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146. Nerding Out On the Wheel of Consent with Dr. Betty Martin

Nicole: On today's episode, we have sex educator, Betty Martin. Join us for a conversation about exercising your personal power. Together, we talk about the depth of our programming around consent, tuning into your somatic experience, and playing outside of the romance fetish.

Hello, dear listener, and welcome back to Modern Anarchy. Happy Valentine's Day, the day of love, and so I am extending my love to all of you dear listeners that are tuning in for this special episode. Before we get into today's content, I wanna ask you a question. In your best dream of worlds, how would you like to be touched for three minutes?

What's the first thought that comes into your head? And If I asked you, how would you like to touch another person for three minutes, what thoughts come up to you there?

Today, Betty Martin and I talk about the Wheel of Consent and also the three minute game behind these questions. And all of us are going to be coming from different points with this, different starting points of what these questions bring up for us.

And so, I want to invite you to do a couple of things. If you have the time, I would love for you to go to the show links, check out the three minute game, check out the Wheel of Consent, to get some layout of the ground of the various concepts that Betty and I are going to be talking about today. And as you're going through the episode, ask yourself, if someone were to ask me this question, What does it bring up?

Where does my mind go? I certainly have done this when I have been editing and going back to this conversation and just thinking about the ways that, yeah, there's so much programming around consent that happens when we're so little, right? And Betty and I talk about that, the way that kids are forced to hug other family members that maybe they don't feel comfortable with, or, you know, within that Christian paradigm, the, Giving your body to your husband and even just the difficulty, you know, for me, even personally of the first time I said, can we pause during sex?

Cause it's painful. There was so much assumption of I'm needing to give my body. And so if I'm in pain, I'm still wanting to give to my partner and that, that, uh, It took years of unconditioning and therapy and safe relationships for me to feel comfortable enough to state mine now, right? And that's something I continue to unpack, right?

What does consent look like when you're playing with lots of different people. Maybe there's a yes to toys, but not to their body inside of you. Maybe there's a yes to oral, but not to penetration, right? There's so much nuance to this in ways that in the past I just felt like it was this all or nothing experience, and there was no space to have various forms of yes and no because I was meant to give my body

Uh, yeah, there's a lot around that for myself, and man, I continue to sit deeper and deeper and feel like there's an endless amount to reflect on in terms of the Wheel of Consent and what these different areas bring up for myself. And surely for you too, dear listener, so I hope today's episode can be a spark for deeper understanding of yourself and deeper connection to the people in your world, because as Betty and I talk about, this work is so powerful.

It is about our ability to exercise our personal power, which, sure, it's a microcosm here with sexuality and touch and eros, but it has such deep political implications for all that we are doing as pleasure activists and radicals out there in the world. So with that, I really hope that you enjoy today's episode.

And I am sending you all of my love on this special day. Now let's tune into today's episode.

Nicole: So then the first question I like to ask each guest is, how would you introduce yourself to the listeners?

Betty Martin: Well, my name's Betty Martin. I'm the developer of the Wheel of Consent. I'm a former sex worker, and before that, considerably before that, I was a chiropractor for 30 some years. Retired from that. Started doing sex coaching. And eventually set to work and the wheel of consent to grew out of those experiences of working with people and I loved my work all through.

I loved chiropractic and when I was done with it, I set it aside and. I started doing sex coaching and really loved it and started doing sex work. I really loved it. And then I didn't. And so I was fortunate enough to be able to, to stop seeing clients. And also the pandemic hit. So that slowed things down.

Sure. And these days I mostly, uh, train and support and mentor other practitioners. Lots of hands on practitioners and these days a fair number of Psychotherapists and counselors and coaches as well. Very cool. As the wheel gets out into the world I'm running along behind trying to catch up. Yeah, it's out It's out of the barn.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. Yeah. Very excited to have you in the space and to talk about that. I think before we get into it, I wanted to ask you, why are you passionate about this work?

Betty Martin: Um, oh, that's a really good question.

Nicole: You can dream as big as you want on that answer. Yeah.

Betty Martin: I think. I, I originally started talking about the Wheel of Consent and, you know, sharing it with other people because I thought, Oh, this is kind of cool, like there's two, these two axes and they cross and look, there's these four different quadrants and all of them are fun.

And all of them are challenging in different ways, like, Oh, this is kind of cool. So I started sharing it with people. And it took me some years to notice what I was really doing or how powerful the work actually is. It took me some years. It took me some years to notice that our ability to notice what we want and to ask for it.

And to hear a yes and to hear a no and to say a yes and to say a no and to set some boundaries and some, you know. It wasn't just about having more fun, although it is also that it's a fundamental human capacity to do those things. And when we learn not to do them, which we pretty much all do as kids, then we're kind of.

We're hobbled in a way like there's just things that we can't do and things that we can't see in the world and ways that we can't interact in the world and regaining those capacities to say yes and no to ask for what we want and that sort of thing. That's the foundation upon which our own human freedom and liberation is built.

