#OrgasmQuest, Depression and Sex in the Digital Age

As soon as I saw the Huffington Post’s headline, This Woman Is Live-Tweeting Her Quest To Have An Orgasm While On AntidepressantsI knew I had to learn more. The more I learned, the more stoked I became about the story’s leading lady, Crista Anne. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when she agreed to an interview.

The sex educator, blogger and mother of four has struggled with depression since birth. When a new medication began improving her wellbeing significantly, all would’ve been fabulous—if it didn’t interfere with her ability to orgasm. Sex-positive to the core, she set her sights on restoring climax capabilities, sharing her mission on Twitter and her blog and quickly attracting media attention.

Crista Anne had wonderful thoughts to share on mental illness, our bodies and the damaging taboos surrounding both. Listen to our chat using the link below, then pop back to read our after-chat.

The episode also features my interview with Chad Kultgen, a controversial author whose novel Men, Women & Children brilliantly illustrates ways internet technology affects many people’s lives and relationships. Oh, and he also shared one of the most incredible animal stories I’ve ever heard. Seriously, you don’t want to miss it! I may never look at squirrels the same way again…

Girl Boner Radio with August McLaughlin:

#OrgasmQuest and Sex in the Digital Age

iammightypurewand

Crista Anne, in all her rainbow wonder! #OrgasmQuest

An After-Chat with Crista Anne of #OrgasmQuest

August: What’s one thing you wish would change in how we deal with or view mental illness in the U.S.?

Crista Anne: Narrowing it down to one thing froze my brain for a moment there. I suppose most of all I wish that mental illness was viewed like any other serious health condition, because it is. Cancer kills, so does depression. That would be a glorious start.

August: What’s one of the most common myths about depression?

Crista Anne: That depression can just be willed away. That people can just decide not to be depressed, or that we’re lazy. Depression is an illness. The brain can get sick, just like any other part of your body.

August: I love that sex toys, along with masturbation, have helped you manage your illness. Any personal favorites?

Crista Anne: My personal favorites as of this moment are the Njoy Pure Wand, Original Magic Wand and the Tantus Tsunami dildo. The combo of the magic wand and tsunami is was helped get me that first masturbatory orgasm!

August: What type of toy would you recommend to someone who’s new to, er, toyland?

Crista Anne: A lot of people suggest weak, “non-threatening” vibes to folks who are new to toys, which actually annoys me a great deal. A weak vibe isn’t going to show people the glorious things that sex toys have to offer! A We-Vibe Tango is a “lipstick” style (the shape of the vibe resembles new lipstick with a flat area at the head, which is where they get the name) bullet vibe that has a great deal of power, is decently quiet, waterproof and rechargeable.

August: Many parents aren’t sure how to talk to their kids about sexuality. Any suggestions for newbies?

Crista Anne: Start early with simple things like modeling consent (they don’t have to give hugs if they don’t want to, stop tickling when they say stop) and using anatomically correct terms for body parts. When they are young, we started telling the kids that we needed Mommy & Daddy time to spend together without kids around so we can have special grownup time. When kids naturally start exploring their bodies, we teach them that we only touch our bits (since we have kids with penises and vulvas it’s our catchall term) with clean hands and when they have privacy. Visit the Scarleteen website, which is geared for teens but has a great deal of information and ideas on how to start these conversations. Kids are going to pick up on how uncomfortable their parents are when having these conversations, so try and get an idea of what you want to before hand. Practice if needed so you can come off as approachable instead of uncomfortable and unapproachable.

August: May I send you some Girl Boner goodies as a thanks for being awesome?

Crista Anne: Always! I am shameless when it comes to swag. I’ll return the favor when I restock my Crista Anne goodies.

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How exciting! You know what else is exciting? Crista Anne will be joining us for #BOAW2015. If you haven’t yet registered and would like to, visit this post. For tips and reminders along the way, RSVP on the Facebook event page.

What did you think of the interviews? How about #OrgasmQuest? Has mental illness affected your ability to maintain a healthy, happy sex life? I always love hearing from you! ♥

Going Green is the New Sexy! My Chat with Alexandra Paul

“As consumers, we are so powerful. Every day we have a choice with what we buy to do the right thing.” — Alexandra Paul

A few weeks ago, I was streaming Ted talks while cooking dinner when one stopped me in my tracks. Alexandra Paul, the actress internationally known for her portrayal of lifeguard Stephanie Holden on TV’s “Baywatch,” shared a story from her childhood—the moment the rapidly increasing population prompted her decision not to have kids.

“I felt alone in my beliefs,” she said, ” and thirty-seven years later, I still feel alone in my beliefs.”

She went on to explore the human overpopulation crisis, why virtually no one discusses it and impactful steps we can take to preserve this beautiful planet we call home. This was only a glimpse of her awesomeness.

The star of over  75 TV shows and feature films is a prolific, award-winning activist who uses her skills as a speaker, writer, producer and huge-hearted human being to educate others on causes she holds dear, most prominently human overpopulation and animal rights.

She also glows, literally radiates, with the rare kind of beauty that shines from within. Based on our chat, I can only assume much of that light derives from living authentically, passionately and inline with her values.

Last week Alexandra joined me in the studio for what turned out to be one of my most insightful episodes yet. We discussed her acting career, our shared history with eating disorders, powerful ways to preserve the planet, simple ways to shift toward an animal-friendlier lifestyle, veganism and more.

To download or stream our chat, visit this link on iTunes:

Girl Boner Radio: Going Green is the New Sexy with Alexandra Paul

Alexandra Paul_GirlBonerRadio_August McLaughlin

It’s also available on Stitcher Radio. To learn more, visit alexandrapaul.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Watch her powerful TEDx talk here: Overpopulation Facts – The Problem No One Will Discuss.

