Hi! I’m Dr. Sarah but really, please call me Sarah. And yes its true, I am definitely sexually awkward. First and foremost for the purposes of this introduction, I’m a human being, contrary to what my sisters might say. I even have tattoos to remind me:
(Pardon the stubble…unless that’s your fetish, then enjoy.)
Secondly, I’m fairly well edu-mucated on the topic of human sexuality, but I don’t consider myself a “sexpert.” I have a Ph.D in Sociology with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. I’m a Clinical Sexologist and have worked in the adult film industry – both in front of and behind the camera – for 7 years as ‘Kelsey Obsession.’
(The photographer, Rick Garcia, adds some kind of filter to smooth out the skin. I’m not this glow-y in real life, I promise.)
I’m the creator of a research project called Sexually Awkward, to launch on YouTube in the coming week. This project is designed to address the question: How can men and women in long term relationships have the kind of sex life where they can’t keep their hands off one another, no matter how long they’ve been together?
Most basically, I’m interested in the science and spirituality of (hetero)sexual connection. Why? Well as I said previously, I’m pretty sexually awkward myself and even with my experience and education, I’ve yet to find a single resource that has helped me understand and help with my own awkwardness! Since I took my first human sexuality course in 2005, my formal education has focused on the social sciences, but I’ve also learned a ton from my casual studies of anatomy & physiology, the nervous system and religion/spirituality – just to name a few. At this point, I think I have more questions than answers, and Sexually Awkward is where we can all learn together how to create the kind of sex lives we really want.
Several years ago I was doing an interview and mentioned how we all have awkward moments in our sex lives. Much to my surprise, the woman asking the questions responded, “But you’re so pretty and smart, how could you be awkward?” Well first, thank you thank you, my ego is flattered. Especially because these lovely images depict me in earlier phases of my life, when my awkwardness was perhaps more externally visible:
Most of my life, my self image, that is the way I see myself from the inside, has been something akin to Dawn Weiner from one of my all-time favorite movies, Welcome to the Dollhouse:
(I’m still in love with Brendan Sexton, BTW. Empire Records, HELLO! “STOP CALLING ME WARREN. MY NAME ISN’T FUCKING WARREN.”)
But second, I guess looks can be deceiving. I could hide behind my credentials, donning a metaphorical white lab coat (metaphorical because I’ve never done that kind of research), and run a powerpoint from behind the podium on how to do your sex life. But plenty of other people are already doing that, and while their work certainly has its place, its not that relatable. And who am I to tell you what to do, when I’m still figuring it out for myself?
So without further ado, here’s just a small list of the ways in which I am sexually awkward:
– I can only have orgasms lying flat on my stomach with my legs together. The 12 year old inside me kind of dies every time I tell someone this. (Sorry, younger me.) My husband is the first person I was able to have an orgasm with, because I couldn’t dare show anyone prior. I was 25 and had already been studying sexuality 2 years at that point.
– I tried making feminist porn, and being in the right place+right time afforded me an opportunity that had the potential for 6 figures. I failed (or as my therapist keeps saying, I have not [yet] succeeded). For reasons listed here and for others that inform this project, though you’ll hear more as time goes on.
– For several years I had a panic attack almost every time I tried to initiate sex with said husband. There is something extra humiliating about trying to be sexy while fighting tunnel vision, being unable to speak followed by an emotional explosion!
– As Kelsey Obsession, I spent 7 years displaying socially unacceptable kinks to everyone on the internet, the most popular of which included female flatulence. Now, and probably for the rest of my life, no matter what I post online – sexual or otherwise – someone always seems to crawl out of the woodwork to comment ‘fart.’ Sometimes its ‘fart for me,’ or ‘fart on my dick,’ or ‘I love your farts.’ But much of the time, that’s it, just ‘fart.’ Can’t make this shit up.
Like I said, Sexually Awkward is a research project – I definitely don’t have all the answers yet. I do, however, have a strong inkling that’s encapsulated in the tag line: Stop trying to be normal and start being yourself. Here’s the thing that fascinates me about sex: we cannot choose what we’re into or how we like it, not with our conscious minds. Many, many people (the younger me included) would love to change their body or sexuality with a snap of the fingers – to be more NORMAL. While some consider our sexual practices to be akin to ‘preferences’ or ‘tastes,’ I believe that what we want most in our sex lives can have deep parallels to our mental, emotional and spiritual struggles. Nothing will ever change by judging or shaming our sexualities, try as churches and states across the globe might. In fact, keeping it in the dark only seems to make those desires stronger. We can’t escape it. I believe our subconscious drives much of our sexual behaviors and fantasies, and when we welcome those parts of ourselves, and even more so when we share with another human – I believe that sex, whether it involves clowns or farts or plain old penis-in-vagina fun (so long as its consensual), has the power to heal. Being vulnerable is the only way to be real, to be seen, and to feel what we need to feel. And when we allow ourselves to really GO THERE, we have a hell of a lot of fun too.
Thanks and have an awkward day