Are You Having Mindful Sex?

Humans are too busy. We rarely slow down, we’re easily distracted, and we sometimes miss out on wonderful experiences because of the pace we keep. The pandemic has added to the chaos, and while we may want to run away from it all, our only option on most days is to mentally escape through exercise, television, or a hobby. Our minds can usually drift in and out of what we are doing without much loss of enjoyment in the thing we are trying to do. But there are times when grounding yourself in the moment and being fully present is what’s going to give you the most enjoyment. Sex is one of those times. If you are able to have mindful sex, you will likely be able to have mind-blowing sex.

First of all, sex shouldn’t ever be a chore or done out of obligation. If you don’t want to have sex, don’t. But there are layers of desire when wanting to have sex. Whether you are ready to tear each other’s clothes off or are both up for it but need some extra time to get the engines started, reframing how you think about sex will make it more meaningful and pleasurable.

The first step in being sexually mindful is to let go of the goal of an orgasm. Listen — I want to have an orgasm when I have sex, and I want my partner to have one as well. However, if that is the only point of having sex, then there is a lot lost in the middle. And it’s a lot of pressure! Our bodies act differently on different days for a lot of reasons, and sometimes an orgasm just isn’t going to happen for one of you. You should never be made to feel that there is anything wrong with you if you don’t get there, nor should you ever feel fully responsible for “giving” your partner an orgasm.

Laurie Mintz, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Florida says we need to think less and immerse ourselves more in the sensations our bodies are feeling during sex. It’s the idea of having your mind and body in the same place at once. She describes this as sexual mindfulness — as opposed to sexual spectatoring. If we’re constantly worried about how our bodies look, about our performance, or thinking about our work email during sex, then it’s hard to relax and experience the sensations enough to know what we want and need. In those moments, we become spectators; voyeurism can be a fun part of sex too, but that includes intention and presence as well.

To counter those sometimes negative thoughts that can pull us out of our sexual experiences, it’s important to focus on how our bodies feel. We need to trust that we deserve pleasure and that our partner wants to make us feel good. And if little distractions pop up that take your focus away, Mintz says it’s okay to acknowledge them and then let them go. It’s not always our to-do lists or the dog roaming around the bedroom that pulls us out of the moment; it can be our own fears that our partner is bored when they are giving us oral sex or whatever else they may be doing. We worry our partner is frustrated that we are “taking too long” to orgasm. Or maybe we get frustrated with ourselves. *Revisit my words about orgasms.*

As sex expert Emily Morse said on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert, “Communication is lubrication.” Talking about sex before, during, and after will help you stay in the moment because you have provided the groundwork for trust and vulnerability. You have already established what you are in the mood for and what you like. You aren’t put off if your partner redirects you, because communication is expected and desired. For me, my partner’s pleasure is just as important as my own during sex, so I want and encourage her to tell me if something is or isn’t working. I also trust that her feelings won’t be hurt if I ask her to change what she’s doing so that my experience is more enjoyable. Sex should feel good, and all people involved need to let go of egos and selfishness.

Staying present and being mindful during sex means paying attention too. Michelle Mouhtis, LCSW, a New Jersey-based therapist and relationship coach, says to focus on the different senses we experience during sex. Listen to the sounds your partner is making, look at the way their chest is moving while they breathe, notice how their mouth feels on your body, observe how they taste. Not only does paying attention to your body help you have great sex, but it can help your partner too. Some people may not feel comfortable talking during sex, but body language speaks volumes. If your partner’s body isn’t relaxed or fully enjoying what’s happening, you will know. That’s when you — as a mindful sexual partner — can stop and ask what they want or what you could do differently. On some days the answer may be to get a toy or try a new position. On other days, it could be to stop and snuggle. Intimacy can include sex, but a back rub or nap together may be what you both need too.

I hope that all of our sexual experiences are mindful ones, but I also know it takes practice and sometimes a little bit more time to really settle into a hot session of love making. Sometimes all you have time for is a quickie, and those are fun and valid too! But performative and unsatisfying sex is often mechanical and bad sex. Sexual mindfulness is about being present while being intimate with someone. And even though the idea is to let go of the goal of an orgasm, orgasms are often easier and more intense when the focus is on the journey.

If you are struggling to stay present during sex, it’s important to look at why. This can be tough because examining our mental health, relationships, or even our sexuality can be overwhelming and life changing. But everyone deserves to feel physically and emotionally taken care of.

As a sexual assault survivor, I want to mention that I know what it’s like to dissociate during sex. If you or your partner is a survivor, it’s important to talk with each other and a therapist to be sure everyone feels safe during sex. Flashbacks or physical reactions to previous assaults can’t be predicted, so please make a plan to take care of yourself and your partner if staying present isn’t possible.

Now carve out some time and practice mindful sex with a partner. Or schedule some time with yourself — giving yourself pleasure and finding out what you like is empowering and a great way to build sexual mindfulness.

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Why All Parents Need To Have The ‘Porn Talk’ With Their Kids

Parenting is hard. Very hard. It is full of stress and anxiety. Of tough love moments and worry-filled nights. It is exhausting. From two months to twenty years, raising kids is tough, and it is full of difficult conversations. From discussions about racism and bullying to sexting, drugs and alcohol, consent, spirituality, romance, and divorce, parents must share numerous life lessons with their children before they leave the proverbial nest. But one conversation many parents do not think to have with their children — even though we all really need to — is about pornography.

Yes, you need to have the “porn talk” with your kids.

Of course, parents may not think having a separate, porn conversation is necessary. After all, parents know they need to discuss the matter of sex with their kids — and porn is (more or less) part of this discussion. But talking about porn, in and of itself, is important.