*****

#BOAW2015 Don’t forget to sign up for the 4th annual Beauty of a Woman BlogFest! For tips and updates along the way, RSVP through the Facebook event page once you’ve registered. As a participant, you’ll have chances to reach hundreds, perhaps thousands, of readers and win fantastic prizes, such as artwork, organic intimacy products, a gorgeous bathing suit and stylist consultation, gift cards and more.

A Special Freebie: In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Month, my novel inspired by my experience with anorexia, In Her Shadow, is free on Kindle until February 5th. If you’d like to check it out, hop over to Amazon. Derivative sales support eating disorder awareness and prevention.

What did you think of Alexandra’s insight? What steps are you taking to lead a planet- or animal- friendlier lifestyle? Has overpopulation influenced your decision to have kids? I love hearing your thoughts! ♥

Revenge Porn and Relationship Privacy: An After-Chat with @DrJaneGreer

“There is no sexual, visual, acceptable picture without my consent. Without my consent there is only violation.” — Emma Holten

Our bodies and sexuality should not be used as shame-inducing weapons. Who’s with me?

I know Emma Holten is. After an ex posted explicit images of her online, the Danish activist chose to share her own nude photographs on her own terms. *pauses to happy-dance* I adore her for that, and for using her experience as a platform for making positive difference.

sexuality quote

One in ten ex-partners have threatened to release explicit photos post-breakup, according to a 2013 MacAfee Survey. Sixty percent of them act on the threats, and 90 percent of victims are women. Despite these risks, says the report, 36 percent of Americans plan to send sexy photos to their patterns through email, text or social media on Valentine’s Day. I personally don’t see a problem with that. Sharing our sexy selves however we see fit with a trusted loved one (or the world, for that matter) is awesome and should never be shunned.

What bothers me about ‘revenge porn’ is the lack of consent and intentional pain former partners intend to inflict—regardless of the medium. It also saddens me that our bodies and sexuality are so often used to induce shame. If we all embraced our bodies and sexuality as natural and beautiful, folks wouldn’t care whether such images were posted online. (This is probably why none of my exes have made attempts—just saying.) Without associative shame, they can’t be used as weapons. But as a culture, we’re so far away from that.

Last week, I had the pleasure to interviewing the spectacular Dr. Jane Greer, a marriage and family therapist, author and creator of the popular celebrity sex and relationship commentary, “SHRINK WRAP with Dr. Jane Greer.” She also hosts a dynamic radio show I had the honor of appearing not long before Girl Boner Radio launched. (You can find that episode in the show’s archives here, and via YouTube here.)

We explored some of the biggest lessons we can derive from celebrity relationships, how to keep selfishness out of our own relationships and more. She was also kind enough to share a few more thoughts here, including her take on revenge porn. Read our quick after-chat below then check out our interview on iTunes, Stitcher Radio for lots more!

jane

August: Social media has made it tougher for celebrities to maintain privacy, which can pose challenges within relationships. What can we learn from the ways celebrities use social media? 

Dr. Greer: 

We can learn that it’s important to be open with people and to share; however, be mindful about what you share in order to keep some things private. Maintain personal privacy and don’t feel like you have to share everything. For example, say you’re in a new relationship – you don’t have to share all the personal details of what you did on your first date, all of your common interests, etc. Keep the intimate details of your relationship to yourself.

August: Revenge porn has been a big topic in the media lately. It saddens me that the victims are so often blamed, and that how they decided to express their sexuality becomes a tool to induce shame. What’s your take? 

Dr. Greer:

It’s hard enough to go through a breakup and deal with the loss of shared intimacy, but however angry you may be, violating the trust and intimacy you had with your partner by sharing your sexual relationship with the public really destroys any semblance of trust or respect that may be left. Even though it looks like you’re retaliating against your ex-lover, you’re compromising your own integrity and disrespecting yourself as well. The fact that the victims are being blamed is wrong because this material was to be shared only between the two partners, and if anything it suggests the person sharing the material now was not trustworthy. The victim should be more wary of sharing something so intimate in the future.

August: If you could spend an evening with one celebrity couple, who would you choose and why? 

Dr. Greer:

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. I think they’re the most fabulously talented country couple, and I love their music individually. Not only that, but I find them intriguing as a couple!

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To listen to my Girl Boner Radio interview with Dr. Jane Greer, visit this link on iTunes, or stream it via Stitcher Radio here.

Dig it? I’d love to hear from you! Post a review on iTunes or Stitcher, or share the links with your friends to keep the conversations going. To learn more about Dr. Greer, visit DrJaneGreer.com and follow her on Facebook.

What’s your take on revenge porn? What about Holten’s reaction? Which thoughts from Dr. Greet struck you most? I love hearing from you. Like, SERIOUSLY. 

Butterfly’s Wings: How A Former Stripper and Rape Survivor Found Healing

Since I first launched Girl Boner on my blog in late 2012, I’ve been interviewing and corresoliteonding with remarkable women with equally remarkable stories. Of my growing collection, Butterfly Jones’ story is one of the few that sits close to my heart—partly because I met her in my late teens, when I’d first started modeling. Back then, I thought she had everything going for her. At six feet tall without her stilettos, wavy hair that matched her hourglass figure and a confident air I lacked, she also intimidated me. Little did I know how challenging her life was.

Butterfly quote Maya A

While many of the women I’ve encountered in the adult entertainment business sought the career path for empowering reasons, Butterfly, who donned her nickname long before she evolved out of her metaphorical cocoon, did not. Based on our several-hour chat, here’s a bit of her story:

*****

“They called me Butterfly because of the way I looked when I played volleyball,” she said, recalling junior high. “Wings all flappin,’ hair flying… I loved those games, and I was good. But then, everything stopped.”

