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Myths from Sex/Life

Netflix’s Sex/Life created quite the stir after its release sending most people into a quick binge. It also created a plethora of conversations that ranged from, ‘this is my life after being married for so long’ to ‘the sex is so hot you got to watch’ to  ‘seriously?’ to ‘is this what we should all expect from marriage?’  ‘This’ being the inevitable lack of sex and passion that comes from the normalcy of day to day life with someone. 

This commentary is not without merit but deeper than that were some deeply disturbing messages that we as a society continue to perpetuate about gender roles, relationships, and sex. Leading me to think that Netflix missed a huge opportunity to educate and level up our current conditioning with more modern messaging. 

I recorded a podcast with a run down of my thoughts about getting through the first episode but wanted to highlight 3 myths that deserve busting here. 

Myth #1

Womens worth and the myth that she is defined by how desired she is. That her relationship is only as fulfilling as the sex she is having.

“Being and feeling sensual, sexual or desired does not come from outside of you. It does not come from getting fucked. 

It comes from within. From your thoughts about yourself. The energy you embody. No one can make you feel sexy or desired. They can desire you, tell you you are sexy but think about it, you have to believe them to feel it. Which is the conundrum and endless quest; if you don’t believe it already you won’t when someone tells you. You may in the moment but it will be as fleeting as the orgasm. And then you’re off looking for the next lay to boost your self esteem; and then years later you realized it doesn’t matter how sexy, how desired, how fuckable or how many you fucked, you don’t feel better about yourself and you have to reconcile all of that within you. 

This messaging that we as women buy into around our worth coming from being sexy and desired -that that is what we want is horse shit and the biggest scam. “

Myth #2

A Big Dick Not Maketh Great Sex.

“This pressure for men to perform and please is more fuel to feed the patriarch. It’s a disempowering message to both men and women. And we as women want to recognize our role and how we are supporting this message as well. 

This is why women coming into owning their pleasure as a birth right and being part of the intimate experience – co creating- not just laying there, moaning loudly for him but engaging in, speaking up on behalf of and owning your orgasms and pleasure is mandatory.

“I know now that great love making and states of pleasure can be found without a dick or penetration. That P in V isn’t the only way to have sex or an orgasm. It’s one way, but not the way. That the size doesn’t matter. That a healthy sex life isn’t dependent on his dick and what it can do for me. 

It’s about your connection with this person. Intimacy. Knowing yourself, your body and getting to know theirs. That at the end of the day, it’s another human being with human parts who’s worth should not be measured.

Let’s stop reinforcing messages that a mans manhood and worth is his ability to perform and measured inch by inch.”

Myth #3

Women Working

“This would also have been a great topic for them to expand AND addressing the one thing most people aren’t questioning which is a woman walking away from her Ivy League degree. The lack of dialogue around it is disturbing because there is nothing more commonplace and accepted than a woman giving up her work to stay home. The repercussions and compound effects a woman faces when she walks away from work go well into her retirement. 

Unfortunately, no wants to talk about the real statistics of what happens when a woman gives up working to stay home with the children.”

“The messaging I give my children is not the one that Sex/Life and most of western culture offers because in my opinion not only is it a disservice to them, it would be irresponsible. We should be raising our kids to partner with their partners, pursue their passions, to learn how to make and have money, and take responsibility for themselves financially, emotionally, sexually. How to communicate. Not assume gender roles. Talk about post-nups, not just prenups. Not to give themselves up for a person or family. That they can work AND raise children. 

I want to encourage any woman out there who struggles with the idea of working and parenting to read The Feminine Mistake. It isn’t easy to manage work and kids and partners and have a life.

I know personally, but I promise you its worth it.

The Feminine Mistake shares with you the research and real life stories of what can happen to women who give up their work, why they choose it and how detrimental it can be over the long haul. It also shares with you encouraging stories and the upside to doing both. “

I invite you to listen to the episode here for the full effect. I also invite you to consider what outdated narratives you might still be buying into and perpetuating. Are they supporting and serving you and the sexes? You are your relationships? You and your sovereign self?

I’ll also have you know that after ranting about it on social media I had a handful of people ask me if I had seen Bridgerton… a period piece that focuses on courting and marriage but with a sprinkling of modern AND the sex scenes are seen more from a woman’s gaze. I get Tudor vibes without the darkness. (Gawd, I loved the Tudors. That was low-key like porn for me too…)

I will say this, I’m five episodes in and the sex has just started. Bridgerton has been taking its time building the characters and narratives, sprinkling in little by little desire and touch. You know, foreplay for the viewer. Where as Sex/Life grabs the viewers attention by showing you as much as possible in the first few minutes garnering shock. Which splashes your dopamine but ultimately, requires you needing crazier faster to get off. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my personal favorite binge Broad City, that I’ve been watching with my child, Faith.  It’s a fun fast show that provides narratives, languages and messaging that is more attuned with gender equality, feminism and sex without the seriousness of affairs and being miserable. 

