12 Days of Girly Juice 2017: 5 Sex-Positive Superheroes

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.

Photo via Mollena.com

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.

Image via DrLaurieMintz.com

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!

Photo via ReidAboutSex.com

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!

Photo via ToBeASlut.com

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.

Screenshot via Girl on the Net

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?

How Meta-Communication Can Make You a Great Flirt (Even If You’re Shy)

For years, I said, “I’m a bad flirt!” when what I really meant was, “I’m too shy to flirt!”

Then I got better at it, but I still said, “I’m a bad flirt!” when what I really meant was, “My flirting style is dorky and non-traditional, but still charming!”

Nowadays, though, I’ve learned more about flirting and the various ways it can be done – and I finally recognize that my approach to flirting is both valid and effective. My eyes widened when I first encountered the term “meta-communication” – i.e. communicating about communicating – with regards to flirting, because that is totally what I do. It has worked for me, whether I was engaging in monogamous or polyamorous dating, and I think it can work for you too!

Here are some of my favorite tips for flirting via meta-communication…

Acknowledge your flirting as such. This is effective for the same reason that it works well to use the word “date” when you ask someone on a date: it makes your intentions crystal-clear, sets your flirtee’s anxieties and uncertainties at ease, and – when done well – makes you come across as a smooth, bold, fearless flirt.

“Is this a good time to flirt with you?”
“I’m really enjoying flirting with you; maybe we could do this more later?”
“Sorry, I get really flirty when I’m [tipsy/happy/super into someone].”
“Can I try out a ridiculous pick-up line on you?”
[cartoonishly over-the-top eyelash-batting, smouldering glances, etc.]

Acknowledge how you’re feeling. Flirting is so often portrayed as a performance, where you have to be an actor or a puppeteer – but it can be even more delicious to let your flirtee see what’s behind the curtain. You come across as more human and real when you cop to your emotional processes – and this also helps build rapport and trust, because your flirtee knows if you own up to your feelings, you’re likely to also tell the truth about other things later on.

“I get really nervous around you ’cause you’re so cute!”
“If I wasn’t so shy, I’d make a dirty joke about what you just said, but…”
“I really wanna flirt with you, but I’m not sure I’m getting that vibe from you, so I’ll back off.”
“If I wasn’t so [tired/anxious/busy], I’d be flirting so hard with you right now… Maybe next time?”
“Sorry if I seem unfocused; I just can’t stop thinking about how good-lookin’ you are!”

Propose a hypothetical. This is a low-pressure way to gauge your flirtee’s reaction to things you want to do or say, or just to you in general. You’re giving the other person space to turn you down if they want to – but also giving them space to respond positively if that’s how they’re feeling.

“What would you say if I told you you look super handsome in that suit?”
“What would you do if I said I wanted to kiss you right now?”
“I wouldn’t be mad if you gave me your phone number… In fact, I might even be thrilled!”
“If someone wanted to flirt with you but was really shy, what would be the best way for them to do that?”

Give them an opportunity to take things further. Consent is just as important in flirting as it is in sex, and you want to give your flirtee the same freedom to express or revoke consent that you’d give them if the two of you were bangin’. Much like the first-kiss technique advocated in the movie Hitch (“Go 90% of the way, then let her come to you“), this type of flirting clearly expresses your interest in the other person but leaves them room to decide how far they want to take things.

“There are a lot of saucy things I want to say to you right now, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate…”
“If I have another drink, I’ll probably get reeeal flirty with you… Think I should?”
“Let me know if you’d ever want to go out on a date sometime; I’d love that!”
“I bet you’re an excellent kisser. Maybe I’ll find out someday; who knows?”
“I have to go [talk to another friend/do something else], but come find me later if you want to be shamelessly flirted with some more!”

Here’s what’s important to keep in mind with all of these suggestions: flirting is very dependent on context, environment, and preexisting rapport. A lot of these lines won’t work if you just bust ’em out unprompted. But if you already have a good connection with someone, they seem potentially into you, and you want to express your interest in them without overwhelming them, some good meta-communicative flirting can be just the ticket!

Extra resources for flirting keeners:
• Reid Mihalko and Cathy Vartuli on being a better flirt, how to flirt when you’re shy, “the innuendo game,” and building rapport.
• Reid Mihalko talking about flirting on a swingers’ podcast.
• The School of Life on why, when, and how to flirt.
• Bex on being a flirting fetishist.
• Social anthropologist and “flirtologist” Jean Smith on the science of flirting.

Heads up: this post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own.