“It is essential you have the ‘porn talk’ with your kids because their sexual health and safety should always come first, regardless of your view or comfort toward porn,” Dainis Graveris — a certified sex educator and relationship expert — tells Scary Mommy. “It’s very easy for kids these days to stumble upon or intentionally access sexually explicit videos and images on the internet, and when they are faced with confusing or potentially dangerous content, you want to assure them that you are someone whom they can trust.” You also want them to know what porn is, and what it isn’t.

“When you talk to your kid, you must highlight that ‘porn sex’ isn’t real,” Graveris explains. “The scenes the actors depicted come from exaggerated, entertainment-driven fantasies that don’t reflect real-world people and their real-life experiences, and the majority of adult entertainment companies create content that sells and makes them a whole lot of money. They don’t care if they are within most people’s safe practices and sexual realities.” And Jackie Golob — a sex and relationship counselor — agrees.

“It is important that children know porn is not the equivalent of sex,” Golob states in an email to Scary Mommy. “For years, porn has depicted unreal sexual performances, mainly aimed towards masculine pleasure… [and while] there are several types of porn that aim to be more inclusive of all genders, body types, sexes, disability, and ages, even with the progressiveness in porn, it is not ‘real.’”

There is also the issue of consent.

“Sex requires consent, which is not always shown in porn. In fact, it is a major part of sexuality and healthy relationships,” Dr. Mary Jo Podgurski — a sex therapist, educator, and the author of Sex Ed is in Session — tells Scary Mommy. But the absence of consent in porn is problematic, especially if children perceive pornographic encounters as real.

That said, having the “porn talk” with your child is not easy. Like the sex talk, it is awkward and clunky and all-around uncomfortable. But discomfort shouldn’t (and does not) negate the importance of the conversation. Instead, you should address the elephant in the room.

“Saying ‘this is a difficult topic for me (if that is the case) but I love you so much that I want to talk about everything with you’ and/or ‘I know you are old enough to talk about this’ is a great way to start the conversation,” Podgurski says. You can also begin with open-ended questions. “’You may be curious about porn. Have you heard about it at all? It’s OK to share. I won’t be angry or think less of you.’”

Once you’ve initiated the conversation, it is important you follow through.

“Stress porn is not real life. Real people do not just do sexual things. They talk about life; they develop relationships, and they interact. People in porn are actors and actresses. Most bodies do not look like theirs,” Podgurski says. State clearly that porn is not a form of (or substitute for) sex education. The purpose of porn is to be engaging and entertaining. It is a business, through and through. As such, it lacks the intricacies essential to healthy relationships and even healthy sex. “True sexual education includes discussing various matters, including communication, consent, sexual health, identity, emotional and physical growth, pleasure, empathy, and worthiness.” And speaking of consent, it is imperative you talk about consent. 

“In porn, consent is often missing, but having consent is the most important aspect of any sexual contact,” Podgurski stresses. “Explain cajoling, assuming consent, and manipulating are not part of healthy sexual expression.” 

And finally, realize this conversation is not one and done. Questions should be encouraged. Ongoing discourse is (or, at the very least, should be) expected. But the sooner you begin talking to your children about sex and porn, the better, the safer, and the healthier they will be.

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Watching Porn Helped Me Discover My Sexuality

Years ago, I developed a secret crush on a female friend. I was married to a man at the time and was operating under the assumption that I was heterosexual, so the crush on my friend was incredibly unsettling. I needed to convince myself it was an aberration; a glitch.

I made up excuses for why this crush had appeared: My friend was very intelligent, and my feelings were simply exaggerated admiration. My friend had helped me through a tough time and I was experiencing transference, that thing when a patient falls in love with their therapist. My friend was a vessel in which to deposit my irrational, impossible-to-fulfill desires because I wasn’t content unless I was inventing problems for myself. Or I was simply having an early mid-life crisis.

Notice how none of these early excuses for how I felt about my friend had anything to do with my sexuality.

Later, when I was working on a sex scene in my novel that was inspired by my secret gay crush (because I needed to hit all the queer clichés while being in complete denial of my queerness), I realized my only experience with lesbian sex was the pathetic glob of fumbling, terrified fantasies in my head. So I decided to look it up. My first innocent query was on YouTube. YouTube, of all places, because my pining gay ass forgot YouTube doesn’t allow sex on its platform. The first time I attempted this search, I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of my daughter’s pre-kindergarten at the local Baptist church and using the key words — I kid you not, wait for it — “girls kissing.” Bless my heart.

At some point, still desperate to ensure the scenes I was writing for my book felt authentic, I googled “movies with realistic lesbian sex scenes.” One of the top results was for the movie “Blue Is the Warmest Color.” I found a clip of the super-intense sex scene from that movie and watched the whole thing.

Parts of my brain felt like they were exploding. New nerve endings appeared in my nether regions. I immediately knew I was no longer watching only for the purpose of writing realistic sex scenes. I still wasn’t ready to admit I was gay though.

It finally occurred to my dumb baby-queer ass to search actual porn. I floundered through stupid keywords (“girl-on-girl,” “women fucking”) that led me to lesbian porn made for men that made me want to flatten penises with shovels. Eventually though, I found videos of women having intimate sex in a way that didn’t seem so performative, so airbrushed and spray-tanned, so fake-orgasmy. I saw eye contact, nipples pinched up in arousal, chests and necks and cheeks reddened with rushing blood. And the feelings it gave me … it’s hard to describe. Not just “I want that.” It was also that I felt stupid and embarrassed for not having known before that this was something that was an option. I was confused, ashamed, terrified, and sick with longing. I still wasn’t ready to admit I was gay though.

So I “tested” myself — with porn. In an effort to observe my own reactions, I watched various combinations of genders and styles. Heterosexual sex targeted at men. Heterosexual sex targeted at women. Gay sex of various iterations. Lesbian sex targeted at men. Lesbian sex targeted at women. Any one of these, with toys added. Which combinations triggered arousal?

