In September I will be speaking at CatalystCon-West. My talk focuses on the topic of sexual desire, Addressing Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder—It’s Not as Simple as Popping a Pill or Using a Sex Toy/Device. In marketing the conference, speakers are given the opportunity to answer a set of questions for a short article. I thought it would be fun to share those here and give you a few more tidbits about me, my work and my life.
- How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change? I speak about topics of vital importance to older women—menopausal and postmenopausal women (and a significant number of older men as well). We’re a segment of the population that is pretty much overlooked in many areas. We are seen as past our prime, old…not interested in sex, and invisible in some ways. Women this age, as a general rule, don’t feel comfortable talking about sex and sexuality. I believe that my job is to help normalize and demystify sex in the middle years and beyond. I don’t hold to the myths about aging and menopause. I try to present a pro-aging, natural approach to getting older and maintaining our sexuality. My willingness to have “that” conversation, any time, any place, is just one way to remove some of the stigma and provide space for change to happen.
- Why is your CatalystCon presentation topic importation to you? I hear from women who struggle with issues around sexuality. Women who want a different, better sex life but don’t know who to talk to…and in some cases don’t really know what it is they need. Much of the available information for older women portrays sexuality in a negative light. The prevailing myth is that menopause will bring an end to desire and sex and that the best answer, if any help is offered, is pharmaceutically based. Instead of helping women understand their desire, or give them tools to enhance their understanding of sex and their bodies, women are pushed towards expensive toys and medications. Low female sexual desire doesn’t exist in a vacuum and it can’t be “treated” as a deficit that begs for a fix. The idea of inviting desire, which happens to be the title of my new book, is a way of helping women do their own work—giving them tools and resources, readily accessible and practical. I’m excited about the opportunity to help workshop attendees look at how we work with women (and their partners) in providing ideas and tools for increasing sexual desire.
- Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself? I’m a small town girl. I grew up in a town of 500. Everyone knew everyone. Oh, and… I was one of the first females to drive (the transit bus) for the University of Virginia when I was in college.
Here are some additional questions just for my readers:
- How did you get into this line of work? I was blogging, anonymously, about my post-divorce dating escapades, talking about sex and other bits and pieces of sex-related stuff that interested me. As my readership grew I began hearing from people who had questions and challenges around sexual issues. At the same time I was transitioning out a job and looking at what I wanted to do in the between-job phase so I became a freelance writer. From there my personal writing began to expand; I moved to writing under my own name as I began addressed midlife sexuality more seriously. I wanted to change the climate of shame and lack of knowledge that often keeps women from speaking up about sexual needs and concerns, which meant that I had to be willing to write and speak with my real name. Bringing my work experience with sexual violence and crisis work and my Masters in Educational Psychology together with my personal journey, the sex educator and speaker in me was born!
- Single or attached? Single.
- Does being a sex educator and writer create problems in your dating life? Yes. Often. More than a few guys, on dating sites, read that I’m a sex educator and misinterpret that to mean I’m someone who just wants lots of sex. I think that being a sexually educated and experienced woman can feel a little threatening to some men; others find it refreshing to know that we can have conversations openly and explore possibilities.
- Do you have a sexual challenge you’re willing to talk about? My brain never shuts down–so staying present and out of my head can be challenging at times.
- Didn’t you just write a book? Why? I did!! Inviting Desire, A Guide for Women Who Want to Enhance Their Sex Life. We have this idea that women reach a certain age and no longer want sex. There is a significant lack of educational resources for women and in that void women are either shamed, ignored or talked down to. Women want to figure out their sexuality and understand what it means to embrace sex. I wanted to give them a matter-of-fact guide that’s not geared to young women, but written for and by an older woman with a realistic down-to-earth approach to desire and sex and communication—all the things that go into a healthy level of sexual desire. A book that is not too sweet but not overly explicit–one that the most sexually timid individual might feel comfortable reading. In Inviting Desire I talk about desire and pleasure holistically. You can read a bit more about the book here. The focus is not on how to please a man but rather on how to take care of her–her pleasure, her needs, her well-being, her sense of self as a sexual being. Only later in the book do we really focus on sex with a partner–and then the emphasis is on figuring out what she needs and learning how to ask for that.
- What’s next for you? Great question. For now I’m engaging with readers to support them as they work through the book. I may start a small video series that parallels the topics in the book. I’d like to focus on more public speaking–it’s one of my favorite ways to engage with a group of people.
Also published on Medium.