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Sex in the Year of Hope and Change

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Ian Kerner will join Esther Perel, Amy Sohn, Leonore Tiefer and Cory Silverberg for a conversation called "Sex in America: Can The Conversation Change?" The symposium is co-sponsored by the Huffington Post and Open Center and will take place in New York City on Friday, February 20th. Please click here to register.

The time is upon us to make sexual history.

Throughout the last eight years it's often felt as though American sex lives were broken: "shattered," as the Rolling Stones' song goes.

While our cultural exposure to sex has heightened over the last decade, our level of personal satisfaction has plummeted to a staggering low, with sexual dissatisfaction being cited more often than ever as a primary cause of divorce. Infidelity is likewise rampant, with women now cheating as frequently, if not more often, than men. When we find we're not getting what we need at home, we hastily seek it out elsewhere.

Singles are suffering from hook-up hangovers, bed-hopping from one fling to the next, searching for something more, without knowing how, when, or where to find it. We treat sex lightly, but sex rarely treats us lightly in return.

Younger and younger men are turning to erectile stimulants such as Viagra, while our predilection for anti-depressants continues to wreak havoc on what is left of our libidos. Meanwhile stress, obesity, and lack of exercise are eroding our sexual fitness, as we sit idly in front of our TVs and computers, gazing at pictures of airbrushed, surgically enhanced strangers having sex instead of doing it ourselves. Without even realizing it, we allow boilerplate images and acts to dictate whether or not we are "sexy" and what and whom we desire, without any regard for the unique spectrum of our actual wants and needs. We are bloated and engorged on a steady diet of sexual junk food, but we are far from fulfilled.

Now, in 2009 -- a year of hope and change -- we need to turn off the noise and tune in to our authentic sexual selves. We need to reclaim our innate erotic potential and rediscover our ability to live vitally and passionately.

The time is upon us to cleanse, rejuvenate, and rebuild: to make ourselves healthy and whole again.

What does it mean to truly be a "sexual person?" Most people I ask refer to the number of sexual partners they've had in the past, or think being a sexual person means that they like to have sex a lot and need it often -- usually more than their partner(s) -- or that they simply love having orgasms.

But being a sexual person is more than just liking sex. It means that you're willing and able to communicate proactively about sexual issues with your partner, that you're committed to the spirit of ongoing sexual creativity, that you sustain your sexual fitness and live a sexually healthy life, that you're aware of past experiences that may be impairing your full enjoyment of sex, that you have empathy for your partner and his or her issues, that you recognize that sexual desire ebbs and flows across the life cycle (both within yourself and within your relationship), and that sex changes.

Our sexual histories are so much more than just the number of partners we've had. It's who we are and what we bring to those experiences. Our sexual history is the sense of self-esteem and self-respect we bring to our sex life.

Your sexual history isn't just something that happened in the past. It's something that's happening right now.

It's 2009: Let's get it on.

Adapted from my book: Sex Recharge