The cisgender heterosexual sex, quite frankly, disgusted me. No wonder I’d never watched porn before. When I thought of porn, I assumed it was all heterosexual porn targeted at cis-het men and their eager, overzealous penises. So much pounding. So many poor, shrieking women with pigtails. So many frantic, gaggy blowjobs. *Insert barf emoji*

But the vagina-vagina sex drew me back every time, and not just in a “Yep, that’s a turn-on” kind of way. It was more like, “That’s not fair, I didn’t know!” I was furious — with myself for being a clueless dolt, and with all the heteronormative bullshit that had contributed to a lifetime of assumptions of what and who and how I was “supposed” to be.

It’s really hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced an awakening like this how much of a full-body slam it is. It was way bigger than just wanting to fuck someone with a vagina the way I saw in those videos. It was an identity thing, profound and unburiable. I went to Pride parades and wanted to cry the whole time because I knew I was part of that community but couldn’t tell anyone. I was invisible and alone.

Two years ago, I started dating my partner and once again discovered a “new” option I hadn’t previously considered. My partner is nonbinary. Does falling in love with and being extremely sexually attracted to a nonbinary person mean I’m pansexual? I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t care. I have never felt so at home in all the ways. My partner’s name is Amber so I call myself an “Ambersexual.”

With Amber, I learned the difference between the excitement of being desired and actual, pure desire. The first is an ego thing — you’re the target of someone else’s desire. The desire is flowing toward you. With true desire, your desire begins inside you and flows outward, to the other person. I’d never felt that before. I never felt the urge to stroke any part of a man’s body. I had felt a craving to want to be desirable enough to be touched, but not a desire to touch. One boyfriend in college had The Perfect Body™, and being with him felt like an upgrade of my worthiness. But did I ever want to touch his penis? No. No I did not. Not ever.

I would have eventually figured out my sexuality without porn — the crushes on unavailable friends were going to keep coming. But porn hurried the process and clarified things for me in a way that didn’t require me to engage in sexual acts with other people. I recognize porn is problematic in many ways; it creates unrealistic expectations for people and can even lead to sexual dysfunction. The industry can be extremely exploitative and in some cases contributes to sex trafficking. But, for me, it was a tool I used to chip away at the walls that were hiding who I really am, and I’m grateful for that.

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We Should Not Be Faking Orgasms, Ever

I’ve never faked an orgasm. This is not a source of pride — not the result of always having been the master of my own vagina, orgasming on command and thus never “needing” to fake it. In my college days and well into my twenties, I simply took it for granted that the man gets off every single time, and the woman only gets off when it’s one of four specific days in her menstrual cycle, the dishes are done, the bills are paid, the sheets are fresh, her pelvic region has been recently groomed, the temperature is exactly 71 degrees, Mercury is not in retrograde, and no cats are spectating from the foot of the bed with a murderous gleam in their eye. Oh, and as long as she can achieve orgasm in under five minutes. Vaginas just kind of got a raw deal like that, ha ha, oh well!

But, hey, I never faked it. It just never occurred to me to do that. It made more sense to me to blame my stupid uncooperative lady body and move on with life. (Update: I’ve since learned I’m queer, and both my body and my partner are solidly cooperative.)

Of course, I’d heard of faking. I know, especially if we’re talking about your stereotypical straight, cisgender pairing, that women faking orgasms is a thing that happens quite a lot. The reasons women give for faking it run the gamut from not wanting to hurt her partner’s feelings, to just wanting to “get it over with,” to feeling like her vagina is broken.

Folks, this is sad. We should not be faking orgasms, ever. I could go into all the ways I’m angry at toxic masculinity for creating a culture in which women not only deny themselves pleasure, but also feel compelled to lie about it. I could talk about how social conditioning has trained us to have more concern for our partner’s fragile ego than for our own sexual pleasure. But the problem is deeper than toxic masculinity. Women aren’t just protecting the fragile male ego; they’re calling themselves broken. They’re assuming their sexual satisfaction isn’t even worth the trouble.

We’ve got to stop this. Can we owners of vaginas, regardless of with which gender we identify, make a solemn pact together?

Never fake an orgasm for anyone, for any reason.

Besides the fact that faking an orgasm causes you personally to surrender your own pleasure and confuses your partner about what does and does not get you off, there is a bigger picture here. Pop culture contributes to the idea that women should be able to come quickly. In porn, in books, in romance movies, the woman always comes almost instantly. I get that “Bridgerton” doesn’t have 20 minutes to spare on a scene that portrays the entire smoldering climb toward Daphne’s eventual earth-shattering orgasm, but my goodness, do they really have to make it appear as though she comes every time in the first 15 seconds? She only just learned like two days ago that she had a clitoris. Faking orgasms adds to these unrealistic expectations.

And we assume that men’s egos are too fragile to handle being told they didn’t get their partner to the finish line. We have ridiculous expectations about what men deserve sexually (to come every time) and how much truth they can handle regarding their erotic prowess (not very much).

Two things here: One, if you’re with a man whose ego is too fragile to be told he needs to try harder, or try something else, throw the whole entire man directly into the garbage. Byeeee. Two, if he isn’t a fragile-egoed wanker who needs to go in the trash, you can safely assume he actually gives a shit about learning to please you. So don’t lead him astray by pretending you’re getting off when you aren’t. That is some very unhelpful (and honestly pretty unfair) shit, and contributes to the confusion about what it takes to make a vagina come.

Never deny yourself pleasure based on the assumption that you are flawed, or “broken.”