If you can't say yes and you can't say no, you pretty much are stuck. I mean, there's nowhere to go from there. And so I began to see that these skills are fundamental to really everything. In human relationship, I define relationship in that context very broadly. It affects our political lives, it affects our community lives, our families, our romantic or intimate partnerships.

Yeah. Absolutely. It's foundation for everything. And our personal expression of our innate human power, the ability to affect change and the ability to have a choice about what happens to us. That's pretty fundamental. Huge. Huge. Yeah. Yeah. So it took me some years to recognize that that was all going on.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Yeah. Which I would love for you to flesh out because yeah. I feel like I'm understanding with you and seeing that, but I'm not sure everyone would. So I think we could spend a lot of time of even just fleshing that out of those larger political implications. The way power is present in all of our relationships and the way society frequently, you know, creates conditions where we have to disconnect from our bodily intuition.

So, yeah. Yeah. I'd love to hear more about fleshing that one out. Let's go for it.

Betty Martin: Well, the place to start is probably talking about the wheel of consent itself and where it comes from before we expound on it and expand it. Yeah.

Nicole: Let's go. Let's start there.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Okay. So in my mid forties, After a divorce, which has been almost 30 years ago now, oh my gosh, I took a workshop, I took a number of workshops and, and did a lot of exploring and it was a whole journey for me.

But at one of those workshops with the BDSM workshop, we played a game called the three minute game, and a lot of your people are probably already familiar with it but it's two people taking turns, asking each other, these two questions. How do you want me to touch you for three minutes? And how do you want to touch me for three minutes?

Well, I can think of some things that it would be fun for you to do for me, and they'd be fun for me to do to you, and, you know, it can lead to a lot of different places. The original game, I should be more clear, is what do you want to do to me for three minutes, and what do you want me to do to you for three minutes?

And that's also very fun, but it's a broader, you can tell it's, it's a broader, broader options. And because I was working with clients by then and I, I wasn't teaching power play dynamics. I was teaching touch. I narrowed the question to touch, but you can play it either way. Totally. That's a lot of fun. So I'm asking people, how do you want me to touch you for a few minutes, clients?

And I was really kind of surprised at the answers because people, you know, asking them what they want, and they would answer by telling me what they don't mind terribly much. Well, that's a very different question. But the hearing, asking what they wanted just didn't go into their cortex somehow, just like wasn't landing.

And they heard it as. What do you not mind? What, what would be not terrible? And that's, of course, a very different question and a lot of other similar answers and interactions. And I got to thinking about how do we get to this place? We're constantly trying to adapt to what the other person wants all the time.

We're trying to change Ourselves to like the thing that's happening and I see you nodding your head and you know in a room full of people everybody going. Yeah. Yeah, I've done that and I got to thinking about where'd we learn this this ability to go along with stuff that we don't want and to think that it's normal.

Like it's so normal that we can't even hear the question. When someone asks us what we want. Yeah. And I realized that as little people. Before we can walk or talk, we're all touched against our will in ways that we don't want and we don't like and we're powerless to stop. I mean, even in the very best of circumstances, you get your nappies change, you get picked up, you know, when you don't want to get picked up, you know, and or you may not get picked up when you do want to get picked up.

So we just learn from our earliest days that touch. Oh, that's this thing that happens to me. Whether I like it or not. It's just this thing that comes out of the blue and happens to me and I have to figure out how to deal with it somehow. And you might think, well, that's just for people with trauma, but no, that's everybody.

Even the very best of circumstances, you know, it was done with. Gentleness and respect and, and for many, many of us, it was horrible. So we're all on that spectrum somewhere of how bad it was or how gentle it was. So we all grow up learning that stuff happens that we don't like, and we can't prevent it.

And so if we're lucky, we have opportunities later to learn that, Oh, wait a minute. I do have a choice about this. Don't touch me there. But. A lot of us never really have that opportunity or it's never really, you know, landed and so then we grow up and someone asks us, how do you want me to touch you and we go into this well.

The touch is going to happen, so I guess I better be okay with it. So I don't know, I guess you could X, Y, Z if you really want to. That's not the question, but we can't, can't even hear the question. So that's where it comes from. And that's why it has such an effect on all of our lives, not just our intimate lives or, or our sexual lives, because it's such a fundamental somatic.

Awareness of walking through the world with not knowing that we have a choice and my experience is that when you when you learn something somatically, which means in the body, when you have a body experience of it, then it becomes real and changes your physiology and your responses. And, you know, now you have more options and how to respond.

And it really takes a somatic experience for the whole thing to click. Thinking about it is not going to do it. It's not going to do it. I mean, it's helpful, but it's not going to change anything fundamentally, right?

Nicole: You need that new experience, that new embodied experience to be that template moving forward to create new associations with touch and what's possible.

