Mindfulness, Masturbation, and #MeToo: Own Your Sexuality

Professional sex therapist and podcast host Emily Morse brings us her essential guide for sexual self-care.

It’s time to talk birds and bees. If you’re anything like me, your sex education consisted of half-baked sex-ed classes and Cosmo magazine, the former a bit confusing and the latter focusing solely on the man’s pleasure. And with this year’s epic takedown of sexual predators within the #MeToo movement, it’s becoming clear that the years of women struggling to take ownership of their sexuality are coming to a tipping point. 

I spoke to Emily Morse, a sex therapist, educator, Wanderlust presenter, and host of the celebrated “Sex With Emily” podcast. Emily, who started out as a documentary filmmaker, was always intrigued with human sexuality and identity, and eventually shifted her media skills into this pertinent topic. When she started “Sex With Emily,” she was amazed (well, maybe not so much) with how many people desperately wanted to talk about sex.

“We’re so secretive about sex,” Emily tells me. “I just wanted to create a platform where we can talk about it freely.”

Changing misconceptions

All this secrecy has led to a plethora of misconceptions. Which is understandable—if we garnered our entire sexual perspective from magazines and porn, we’re going to be pretty confused as to why things don’t look or feel a certain way. According to Emily, common misconceptions include the idea that there’s a “right” way to orgasm, that sex should be effortless, or that our bodies should look a certain way. 

“There’s very little ‘supposed to’ in sex,” Emily says. Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions, Emily stresses, is that good sex doesn’t require work—that we’re supposed to automatically be rockstars in bed. Emily insists that this is so not true. Even with the right partner, good sex often takes work. 

“Everything else in our life that matters to use, like health or spirituality or our jobs, we’re going to work hard at it. Why shouldn’t sex be the same way?” She asks. “Sex isn’t all unicorns and magic. You’re going to have to work at it. It’s going to change over the course of your life.”

Why isn’t sex treated like practice?

Many of these misconceptions have risen because we haven’t made sex a priority. Why? In this girl’s opinion, we’re afraid. There’s a stigma associated with sex—this same stigma is what causes the infamous and fully annoying “slut-shaming.” Women are more inclined to be ridiculed when it comes to sex, having their desires and longings shamed rather than celebrated. Masturbation is a dirty word, something we’re often scared to do or admit we do.

But all that is changing. The #MeToo movement illustrated the nauseating entitlement that men have felt over women’s bodies, and we’re sick of it.

“Women are stepping into their own power,” Emily says. “Growing up, it was habitual to defer towards men. We grow up in a world where men are often the ones in charge—the policemen, the fireman, and the politicians. Now we’re realizing that women can be and are in power too. We’re getting our power back.”

We empower ourselves. When we participate in negative self-talk or judge our own bodies and habits, we’re giving away our power. We need to prioritize ourselves, and part of that means prioritizing our sexuality. Nervous? Curious, but don’t know where to begin? Or maybe you already consider yourself a sexual prowess but want to go deeper? We’ve got you covered with some of Emily’s essential tips for sexual self-care. 

Get to know yourself.

Masturbation is key to getting to know your body. It doesn’t need to be complicated or intimidating, and it can begin with something as simple as breathwork. From Emily’s blog, “Start by prioritizing your pleasure, and set aside some time in your busy day that’s just for you. Find a space in your home where no one will bother you, lock the door, and put that phone on airplane mode.”

Go with the flow and do what feels good to you. Remember that there is no “supposed to” and that your body is entirely yours. Leave judgment at the door. 

Educate and communicate.

There are dozens of resources that open the doors for sexual self-care. You can read blogs, listen to podcasts, check out workshops, or ask your yoga studios to consider a tantra workshop. (Go even bigger and spearhead such an event!)

Once you learn what you like or what it is you’d like try, communicate with your partner. “Communication is lubrication,” Emily stresses. If he or she is a good match, your sexual pleasure will be a priority. We want our partners to feel good! Having one awkward conversation will open the door to a positive and uplifting dialogue that makes you both feel like rockstars. 

It’s like yoga—use props!

You know how in a yoga class we often use a block or blanket to get that perfect spot? Sex is no different. If it feels right, introduce yourself to sex toys to aid in the exploration of your body.  If you’re intimidated, know you don’t have to have an arsenal of toys in your closet or a room dedicated to sex tech.

Emily’s blog compares sex toys to dessert. If that seems like a stretch, hear us out: “You probably love dessert, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to have chocolate cake every time you have your after dinner treat, right? Sometimes you want sponge cake, or pie, or ice cream. And even on your ice cream, you may want sprinkles from time to time.” Sex toys can be like sprinkles.

And be mindful.

One of the go-to quotes in any yogi’s practice is this: it’s not about the destination, but rather the journey. The same is true for sex and masturbation! While it may seem like orgasms are the culminating events (and yes, you deserve an awesome orgasm), the point is to have a feel-good connection with your partner or yourself. Take it slow. Think of it like meditation. If and when thoughts come up, acknowledge them and move on. This is your body, your journey, and your sexuality. Enjoy and own it.

At the end of the day, your sex life isn’t all that different from your yoga practice. It’s an ever-changing journey that requires thought, attention, work, and compassion. Give yourself the love you deserve and reap all of those delightful, delicious benefits.

Hear more from Emily this summer at Wanderlust Stratton and Wanderlust Whistler.

Amanda Kohr is the editor at Wanderlust. You can find her exploring new highways, drinking diner coffee, and on Instagram