Of course, there are medical conditions and medications that can throw a major wrench in a person’s ability to orgasm. But absent that, if you’re just taking a long time because your vagina likes to warm up a bit before shifting into high gear, you are valid in taking that time. You’re not flawed, and you’re not broken. If you can’t orgasm with penetration, that is super, duper normal. The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy surveyed over a thousand women and found that a measly 18% orgasm from penetration alone. Eighteen percent! You’re a wondrous creature whose parts need and deserve the attention required to learn how to get all the way there. There is nothing wrong with you. Of course, it’s possible you’re like I was and your sexuality hasn’t clicked; that may be something to explore.

Regardless, every vagina is different. They all like different kinds of touch, and they all have their own speed for getting there, and any details about that process that start to feel predictable can change based on how the vagina owner feels that day, how they feel about their partner, or which direction the wind is blowing. But a persnickety vagina is not a less deserving vagina. It’s all valid. Get yours. Or don’t; it’s also okay to say, “I’ve enjoyed this, but an orgasm isn’t happening today,” and stop. No faking necessary. Again, if your partner can’t handle this, into the garbage they go.

It’s time for some vagina awareness.

I’m not against porn, or books with a main character who comes in under 400 words, or television series like “Bridgerton” where orgasms take approximately 30 seconds from the first tentative drawing aside of a petticoat to the final mind-bending climax. But, like, can we also have some general vagina awareness here? Folks with penises do not need to grow up with stupid, wrong ideas about how vaginas work, but nor should those of us with vaginas. It would be helpful for everyone who has a vagina or wants to have sex with one to know that the spectrum for “normal” is a vast one indeed. If we knew that from the start, we wouldn’t be so quick to assume that a failure to orgasm was a failure in general — not for the owner of the vagina, and not for the partner attempting to bring that vagina to climax.

Vaginas are beautiful in all their unhurried, mysterious glory. They are just as magical and wondrous when they don’t orgasm as when they do; just as worthy if they come in five minutes or 45. No need to fib about it.

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Sex Doesn’t Feel Worth The Effort When You Can’t Get Off

I finally said it to my husband a few nights ago. We’d just finished. “Finishing” for us means he gets off, then I spend a (non)quality hour, at least, with a vibrator (or two) until I’ve finally achieved a fairly unsatisfying orgasm. He usually reads in bed next to me. But he’s solicitous about it. “Do you want help?” he’ll ask after he’s done. “No,” I usually say. That night, I collapsed on our bed, sweaty and probably red-faced. I tottered to my feet to wash my vibrator. “Did it work?” he asked. “Yeah,” I said. “But it wasn’t worth it.”

He threw me a look, like are you kidding me? Seriously? 

“Look,” I said. “The sex was great. No, seriously. We did it hard and fast how I like it. We always do it how I like it and I’m seriously grateful for that. But I never get off, because I can’t get off. I have to use my vibrator. And it takes a goddamn hour. A fucking hour. And the end result just isn’t worth it. It’s not worth the energy or the time. So no, it wasn’t worth it. It’s not your fault. It’s just a thing. And I’m sorry. So if you ever wonder why we don’t have a ton of sex, that’s why. It’s not you.”

And I walked naked into our master bath.

Why Sex Is Not Worth It

So I take medication. I don’t take a ton of medication, but I take one in particular (an SSRI for depression, the usual suspect), which makes achieving orgasm difficult. Like, way difficult. Like, near-impossible, hope-that-vibrator’s-charged-up difficult. But unlike its effects on many women, it doesn’t affect my desire to have sex. So I throw on the sexy underwear and hop cutely into bed.

We do the deed. There’s plenty of foreplay involved, so don’t blame my husband. He’s attentive and caring about the whole deal. He does what I ask, and I ask plenty: tie me up and tie me down. Dirty talk. Whatever I want, I get it. Then I get my choice of position, duration (generally), etc. He finishes.

Then it’s up to me.

I tell my husband no when he asks if I want help, because he’ll get tired and lie that he’s not tired and I’ll feel guilty. So I go it alone. Sometimes he leaves. Sometimes he reads next to me. I vibrate away.

Often my vibrator runs out of batteries, and I have to switch. I have several.

Yeah, it feels good. Yeah, it’s kind of nice. But after a while, it’s like, c’mon already. I’ve been at this how freaking long? I get close, then I’m suddenly not close. And when it happens? Well, it would have to be fireworks, The Star-Spangled Banner, and a chocolate orgy all at once. It never is. The greatest orgasm of your life lasts how long? To compensate for an hour?

Not worth my time when I could be sleeping.

Except When I Don’t…

Sometimes I don’t bother. Just not worth it, not worth my time or my effort and I’d rather sleep than spend an hour grasping for an elusive orgasm. I tell my husband to hand me my cute underwear, which I tossed early in the game; I make him dig out my pajama pants and tank top. I get up to pee, always bothersome, because everything feels worse when I pee and I haven’t gotten off yet.

Then I’m left with that feeling of restlessness, that bothersome, twitchy, I-can’t-sleep of I need to get off, and I’m not going to. Horny, but not horny; wanting it, but not wanting it. It eventually fades; I pass out. But I pass out resentfully, because I remember the days when it was easy. I remember days of multiple orgasms and sweet sleep afterwards; I recall the unique delight of drifting off after a night of great sex. Now it’s not worth it. And I hate it. I hate it for myself; I hate it for my husband. He feels inadequate, though he denies it.

It’s not my husband’s fault. It’s not anyone’s fault, really, except my brain chemistry, and I can’t change that.

Medical Science Won’t Help Me

Men get Viagra. Can’t get a boner at age seventy? They’ll give you a boner, alright. I’ve heard rumors it can help women, and I once hijacked a pill from a diabetic friend. We had high hopes. No help. Like most everything in women’s health care, doctors aren’t interested in helping women achieve orgasm, and they don’t care about side effects of SSRIs.

