Dr. Jenn's TEDx Talk on Sexual Shame

EBook by Dr. Jenn for Young Women on Female Sexuality

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What I'm Reading
  • The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality
    The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality
    by Rachel Hills
  • The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life's Perfection
    The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life's Perfection
    by Michael A. Singer

Sexual Consent, Female Sexuality as a Commodity, & Jaclyn Friedman

“We live in a culture in which women’s sexuality is a commodity…women being consumed by men.”

Jaclyn Friedman recently took the stage at San Diego State University to speak about Sex in America: Beyond Prudes, Sluts, & Players. She is a feminist author and activist, and I first became familiar with her through her organization WAM! (Women, Action, Media). She is dynamic, funny, bright, and down-to-earth in her approach to some pretty heavy topics including sexuality, sexual consent, and rape culture.

So what does “female sexuality as a commodity” mean? It means that women’s sexuality is something to be bought and sold or bargained for, and that this mentality surrounds a lot of the problems that women and our society have around sex. For example, women’s virginity is approached as something to be protected and treated like a precious jewel, because females should only “give it away” to the right man who has earned it. There is, however, no comparable values on male virginity.

Females are instructed to be gatekeepers to their sexuality, but also socialized to be sexually attractive and seductive. It’s not unusual for a man who sexually wants something from a female to keep asking or just nonverbally pushing those boundaries until she gives in. Indeed, men are taught to keep pushing boundaries to get what they want, and under the commodity model of female sexuality, that is fine. Jaclyn went on to share how different women’s bodies have different values and worth in the commodity model, and this model polices both women and men’s gender expression (think men who are ridiculed for appearing female-like).

Jaclyn presented a “new” model for sexuality, one she calls “Creative Collaboration.” This model of sexuality is based on open communication, clear consent, and respect of fellow humans. It is also based on awareness and paying attention the whole time. For example, if you can’t tell whether the other person is interested in what you’re doing sexually, or interested in moving forward, then you have to ask. And don’t assume you can read their verbal signals unless you’ve been with them for a long time, because men in particular don’t do that well. Her whole premise of this model lies with the idea that both partners are freely and actively involved in the sexual encounter. Because, why would we ever want to have a sexually experience with someone who wasn’t freely and actively involved?!? 

However, this is more difficult than it sounds, because as a society we have such discomfort with frank, honest, open conversations around sex. It’s awkward. And apparently we fear awkwardness and value “spontaneity” more than safety, responsibility, ethics, respect, integrity, and clear communication. But to quote Jaclyn, “You don’t die from awkwardness.” I believe that this is where mindfulness is necessary, and studying our own patterns and fears, so that we can learn to sit with the discomfort of doing what’s right, even when it feels icky inside.

This kind of communication is also difficult because men are often taught that they have a social license to be sexual with a woman in the way they want. And women are taught to be passive, nice, or at least not to rock the boat. This leads to situations where one person is pushing and the other is acquiescing, without any recognition between them that this pattern is happening. This is also where mindfulness comes into the picture, because without awareness of what we’ve been taught, how gender roles vary, and that sexual situations are fraught with miscommunication, people keep plowing ahead sexually as if they can be certain all is fine.

Jaclyn’s lecture resonated deeply with my own beliefs, and what I wrote above was a blending of our words. She also offered a few gems in her practical, honest, and fair approach to this complicated topic. First, she didn’t take the standard feminist approach that any sex under the influence of alcohol cannot be consensually. She accurately stated that a lot of sexual encounters happen while drinking, and a lot of GOOD sexual encounters. But there is a fine line between buzzed and smashed, and unless you know that for yourself and the person you’re hooking up with, then you better be careful and err on the side of no sexual contact. She also encouraged sexual experimentation especially for women. Sometimes after a new sexual encounter a woman might realize that she didn’t enjoy that specific experience. And that’s OK. It’s more than OK, it’s the only way that we can truly discover what we do and don’t like. Jaclyn stated that we tend to confuse bad sex with a crisis or assault. It’s OK to choose to have a new sexual experience, and have it end up not being our cup of tea; there’s no shame in that. She also mentioned how it’s OK to love things but also criticize them. For example, just because a TV show or movie isn’t perfect in its level of gender, sexual, or social awareness, doesn’t mean we can’t still love and appreciate other parts of it.