During the eighth grade, life volleyed Butterfly a scenario no one should have to face. During a slumber party, her best friend’s father molested her on her pink and purple sleeping bag.

“He took us out for ice cream before and kept looking at me like I was the real treat,” she said. “There I was, thinking how cute I musta been, and how lucky—getting his attention… Few hours later when Chelsea was in the shower, I was screaming on the family room floor. He covered my mouth, had his way with me then just left me there, cryin.’ Said if I told anyone, he’d kill my mama and little brother.”

She didn’t even know what sex was then, other than a way for “mamas to make babies.” The last thing he said before raping her was, ‘You’re so beautiful.’ “Even though I was scared, that meant something,” she said. “Felt like I was special.”

Fearful of the man’s threats and what others might think, she kept the occurrence a secret for decades. “I was never good at school, especially after that,” she said. “My boobs grew faster than the other girls. ‘Where’s your brain? In your bra?’ kids used to say—always teasing me. In high school I learned that guys liked it when I wore tight clothes and batted my eyes. I was getting attention…figured it was the one thing I was good at.

“A teacher told me I was good in music. I always loved singing, and dancing, but I was shy about it. If I’d listened to her, maybe I’d be someone else now… Who am I now? That’s a good question.”

Butterfly dropped out of high school in the eleventh grade, a decision her single mother barely flinched at. “She cared about us, sure, but she was busy working three jobs,” she explained. “I told her I quit school so I could dance, but I really just wanted to make money so she could sleep sometime, and spend more time with my brother.”

While walking home from a neighborhood market one night, toting a bag of canned and frozen food for her and her brother, she passed a nightclub. Smoke poured from the doorway, she recalled, and the music was so loud, the sidewalk trembled.

“A couple of guys hooted and hollered at me,” she said. “One came up to me and said I should be on stage. He stunk of booze and cigarettes. I was gonna walk away, but he handed me a wad of cash—just dropped it in my bag and then drug me [into the club] by the arm.

“I didn’t dance that night, but I saw the other girls. They weren’t just dancing. They took off their clothes, swung around poles, rode them while guys in the audience drooled and nearly pissed themselves. They looked powerful. And I thought, I want to feel that.”

Butterfly began stopping by the club nightly until she worked up the courage to talk to one of the performers. It’s a “shit life,” she was told, but she could make a hell of a lot of money. “Just don’t tell Jimmy you’re nineteen,” the woman added. “Say you’re 21.”

Stashing the “shit life” remark away, Butterfly focused on what she deemed a lucrative career opportunity. She could help pay for rent and groceries. Her brother, unlike her, could have their mother present throughout the rest of his youth. He might even go to college.

“He was always smart,” she said. “And he didn’t have boobs and an ass to lean on, if you follow. He deserved a better life. He could really do something with himself.”

Butterfly compares her introduction to stripping to driving for the first time. “You’re terrified, but you want [to do] it so badly,” she said. “And then suddenly it gets easy, like you knew how to do it all along. Just have to be on the lookout for crazy drivers.”

For a while, it seemed that her dreams were coming true.

“It was powerful at first,” she said, particularly on nights she left with a thousand dollars cash. “I was on top of the world. No one could touch me.”

But then, someone did. One night, after one of her biggest paying performances, a man slipped out the door behind her and followed her home.

“I felt him walking up behind me, sent the hairs on my neck on end,” she said. “When I turned around, I knew. It was the guy whose eyes were creeping me out all night. I shoulda asked for someone to walk me home, but I didn’t.”

She was raped for the second time, in a dark alley, pressed up against a garbage bin that reeked of rot and fast food. “It was my second time having sex, if you wanna call it that,” she said wistfully. “This time, I just felt numb… I just wanted it to be over so I could go home.”

She continued to strip for several more years, eventually taking up modeling on the side. Modeling was different, she said—like working in an office versus a crowded alley. The clients were professional. They treated her well and made her feel “more like a person than a plaything.”

When her modeling agent learned of her primary vocation, he encouraged her to quit. “‘You’re better than that,’ he told me, but I didn’t know how to believe him. Besides, I wasn’t making close [to] as much money modeling. I had bills to pay.”

Struck by his words, she cut back somewhat on her stripping hours and then compensated financially by offering a few ‘special treatments’ at the club. “Some of the guys would pay triple or more for a blowjob,” she said. “When a regular I kind of liked—more polite than the others—started asking for more, I gave it to him for extra…and eventually, ended up pregnant.”

Pregnancy was the first time Butterfly felt a connectedness to her body. Where she’d previously seen oversized breasts as something to be profited from and enjoyed by others, she saw beauty and capability. “I wanted to take care of myself for once,” she said. “I wanted to take care of my baby.”

She gave birth to a healthy baby boy she named Jeremiah, after her favorite cousin. At a loss for a viable way to support her family, she went back to stripping. “Whenever I hated going on stage, which was most of the time, I thought ‘I’ll do this for little J.’ And then I did.”

When Jeremiah was a toddler, she met a young man at a local playground. “He was babysitting his niece and nephew. I sat there watching him while I pushed Jeremiah in the swing,” she said. “Looked like he really loved them, and it almost made me cry. So gentle, so sweet.”

She saw the man, Samuel—a sociology student at the University of Minnesota—repeatedly at the park. Over time they became friends. Then one day, while helping their little ones along the monkey bars, he asked her out on her first-ever date. “For a second, I thought he just wanted services, but I knew he wasn’t like that,” she recalled. “We went on a picnic and a walk around the lake, and talked and talked, for hours.”