Of course, I could switch to a different drug. Maybe that would make sex worth it. But the go-to, Wellbutrin, doesn’t work for me. Brutal. I’m stuck between overwhelming sadness and bad sex, and since if you’ve ever had a panic attack, you know you’ll pick bad sex every time.

So I try to make it happen twice a week for him, because I love my husband. I try to give myself space to get off, even if it takes forever, and keep those vibrators charged. But it sucks. My end result is some pathetic flutters down there. Nice, but the earth isn’t moving under my feet, and the sky’s not tumbling down like it used to. I’ve resigned myself by now. It’s a crap place to be. But I’m there. I don’t think I’m alone, either.

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I Started Antidepressants And Lost My Orgasm — Here’s How I Got It Back

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life. But as an adult, I’ve resisted the help of pharmaceuticals in fighting those battles for reasons too complicated to fully explain.

I would have encouraged any friend of mine to ask for that help if they needed it, cheering them on every step of the way. But for myself, it just wasn’t a step I was willing to take.

Until 2020, that is—the year that finally broke me.

At some point in April I felt the darkness approaching. My anxiety, of course, was at an all-time high. But I also recognized the signs of an impending depression. Only this time, I didn’t have any of the tools I would usually reach for.

I was cut off from my friends. From in-person visits with my therapist. From the opportunity to volunteer or get involved in some big cause close to my heart.

Instead, I was stuck at home, locked away with only my 7-year-old daughter for company, handling all the work and educating and parenting and housekeeping on my own.

I at least knew enough to recognize that as a recipe for disaster.

So I called my doctor in tears one day and asked for the one prescription she’d been offering for years: an anti-depressant to pull me back from the brink before I fell too hard.

It was a humbling experience, but an important one. Within just  few weeks of starting my new medication, I was feeling more like myself. Capable of reasonable thought, less prone to extended bouts of crying. I wasn’t having to force myself out of bed in the morning, and I was extending the kind of patience and understanding to my daughter that she deserved.

Perhaps most importantly, the intrusive thoughts I’d dealt with every day of my entire life were gone. For the first time I realized, it wasn’t normal to constantly have thoughts of suicide and tragedy and death on my mind. And with this little pill, I could live without those images forever plaguing my psyche.

There was just one problem: my orgasm seemed to disappear right along with those intrusive thoughts.

I’ve always been a pretty sexual person, and I have no shame in admitting I masturbate. I’m a single mom living in the middle of a pandemic where dating isn’t exactly an option. So yes, I have a drawer of toys that are all fully charged.

But what used to be part of my nightly bedtime routine quickly felt out of reach with the addition of my new med. Masturbation still felt good, I just couldn’t get over that edge. Instead I’d try and try until my body felt numb and I was left frustrated and scared rather than satisfied and ready for bed.

I know it might sound melodramatic to describe losing my orgasm as something that actually frightened me, but… it did. I’m not yet 40, and I still haven’t found that person I want to spend the rest of my life with. The thought of not being able to climax with them (or ever by myself again) was frightening.

So there I was, feeling truly mentally healthy for the first time in my adult life, wondering if my sexual health was something I might have to sacrifice for that gift.

And I was willing to do so—being a stable human being throughout one of the most unstable times in American history taught me how important that stability truly was. I wouldn’t give that up again, not even for my orgasm.

But I wanted to be able to have both!

Thankfully, I was able to find a large group of women willing to talk me through this experience and share their own stories (this is a fairly common side effect of antidepressants). Women who helped me find my orgasm again, just when I thought I’d lost it for good.

The first thing I did was boycott masturbation for a month. The women who had been through this before told me that I needed to remove the pressure of trying as frequently as I had been. I needed to give my body a chance to reset, while also adjusting to the new meds flowing through my system.

When that month was up, I set the scene for a night of self-pleasure—starting with a viewing of Normal People, which was the show getting me all hot and bothered at the time (there was just something about the focus on consent throughout the series that really did it for me!)

Then, I took a warm bath and brought one of my water-friendly toys with me, starting slow and soft, gradually working my way up to a speed that would have previously helped me achieve the big “O” in seconds.

I made a vow not to put any pressure on myself, and to instead relax into the moment. And wouldn’t you know it, that did the trick—I found my orgasm by the end of the night.

For the next few months, the end result was hit or miss. Sometimes I was able to get there and other times I wasn’t. But after that first post-medication orgasm, I was no longer afraid I’d never climax again. So I just went with it. And with the pressure removed, I was eventually able to get back to myself… down there.

Today I am proud to report on both my mental stability and my ability to achieve orgasm pretty much whenever I want. It took some time and patience to get there, but it was worth all the practice involved.

When my doctor asked recently if I thought I might want to taper down on the meds at some point, or if I simply felt better on them, I was very clear: I’ll never go off antidepressants again.

I didn’t know what I was living without before, but I do now. And I’m so thankful I worked through the kinks (see what I did there?) to get a healthier place today.

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Kamala Harris Isn’t Promoting Sex Work, But She Should Make It Safer

Because the pearl clutching Trumpers won’t let go of the idea that Democrats are eating babies and running pedophile rings, they have dug up a YouTube video with the title “Senator Kamala Harris Wants To Legalize Prostitution” to further their arguments. I watched the Jesus lovers drop to their knees in prayer (also the same position one may give a blow job, BTW) in the comment section and claim their disgust.

These people can’t see their way through nuance or facts, so they jumped to two conclusions: Sex work is the root of all evil, and Harris is in favor of it. Neither is true. Sex work is real work and the people doing it should be protected. Also, Harris has actually been a little wishy-washy on her stance when it comes to decriminalizing sex work, and many sex worker advocates see her as doing more harm than good when it comes to their safety.

