When I tell people I’m a sex educator, they assume I teach sex ed in a classroom to junior high school kids and show them how to put condoms on bananas. The show-and-tell with the banana is a huge step up from my grade school days of looking at badly drawn cross-cut views of genitals with vague descriptions of how prophylactics were meant to be worn. When I say I’m a somatic sex educator and I work with adults, I get puzzled looks and lot of questions. Somatic relates to the body and distinctive from the mind. Educators and therapists can only take you so far- it’s like someone describing how to drive a car. Somatic educators and bodyworkers actually give you the keys, get in the car with you as you drive away. Way more effective than just talking and imagining it! The other piece of my work is spiritual- the trifecta body, mind and spirit coming together. I bring forth rituals from tantra- mindfulness, being present, vulnerability, opening the heart chakra, building erotic energy, deep eye gazing in a sacred intimate connection. It’s actually the opposite of what most people think of when they hear the word ‘Sex’.
We live in a culture that uses sex to sell everything. 65% of kids ages 12-17 are getting their sex information from watching porn. We sexualize children. We make jokes about sex and gender. We make fun of people that don’t fit into what is means to be a Woman or a Man. We reinforce gender stereotypes so we know our place. We spew sexual hate and rape jokes anonymous on the internet. Transgendered, gay and queer identifying youth under the age of 18 are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than their cisgendered, heterosexual identifying classmates.
I can’t change the violence, the ignorance or how others behave. I can’t change the presidential administration. I can’t change how my parents raised me. Sometimes it feels hopeless when I think about it too much.
Then this amazing thing happens when I do this work with my students.
We connect through our eyes and suddenly I see a very different person, often a much younger version if they are middle-aged. It’s like looking through a mask that starts to disappear and under it I see innocence like babies happiness. They are hungry for love, want to love others but are hiding in fear, masked by anger, masked by jokes, masked by childhood trauma. It’s like cleaning off all the grime piled on over the years to find the essence of who we are, but it’s not a one-time cleaning and we’re done. It’s a practice, just like going to physical therapy or the gym to strengthen our body. It can be painful if you don’t have a good coach to show how to slowly warm up the muscles, so it’s worth investing in yourself and working with a pro.
Even though the word ‘sex’ in my job title raises eyebrows, it’s real intimacy that many adults are starving for and terrified of. I feel so much gratitude that I get to help people feed their soul, strengthen their erotic muscles and become powerful to their core. Pleasure is our birthright; let’s reclaim it!