Soon, Butterfly opened up to Samuel about stripping, her lack of experience with dating, romance and sexual intimacy (she had no idea what ‘sexual intimacy’ entailed then), and being raped. “I thought he’d think I’m disgusting and run away,” she said through tears. “He just said ‘I love you, baby’ then held me so tight.

She quit stripping shortly after began seeing a therapist. She began to see herself as a survivor, “…like, look what I’ve been through, and I’m still here!”

Two years later, the couple wed. She’s since put her brother through nursing school, given birth to two healthy girls and obtained her GED. While she doesn’t feel Samuel “saved” her, she believes he came into her life as a reward for learning to take care of herself and her family. Love healed her, she said.

If Butterfly could go back and change one thing about her life, she’d have given her mother, who died of liver disease after her first daughter was born, a supportive partner. “If she’d had help, she woulda loved us better,” she said. “We all need someone to take care of us and teach us things…like what it means to be a woman, and to love another person and be loved.

“No one taught me about my body on purpose. I learned about it from being used and raped…and what I was worth from stripping. Sounds like crazy talk now! I was twenty-four [the] first time I made love… It’s still a struggle sometimes. I have to remind myself that sex isn’t something men take—not the good ones. Not my Samuel.

“I couldn’t believe that sex was fun and felt so good!” she said of her early sexually intimate experiences. “People think strippers know all about sex, and maybe some do, hell if I know. But sex is different than making love. They don’t all know that. Where I danced, almost every girl had been raped or abused. We were all just a bunch of kids up there, feeling lost. Makes me sad. I feel sorry for the men [watching], too. Who taught them to be like that?

If schools and parents don’t teach children about their bodies and worth, she poignantly added, the world will. “I won’t let my girls or my boy have that—not my babies. They are worth something. We all are.”

*****

I hope you all were as touched by Butterfly’s story as I am. If you would like to share respectful thoughts below, she’ll likely see them.

Stay tuned later this week as I announce the 4th annual Beauty of a Woman BlogFest! And if you missed my last post featuring my interview with Margaret Cho, stop by to listen and comment by 1/25 for a chance to win a groovy prize pack. ♥

Patience and Epiphanies: Maximizing the In-Between Time

“Dreams take more than hard work. They take passion, perseverance, authenticity and the ability to sit still for more than a few milliseconds at a time without pulling your hair out.” – me

When I was a tyke, my mom gave me “quiet time” in the corner when I became too much of a handful, which was often. I recall standing with my nose in the corner for hours, aching with all of my might to jump, dance, sing and sprint around the house, wondering how I could possibly survive this torture! A few years ago, I learned that I rarely stood there for more than a few minutes. It seems how we spend the in-between time makes a big ‘ol difference.

My Girl Boner book proposals (yep, multiple) have been in the hands of the same considering publisher for over a year, or 10.6 million years in 3-year-old-ese. I suppose I’ve grown up a little, as as much as I’d anticipated a swifter process, I honestly haven’t felt impatient. I’m grateful for their interest and my agent’s diligence as we work to find the best way to package my work. Even so, I’ve been unsure lately whether the process is going as it should—particularly as more time passes. I’m at what you might call a watershed moment. Which is exciting.

I’ve learned to trust the path, keep my options open and follow my instincts. Rather than allow myself to feel impatient or tortured with my nose in the corner, I now work on myself, craft and career, as dedicated creatives do. Recently, I’ve added meditation to the mix, a practice I’d long deemed impossible for my monkeys-partying brain. I can’t tell you how transformative it’s been. Perhaps that’s why my perceived confusion of late feels like a watershed.

Waldo finds himself

Most of all, I continue to pursue my passions, even when I don’t know precisely where I’m headed career-wise. I’m guessing some of you can relate—yes?

If so, you know that such efforts pay off in all sorts of ways. I adore my show, listeners and readers, have some awesome speaking engagements and potential film and TV projects on the horizon, and can feel myself growing in ways I can’t quite articulate. And yet, something seems missing. (All of you who relate to this, too, say AYE.)

So I asked myself the other day: Self! What is missing? What would fill that elusive void that’s keeping your panties in a bunch?

August McLaughlin blog

Almost immediately, women flashed in my mind—the many I’ve interviewed, heard from and spoken to since Girl Boner was born. It isn’t the the delay in securing a publishing contract that irks me, I realized. It’s that I’m not doing as much as I could for these women. Simply writing that brought tears, as YOW went my heart.

That doesn’t mean I’m rushing off to self-publish, though I’m always grateful that’s an option. I am, however, committing to doing more. Later this week, I’ll share one of the stories I wrote for my initial proposal, based on an interview with a courageous woman named Butterfly. I can’t wait to hear what you all think. While many women have inspired me these past few years, seldom does a day or week go by that I don’t think of Butterly.

In the meantime, here some quotes I love that can help us maximize the in-between time, whether you’re between projects, seeking representation or simply aren’t living the life of your dreams just yet:

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” — Oprah Winfrey

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” — Joyce Meyer

quiet butterfly quote

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.” — Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

“It’s not about what I can get, it’s what I can give.” — Marie Forleo, Super Soul Sunday

Can you relate to any of this? How do you move forward when things aren’t happening as quickly as you’d hoped? Are you meditating, like me and Waldo? I love hearing from you! ♥

Porn Addiction: It’s Not Just a Guy Thing

Porn addiction is on the rise for men, according to many publications—but what about women? It’s not like we use a different internet than guys or find sexy imagery less appealing. (If that last bit surprises you, check out my Huffington Post article, 3 Myths About Female Sexuality.)