Right. And you can't do that in a therapy room.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Yeah. Well, some kinds of therapy, I will say, or some kinds of. Healing and supportive work. I'm not sure. It depends on how you define therapy, but yeah.

Nicole: Yeah, such an important piece and I'm thinking about, you know, even the young as young children, parents will come up and say, you have to go hug your family member, even when the child's very clearly doesn't want to do that.

So from that, like you said, from those young ages, we're constantly being pushed into these scenarios. And I mean, particularly with different identities, different cultural backgrounds. Mm hmm. You know, I grew up very conservative Christian. So the idea that my body would be given to my husband, because that was the only paradigm of existence.

Betty Martin: Right. Given to, isn't that an interesting phrase?

Nicole: Oh, yeah, it is. Yeah. How do you think that impacts all the people from the cultural paradigm? Right? Yeah. Yeah. Mm hmm. And so I could imagine even, you know, someone sitting down and being asked that question of, you know, how do you want to be touched? Just that, that freeze response of what, what, what do you, I get a choice.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Or, or not even, well, I, I don't know, I, no one's ever asked me that, or I don't know, I'm always the giver, or I don't know, you're the professional, you know what's best, or whatever. Well, you could such and such, oh my gosh. And, uh, it's everywhere. It's not just like, oh, these are people. These are clients who are kind of messed up.

No, this was everybody, including me. You know, because as you know, if you start working with clients and supporting people and you see things, you, then you have to recognize them in yourself, if you're honest. Oh yeah. Yeah. Yes. Oh, I have the same issue over in this part of my life.

Nicole: Yeah, totally got to clean out my basement.

Time to go to work. Yeah, I'd love to hear then, you know, if that's where you started, how did you start to step into knowing even what you liked, let alone before even being able to communicate that, like, how did you start that process?

Betty Martin: Um, that's a good question. I think. I think probably I was in, it was the series of workshops, uh, was with the Body Electric School.

Started out with women's workshops and then mixed gender and all gender workshops and over a number of years and continuing with a group of cohorts that we kept exploring together over time. I think that was a big part of it. Another part of it was, I started co counseling when my first daughter was an infant, which would have been in the early 80s.

And I learned to take turns giving and receiving listening attention. So when I'm talking, it's, in that context, when I'm talking, it's totally for me. It doesn't have to make sense to you. And you are giving me your attention. And that's all you need to give me. No advice, you know, just attention. And then we take turns and, and switch and now your turn to talk about whatever's on your mind, and my turn to give you attention.

And, you know, I've done that for 40 some years now, you know, and that makes it very clear who it's for. It's for me. And when it's for me, it's really for me. And when it's for you, it's really for you. And there's a very clear. Difference. So I think that was a factor. And then as far as touch and sex, these workshops were a huge factor because it was not about, you know, connecting with a partner and not wasn't like the modern day Tantra ish things where it's all about connecting with a partner.

It was all about tuning into your own experience and you're interacting in various ways and people are supporting you. But. It's about, okay, what's happening in me, what's happening in me with this touch that's happening. What's happening in me in this state of arousal or in this other state of arousal.

That was probably where it started. And, you know, I was in my mid forties, early fifties. Like, you know, I've, I've been around the block a few times before I even got there. Yep. Yeah.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. For the listener who's wondering, like, what do you mean tuning into your experience? What does that mean?

Betty Martin: That means, oh boy, it seems so self evident at this point, but it means, you know, a lot of times if there's touch or affection or any kind of intimacy or sex happening, it's easy to be tuned into your antenna is focused on the other person. I want to make them happy. And, you know, a certain amount that is natural because we're social beings.

But when that's not the case, and it's set up in kind of a structure so that it's not about the connection. Then tuning into you means placing your attention on your inner experience, which may be what are the sensations that are coming in my skin. What is my body doing with those sensations? Is it tingly here?

Is it, does it feel fuzzy and warm there? Does it send an electrical jolt there? Does it bring up tears? Am I, does it make me sad? Does it make me curious? Does it make me scared? You know, so attuning to yourself means turning your focus to your own inner experience. And that's hard. Yes, very often. It's hard because What the fuck?

We spend our whole lives trying to get away from that because it's uncomfortable in there because when we go in there, we find it now. Oh, my gosh, I'm afraid or I feel shit about myself or I feel, you know, really, really sad or really, really mad. So better just to shut that door and not go in there, which.

We're mostly pretty good at, we have lots of ways to keep that door shut. And one of those ways is to be over focused on other people. I'm not saying ignore other people and be selfish. I'm, I'm saying that there are times when, when it's really helpful and useful and interesting to bring your focus back to you and be willing to dip your toe into.

The feelings that come up because they'll come up,

Nicole: yeah, totally. Yeah. And I think that's, it's so important because so many people might not, you know, depending on what sort of experiences you've had, not even recognize that imbalance, right. In terms of the focus, you know, for, for me, one of the first times I had like a sexological bodywork session, right.