As a matter of fact, one thing I love about the show aside from updating my terminology is that, though they crush on people, the show doesn’t revolve around their existence and worth being about who they are with. Their dating and love lives are second, maybe even third ranking in importance. 

It’s so fucking refreshing. 

I regret not knowing about the series when it came out. There is an episode called Witches that addresses the emotional stress caused by Trump winning the election in 2016 that is so powerful and informative. 

It’s funny to the point I have to turn it off at times and walk away because I’m laughing so hard. Which has me wondering… the level of pleasure I experience watching it. Am I feeling peak vibes? Sexy pleasurable erotic energy vibes from laughing and relating? Holy cats. It’s official… Broad City gets 5 0’s. Who knew?! 

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Come Pretty with the Goop Wand

While running Teddies for Bettys one of my missions was to educate women on bra fittings; the importance of why it was physically and mentally beneficial for them to know and to also understand what had kept them from bra shopping to begin with. 

If you don’t have breasts it may not have ever occurred to you the amount of negative unprocessed emotions that come with them. The endless messaging and conditioning one hears that tells you what breasts are for. What they should look like. How they are meant to be used.

I spent 10 years listening to women recall intimate tales of their breasts that ranged from embarrassment about them coming in at a young age or not coming in soon enough.

Self conscious about nipples showing and the shapes they took on.

the despair of losing their breasts from body changes or cancer.

the shame of them being associated to their weight.

The sexualization.

Sure, there were the women who embraced their breasts and had sweet stories of their first fittings and learned that lingerie was something that could make you feel good, but more than not they were stories that resulted from damaging messaging.

Then there is the obvious physical discomfort of bras because women weren’t educated on how to fit or know what styles to choose based on their breast shape and tissue.

Americans didn’t place great importance on bras and fittings because our culture has spent so much time sexualizing our breasts and nipples that if you were talking about bras you might be speaking in terms of sex. The map looks like this: Bras = lingerie = sex = you’re bad and going to hell. 

More recently, marketing around female bodies, our parts and bras has become widely more acceptable and common. Well, certainly more marketable. This has to do in large part when Susan Nethero founder of Intimacy spoke on Oprah and shared that 1 in 8 women did not know their bra size and why it was important physically that she did, that the landscape of lingerie changed. 

They called it a ‘bra revolution’ and the bra industry grew by 700 million that year. 

The message was loud and clear, and bra shopping became normalized as a ‘need’. 

Enter Victoria’s Secret. You see, Oprah was making waves, but Victoria’s Secret marketing and price point was available to the masses. 

People always want to trash on the quality and sexualization of VS but in doing so, they fail to miss one very important message; They educated the American consumer on lingerie and bras. 

In the 90’s it was all things sexy, exciting and feminine. I’ll never forget getting my first miracle bra. I bought one for my mom too. We both entered the grand dressing rooms for our fittings and just like that, my 2 weeks wages from the coffee shop were spent. I didn’t even care! It was one of ‘those moments’ that I wish more people experienced when bra shopping. 

(My first bras were from Walmart, cotton front clasp with a t-back. Equally as excited to have this moment. It was an official Saturday errand the summer before 7th grade and I wanted to tell everyone. That I had finally arrived.) 

They contributed to normalizing lingerie and bra shopping in America the way it is in France… Not entirely, but made a major dent. When I was in the lingerie industry a French woman was known to budget a 1/3 of her income to her foundations- something I rarely saw in my 10 years of working in the business from my clientele. 

Victoria’s Secret educated the consumer in ways that I and other small businesses could not afford to do. What I noticed was that after a woman became more conscious of quality she would evolve to the higher end brands that I and other intimate shops offered. They were ready to invest in their lingerie drawers. 

But we all have to start somewhere.

My feelings about the Goop Wand are very much the same; It’s educating the consumer and normalizing the conversations around sex objects, masturbating, cliteracy, finding pleasure and reaching the masses. 

Goop is able to reach an audience and make a major assist in destigmatizing shame and the dated beliefs that have been impressed upon people forever. 