I knew when porn addiction began cropping up readily in my work that more women had to be experiencing it than the masses realize. I can also see why women’s dependencies are less recognized or discussed. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Women are more prone to shame about sexual behaviors; shame makes it difficult to discuss them.
  • Historically, porn has been geared toward a straight male audience, which only increases the shame factor when women indulge. (What’s often considered “normal” for men, is seen as “dirty” for women.)
  • Many people assume that women aren’t relying on porn, so it’s less studied.

After interviewing Gabe Deem, a former porn addict turned counselor, and Rachel Khona, whose ex-boyfriend experienced porn-related sexual dysfunction, I began seeking women with similar issues to interview. The few I connected were too fearful to share their experiences, even anonymously. I certainly don’t blame them. One told me the dependency was ruining her life. Another revealed that her adolescent daughter shared her addiction—which is how she recognized her own.

Finally, I found a woman willing to share her story. In fact, she’d already done so beautifully before. The accomplished writer from Los Angeles, Erica Garza, joined me in the studio to share her journey through porn addiction, its impact on her life and how she’s begun to turn it all around. Her insight is some of the most poignant and important I’ve had the chance to share yet.

To download or stream our chat visit this link on iTunes:

Porn Addiction: Not Just a “Guy Thing” on Girl Boner Radio

August McLaughlin_Girl Boner Radio

To learn more about Erica’s work, visit EricaGarza.com and follow her on Twitter: @ericadgarza.

For more resources and support regarding porn addiction, visit Gabe Deem’s brainchild, Reboot Nation.

Embracing Your Sexy Self: 4 Important Steps #GirlBoner

Hi all,

Happy New Year! I hope your 2015 is off to a start as brilliant as you.

Today I’ve decided to share a portion of the transcripts from my latest Girl Boner Radio episode, partly thanks to a fab blog reader‘s request. Check out my intro and tips for embracing your sexy self below, then hop over to iTunes or Stitcher Radio to hear the full show, which includes my chat with adult star Layton Benton. She shared awesome insight on being a woman of color in the adult entertainment industry, using her favorite sex toys for increased confidence and celebrating our bodies—curves and all!

♥ August

4 Powerful Ways to Embrace Your Sexy Self (partial transcript)

“Love, romance, and sex are all emotions capable of driving men to heights of super achievement. Love is the emotion which serves as a safety valve, and insures balance, poise, and constructive effort. When combined, these three emotions may lift one to an altitude of a genius.” — Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

I spent a few days last week in Minnesota, what I like to call, Minne-arctica, having a blast with family. On the plane ride back to LA, I read Think & Grow Rich. In case you aren’t familiar, it’s a self-help book on cultivating wealth, based on 20 years of Hill’s research. Though it was written in 1937, the book remains popular today—touted by motivational thought leaders, such as Tony Robbins.

Think & Grow Rich was written before women had many opportunities for professional success, but of the mega successful men Napolean Hill studied, he found many commonalities—including having high sexual energy and love from a kickass woman. (Okay, I added kickass to that statement, but I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

Sex and love are closely linked with creative genius and self-confidence, both of which make way for abundance of all kinds in or lives. Hill isn’t the only one to recognize this.

Creative artists tend to have more sexual desire and partners than non-artists, according to recent studies. Theories vary as to why. I personally believe it has a lot to do with living full, authentic lives. Artists tend to step into their emotions and desires and embrace them—even if they don’t match up with others’ standards or popular opinion.

Authentic rebels rule. Seriously.

So what about women who lack sexual self-confidence? Who dislike and shun their bodies as so many do? Here’s what I think:

Without embracing our bodies and sexuality, we run the risk of being stifled in many ways, not just sexually. That’s really the motivation for Girl Boner. Knowing that self- and sexual- embracement can open the gates to our biggest, boldest, wildest, awesomest—is that a word?—dreams gets me out of bed in the morning, because I’ve lived it and really believe all women can experience the same.

Once we do, life and our dream-work won’t suddenly become effortless, but it will be authentic. And that is the foundation for all greatness, in my opinion—and our ability to live healthy, gratifying lives…

I shared some practical ways to feel more sexually assured in our show back in April, Let’s Get Naked! (And in this blog post.) Here are are a few less conventional, but powerful ways to boost sexual and self confidence:

  • Meditate. If we can’t have stillness with ourselves, we can’t expect to be fully present with others. Meditation—and its sexy benefits—helps create compassion with ourselves. There’s little more confidence-boosting than that… (MORE)
  • Move away from toxic people. Did you know that spending time around people who fixate on and over-value aesthetics is known to lower your body image and lead to risky behaviors, like dieting? That’s just one example. While I believe that no one can “make” us feel any particular way, why spend time with people who aren’t on as positive and empowering of a journey as you are? 
  • Prioritize sexual connectedness with yourSELF. Too often, I think, folks are worried about performing well, giving great oral or seeming sexy enough for someone else. All of that is more likely to feed insecurity than confidence. It can also keep us from knowing what are wants and needs are. We don’t want to be selfish, of course, but we should value and accept our fantasies, preferences, bodies…and what makes them tick and THEN share and explore with a partner, or partners, if we so choose.
  • Prioritize your passions (or finding one) every day. The buzzy/yummy feeling going after our passions is very similar to sex drive—and have similar effects on the brain. Next time you feel butterflies for a lover, knowing sexy fun is coming (scrumptious pun!), take note. Then observe how you feel when you’re chasing your dreams. The same energy can flow both ways; when we embrace one, the other benefits and vice versa… (MORE)

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To learn more and hear my interview with AVN-award nominated adult film star and model, Layton Benton, visit this link on iTunes:

Embracing Your Sexy Self & My Chat with Layton Benton

GirlBonerRadio_Layton Benton
To stay in Layton’s loop, follow her on Twitter: @MsLaytonBenton.

