What's With the Cubes?
There's not much that's less sexy than little cubes. They look like something kids use to learn to count. Also, they hurt when you step on them with bare feet. Believe me, I know.
So why did I choose cubes as a way for people to talk about their sex life? In 2016 I started the Graphic Sex Project, going around Washington, DC, with bag full of cubes and a bunch of markers and asking people to make "graphs" of their ideal sexual experience. They could use any words they wanted to define what each color meant in their graph. I had furry red light box so people could take a picture of their graph -- to share with a friend and to add to the collection if they wanted to.
What I discovered is that talking about sex using something that's not at all sexy is a really powerful way to get a new perspective. Using cubes and squares to graph your sex life de-eroticizes it. It moves your thinking about sex into other realms: playfulness, logic, aesthetics, creativity, language, memory. The new perspective is fertile ground for new insights.
If someone asks you "what do you want?" are you stumped? Here's a good way to explore it. Are you unsatisfied with your current erotic life? Here's a good way to think creatively about how it could be different. Would you like to talk to partner but can't find the words? Here's a way to discover your words. Don't know how to bring up the subject? Here's a fun conversation starter.
People do all sorts of different things with their graphs - much more than I envisioned! I thought people would just make a timeline of a good sexual flow: what happens first, what happens next, using more cubes to mean more time spent on that activity. I gave them dots and suggested they mark where climaxes happen.
The above graph says this 30 year straight man gets in the mood with lots of texting, sights, smells, food and drink - blue, pink, red, orange, green respectively. Then touching (yellow) and oral (purple) to bring his female partner to climax (blue cube with green dot). Then in the morning (brown), he has his climax (blue cube with a yellow dot). Perhaps as a result of all that drinking, he has to wait til morning? So many interesting things here: notice the value he puts on all that time spent communicating and connecting in the build up to sex - more cubes than the sexual part. His partner might want to note how important that is to him.
Some people get very complex with their graphs. In some graphs, people would use the cubes to show where several things were happening at once.
Notice the chores? Really common for people to include something like this. Some people like to dispense with responsibilities before they can really let go and get into their body. Also, in some couples, one person carries more of the domestic load and that can lead to resentment, which is terrible for getting in to a sexy mood. Doing chores together is a way for both people to feel like equal partners.
Many of the graphs told little stories - windows into the person's world.