For people who wouldn’t otherwise feel comfortable going into a novelty store. And not because they are judgmental of the shops or toys themselves, it’s because they are nervous of being judged themselves.

The lack of awareness, openness or general freeness around sex and sex toys are no fault of the consumer, but directly related to the puritan marketing and messaging that’s been fed to us all via our family beliefs, our church and schools, our friends and pop culture.

Sex sells. But if you are woman who is sexual, you are slutty. 

Have big breasts and cleavage but if he’s staring at you, it’s your fault.

Have sex with your husband like a good wife but don’t think of masturbating or pleasing yourself. 

Want to have mind blowing sex? Here’s how to please him.

Sex education? Practice abstinence unless married and reproducing. 

I was the first ‘lifestyle’ store in Texas to offer novelty items or sex toys along with other products. The year was 2008 and the supreme court had just ruled that it was illegal to stop stores from selling novelty products. 

And here’s a shoutout to Forbidden Fruits- they are the real MVP’s in Austin TX who helped pave the way. 

Unfortunately, though the laws adjusted in favor of sex shops, the mindsets did not.

While trying to find a location, I was repeatedly told ‘no’ because I planned on selling lingerie and carrying sex objects. 

I was denied business insurance and business loans.

One man and woman took a chance on me and leased me a tiny house on S 1st st. I didn’t realize the magnitude of their ‘yes’ at the time. 

All of the ‘no’s were a result of me selling ‘sex’. 

‘Influencers’ would shop in the store but not talk about it because it was ‘not on brand’ and that might reflect on them. 

When I would invite someone to check it out I would hear all sorts of comments but the one I’ll never forget was ‘if I ever need anything like that I’ll stop by’ to which I replied ‘yah, when you start wearing bras and panties you should.’ 

I won’t lie; I grew resentful over the years. Tired, too. I found myself growing insecure, believing that what I did was taboo. That I was taboo. I softened my voice and worked hard at being seen as mainstream and commercial so that the customer would feel ‘okay’ about coming in.

I bought sex objects that looked modern and displayed them in high end jewelry cases. I don’t regret my merchandising, but I ended up doing a great disservice to the sex industry. I missed an opportunity to dig in, educate and normalize what is natural, fun and healthy. 

Which is why I can’t talk too much shit about the Goop Wand or Gwyneth Paltrow when I see her doing the same. 

When she’s quoted saying ‘we wanted to create something intellectual, “So many vibrators look hyper-sexualized,” she added. “They’re either really phallic or they look like something you would buy in a sex shop.” 

Paltrow said she also wanted to create a vibrator that would “continue to diminish stigma” around sex toys.

“really pretty and cool, and that you could leave on your nightstand without embarrassing yourself or somebody else.” 

Goop is playing it safe to reach the masses and producing a toy that looks pretty to ensure a comfort level.

Unfortunately, while Goop ‘soften the edges’ for some to feel comfortable and make the purchase it continues to perpetuate and reinforce the alternative as taboo and in which case NOT diminishing the stigma.

“Oh my god, Gwyneth. Look at her sex toy.” 

Let me just say; a sex object is a sex object is a sex object. Regardless of where you buy it or how it’s packaged. They all have the same purpose. Pleasure. Embodiment. Your Well-being. 

Which is precisely all they should be talking about when selling it. 

How pleasurable it is. 

Why it’s safe for you body. 

What you can expect. 

What to consider doing while using. 

How to clean. 

How many orgasms to expect. 

Not how intellectual it is. 

What inspired the color. 

How pretty it is. 

I mean honestly, I don’t care how ugly, hyper-sexualized or phallic you are so long as my tongue goes numb and I see stars. I will show you to all my friends. I’ll tuck you in at night and save a seat for you at the dinner table. Nobody puts baby in the corner.

And still, we must commend Gwyneth and Goop. They are succeeding at selling sex as pretty and it’s a step in the right direction. Every time a Goop Wand is sold, an orgasm is had. A body enlightened.

Unless you’re like me. In which case the wand is not for you- but is for some.

I tried the Goop Wand once and never went back. Too many buttons and things to figure out. All of the speeds and variations… Come on. Just give it to me!

Maybe I was feeling lazy. Maybe I need directness. Maybe it just doesn’t pack the punch I’m looking for.

I do believe the Goop Wand might be just the right object for first time users… 

When my 18 year old saw it and said “Oh! That’s pretty!” I explained what it was along with my opinions. Which only created intrigue followed by questions. I ordered them their own later that night.

Much like my Victoria’s Secret, Goop has their market targeted. 