There are a lot of layers to the topic of decriminalizing sex work, but it’s important to understand that by making prostitution criminal, it makes it unsafe for the people who are assumed to be prostitutes or who are selling their bodies out of want or need. I know the argument is that if sex work is unsafe, then people shouldn’t do it; that would solve all of the problems, right? However, that’s not how life works. Prostitution is considered the oldest profession, and will likely be the one that survives until the end of time. People are going to fuck for money whether you think they should or not. Plenty of sex workers enjoy their work and others use sex as their last resort to support themselves. Others are forced into it because of sex trafficking. Without protections in place, we can’t “save” anyone, and protecting people—yes, even the coerced victims—would be to stop criminalizing sex workers.

Here is where Harris “promoting prostitution” comes into place. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t. The SESTA/FOSTA legislation was meant to protect people from sex predators and stop sex trafficking—both of which I agree with—but it also eliminated the ability of sex workers to use online platforms to meet clients; this had allowed sex workers to vet the people they would be meeting. Harris was one of the co-sponsors of the SESTA/FOSTA anti-sex trafficking legislation. Public accountability made sex workers safer. A 2017 study from West Virginia University and Baylor University found a 17 percent drop in rates of homicide against women, which correlated to Craigslist having an Erotic section.

When Harris was attorney general in California, she was active in shutting down Backpage.com, a site that allowed ads for sex workers and was used by escorts; it had kept sex workers safer because the site was used predominantly by people doing consensual sex work. Unfortunately, like any platform, Backpage.com was used for sex trafficking, and Harris focused only on the safety of those victims instead of realizing how many other victims she created. One would think leaving a digital trail would make it easier to catch actual sex criminals, but instead sex workers went back into the dark along with the traffickers who would find other ways to do their damage. In an interview with The Root, Harris said she is open to seeing sex work decriminalized, and this is what is giving fuel to the Bible beaters and Trumpers.

Sex advocates and sex workers aren’t confident in Harris and think she will only partially criminalize sex work, meaning she would punish the people, mostly men, making money off of sex work. This is called the Nordic model because it has been used in many Nordic countries, but it’s not enough. Partial decriminalization is not likely to make sex workers safer.

Too many people buy into the idea that police officers are meant to protect and serve all citizens—they are meant to keep us safe. I hope we all know by now that the police system was built on racism and is still infected with systemic racism. Too often, power comes before protection with police officers, and that is always self-serving. Because sex work is illegal except in Nevada and licensed brothels, cops exert their power and extend their racism to prostitutes. This adds to the mass incarceration of Black people, queer people, and Black transgender women. LGBTQIA+ folks make up a large percent of the homeless population because they were kicked out of homes, lost employment, or were rejected by the church because of their identity. LGBTQIA+ folks often rely on sex work as a means of survival. Transgender women, specifically transgender women of color, are at a high risk for murder.

Police often abuse sex workers by threatening to arrest them unless given a sexual favor or they arrest a sex worker when they report a crime done to them by a “john.” Sex workers are also at risk for being harassed or arrested by the police for having condoms on them. Cops use condoms as evidence of a crime, rather than a form of protection against STIs and pregnancy. Often a sex worker will avoid health care because of the stigma surrounding their work or because they can’t afford it. Since sex work isn’t legal, workers don’t have access to employer health insurance or other benefits. Instead of wondering how the system failed someone who needs to sell sex to survive, criminalizing prostitution adds to the harm done to those without options.

So before you get all judgy and demand people find Jesus to save their souls from damnation while posting headlines that only appeal to your bias, do some research. Challenge what you think you know and ask yourself what would be best to protect the people you claim to be praying for. Confirmation bias can barely be used in the case of Harris and her stance on prostitution. She is not promoting prostitution, but it seems like she is willing to make changes to ultimately protect sex workers while punishing sex criminals—yes, the two are different—and that’s a good thing.

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Data Reveals That More Folks Are Viewing Adult Content During The Workday

When Jeffrey Toobin was caught masturbating during a work Zoom meeting, folks had a lot of questions, the first being WTF, man? Some people were appalled that a person would pleasure themselves during work. Others were shocked that he could be so fucking stupid to not know his camera and microphone were still on.

Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to cisgender men and the entitlement they carry with their penises. It’s disgusting that they are incapable of waiting for anything, including the desire to touch themselves or for someone else to watch or do it for them—looking at you Weinstein, Epstein, Lauer, O’Reilly … the list could go on and on, but those are just a few high profile cases of men who deny rape culture while perpetuating it and cling to myths about their primal “need” for sex. While Toobin was just another notable name to point a finger at when it comes to sexual misconduct in the workplace, the reality is that he is just one of millions of men who jerk off at work each day. And the numbers are rising.

Before the pandemic started, roughly 39% of people masturbated at work, most of them being men. This tracks with the fact that 70% of internet porn is consumed during the work day. In 2016, PornHub reported that people’s favorite time to watch porn was between 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., and peaked around 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. Now that folks have more access to privacy (wait, aren’t kids around more these days because of the pandemic? I can barely poop without being interrupted), studies show that 35% of men and 17% of women get their rocks off while working from home. Not that working in an office ever presented much of a road block for beating off during the work day.

Gunner Taylor, Director of Strategic Development for FriendFinder Networks tells Scary Mommy, “Working from home enables workers to use their home networks instead of office networks where the firewalls might typically block adult sites – giving a sense of freedom to access NSFW content during the workday.”

The numbers support this, too. One of FriendFinder Networks sites is Cams.com, a leading adult webcam company which has a large roster of camera models and more than 100 million casual users. According to Taylor, their site use increased by 13% between May and October 2020. People are feeling pandemic fatigue and are clearly using “procrasturbation” as a way to deal, especially during the hours of 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. During that time between March and September, user use was up 18% compared to the six month period before.