What did you think of our chat? What about Layton’s tips for boosting sexual confidence, or mine? As always, I adore your respectful thoughts! ♥ For occasional updates on new products, opportunities and exciting news, feel free to sign up for my brand spankin’ new newsletter here.

She Was Married to Jekyll and Hyde: Healing From A Partner’s #SexAddiction

Sex addiction is a very real and scary thing that reportedly affects 12 million people and their loved ones in the U.S. Considering how hidden and shame-ridden the condition remains, that number is very likely low. And although being the partner of a sex addict can be deeply traumatizing (not to mention dangerous), they are significantly less likely to seek help than the addicts themselves. 

Yesterday I had the honor of interviewing M, a woman who learned of her husband’s sex addiction ten years into their marriage, just as they were preparing to become pregnant. While her world was turned upside-down, she was able to heal and find her way back to happiness.

On the air, she shared the details of her experience—how she found out, the red flags, what helped or hurt her recovery and lessons the ordeal has taught her. I can’t thank her enough for her courage and openness, which will no doubt help many.

M also took the time to answer additional questions for this post. Pop over to iTunes, Stitcher Radio or Global Voice Broadcasting to download or stream our live-recorded chat, then check out the followup Q&A below.

Listen here: Girl Boner Radio: Learning to Thrive After Her Husband’s Sex Addiction

 

Girl holding hands in heart shape at beach

An After-Chat Q&A with M:

August: What’s one common myth about sex addiction you’d love to see eradicated?

M: MYTH: ‘Sex addiction’ is a made-up excuse by people who just like fooling around to get them off the hook with their wives and the public. TRUTH: Real addicts with compulsive behaviors don’t enjoy sex at all; in fact, they believe it exists to control others and escape from reality, especially intimacy and vulnerability. Their behavior not only destroys relationships, but often results in financial, professional and personal ruin, up to and including incarceration and suicide.

August: If you could change one thing about your decisions since learning of the addiction, what would you choose?

I didn’t tell my in-laws (addict’s mother & stepfather), with whom I was very close, about his addiction. At the time I felt, “He’s the addict. He should tell them. Why should I have to be the one to break their hearts?” Of course he never told, and his family was and are still confused about our split. Their ignorance further enables his behavior to continue. Closer to home, it has also created an expectation that my own family has to ‘act nice’ still on Facebook, etc., about him, which denies them their pain and justified anger at my ex, a completely unintended outcome that pains me deeply.

M: What decision are you the most pleased with?

Leaving him.

August: What benefit of healing and moving forward has most surprised you?

The complete absence of loneliness. The day I left our house, the loneliness left me. Of course I was in pain, but it was the horror of betrayal, not a longing to be loved, especially not by an abusive manipulator. There is no life lonelier than one with someone who says he loves you but withholds that love in a thousand ways every day. I actually don’t think I’ll ever feel lonely again, regardless of relationship status, which takes my breath away sometimes still. I never thought I could feel this whole.

M: What are you most grateful for in your life now?

Peace of mind. The unwavering and never-ending love of my supporters – my parents, my sister, brother-in-law and their children, and the amazing friends who have scraped me repeatedly off the floor, who never stop telling me I am worthy and loved. And every day yet to come.

****

Resources for Partners of Sex Addicts:

Useful resources for partners are difficult to find and programs that subscribe to the notion of ‘co-addicts’ are considered victim-blaming (i.e., harmful) by many. If you’re struggling with a partner’s sexual addiction, M suggests the following.

Trauma-Based Models:

Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope & Heal by Marsha Means & Barbara Steffens – the Trauma-Based Model watershed study; the first people in the field to NOT label partners as ‘co-addicts,’ responsible for the breakthrough thought: “You can’t know the truth when someone insists on lying to you.”

Note from M: Though both authors have been through this trauma personally, one chose to stay with her partner, and the other didn’t. Regardless, the testimonials in the book come largely from spouses who stayed, as well as from people reliant on a monotheistic God. Atheists, agnostics, and partners who choose to leave the addict are honored here, but pitifully underrepresented in addiction literature on the market so far. The trauma model of recovery however doesn’t require any belief system, and both models leave the decision to stay/go up to the couples themselves.

Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center: A Trauma-Based support model that acknowledges this level of betrayal as Relational Trauma with amazing resources such as coaches and support groups and articles.

Psych Central: 6 Stages of Recovery for Partners (A quick article)

Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists: Helpful for finding a Trauma-Based Model Therapist for partners in your area

Married and Alone: Healing for Spouses of Sexual Anorexics by Doug Weiss, PhD

Note from M: Weiss, like many in the field, has lost faith in the ‘co-addict’ model of recovery, labelling it narcissistic and steeped in male privilege. You’ll have to be your own judge of what works best for you. Weiss’s work leans too however on the helpfulness of traditional spirituality in recovery. 

Untangling the Web: Sex, Porn & Fantasy Obsession in the Internet Age by Robert Weiss, LCSW, CAS and Jennifer Schneider, MD, PhD – from PoSARC: “This book is a must-read anyway, and contains many examples of how surreptitious acting out on the web can be.”

Have you or a partner struggled with sex addiction? What’s most helped you? What struck you most about our interview? 

#GirlBoner Science: Highlights From My Orgasm MRI

“Biology gives you a brain. Life turns it into a mind.” ― Jeffrey Eugenides

When I first learned that a journalist had participated in orgasm research, bringing herself to climax in an MRI scanner, I thought, Awesome! Great for her! I also wondered, Why not me? I got over my envy, but never lost my admiration. I pictured myself on a hospital bed, wires hooking my head to machinery, having a good ol’ time in the name of sexual science—a modern-day Masters of Sex experiment, with extremely scrumptious perks, and the chance to see my most important organ doing some of its most important work. Something vital was missing from that daydream, I would learn: the actual MRI machine, which changed just about everything…

"Uh… You want me to do what?"

