Guest Post with Kim Sedgwick.
Robyn: Welcome to the blog Kim! I’m so thrilled to have you here to share your expertise. Can you share with readers briefly how you came to be in the holistic sexuality business?
Kim: Growing up I was the “go-to” resource for my friends when they had a sex-related question. I was fortunate to have three older sisters (including Amy, who I now work with) who shared their stories and resources. I still have a well-worn copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves and I have fond memories of watching the Sunday Night Sex Show. Those positive experiences helped foster a sense of curiosity about sexuality, and eventually lead me to pursue a degree in Gender and Women’s Studies. Many of the books for my courses were available through the local sex shop, Venus Envy, in Halifax. I loved the concept of the business – combining feminist literature, menstrual products, and toys all in the same space. When I came back to Toronto after completing my degree I was talking to my sister who had just discovered the Justisse Method of Fertility Awareness. Her passion for natural birth control and reproductive health aligned beautifully with my own interests, so together we formed Red Tent Sisters in 2007. I’ve been working in the holistic sexuality field ever since.
Robyn: What are the biggest myths about female desire?
Kim: Unfortunately there are a number of myths. The one I hear most often is that women should be able to orgasm from vaginal penetration. We are given such limited representations of what sex looks like when it comes to the media. How often do you see a heterosexual couple have intercourse (usually in the missionary position) for less than five minutes and then they magically orgasm at exactly the same time? In reality, most women need some kind of clitoral stimulation in order to climax. In fact, research suggests that up to 70% of women have difficulty orgasming from intercourse alone.
I’d say the other big myth is that women should have “spontaneous” desire when in fact many experience “responsive” desire – meaning they get turned on in reaction to something arousing happening (their partner rubbing their shoulders, seeing an erotic image). This is huge because many women are being told they have “low libido” and are being prescribed medications when in fact there’s nothing wrong with their desire at all. Instead, there’s something wrong with our limited view of how we “should” experience desire.
Robyn: Low libido is a common complaint among women I work with and women with hormonal imbalances. How can women raise their libido naturally?
Kim: Great question. I don’t have to tell you or your community about the importance of nutrition! A clean diet will go a long way towards addressing hormonal imbalances that may be affecting libido. Stress also wreaks havoc on your sex life, so making sure you’ve got some self-care systems in place (meditation, exercise, journaling, etc.) is huge. Lastly, charting your menstrual cycle can help you to understand your natural ebbs and flows. It’s easier to embrace the “low” times in your cycle if you know it’s temporary. Rather than worrying that you’ve “lost your mojo” you’ll appreciate that it’s your body’s way of telling you to nurture other parts of yourself and/or your partnership.
Robyn: What is your #1 piece of advice for women trying to improve their sex life?
Kim: Let go of what you think your sex life should look like and invest in discovering what turns you on. I often find that women who are concerned about low libido are in fact not interested in sex because the kind of sex that’s on the menu isn’t really turning them on. It’s hard to be excited about something that’s not enjoyable! We live in a society that equates sex with intercourse, but there are LOTS of other ways to experience pleasure, both solo and with a partner. I love Ian Kerner’s idea of treating foreplay (manual stimulation, oral sex) as coreplay – the main event. If you’re looking for alternative scripts of what sex can look like, I suggest checking out some feminist erotica or instructional videos, like those by Erika Lust or Tristan Taormino. I also address these topics in my Confidence Building Secrets course.
Robyn: Sex can be a taboo subject, and sometimes causes guilt or shame in women. What are some of the things that hold women back from a happy, healthy sex life?
Kim: Despite living in a sex-saturated society, it’s rare to have honest, sex-positive conversations. As a result, I think a lot of women feel alone. That isolation can contribute to shame and fear, and holds so many people back from fully embracing the breadth of their desire. I really think that the key to a happier, healthier sex life is a willingness to be vulnerable – with our friends, our lovers, and ourselves. In the words of Brené Brown, “If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”” That’s why I’m so passionate about creating safe spaces for people to share their stories – whether it’s in a group workshop, online, or in more intimate settings. It’s powerful to declare “this is what I want” and have that received with compassion. I dream of a day when we can all experience that acceptance and love.
Robyn: Confidence is a huge part of sexuality (and general wellness!). How can women improve their confidence in the bedroom?
Kim: I always say it’s hard to feel confident doing something you’ve never been taught how to do and sadly we’re not taught how to be great lovers. My sex education certainly didn’t include lessons on how to perform oral sex, or the best positions to maximize clitoral stimulation. That’s why I’m passionate about helping folks to get the sex class they never had – one that focuses on pleasure. So I teach a course called Confidence Building Secrets for Pleasuring Him and the companion course, Confidence Building Secrets for Pleasuring Her. There are also a number of great books and other resources that provide practical techniques so my suggestion is to find a format that feels right for you. I think the key is viewing sex like any other skill in life – one that you get better at through education, practice, and a willingness to experiment.
Despite living in a sex-saturated society, Kim feels that candid, honest conversations about sexuality are far too rare. It’s her mission to help change that! Through workshops and one-on-one coaching, she supports women who are ready to begin claiming and communicating their erotic desires. Kim is a co-founder, along with her sister Amy, of Red Tent Sisters – a business dedicated to women’s reproductive and sexual health. Her work has been featured in every major Canadian media outlet, including The Globe & Mail, The Huffington Post, The Toronto Star and Maclean’s. She’s also appeared on CTV, Rogers TV and Cosmo TV. You can connect with Kim at redtentsisters.com.