And is anyone surprised? The sex-toy industry has also seen an uptick in sales since the pandemic started. Whether people are bored, missing their long distance partner, can’t get out for random hookups, or are looking for new ways to self-soothe, the 30-100% increase in sex-toy sales means people are going after the big O in big numbers. This makes a ton of sense, because orgasms are fun and reduce stress. COVID, the election, and now a slide into seasonal depression have some of us reaching into our pants to relieve some of that tension and to flood our bodies with feel-good chemicals. And since many of us are working from home, we have more time on our hands to use those hands to play with our junk. Taylor says, “Users are finding more free personal time than ever, since they aren’t commuting as much or taking short breaks for water cooler chats during the day.”

A lot of people are lonely. Social distancing has kept people apart, and even if romantic touch wasn’t part of the relationship, people are missing hugs, high fives, and pats on the back. Touch releases oxytocin, which is known as the cuddle hormone. It also lowers cortisol levels and boosts mood while improving cognitive function. Porn and masturbation are ways to find some connection with others and ourselves. Taylor says that the pandemic hasn’t just given people more time and motivation to touch themselves during work hours, but that they have noticed many users exploring more kinks and fetishes since the beginning of quarantine. “Our data shows that 75% of female users in Maine specifically have expressed interest in handcuffing and shackle play.”

Again, nothing surprises me. 42 billion people visited PornHub in 2019, and the second most searched words were “alien porn.” Handcuffing seems mild.

Before COVID, 52% of men ages 18-30 admitted to watching porn at work, while 74% of men ages 31-49 admitted to the same act. Among the 52% of people (men and women combined) who say they masturbate while working from home, only a quarter said they felt bad about it. Should they? As long as you’re still getting your work done, is there anything wrong in rubbing one out? There is a time and place for everything, except consent; consent is a must at all times. Unless you know someone could hear or see you and they don’t want to hear or see you come, then have at it.

Taking a self-care break when no one is around is one thing, however, even while at home, folks need to keep their hands out of their pants while on a work call—whether that’s phone or video. Have a little self-control, people. And when I say people, I mean cisgender men. I enjoy masturbating and watching porn as much as anyone else, but I have never cued up a box munching video while deep diving into my own vagina during a team meeting. Get your shit together, guys.

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I’m Demisexual — Here’s What That Means

I fall on the LGBTQIA spectrum. I fall under queer, technically bi, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. I identify as demisexual. According to Demisexuality.org, demisexuality is “a sexual orientation in which one feels sexual attraction only after forming an emotional connection.” In other words, I’m not into one-night stands. I’m not into celebrities. In fact, I’ve always only dated my best friends. My same sex attractions? They’ve all involved very close friends. I’m only turned on by people I have a serious emotional connection to.

Being A Young Demisexual Means…

I only feel sexual attraction to someone I experience an intense emotional connection with. Otherwise, I’m not into them. Remember in high school, when everyone had crushes on other people? I didn’t. I faked it. If I had a crush on anyone, I liked my BFF, another girl, but I didn’t know how to cope with that can of worms, so I ignored it.

When everyone obsessed over prom, I didn’t have a date. People asked me; I said no thanks. It baffled me. I skipped to go to a punk show. Guys would flirt with me, and my friends had to tell me about it later: “Did you know he was flirting with you?! Are you oblivious?!” If I flirted with anyone, I flirted with my best friends, who were all girls.

I didn’t understand that. I didn’t understand what bisexuality meant. So I didn’t date. This is pretty typical for a young demisexual, though everyone’s experience is different.

The Demisexual Sex Drive

Lots of demisexuals cross over with asexuals: they don’t want it. Sex baffles them: they want emotional connection so much that they don’t understand why people would bother with sex in the first place.

But there’s a huge range. I have a very high sex drive for a demisexual: I want it, and I want it a lot. I think this is because it’s easy for me to form intense connections with people very quickly — very, very intense connections. I almost married an ex in Vegas. My two best friends? My two last exes. I knew I would marry my husband within a month of meeting him. My same-sex attractions have all been to my best female friends.

I had an intense emotional connection to my husband almost immediately. We fell in love quickly, and we fell in love hard. Years and kids later, we can still talk for hours. We spend a lot of long car drives… talking. We spend a lot of nights… talking. Dates don’t get old. My husband has a beard like Santa and a potbelly, and I can’t keep my hands off him.

In fact, a lot of my exes have never been what you’d call conventionally attractive. Two of them were… but we had two of the most intense emotional connections I’ve ever experienced with another human being, and their looks were truly secondary. Two of my exes were, by conventional standards, downright unattractive. Most of them were middling.

It didn’t matter to me. What mattered, instead, was that we had developed a serious emotional connection. Their looks were secondary. I found them intensely attractive because of that connection. And believe me: we had a lot of sex. This isn’t the case for every demisexual. Some just want to cuddle. Some don’t want to have sex at all. But I want to do both, and a lot. 

When It Comes To Celebrities…

I really don’t care.

No really, as a demisexual, I don’t care. I can admit that objectively, Timothee Chalamet is an attractive human being. But I don’t like, want to get him in bed. Ick. What would I even do with him? I’d rather sit down and talk to him about his career, because he seems really smart, and we could have a pretty intense conversation about his acting, especially his recent Dune role.

I don’t care about celebrities’ hotness because I care about connection. I’m not connected to people in Hollywood. So I feel nothing for them, no matter what they look like.

Cheating Isn’t An Option

I can’t conceive of cheating on my husband. There’s a logical explanation for that, when you think about it.

If I’m attracted to the intense emotional connection we share, why would I find anything else more attractive? It would take another — how many years have we been married now? — for me to develop that type of connection with someone else. I don’t have that kind of time, people.

The only people I could possibly cheat on him with? My exes, who I’m still BFFs with. However, they haven’t been through the same situations with me that my husband has, so we don’t have the same type of intense emotional bond. When I go for attractiveness, I go for intensity of emotion.