And we can celebrate another human being learning about their body and it’s natural birthright to feel pleasure- and feel pretty while doing so. 

I’ll give it Two O’s

Partner play: Wands in general are a great tool to use during partner play. You can use the cone head to vibrate on both of you or penetrate with the opposite end. Which could lead to double penetration. Or some good ol’ fashion anal play. The object itself looks like a microphone or ice cream cone. So much role playing to be had here.

Climatic: USB charger. Easy to clean. Quiet. Multiple speeds and pulsations for a variety of intensities. Water proof. “Pretty” is not an uncommon response by users and a factor in purchasing… which leads to awareness,  sexual well being and cliteracy. Light frequency. 

Anti-Climatic: Too much time spent trying to figure out what speed/ vibe and not enough pleasing and orgasm.

O Factor: OO 

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Highlights from my recent conversation with Dr. Solomon: Clarity is Not Cruelty

My recent conversation with Dr. Alenxadra Solomon offered much clarity and insight to the topics of consent, communication and how integrating them both can deepen our relationships and connections with others. 

It was an explorative conversation around consent, clarity, and what we’ve been taught about heteronormative relationships. We discuss consensual sex, polyamory, BDSM, and being Queer, and I am very excited to share today’s conversation about what consent is at the very core. There are so many nuances around consent, and we dove deeper into them on MR Ep 80 Clarity is Not Cruelty (highly recommend tuning in and turning!)

But if you only have time for a quickie, here are some highlights I found worth mentioning.

Dr. Solomon: “I still get questions today about like, is it okay to have sex on the first date? Or is the third date really the sex date? Or when should I have sex?” 

So if we start to reset the norm, rather than these things that are like- I still get questions today about like, is it okay to have sex on the first date? Or is the third date really the sex date? Or when should I have sex? These kinds of questions that reflect that we are not yet at the point where sex becomes an opportunity for layering in a new kind of connection versus a thing to check off along the way.

I think it oftentimes is like we just have to check off this box. And she worries about waiting too long. And he- It becomes a communication about the state of the relationship versus a thing to talk about. My favorite question is, what would each of us be thinking, and feeling, and doing when we knew it was time to start layering in sexual connection? That’s such a better question than when should we have sex? What am feeling with myself? What am I feeling with you that would tell us that this would be a really fun next step for us?

Ashley: Is it consensual sex if he’s been lying to you and manipulating you and telling you about one thing, and then you enter into an intimate romantic relationship and then soon all this other information is unveiled and she feels she’s experienced non-consensual in the form of rape, and then in this form of being lied to and manipulated. And she’s like, I really am having a hard time understanding the difference mentally and emotionally. Because two people took away my agency to make the decision. Is it the same violation?

Dr. Solomon: That’s right. So, yeah, so what she’s saying is there was information that was withheld from me that would have changed my willingness and my readiness to be sexual with this person.

Ashley: Right.

Dr. Solomon: So yes, that’s right. What she thought she was consenting to, she wasn’t consenting to. The terms and agreements that she thought were on the table were not what was on the table. So it was not consensual.

I don’t know that rape is the right word for that situation. But certainly, what she’s doing is she’s saying, you know what? Consent has a number of dimensions to it. And certainly what she’s saying is, my experience as a survivor, especially, means that I want and need to feel like I’m in the driver’s seat of my sexuality. And I find out later that what they were telling me wasn’t true, I was not in the driver’s seat of that experience. And that is a violation and it hurts. And it hurts me in the same place, it hurts me in that same arena inside of me where I was hurt in my sexual assault experience.

It makes so much sense that that hurt lives in the same realm. Of course it does. Of course it does.

Question: I had a friend tell me the other day that she’d met a man and they were kissing, but it wasn’t really moving very quickly. She was like, “I’m so confused. Are you gay?”

And I was like, “Wait, what did you say? Tell me you did not say that.” And she was like, “I just don’t understand why he didn’t want to have sex.” And he said to her, he’s like, “You do realize there’s a me too movement and not all of us are going to do that right away.”

And it was that shift, because I don’t want it to seem like it’s always like, “Men don’t understand consent and women have it all figured out.” It’s putting all that pressure on men to be a certain way. But that comment also being very homophobic. And I don’t think people really grasp when you say that what you’re really saying. But also that pressure you’re putting on. Like you’re feeling that maybe he’s not into you because he doesn’t want to have sex and he’s not ready.

Dr. Solomon: That’s right. I often say that patriarchy hurts men as well as women. But I also often say that women reinforce patriarchy in a lot of ways just like men do. It’s not that women are sort of free of this stuff. I mean she was reinforcing patriarchy in that moment, right?