Yeah. To even realize like that, you know, it's a different container where you're receiving. And to have these feelings come up in my body of like, Oh, I need to like snuggle and give love back to this person and it was so automatic. And so I don't think I would have ever realized that until I had a container where it wasn't within some sort of partner dynamic to even realize those feelings coming up.

So it's hard to notice that balance. I think if you haven't had an experience like that, I think that's true.

Betty Martin: Right. I think that's probably true. Well, let's see, back when I started off on whatever ramble I started, um, I was going to, I was going to kind of define the, the wheel of consent. So going back to that, playing the three minute game, how do you want me to touch you for three minutes?

How do you want to touch me for three minutes? If you do that with a practice buddy or partner, you'll notice pretty quickly that there's, it creates four different turns. And for two of those turns you're doing. And for two of those turns, you're done too, because you're asking how you want me to be touched.

And in two of those, it's for you, because your partner's asked what you want. And in two of those, it's for the other person, because you've asked what they want. And those two factors overlap, they, they cross. It's like a, there's a vertical line and a horizontal line is how we draw it. So that in one rule, in one round, I'm doing what you want, and in another round, I'm doing what I want.

And in another round, you're doing what you want, and in the fourth round, you're doing what I want. So those four combinations create these quadrants, which you can get by drawing the lines, and you can link to the thing. And when I noticed that, I was just fascinated and delighted because I tend to think in flow charts and it's like, Oh, look at this.

This is cool. Yeah. And, and, um, and, you know, then I had to give names and start, you know, thinking about them. And I realized that that only works those quadrants are created because you make an agreement. It's will you? Yes, I will. Or may I? Yes, you may. That's how the agreements made. I played it with my clients a lot.

And that's really where it developed was mostly with clients, a few friends, but mostly clients. And as I had deeper experiences myself with my friends and, and play buddies, that's where I started to notice, oh, there's something deeper here. Like, when I go into this quadrant, yeah, it's cool and I'm, you know, you're rubbing my shoulders and it's really nice.

But when I really go in there and spend an hour there and get really vulnerable with what I'm asking for, something different happens. So, I noticed that each quadrant will take me and most, and other people, different places. And it will also challenge you in different ways, which is where it gets really interesting.

Yeah. And it liberates you in different ways. And I came to see that, oh, all of these four quadrants are foundational for all of our relationships. Which is not to say that all of your relationships happen in the four quadrants. Thank God, no, that's not the case. That's why I think it's a practice. But the existence of them underlies all kinds of relationships.

For most people, one or two are easy to find. A couple may be harder to find. And sometimes one or two of them may be really difficult to find. That's okay. That's just how it is. No problem there. But When one of them or two of them is, is kind of blocked off and not accessible at all, then that affects your life.

For example, the one that's most challenging for most people is what I call the taking quadrant, which is where you're doing what you want with the other person's permission. And of course you respect their boundaries, but you're doing what you want. That one is really hard for most people and it's, it's a huge aha when it clicks, it kind of falls into place and you go, Oh my God, I've been missing this.

Like, this is the most natural thing in the world. But, you know, it's been so hard and that, that can happen in any, any of the quadrants. And then. You know, if it's hard to take action for your own benefit, which is what that quadrant really is, taking action for your own benefit, well, you can't survive without taking action for your own benefit, but you can, and many of us do, get really good at this.

You can manipulate things so that it looks like everything you're doing is for everybody else, but it's not really honest. You know, or you try to get other people to do things that you don't want to do, or all kinds of, you know, bullshit that we create. And when you finally access that quadrant, then you, you are free to, to notice where it affects the rest of your life.

And where you can clean it up so that you're not manipulating and using people. So I seem to be on a rambling job.

Nicole: I know it's good. I love it. That's why you're here. Bring me this expertise. Yes, I was thinking about how, like, maybe, um, a common example that I end up doing frequently. And I think that a lot of people end up doing is, you know, you're in your group of people.

You're trying to figure out where to go to eat and you're like, How does pizza sound versus, I'm craving pizza. Can we get pizza? Like just that difference there. Yeah. Yeah. Like, how does this sound? But we clearly know that we want that, but to actually state it in that this is my desire. Can we make this happen?

It's radical for a lot of people.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Yeah, it is. It is. And, and, you know, in different situations, there's going to be times when you just want to say, I would really love some pizza. Can we go pizza? Other times where. Uh, it's not so important what we get. But we have to start somewhere. So, you know, our desires are sometimes very strong and sometimes they're just preferences and sometimes it doesn't matter very much.

And, you know,

Nicole: Yeah. I'd love to hear more context that on the four quadrants of some of the places that you've heard people kind of be stuck in in some ways and how you've helped them to expand and think about that differently and get to new places. I think a lot of people could benefit from maybe Hearing how you've helped other people in those spaces.