My husband wins every time. So why would I ever cheat? There literally is no point in cheating for a demisexual. 

All Demisexuals Are Different

Demisexual is a label. If it works for you, it works. This is my own personal experience; demisexuals have a wide range of experiences, and if you think the label works for you, then you’re free to use it. Some people use the word queer to describe themselves; I use it because I’m bi, not because I’m a demisexual.

In the end, demisexual is a way to describe a type of sexuality. My experience may be different from another demisexual’s experience, and that’s okay. That doesn’t make either experience less valid or authentic or worthy of the name.

If the things I’ve described seem to fit you, do some research to see if you can find a word that may fit together some puzzle pieces you’ve always wondered about. You may find a new way of looking at yourself and the word that help you understand yourself more fully. When I discovered the term, it helped me a lot. I’d finally found a home, and a word, and I felt less alone.

Maybe you can feel less alone, too.

The post I’m Demisexual — Here’s What That Means appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Before You Eat An Anus Tart, Here’s What To Know

Sometimes tossing a salad is not just for the dinner table. However, some people do enjoy eating ass on said table. I’m talking about analingus: AKA booty munching or rimming.

Before you throw up in your mouth (or throw your mouth onto someone’s anus), there are a few things to know. The first is that there’s no shame in any sexual act between consenting adults. We crave touch. Some touch is sensual and some is erotic, but touch can’t be enjoyed unless all parties are on board. No matter what you’re into, lean in, because I have a tip: consent is sexy AF. If you or your partner are interested in something that may veer outside of what may be considered “normal” sex, you will likely need to have more conversations before attempting the act. Butt play is likely one of those topics that will require some pre-game planning. Here’s what to consider.

It’s Not Gay

Anal play can be explored through penetration with toys, fingers, or penis, but penetration is not a must if you are curious about butt stuff. Rimming can involve penetrating the anus with the tongue, but much of the focus is on kissing and licking the anus and other areas of the bum. There is a stigma among cisgender straight men having their asses touched as if anal play is gay.

No sexual act contains a sexual orientation or can be defined through gender identity. It’s not the act that defines one’s sexual identity, and this is easily verified by scrolling through the categories on your favorite porn site. There are a whole lot of combinations of people giving and receiving rim jobs. So let go of any preconceived notions or heteronormative ideas about what is “gay” and don’t be afraid to explore one of your body’s most sensitive areas. Dr. Evan Golstein, founder and CEO of Bespoke Surgical and The Future Method says in an article for Men’s Health, “[The anus] is a highly erogenous zone with a plethora of nerve endings.”

Before You Explore

Before even touching another person’s anus, you need to ask permission. And just because you are in the mood to have your butthole licked doesn’t mean your partner or partners are willing to put their tongue there. Some sexual partners may not be interested in rimming under any circumstances, and that is totally fine and needs to be respected. In the heat of the moment, some partners may be interested but hesitant because proper pre-sex preparations didn’t occur. Sex isn’t exactly sanitary; even though hints of poo can live on and near the vulva, penis, and perineum (especially if you don’t follow the rule of front to back wiping) most folks don’t think of those areas as “dirty” when it’s time to get sexy. The anus, however, needs some extra cleaning before being munched on.

Hepatitis A is transmitted directly through feces, and, well … your asshole is your poop chute. Bacterial infections can also be contracted through rimming, because e.coli and salmonella can live in feces and on skin where said fecal matter was wiped from.

Once you and your partner agree to mouth-to-ass activities, there are plenty of ways to clean the landscape. Take a shower before sex and use some good old fashioned antibacterial soap. Showering together can add to the excitement and foreplay too. While trimming hair or flushing with an enema in advance could add to the sensation of rimming, neither are necessary. If soap and water don’t feel like enough, use a dental dam or tongue condom to add a barrier between the anus and mouth.

Be aware that STIs can still be transmitted through rimming. According to the CDC, herpes, HPV, oral gonorrhea, and Hepatitis A can be shared via rimming. Dental dams and finger or tongue condoms can mitigate these risks. If you or your partner has reasons to be worried about infection or if there are visible signs of abrasions or wounds, consider holding off on the rim job. Other factors that may delay anal play are constipation, gas, or diarrhea. That should go without saying, yet no good advice should be assumed.

Ready, Set, Rim

Consent has been given and cleanup has happened. Now what? If it’s your first time, you may be nervous. Remember that both you and your partner(s) should talk to each other to be sure everyone is comfortable. Trust goes a long way when it comes to enjoying any sex act, so stay within the boundaries and go slow.

Start by finding a comfortable position. The recipient could be on their back, with pillows under their hips while a giver settles in between their thighs. Or the recipient could be on all fours or leaning over a chair or bed. This allows the giver more access to touch all of the butt area while moving their tongue around the anus.

Experiment with how you move your tongue if you are the giver, just the way you would on any other body part you are trying to stimulate. Adjust the speed and pressure while paying attention to your partner’s body. Pretend you are licking an ice cream cone and use long tongue strokes or tease your partner with short flicks of the tongue. Ask them what feels good. And if you notice the anus relax, that is a good sign that you are providing pleasure. While your tongue is busy, don’t forget to use your hands to rub your partner’s genitals, nipples, or thighs. And remember that rimming does not mean penetration or consent for anal sex. You can ask your partner if you can poke your tongue into their anus or apply pressure with your finger, but be sure to have lube handy, and don’t confuse external pleasure with unwanted internal touching.

Sex is fun and doesn’t have to be taken so seriously! Try something new; if it isn’t working, then try something else. Communicate before, during, and after sex. Explore what felt good and what didn’t work. And just because consent was given before rimming started, be prepared to stop if one of you isn’t as into it as you thought you would be. A sex act should never be an obligation.

Enjoy your ass tart.

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