This is one of my favorite instalments of 12 Days of Girly Juice each year, because I get to honor the folks who have genuinely changed my life and the way I think over the past 365 days. (Previously: 2016, 2015.) I’m lucky enough to have access to tons of mentors in my field – smart, curious people who are generous with their knowledge and energy – and I’ve soaked up so much wisdom from them this year. Here are 5 of the most important teachers and mentors I’ve idolized this year, even if they had no idea I was viewing them as such.
Mollena Williams-Haas is a tour de force, a badass, a whirling firestorm of candor and insight. I first learned about her at the Playground Conference in 2015, where she and her husband/Master were the keynote speakers, and I was instantly struck by her story. A kink educator and advocate, for a long time she was single and sad about it, unable to find a dominant who complemented her particular style of submission and was also a person she could love. The way she tells it, she had given up on love entirely, when suddenly a mysterious message landed in her OkCupid inbox. The message turned out to be from Georg Friedrich Haas, a German composer with long-suppressed dominant desires. They met, fell in love, and the rest is history.
Beyond just being massively inspirational for a sometimes-lonely and always-romantic submissive comme moi, Mollena is also brilliant and I’ve learned so much from her. She always has a nuanced and clued-in take on things like race play, sobriety, and service. My friend Bex often says they would happily listen to Mollena explain how to boil water, or something equally mundane, and I would have to agree: she elevates and illuminates any conversation she’s a part of.
Dr. Laurie Mintz published a book this year called Becoming Cliterate which would not have crossed my desk if not for an editor I sometimes work with, who emailed me to ask if I wanted to review the book for her magazine. What was supposed to be a short book review turned into a feature story about the orgasm gap, because I was so fired up by what I read in Mintz’s book (as well as Sarah Barmak’s Closer) that I wanted to write more about it. I felt the public needed to hear about what these two people were saying: that gendered orgasm inequality still exists, and that the solution to this problem requires action on both individual and systemic levels.
A lot of “how to orgasm” advice aimed at women puts the onus on the woman to physically stimulate herself, or to find ways to wring a statistically improbable orgasm from penis-in-vagina sex so as not to offend the man she’s presumably sleeping with. What I like about Mintz’s book is that it talks about alternative solutions to this problem – oral sex, supplemental clit stim, sex toys, etc. – and it also emphasizes the communication skills one needs to make the brash assertion, “My orgasm matters, too, and here’s how we’re going to make it happen.” Interviewing Laurie for my story was a joy, and I’m so glad her book exists, so I can gleefully shove it into the hands of anyone who needs a little clitoral bravery!
Reid Mihalko is the first cis man to ever appear on this list in the 3 years I’ve been doing it. Normally I relate better to sex educators who’ve been raised as female, because they grasp the specific struggles I tend to grapple with. But Reid’s wisdom was invaluable to me this year, and I think anyone of any gender or sexual orientation could learn a lot from him.
Reid teaches a broad range of subjects, from sex techniques to dating strategies to advanced relationship skills, but the two things with which he’s helped me the most are flirting and jealousy. His approach to flirting is authentic, confident, and playful, and he’s taught me exciting new tricks in that arena, including meta-communication, a toolbox I pull from all the time. Meanwhile, his “eight-armed monster” framework for understanding jealousy has repeatedly helped me figure out why certain relationships made me feel more jealous than others, and what I could do about it. I’m sure his work will continue to help me in my dating life for many years to come!
Caitlin K. Roberts was essentially the catalyst for me getting involved in my local sex-positive community ~5 years ago, and she continues to shake up my paradigm on the regular. This year she pursued training in sexological bodywork and sex surrogacy work, and upon her return to Toronto, she started hosting little pay-what-you-can educational sex lectures in her living room. I went to a few, took ample notes like the geekiest keener, and left with my brain swollen from new knowledge. Concepts like Betty Martin’s Wheel of Consent and sensate focus are still rattling around in my brain, encouraging me to reexamine how I experience sex and how I would like to experience sex.
On a more personal note, I went for a four-handed erotic massage with Caitlin and her collaborator Cosmo three days after a harrowing breakup, and it was a revelation of pleasurable healing. Caitlin brought so much sex magic to my life this year – and every year that I’ve known her, really – and for that, I’m so grateful.
Girl on the Net is one of my favorite sex bloggers, and actually one of my favorite writers, full-stop. Her writing is filthy, witty, and fearless in the way it probes into all facets of sex: the hot, the sad, the dark, the astonishing. She regularly reminds me of all the reasons I love sex, and all the ways sex can scare me.
When I first set out on this sex blogging adventure almost six years ago, I deeply admired women writers who were able to capture the gross, gritty, often mundane realities of female sexuality. Men can talk about quick stress-relief wanks and everyday horndog leering like it’s no big deal, while our culture often depicts women’s sexuality as sensual and sacred – which had rarely been my experience of it. I loved – and still love – writers like Girl on the Net and Epiphora who present a more casual, everyday picture of what it’s like to be a libidinous lady. It’s not all rose petals, sax music, and Epsom salt baths – nor should it be. I’m grateful to writers who showed me I could write about sex in a different way.
Who have been your sex-positive superheroes this year?