Betty Martin: That's a good question. Well, the quadrant that I started talking about a moment ago, the taking quadrant, first of all, taking is a problematic word because to a lot of people, it means stealing, but it's not that in the taking quadrant, you are receiving a gift. That's being given to you by the other person and that gift is access to their body.

Well, that's a genuine gift. Can I play with your hair? Sure. Or can I explore your back? Can I fondle your feet? Can I, you know, and so it's a genuine gift. And the taking quadrant that we're talking about is essentially feeling somebody up with their permission and within the limits that they have stated, yes, you can play with this, but only to hear, or you can play with this, but I'm going to keep my clothes on or yes, you can do that for 3 minutes and then we'll see, you know, so you are still respecting the limits that they have set.

It's essentially feeling somebody up and. Oh, my God, the stuff that the fear and the shame and the self doubt that comes along with that is just is sad. Yeah. What do people say? Yeah. Because it's that's what we're we're primates. That's what we want to do. So sometimes people will say. Uh, I've had people say, Oh my gosh, this is great.

I never knew I could do this, you know, and other people will say, this feels really weird or I feel guilt, even though I know they've given me permission, I feel guilty. A lot of people will, this, uh, sadness will come up and it doesn't really not about anything. It just bubbles up. For a lot of people it's hard to even find it like their hands and just can't quite find it and and that takes some practice.

So and other a lot of times people say, oh I just can't stop thinking about what it feels like for the other person. And instead of feeling up a person they're trying to give them a little massage. Which is not the same. No, it's not the focus. Yeah, it's not the same. So that's a lot of what will happen as people that that starts to kind of click and they start to explore that.

And what happens when that clicks for people over time as they come back to it over time. They often start to notice that they take more responsibility for what they want. They start admitting that there's something that they want, instead of trying to pretend that everything they do is for somebody else.

And they'll often be less timid about taking up space, um, both verbally in a group or just, you know, sitting on the subway, like they'll stop, you know, hiding in a corner and actually occupy a seat, you know, really simple stuff that you might not think is connected. But, but when you realize what that quadrant is actually about.

Which I said a moment ago is taking action for your own benefit, taking up your, your space in the world. Once that clicks into place, you start seeing, oh, this is, this is another place where I'm not occupying my space, or this is a space where I'm just assuming I can take up all the space and I haven't actually checked in with anybody.

So you, you might think that getting really good at the taking quadrant. Makes you really good at just reaching around and grabbing everything, but that's not the case. What actually happens is that you get very good at respecting other people's boundaries and limits. You know, there's, there's something that you want, and if you don't admit it, you have to kind of steal it in some way or manipulate somehow to get it.

But if you can actually admit that you want it and say, May I X, Y, Z, then you're free, then they can say yes, they can say no, they can say. Yes. I'll leave it here. That one is most often the most difficult for the most people.

Nicole: Um, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we're talking about consciousness in terms of advocating for what you want, listening to the other person because reality is in our culture, a lot of people don't have the consciousness to reflect on that and then do take in a way that does not talk about what you're.

Oh, absolutely. It's everywhere, right? And, and for me, you know, I asked you at the beginning, like, why you're passionate about this work. And for me, it's, it's so clear to me. And when we talk about sex, you know, what we're really talking about is connection and pleasure, connection and pleasure. And those are things that impact your whole life.

And so when we're talking about these dynamics where we're, it's hard for us to take in this way, then it's, So clear to me how this impacts your psychology and other areas of your life. And so I find this work to be so, so, so important in the world. And as you were talking about how it's hard to take touch in certain ways and the shame that comes up for that, I'm, I was just thinking about my research with kink and the ways that, you know, if we're talking about shame with taking touch in one way, let alone, you know, playing with kinks and other sorts of things that society, you know, might.

Look and glance at, you know, those are types with full consent, right? You get full consent and the person will still be like, I feel shame to engage in this, this kink that I know you want me to, you know, that, Ooh, I find that psychologically so fascinating.

Betty Martin: Yep. Absolutely. Yeah, we're so effectively programmed.

I mean, you know, we think we're so smart, but we're really programmed in so many ways. And, you know, I forget some famous psych guy was saying that we spend the first half of our lives. You know, trying to fit in and be acceptable. And then the second half of our lives trying to get over that

Nicole: Yeah, yeah, well, it's so hard and my Existential professor Dr. Dubose is always trying to get me to like see the existential realities that we always have choice Like he's like we always have choice. There's always choice every moment there's choice, but In many ways, I feel like that's not true when we live in a society where, you know, we're social creatures.

We need connection. Our psyche works, you know, with the ways that we've internalized our world and needing to stay connected to that. And it didn't feel like a choice. When I was in conservative Christianity to be queer because of the world that I had, you know what I mean? Like, yeah, it's just, there's so many ways that because of our society and how we have to exist within those paradigms that it, I feel like it restricts our choice.