“Uh… You want me to do what?”

Last Friday, after emceeing North America’s 2nd Annual World Sexual Health Day celebration in New York City on Thursday (an awesome experience I’ll share more about soon!), my sexuality/research fetishist dream came true! I headed to Rutgers University to participate in the orgasm study I’d read about. Led by brilliant researchers Barry Komasurak, PhD acnd Nan Wise, PhD, the study aims to recognize how different areas of the brain are affected during arousal, sensual and non-sensual thoughts, genital and non-genital touch and—assuming I could get there—orgasm.

In the days leading up to the procedure, I learned that my notions of sexy-play on a bed with movable wires were far off and questioned my ability to contribute fully, IYKWIM. I would be asked to self-stimulate on my back, a position I never use for solo sex, in a cramped space many folks find claustrophobic, lying as still as possible with my head secured down in a custom-made brace that’s so snug, I could barely speak.

Here I am, in all of my human colander glory:

And yes, I got to keep it!

And yes, I got to keep it!

As un-sexy as all of that looks or sounds, I ended up finding the experience enlightening and profoundly beautiful. Cozied into the small space full of loud mechanical noise some have compared to gunshots while a crew of scientists sat opposite a large window, a sense of intimacy, challenge, femininity, excitement and exploration set in. I was part of a team, and there was no pressure to do anything other than my best, given the circumstances. If I felt uncomfortable at any time, in fact, I could hit an emergency button and come shooting back out. (Bizarre pun not intended!)

Whew! No tumors!

Whew! No tumors! #NeuroSelfie

Once in the machine, which was remarkably comfortable, it tracked my brain activity and eye movements, capturing countless images, which will be processed to determine which brain areas ignited and to what extent. For each of my two sessions, the screen above me prompted me to rest, contemplate various scenarios, touch various body parts or stimulate myself to climax.

Every so often, I took moments to relish the fact that I was participating in landmark sexuality research and an experience I’d only dreamed of. And while I surprised myself by climaxing—twice and a little too quickly, apparently—I was even more surprised that those moments weren’t the most luscious of the event.

I gained appreciation for aspects of my body and sexuality I hadn’t much considered, such as the value of intentional, sensual mindfulness as foreplay and how my body reacts to clitoral stimulation alone. Fantasizing, it turns out, may be the most powerful turn-on of all (followed closely by nipple stimulation), non-sexy thoughts, such as pondering the speculum used for vaginal exams, are a major buzzkill, and women, including me, can orgasm without fully realizing it. (What?!?)

Team O!

Team O!

I’m happy to say that the while the marks the mask left lingered only temporarily, the memories and lessons derived from my MRI experience will last a lifetime—assuming my brain remains as healthy as my neuro-selfie suggests.  *knocks on laptop*

For more on my MRI-gasm experience, tune in to:

 Girl Boner Radio: Brain Turn-Ons and Orgasm Myths

The episode also features a chat on orgasms with adult star turned comedian, Alia Janine, and an interview with Dr. Barry R. Komisaruk, the professor and researcher who led the fMRI study. I’m also writing about my experience for an upcoming issue of Indie Chicks magazine.

Would you leap at the chance to have an orgasm in an MRI scanner? What other study would you like to participate in? Any thoughts or questions on my experience? If you listened to my latest show, what did you think of Alia and Dr. Komisaruk’s insight? I love hearing from you! ♥

Behind the Scenes of “Masters of Sex” with Author/Producer Thomas Maier

“We’re born man, woman and sexual beings.” — Virginia Johnson

It’s remarkable how such a simple fact can seem controversial and even maddening to some. Thank goodness Virginia Johnson and William Masters, MD,  pioneers in the field of sexual science, didn’t let controversy stand in their way.

Call it wishful thinking, but I’ve long felt a connection to Virginia Johnson. I certainly won’t compare my work to her legacy, but we do share major things in common: midwestern roots, independent, arguably rebellious spirits, a penchant for singing and microphones and winding paths that led us to careers in sexuality, pursued with curiosity and passion. I recently had the honor of adding another semi-commonality to my belt: chatting with Thomas Maier, the esteemed biographer who interviewed Virginia Johnson, as well as Dr. Masters and many of their loved ones and associates for his remarkable book,  Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to LoveAlso a producer on the hit Showtime series, “Masters of Sex,” Maier had wonderful insight to share.

In case you’re not familiar, Masters and Johnson were researchers who studied sexual response by observing people having sex in a lab. Through analyzing some 10,000 cycles of sexual response, they established four universal phases, proved that while men need a break after ejaculation, women can orgasm multiples time in-a-row, discovered that there is no age at which sexuality dwindles and proved that clitoral orgasms actually aren’t, contrary to Freudian belief, inferior to vaginal orgasms. Perhaps most notably, Masters and Johnson revealed female sexuality and our capacity for pleasure as powerful during a time in which gender inequality throughout American culture ran markedly fierce.

You can imagine how prominent THAT made my Girl Boner.  *sigh*

Book Cover of Showtime's %22Masters of Sex%22- Basic Books-Maier-2

To listen to my full with Thomas Maier interview, visit these links on iTunes or Stitcher RadioIn the meantime, here are some excerpts:

August: Of the many biographies you could have written, why did you choose this one?

