Article By Elizabeth Ayoola
~ JUNE 2022 ~
I don’t know about you, but during the incipient stages of my sex life, I was having lots of it.
That being said, I enjoyed very little of it. Some reasons included shame that stemmed from religious beliefs, stereotypes perpetuated by the patriarchy, sexual trauma, and an inability to advocate for myself in the bedroom. It took tons of self-work before I could get to this place where I enjoy sex and don’t feel guilty about receiving pleasure. I can finally say I am sexually liberated, beloved.
There are several ways to get to a point of sexual liberation. You could use a combination of strategies like I did. You could also explore the wondrous world of sex doulas.
What’s a Sex Doula Anyway?
While doulas are often associated with pregnancy and birthing, there are also sex doulas, too. They are coaches or guides who help you reconnect with your body and remove any blocks you’re experiencing.
Another way to put it is that they can help you achieve sexual awareness and a newfound freedom, according to Latoya Dixon Smith, a sex doula and owner of Greenville Boudoir. It’s a luxury boudoir studio located in Greenville, South Carolina.
If you’re feeling disconnected from your body or haven’t started having the type of sex you would like to and don’t know what to do, this could be a tangible solution.
How Sex Doulas Help
Sex doulas can help you learn to receive pleasure, build confidence and navigate sexual trauma, to name a few things. In a world where all three of these things can be a struggle for women, it’s important.
Andrea Richardson, a St. Louis-based pleasure and sex doula says many women she works with struggle to feel worthy of receiving pleasure.
“I’ve met Black women who judge their own sensual and sexual desires by denying, downplaying or ignoring their own needs,” she says. Why do women do this? Oftentimes it’s because they’re afraid their partner will judge their desires, so instead of communicating them, they focus on what their partner wants, according to Richardson.
In terms of confidence, doulas can help you build the confidence you need to make decisions that honor your authentic self and true desires. In case you’re wondering what the nexus between confidence building and sexual pleasure is, it’s self-advocacy.
“The need to advocate for oneself is necessary for both sex and for making decisions that affect your livelihood and wellbeing,” Smith says. “If one can learn to confidently communicate their needs and desires in the bedroom and feel safe doing so, they are more likely to do the same in the boardroom.”
If you’ve experienced any type of sexual trauma, be it verbal abuse, sexual harassment, rape, or anything else that has caused your body stress, sex doulas can guide you through healing that too. One in five Black women are survivors of rape and one in four Black girls will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18, so it’s a type of trauma that isn’t uncommon in our community.
Sex doulas use a range of techniques with their clients such as photography, talk therapy, burlesque, or activities that help you explore your childhood trauma and sexual beliefs.
Finding a Sex Doula
If a sex doula sounds like your jam, you can find one using the Black Doulas Association or via a hashtag search on social media. When choosing one, it’s essential to think about your needs and check if the doula you have in mind has the skills and experience to help your unique situation. You may also want to check their credentials and client reviews where possible.
DIY Alternatives to Sexual Liberation
What if you want to achieve sexual liberation but don’t think a sex doula is the route for you? An exercise you can try solo is asking yourself questions regarding your first sexual encounters, what your perception of sex is, and where you’re experiencing resistance. Smith says the goal should be to get to the root of your values and beliefs around sex and start to resolve any underlying issues you notice.
If you find body image is something getting in your way, Smith recommends mirror work. You can do this by standing in front of a mirror naked and affirming yourself.
“Get honest with some of the things that you don’t like about your body and ask yourself why, or ‘who told me this was undesirable?’ or ‘who told me I was this way?’” she says.
She also recommends fun exercises that help you feel yourself inside of your body like twerking, yoga, hip-hop cardio, and other somatic exercises.
Being intimate with yourself is a final tip to try. Figure out what pleasure means to you, which may require buying yourself some toys, exploring non-sexual forms of satisfaction, and being present during moments of pleasure.
Other ways to be intimate with yourself include learning your limits and allowing yourself to explore your body without judgment. When you can do these things with yourself, it may become easier to communicate your intimacy needs to a partner, especially as you’ll know what feels satisfying to you.
Using Online Resources
While doing self-work on your sexual liberation journey, there are online resources provided by educators you can utilize. Here are a few ideas provided by Richardson:
- Find sex-positive groups online
- Follow sex doulas, sex therapists, sexuality coaches, and pelvic floor therapists on social media by using hashtags
- Attend workshops or become a Patreon member of a sex educator
- Join sexual or sensuality-based Facebook groups like “Sexuality for Black Women”
- Listen to sex-based podcasts like Whoreible Decisions or The Sexually Liberated Woman
Richardson also has a podcast, According to a Badass Sex Doula, that you can tune into via Spotify. Black women deserve pleasure, so it’s important we do the work to ensure we’re receiving it in abundance.
In Richardson’s words, pleasure is our birthright as Black women.
“They are deserving of speaking about what satisfies them guilt-free and should be open to exploring what feels good physically, emotionally, solo and/or with their partner/s.”
A version of this article originally appeared here on essence.com