Hence why we have this deep internalization of shame to play with these kink fantasies that, you know, I, I might be directly asking this person, please do this to me. And they're like, I can't, I feel bad to do it. And I'm like, I am asking you very clearly, please do this. And they're like, ah, yeah.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. The whole question of whether we have choice and how we have choice kind of depends on how you define choice, but. Yeah, I, I think most of us have more choice than we realize we do. And sometimes, unfortunately, the choice is between something bad and something terrible, you know, so yeah, yeah, it's tricky.

It's okay. So, so that's one quadrant, the taking quadrant. Another quadrant is the, what I call the accepting quadrant, which most people would think of as receiving. But. Taking is also a kind of receiving. So we needed a different word. So I call this quadrant accepting. And this quadrant means I have asked you to do something to me and you're, you're doing it for me.

So it's me being touched the way I want. So, I've asked you, will you scratch my back and you're scratching my back or will you kiss me on the forehead and you kiss me on the forehead or will you rub my feet and you're rubbing my feet. This one's also often difficult for people. Because you're putting your own desire first.

Well, shit, you know, most everybody's been conditioned to never do that, you know, and so, plus you have the vote, the, the feeling. A vulnerability that comes just with being touched in some way. And now, you know, your partner's giving you this lovely massage or maybe it's something sexual and now your pleasure is visible.

It's like out there to see. And if you're moaning or squirming or crying or, you know, now your pleasure is visible and that's scary for a lot of people and, you know, I think you're saying earlier, I'm on the table, I'm receiving this yummy back rub and then I think, oh, I have to give something back. Yeah.

And that's hard to resist because if I can give something back, then I won't feel guilty. Yeah. So this quadrant is also often difficult for people. And, and I'd recommend really the whole thing in general. I recommend that you start with just three minutes. It's really plenty to get it. Yeah. Yeah. And even smaller.

I mean, you know, I've had people start with 30 seconds. Because it's just so tender hearted. And similarly for this one, this is the quadrant of asking favors for people. Will you pick me up at the airport? Will you bring me a cup of tea? Will you babysit my dog? Will you take a walk with me? I want to talk about something.

Will you come take a walk with me? A life in which we can't ask for help is a very sad life to live. And it's interesting for some people. It's very easy to ask for help, but it's very difficult to ask for pleasure. Yeah. For some people, it's the other way around. Maybe it's easy to ask for pleasure, but really Scary as hell to ask for help, you know, so it's going to vary.

But some things that people will say in this one are, oh my gosh, I didn't know it feels so good, or again, I feel guilty, or I don't know how to receive, or I want to cry, or oh my god, thank you, it's about time. So that's that quadrant. The other, I'm sort of going around the circle here, the other quadrant is the Allowing quadrant, which goes with the taking quadrant.

So when you are in taking, you're taking action on my body for your pleasure, then I'm going to be in allow, which means I'm giving you the gift of my body within the limits that I'm setting. So, And that one, it's all over the map for people. For some people, it's really easy, like, oh man, this is a piece of cake, I don't have to do anything.

Yeah. You know, things are going to happen to me, it's great. Yeah. And other people, it's really terrifying, you know, so, what do you mean you're going to do stuff to me, ah, you know, so it, it can be kind of all over the map, but ultimately. as you learn that you have a choice about what happens to you. Right.

Then you can relax. If this one sounds scary, it's very likely that you haven't quite had the sense that you have a choice about it. And so that's what really crucial in this one. I can see that. And so with this one, some people will say, Oh my gosh, this is the best thing ever. I don't have to do anything.

It feels great. Some people say, well, this is kind of boring. It's not really what they're doing is not to my liking, but I don't mind. It's okay. And for some people it's really scary. Yeah.

Nicole: That feeling of the lack of agency.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Yeah. This is an example where if you don't know that you have agency, You don't know that you have a choice and you have to know it in your body, thinking about it.

Again, it's not going to do it. You need to have an experience in which you do actually have a choice. And then you learn how to exercise that choice, which again, you may have more choice than you realize you do, and you just don't know how to exercise the choice. So you learn how to exercise the choice and then you become confident that, Oh yeah, I have a choice here.

I can say stop at any moment. So no problem. And then the fourth quadrant is serve. This goes with the accepting quadrant. So in this quadrant, you have asked me to scratch your back and I'm agreeing to scratch your back. So I'm scratching your back. Most people are at least somewhat familiar with this.

Even if they're not very good at it, they at least know what the heck they're supposed to be doing. And the key to this one is. Noticing that you do have a limit to what you're willing to do. Of course you do. Like, of course you do. And that you learn how to speak that, you learn how to respect your own limits.

You learn how to find out what the other person really wants and support them in, um, speaking up to what they really want. So in this dynamic, you're doing what the other person wants. In the take aloud dynamic. The doer is doing what they want in the serve, except dynamic, the doer is doing what the other person wants.

