I had the opportunity to speak on a radio show back in February hosted by another extraordinary therapist by the name of Lily Sloane. You can jump into our conversation at 12:28, after I'm introduced by my theme song, Living in Midnight!
In the Pursuit of Healing, We Stop Short of Pleasure
In the radio show, I talk in more detail about my journey to work to end sexual assault and how it led me to promote sexual health. I stutter through talking about an incident in college where I am convinced that I might have been sexually assaulted if the circumstances had just been slightly different. I did say in the the show that The World Health Organization (WHO) has a comprehensive definition of sexual health. It touches on multiple areas of health including mental, physical, and social while also, and maybe most importantly, promoting pleasure.
Sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence
We go on to talk about preventative ways to fight against sexual assault. To me, prevention starts with age appropriate sexual education throughout the life course, womb to tomb. We discuss giving kids permission to say no to hugs, which is a precursor to being able to say no to sex. Then we move on to why we must teach kids correct words for their body parts. We also mention this video about consent below using tea as an analogy. In previous blogs, I talk a lot about grey areas on the consent continuum and how adults have to relearn how to state their wants in bed in order to have better sex and avoid sex that crosses boundaries but doesn't fall in the category of rape.
Polyamory, And Fantasies, and Threesomes... OH My!
At the 47:12 mark we come back after a brief musical break by Fiya to talk about our fears of inadequacies in bed. I normalize how se changes in a long term sexual relationship. Lily normalized a partner being afraid to share a desire and harboring the truth about their needs for years. A good resource here would have been The Good Enough Sex Model.
Here I get to answer questions from the readers including one about threesomes. I wrote an earlier blog about why not to have a threesome, and here is a great example of how in and of itself threesomes can be fun and healthy if we didn't have to deal with stigma. Ultimately, if our group of friends shame us for our sexuality, then they are not friends. Since one is a co-worker I would have added that the caller should set better boundaries about between her work and personal life so that information about her sex life doesn't come out at the water cooler.
Then we briefly bring up dating in the Bay. Why is everyone poly! The truth is that not everyone is practicing ethical non-monogamy. They're just cheating. However, I break down good reasons to explore polyamory and touch on how monogamous people can also learn to value friendships and not expect their romantic relationship to fulffill all things
Sex Addiction, Activism, and Therapy... Oh My
Once we get into discussing the misnomer of sex addiction, we're laughing and it's feeling a lot like a coffee date with friends. I've talked about Harvey Weinstein, and Kevin Spacey in previous blogs but this is a good run down of how masturbation can be used as a tool of violence. Behind the scenes, Lily and I also talked about how couples hold on to the label of sex addiction because most people would rather support a partner through an addiction, a medical issues than support a partner who is just "cheating." Partners tend to gravitate towards the label of addiction because the alternative would mean my partner doesn't love me enough; they would disrespect me through salacious acts like paid sex or choosing a fetish over me. Our job as therapists is to be gentle and help people reinterpret their partner's behaviors to see that it is not a reflection of how they do or don't care about their partner, but rather an out of control behavior.
At 1:27:36 we come back and talk about empathy and activism. I believe that my work in therapy is rooted in social justice. We touch on how marching is a release for anger but that empathy and individual connections are where change happens
We then end by discussing our work as therapists and discussing the merits of doing trauma work like EMDR. We break down the myths and reassure the caller that therapy can be a gradual work and not a big catharsis. We debunk the tough love approach.
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