Thomas: When I started this project, I was already working on another book about Dr. Spock, the baby doctor, on the consequences of sex—having babies and such. I work as a reporter here in New York for the newspaper, News Day, and I was asked to interview Dr. Masters almost 20 years ago…so I did, and I talked to him for about a half hour. It was on the days up to his retirement. When I got off the phone I wrote a story for the newspaper and I thought about it. It was one of those ideas that kept with me—the idea of a man and a woman, not married, studying love and sex, not necessarily in that order, and who then get married and become world-famous as the gurus of sex research who are emblematic of this whole sexual revolution during the 1960s and ‘70s. And then after 20 years of marriage, get divorced and they never talk about it, and nobody knows why. So to me that was a fantastic subject.

August: I think they’re two of the most fascinating people. What did you personally find most fascinating or surprising from the research process?

Thomas: Without doubt, the most fascinating thing to me was the relationship between Virginia Johnson and Dr. Masters. It began as a very unequal relationship, almost like the Pygmalion myth or if you remember “My Fair Lady,” the professor and the woman who literally is desperate for a job and comes in off the streets. It’s a very unequal relationship, between the powerful male and the subservient woman. Virginia Johnson was hired as the secretary for Dr. Masters, really didn’t have any background in medicine whatsoever, but she was desperate for a job.

Dr. Masters was looking for a  female partner that would know female doctors at the time who were interested in doing this, and as a matter of fact there were very few female doctors at the time. And the reason why they weren’t was because this was going to be a very controversial study, examining how human sexuality takes place—not by surveys, but by actually watching it in a laboratory and documenting it the way you were a map, if you were a cartographer.

So all of this stuff, the combination of the two—the unequalness and then how they became equals and how Virginia Johnson, through the dint of her effort and through her native genius about human nature, and how things work between men and women, how she became more and more of an equal with Dr. Masters. For those people who are following my book as it’s portrayed on the Showtime series, in the second series, we’re just beginning to see where Virginia is a little bit more of an equal with Dr. Masters, although he’s clearly very much the boss.

August: I’ve noticed that as well, and I think it’s so interesting, especially at that time, for a woman. The dynamic between them is very interesting. How was it, interacting with the family and those who knew them? Do you feel that they’re portrayed accurately in the show?

Thomas: I think particularly the relationship between Masters and Johnson, which is the heart of my book, and is the heart of the show, I think it’s very accurately portrayed, by both Lizzy Caplan, who plays Virginia Johnson, and Michael Sheen, who plays Dr. Masters.

In the case of Lizzy Caplan, she looks a lot like Virginia Johnson, but she also has captured that independent-minded woman’s spirit that Virginia Johnson embodied, well ahead of her time, in the 1950, 1960s and ‘70s…but I think that spirit is very much a part of young women today. So I think I’m finding a lot of young women tell me, and young men as well, how much Virginia Johnson seems of their age, even though its 50, 60 years ago when we begin the story.

Lizzy Caplan and Thomas Maier

Lizzy Caplan and Thomas Maier

In the case of Dr. Masters, he doesn’t look physically look exactly like Michael Sheen, but I think Michael Sheen has brought a real verisimilitude—I believe is the word—a real accuracy to the essence of Dr. Masters as a sort of hardboiled doctor guy who is extremely talented, very ambitious, willing to risk everything, including his family life and his profession to seek and win a Nobel Prize. Bear in mind, for people who are watching the Showtime series, he’s constantly referring to “the study, the study,” as if it’s the Holy Grail. And for an ambitious scientist, the idea of winning a Nobel Prize, it’s one of those things that does make people very driven.

August: One thing I found so fascinating about him and his determination was that even though he is this very strong, sort of dominant male figure, he also has almost no issues, it seems, with presenting female sexuality as  powerful and saying all of these really empowering facts about female sexuality when a lot of other people were not quite perhaps ready to hear or embrace it.

Thomas: As well it is. You know, it’s interesting, because here they are, they do this experiment, and what their data is showing is that women have a greater sexual capacity than men. In many ways, women are a virtual fireworks display compared to the single firecracker of a man, when it comes to sexual orgasm… So here they have this information that’s incredibly controversial, because bear in mind, Freud and Freud’s views were at the height. The male dominance of Frued’s views are inherent throughout his work and were very much reflected in American culture. So to have scientifically proven that women are not only the equals of men, but they actually have a greater capacity than men, was something that even they, Masters and Johnson, realized was something that they would almost have to candy coat.

If you go back and read their book, in 1966…the language indicates that there’s an equality in women and men in terms of sexual response, but then when you get into what they actually say, you realize that women actually are greater than men sexually and at least in terms of clinical observations, that they found in the lab. So this was incredibly controversial, and so they kind of tiptoed around it in the book. But there it is. Everybody who read it actually realized that their findings were that women had a greater capacity. This was something that really emboldened the feminist movement of the late 1960s and ‘70s. As more and more people read the book, they realized the consequences socially, politically and culturally of Masters and Johnson’s findings, and it really had a big impact on the sexual revolution of that time period.

August: What did you hope to accomplish with the story? How have people responded?

Thomas: I genuinely was trying as a biographer…to create a piece of biographical art—to try to write something that would last and would talk about these never-ending questions that all men and women think about, about their lives and human intimacy and being understood by a loved one. I think the show has been able to take my book and go even further of it, because of the nature of television.

I’m really happy that it really stirred a lot of deep questions about the relationship between men and women, and kind of underlined that misogyny or sexism is still one of the great, nagging [issues today]. It really is the last remaining civil rights of our time, I think—misogyny and men learning particularly to understand, appreciate and ultimately love women is at the heart of the story.

****

To learn more about Thomas Maier and “Masters of Sex,” visit his website and connect with him on Twitter (@ThomasMaierBook).

What did you think of the interview? What do you love most about Masters of Sex, the book or TV show? Are you as hooked as I am?