So that's a little tour of the four quadrants.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. I'm just feeling how profound and needed it is for society, right? The world's where, I mean, Depending on who we talk to and what communities we're in. Right. There's people who don't obviously even think any consent conversations are needed. Right. Just the magic just unfolds and it just happens.

Betty Martin: Right. Yeah. That's right. Yeah. I don't want to spoil the mood.

Nicole: Yeah, and so I, I just can't even comprehend what it would be like to sit down with that person and to give them this and to actually start to impact the psychological implications for all the different things that are going on in the psyche when this is happening, because it's deep.

And as you're saying, you know, it's bringing up. Emotion and experiences in the body that, you know, maybe previously hadn't had space to be unpacked and how society impacts us in sexual dynamics and non sexual dynamics in impacts the ways that again, pleasure and connection.

Betty Martin: It's possible. Yeah. Yeah. Huge. Yeah. And you know, you and I could geek out all day about this stuff, but it really, what really changes. People's experience is actually playing with it, experimenting with it with a practice buddy so that you have a somatic experience of it. Like that is what changes. The geeking out. It's fun. It's fabulous.

I can go all day with it as you could too apparently, but yeah But really there's no substitute for the experience of it

Nicole: Yeah Hence why we need more workers to be able to do that right and more prevalence of that sort of work as an important part you know, I In the field of clinical psychology, I got into this field wanting to work, um, after volunteering as a sexual assault counselor in my local community.

I was like, wow, I really want to be a part of this, you know, healing journey and getting into the field of psychology. And there's, you know, trauma courses aren't. Required in all programs. So that's absurd. Yeah. For a psychologist. That's not a required APA course. Let's just name that. Let's just name that.

My school did have one.

Betty Martin: I would hope that that's changing now.

Nicole: You would hope we got, we got dinosaurs. It's a slow moving process, but we're working on it. Yeah. So, yeah, no, no, no, no. I got to learn the Rorschach instead, but that's okay. Other story, right? So, but then I get there and I'm like, cool, how do I help people?

Right. How do I do this? We get one, I get one mini course on trauma, no discussion of sexuality. Right. So all this research that I've been doing has been on the side of like, so you can just imagine now, like, yeah. Therapist providers without any sort of background on how to help this. We know that the prevalence of these occurrences and like we've talked about, it happens across your life in all different sorts of ways.

Right? And so, so then I get there and then like, even, even what I do get about like trauma narratives and supporting people in that way, you know, like. We don't get anything on the whole healing continuum, which is stepping back into pleasure. And so that is a whole piece of why I started this podcast and bringing on different people to talk about it because this education just isn't out there for the field, which is absurd.

Betty Martin: Yeah, that's nuts. Yeah, that's nuts.

Nicole: Totally. Hence why I'm glad you're here. Right. And hence why we need to talk about it. And I, the field is again, no, no class on somatics. I am, I'm currently doing psychedelic assisted psychotherapy training at sauna healing collective. And my mentor has a somatic experiencing certification.

So I hear a lot of more of that work. And so I've gone a little bit more of that and how to work with clients in that space. But it's like, yeah, how do you do this? Yeah. with sexual pieces, right? That's a whole part of the equation. And so I'm, it's what's needed, I believe, right? To get back to pleasure is having these corrective experiences in relationships.

Betty Martin: Because we're relational creatures. Which is not to say you have to have X kind of relationship or Y kind of relationship. Get over that.

Nicole: Oh, you want to talk about that? This is a fun space for that. Let's talk about that, Betty.

What has your journey been with that equation? You got divorced. You went through a journey, I'm sure.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. My, my journey was, Pretty white picket fence, hetero normative romance. I, I realized that I had a romance fetish.

Nicole: Yes. Let's name that.

Betty Martin: And I, I, I similarly to you, I got similar messages about my sexuality. I grew up in the 1950s. So this was a long time ago. Yeah. You know, girls were, nice girls were supposed to say no.

To everything, but also at the same time, make it really clear that they were desirable and and yeah, and at the same time say yes to everything. Because our job was to keep everybody happy. So what, uh, I mean, it's yeah, the whiplash, Jesus. Yeah. So then my turn on was all about romance and the, you know, he would sweep me off my feet and when the right man.

Came along, and we got married, then on the marriage bed, he would play me like a fine instrument. Like, now, how he was going to learn to do that is beyond. It was not at all clear in that equation. Yeah. Oh my god, it's ridiculous. And of course, you know, nobody can actually do that, hence a couple of divorces.

But yeah, and then learning gradually through my 30s and 40s. Mostly through peer counseling, also through some therapy that I actually get to be responsible for my own experience and my own desires and oh my God, that was not an easy journey either. Mm. Yeah. Cause it's nobody, who wants to take responsibility?

