure as teenagers from TV and movies. How many other areas in life do you let your inner teenager run the show?," Thompson asks her students. Again the syllabus instructs that these students only be open, and honest, about their knowledge or lack of, about sex.

"When my mom told me when I was 13 I thought it was something you did at the doctor's office," one woman admits laughing. It is a room full of conversation that seems kind of surreal. Minnesota women unafraid to chat about sex. It puts a whole new spin on the ladies of Lake Wobegon.

"I had never seen a nude man," another woman exclaims, I was 21 (years old)!" It seems that yes the unspoken does get spoken from time to time without being a topic too taboo to touch.

By Jana Shortal, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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