These “gems” might seem minor or inconsequential, but as a fellow sex educator sometimes embroiled in the muck of this controversial topic, I so appreciated Jaclyn’s commitment to fairness, compassion, and honesty. I highly recommend her fair and practical version of feminism and approach to female sexuality!

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sexual Health Speaker, Sociologist


Sexting for Married Couples

Sexting has gotten a bad rap. And it's often considered something only the young or newly dating do, so it's dismissed as trivial. But when I was recently interviewed for Shape Magazine online about sexting for married couples, I was thrilled to share some tips and tricks and give sexting some validation! Here are a couple of the points I offered:

"Men tend to enjoy more explicit sexual references and don't find it embarrassing, so the more you just decide to own your choice to be flirty and trust your husband's response, the more fun you both can have with it," says Jenn Gunsaullus, Ph.D., a sociologist and intimacy counselor in San Diego, CA. Plus, that unfamiliar feeling that may be making you hesitate is actually what makes it such great foreplay: The element of surprise and newness can be sexually exciting, she adds.

"The mind is our main sex organ, and choosing the right flirty words to seduce your partner can make them feel very desired," Gunsaullus explains.

Read the entire article 6 Tips for Sexting Up Your Marriage by Rachael Schultz, about the whys and hows of sexting your long term partner!

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sex Speaker, Sociologist


Mindful Sex, Meditative Masturbation, & Redefining Sexuality

I think sex is complicated. Actually, to clarify that, I think that sexuality is complicated. Sexuality encompasses the physical act of sex, as well as gender roles, values, beliefs, cultural learnings, orientation, attraction, desire, orgasm, power, exploitation, and pleasure, among other things. Like i said, it's complicated.

But the complication around sexuality, particularly female sexuality, is one of my favorite topics to discuss, particularly when I can delve into both theory and practice. I got to do just this in a recent interview with Cynthia Luois on her new podcast show Redefining Revolutions. Cynthia brought a fantastic vibe to the interview, from her intellectual questions, to her reflective feminism, and her vulnerable stories. These are the main topics we discuss in the podcast below:

1. Mindful sex and how to have it

2. Masturbation - the ecstasy and the shame and how to break that shame

3. Sex and sexuality as it relates to race, religion and gender

4. The empowerment and objectification of woman - well which is it, damn it!?

5. Some of Dr. Jenn's favorite myths and plays to have long lasting relationship sex

6. Sexual violence and knowing pleasure from a safe space again

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sexual Health Speaker, Sociologist


My Experiences with Online Dating

The HAPpY Hour San Diego Radio

An Alpine, CA, radio station invited me into their studio to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly about online dating. I've been dabbling with it for the past year and a half, and shared some personal stories about what I like and don't like. But just when the interview was evolving and we were delving into why couples struggle with desire in relationships, the electricity went out in the building so my interview was over! Nonethless, if you want to hear me banter with four men about online dating, check out my interview with Rich Singley below. :)

My segment of the show begins at around the one hour and 14 minute mark.

The HAPpY Hour San Diego Radio Magazine 10.29.2105 #103 Jacob Underwood (OTown) Alpine Beer, Dr Jenn by Happy Hour San Diego on Mixcloud

 ~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego Sexologist, Sexual Health Educator, Sociologist


Can Fear Be Good for Our Sex Life?

We generally think that fear is a bad thing for our relationships and sex lives. But maybe not?

Shortly before Halloween, I spoke on San Diego Living about the potential relationship benefits of fear, and how you can consciously bring this into your relationship for fun all year long!

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus -- San Diego Sexologist, Sexual Health Speaker, Sociologist