How can you be empowered about discussing sex when you feel frightened and ashamed to talk about sex in public?
With Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com, and Andi Cortland from http://www.LevelUpSex.com.
Cathy: What if you’re ashamed to use the word sex or talk about intimacy? What if you’re afraid of it? I’m Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com.
Andi: I’m Andi Cortland from http://www.LevelUpSex.com.
Cathy: Thank you for sharing this. I went through this too when I first formed The Intimacy Dojo in Dallas. I was petrified. I was talking about sexuality. I was talking about intimacy and relationships and I was convinced that I was waving a red flag in front of a bull and all the bad people would come out and attack me. You were sharing that you had some of that around putting your website up with the word sex in it.
Andi: Exactly, http://www.LevelUpSex.com. Despite the fact that most humans are sexual beings, even asexual people are bombarded with messages about sex constantly so for every human being figuring out how to navigate sex is a fundamental life skill.
Cathy: Yes, it is, but it can be terrifying because we are … If you turn on the news, you’re not going to hear about the million people that walk safely down the street and didn’t get attacked. You’re going to hear about the one person that was attacked. I did a bad thing yesterday. I came home from a conference, I was really tired and I watched Special Victims Unit, which used to be one of my old go to. I didn’t realize how much it was until I was watching it. Then I had hired someone to come in and give me a massage that night. I had never met him before, and my brain was just like…
Cathy: Yeah, even though he had a ton of good reviews and someone else had recommended him, and everything was fine, we’re constantly taught that women, especially women, have to be super protective and we can’t be sexy or talk about sex or acknowledge sex because if we do, bad things will immediately be attracted.
Cathy: As you were going through the process, what did you notice? When you were thinking about putting up the site, what were some of the thoughts you had?
Andi: I thought … People already asked me about this stuff all the time. I’ve been the go to person for my friends forever so, “Why don’t I just get all of those conversations out of the way at once by putting up a website with videos and a blog? Then people can contact me one on one.” I was really excited and I actually put it up on the plane back from Sex Geek Summer Camp to San Francisco last summer. It was up and running in a couple of hours, but then I got back and I went to my day job and I thought, “Oh my God, what have I done? I have officially said on the interwebs that I am talking about sex and that I can help people talk about sex. This is not something that normal people do. This is something that maybe I can get away with as a weirdo in San Francisco, but … “
Cathy: In the rest of the world, no way.
Andi: In the rest of the world, no way.
Cathy: You were sharing that you were kind of mad that they had taken that away from us.
Andi: Exactly. Sometimes I’ll think, “Oh my God, why am I doing this?” Thinking, “I know that people don’t normally talk about this in public. Why did this have to be the thing that I got so excited about?” By excited, I mean nerdy like I … You should see my book shelf. I buy books and books and books and books, hundreds of dollars of books, every single one reading about sex because I love it, and I’m a nerd. I read, that’s what I do. But I am also terrified to be a public figure talking about sex. When I think about why I’m terrified, I get angry because every human has to learn how to navigate sex in some way or another even if that is to say, “No, I’m not available for that. No actually I’m not interested. No, actually I’m asexual. No actually I’m aromantic.” Whatever it is, everyone has to navigate it. I’m angry that it’s not socially acceptable to talk about this thing that every human being faces.
Cathy: When we shut down people’s voices around it, it just spread the secret things. I remember being in 7th grade. One of the girls snuck in a romantic novel, one of those cheesy novels and she’d thumbnailed the corner … We’re reading it, like, “What happened?” It wasn’t sex ed, but we thought it was the best we knew. We took a little bit of information and we were trying to figure stuff out because the education we got was very limited. When we don’t give people information, it comes out creepy. People don’t know how to handle it. It’s so sad when we can’t share about it.
Andi: Or you miss out on great opportunities. I mean, the first time that I was in bed with a woman, I was so excited and she felt amazing when we were kissing each other and we were feeling each other. Then we had no idea what to do. We just stopped because I don’t know. I suppose the internet was around during that time, but it wasn’t widely used and I didn’t have Alison’s Moon’s awesome Girl Sex 101 because it hadn’t been published yet. I was a teenager with another teenage girl and we were all over each other like, “This is so awesome, but do we do?” If I had just a really nice book, I maybe could have gotten some [play toys 00:04:59]. Maybe if we had kept at it longer, we would eventually figured it out.”
Cathy: It would be nice if it was … Not even everybody drives, but you could look up on the internet or without shame ask somebody a question about driving and it would be okay. I look forward to a world where it’s that easy to talk about sex.
Cathy: I appreciate your courage in putting up your website and talking about this. I know it does take courage to say, “Hey, I’m willing to talk about this and face the fears that we’ve been ingrained since we were little.” Thank you for being a difference maker.
Andi: Thank you for being an awesome role model.
Cathy: If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave them below. We’d love to hear them and we’ll try to get back to you.
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