Her idea is, as a man you should be constantly looking for your leading edge of where this is going to go. And you are the only person who can accelerate the action in the scene. She’s reinforcing those highly gendered notions, and she’s giving away her power. And she’s punishing him for being “less of a man” because of his pacing.

And yeah, I feel sad for both of them. And there’s something very complicated for women that women also, I think, anchor sort of something about if he’s trying to figure out how far he can get with me, it’s because I’m so desirable, I’m so hot, I’m so irresistible. So there may have been that in his staying in that space of just kissing, she may have gone into like, “What’s wrong with me? Does he not think I’m hot? Does he not want?”

So it just becomes this complicated flip flop of kind of like blame and shame. So there’s maybe a part of her that starts to feel ashamed like, “Am I not desirable to him?” And shame is pretty intolerable so then she maybe flips it into blame like, “What’s wrong with him that he doesn’t want this?”

Rather than just asking like, “What are you feeling? I would be up for doing more if you were up for doing more. I would love to make love right now, would you be interested in that?” I’m not saying any of that is easy. But part of sexual healing is for her to be able to also feel empowered to ask for what she wants, rather than thinking all she can do is wait for him to move it along.

Question: And it kind of brings up another conversation that I hear a lot about, is this masculine feminine position. And I grasp the concept of polarity being like what you need in a romantic relationship. But what I’m not getting down with is this idea that the masculine just take her.

And it comes up as simple as like a first date. I’m like, “Do you ask it before you kiss?” And they’re like, “No, the feminine doesn’t want that. They just want you to take it.” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s really interesting that you’re saying that.” Because I’ve been in that situation and it’s not fun sometimes.

And if anything like we were talking about earlier, that trauma state. When someone grabs you and starts doing this, if you’re not ready for that, if you’re not on the same page you don’t know how she might be feeling and you’re just doing your thing.

And I think that that masculine feminine surrender take is- Once you trust somebody, and you’ve had these conversations, and you know they know your body, and you’ve opened that up, then you can fully surrender to that let them take your idea and concept.

But I feel like right now that’s another conversation that’s very trendy in the dating relationship world about masculine feminine. And I think that people are really misinformed because it seems to me it’s like a 1950s version of how men dated women in a heteronormative world versus the masculine feminine. No, it’s not about sex but you’re still relying on that. That take and that’s what she wants.

Dr. Solomon: I’m so glad you’re bringing it up because you’re right. I think it’s very, very, very problematic. And I think there’s a pretty easy fix for it. If she wants that idea then she can say, “At some point tonight, just so you know I am completely ready for you at some point tonight to grab me and kiss me. I would love that. I would love for you to just pick your moment. Know that I’m ready. Thumbs up. When you feel it I would love that.” Right?

Ashley: I love that.

Dr. Solomon: Now we still get to play in that space of taking and surrendering and surprise and whatever we want to have. But we just have established it.

Ashley: Right, because you’re also leaving the surprise there, which is so great. Because that’s the biggest push back. It’s like, “Well, there’s no spontaneity.” And I’m like, “Okay.”

Dr. Solomon: Maybe spontaneity is a bit overrated, especially early on.

Ashley: That’s really great. I love that. Yeah, like when you’re ready, I’m open to it. We can keep the surprise element there. That’s a wonderful way of putting it.

Dr. Solomon: Also, I think when we take down an old model there’s some grief. And so maybe, for women, there’s maybe grief around sexual maturity means that I have to actually own my wanting. I have to take responsibility. I have to articulate what I want and need. There’s maybe a grief in that, like that I have to kind of like grow up, grow into a sense of responsibility.

And maybe for men, there’s also a grief around I have to let go of the fantasy that I can just be a knight in shining armor. Maybe I think there are men who would love to never leave a woman wanting. Who would love to just be able to hold her through an experience wordlessly. So maybe there’s a grief in actually real life. You know, in real life you can’t really just be a knight in shining armor, you can’t. There has to be questions and there has to be clarity.

And with questions and clarity now we can be creative and expressive. But we have to move through the boundary setting in order to get there. And that’s maybe sad that we can’t live in this imagined fantasy world.

For a full transcript click here

To listen to the full episode Spotify and subscribe via Apple PodcastsStitcher or RSS.

To watch the recorded conversation with Ashley and Dr Solomon click here

To find out more and learn about Dr Solomon and her work click here

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THE HOUSE OF OTHER

ABOUT PAGE TALKING ABOUT THE HOUSE OF OTHER