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Finally, Eugene picks up a pen and writes down "first time had sex." The other men slowly begin to join in. Judith says the exercise made her realize that one huge thing she can't control about her sexuality is her fading looks. The women return her you're-out-of-your-mind look, so she explains: "When I was young, I'd see these older women and they just seemed as if they had confidence and were wise—and more comfortable in their skin. "I didn't get any mileage out of being cute when I was young.
Together they manage to write: "accidentally masturbated," "masturbated," "first time had sex," "prostate," and "Viagra." Tuttle calls time and invites the students to look at the timelines. "Like, I'm still looking at 40-year-old men," Judith says, "but they're not looking back." A few of the other women agree. I'm much more comfortable in my skin today than I was at 30, 25, 20, and definitely 15." "How? Maybe that's the positive side of not being cute or flirty at 20—when you don't get that attention at 45, you haven't lost anything." A little later, Judith admits that she can think of a few good things that result from getting older.
Elizabeth, an information technology manager at a local government agency, is an athletic woman, efficient in her movements. So begins the fifth session of Our Whole Lives (OWL): Sexuality Education for Adults, at the First Unitarian Church of Austin.
"It was just nice to be touched at all," says Judith.
Her parents didn't shy away from explaining things, and kept books like Our Bodies, Ourselves and The Joy of Sex in the house.
But in 2005, Sylvie and her husband began struggling with infertility. "We were always trying to get pregnant." So she signed up, with the hope of refiling sex under "pleasure" instead of "work" in her brain.
Several of the participants say that the course lessons were not only useful but surprising.
Sylvie*, a 35-year-old medical counselor, signed up for the class after seeing it advertised in the church bulletin.
Like the other night, my wife was singing to me, and I said, 'Oh, you're making love to me.'" One of the first pilot classes for the OWL program took place in Boston three years ago.After wrapping up the discussion about self-touch, during which Tuttle encourages students to "think about sensuality broadly and not shut off the pleasure of getting to know the whole body," she and her coteacher, Michael West, an economic development project manager in the Texas A&M University system, explain the next exercise: a sexuality timeline.(OWL facilitators are trained over three days, and the program is typically team taught, usually by a woman and a man.) Thirty feet of newsprint is rolled out across two long tables. The men are assigned one sheet; the women, the other. " Next Tuttle, a retired sex therapist, asks the students about the experience of mindfully touching themselves: "How did it feel? " "It made me wish someone else were touching me," Elizabeth says."We see sexuality as a very important part of the human experience that is lifelong," says Janet Hayes, public relations director for the UUA. Your sexuality doesn't end after you stop having babies or get divorced or after you turn 60. We feel it has to be integrated into our spirituality because, for us, spirituality is about wholeness." So in 2008, the churches—which together have about 6,600 U. congregations and 1.4 million members—introduced classes for adults 18 to 35.