Fuck no. You know, just like give that to somebody else. Yeah. Blame somebody else. So much easier. Mhm. So much easier. Yeah. It just doesn't work as well.

Nicole: That's the problem. Right. Of course. Yeah. I'd be curious then, like, how did your relationship orientation shift as you started to step into that ownership over your pleasure?

Betty Martin: I started exploring and playing with a variety of people. Outside of the romance paradigm and partly that was kind of just for fun and partly it was in this more kind of contained exploration of with my cohorts from the workshops of, oh, wait a minute. What is Eros anyway? What happens in me when I have this experience or this other experience or what happens in me when I have four pairs of hands on my body massaging me and giving me pleasure?

What do I do with that? And where do I go inside with that? And what feelings come up? With that, I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to have this experience of exploring with a number of people because it gave me the opportunity to start noticing my own experience instead of tagging everything onto another person.

Yeah, I feel very fortunate in that way. Yeah, very powerful.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. I'm curious and if this resonates like the just like the concept of self, right? I feel like a lot of our society puts or at least I'll speak from my own experience, right? Is this idea that my my agency? is tied into this dyad and everything that happens, my pleasure, all this is in this dyad compared to stepping out to maybe have a, like, you know, a circle of connections all around me, right?

And like a circle, I'm at the center and I have. Multiple that reflect different parts of me that I can explore different aspects of myself. And in that process, you know, instead of like a straight line where you're at two points in a diet and the center is somewhere in between our two relations, our connection, it's like I become that circle center point.

And this is me and I am here. And these other relationships reflect me rather than my center being in these relationships. I mean, it's. It's still in them, right? That interconnectedness, but the center point becomes very different.

Betty Martin: I think, I think actually, even if you are in a traditional dyadic type of relationship or marriage, that sort of thing, you still have different relationships.

I mean, you have a relationship with your spouse, you have a relationship of a certain kind. With your physician you have a relationship of another specific kind with your bowling buddies You have another relationship of a specific kind with your church people, you know so you do in fact have different relationships and if you think that relationship only counts if it's a capital R and if it includes sex and intimacy Which are two different things, by the way.

If, if you think that that's the only kind of relationship that counts, then you're going to say, well, I only have one relationship. But when you realize that you do in fact have multiple relationships, it's just that most of them don't involve sex. Well, that's fine. Like, that's not a problem. Some people prefer monogamy.

Some people prefer polyamory. Some people prefer relationship anarchy. It's fine. I don't really care. I mean, there's room for everybody and, um, you get to choose.

Nicole: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And regardless of that, like you said, having that understanding that these are all relationships, I think. These are all relationships.

Betty Martin: Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I'm doing my dissertation on relationship anarchy. Um, and so it's been interesting to like, yeah, conceptualize that there are monogamous folks practicing relationship anarchy, right?

This awareness of the different ways that our society constructs a meaning and. All of that. And I love that you talk about the difference, just even naming the difference between intimacy and sex. Cause I remember being in one of my classes where another therapist was processing together in this like group about a couple's dynamic she had.

And we started talking about sex and she was like, yeah, their intimacy is like this. And I'm like, are you talking about intimacy or sex? And then she looked at me and said, what do you mean? And I was like, Oh my God, sex. Yeah. She's like their intimacy. And I, yeah. I know that's what I was like.

Betty Martin: Those are two different things.

Nicole: Um, I'm not going to name her name, but I'm just curious, but I think it reflects where the therapist is at. Right. Because maybe she feels uncomfortable even in our small processing circle to name the word sex. Right. So she's very likely. Yeah, exactly. All this stuff kind of blows my mind when I think about, and I've, Had podcast episodes in the past, like exploring the potential and likelihood that therapists are causing harm by their lack of awareness of sexuality and the way that that impacts their work.

But again, whole nother place. I've got a long career to work on these things.

Betty Martin: Yeah. You, you, you, you have a long career. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, and you know, the our whole culture is is a Puritan based culture and so of course Therapists are people like anybody else and they're going to be subject They have been subjected all their lives to this Puritan culture like everybody else and so there's going to be things that are kind of taboo to talk about and because If you're not comfortable talking about it, you're sure not going to teach a class on it.

So yeah, it's just reflective of everything else in the culture.

Nicole: It's scary when you think about the power dynamics of that, right, when you think about the power and the ways that if you say some sort of interest, you know, to a therapist and they look back and you presume that you have some sort of intimacy issues because you want to connect with multiple people, that power dynamic.

Huge problem. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And so I think that when we're having conversations like this and just connecting to more of our awareness of the different options and, you know, our responses and our bodies to it, I do think that it creates that larger societal change that you were talking about at the beginning.

And I'd be curious now, you know, that we've unpacked a little bit more of the wheel and the ways that it impacts our other areas of life. If you could speak to how you see this. You know, taking that moment to dream a little bit bigger into the future, like how you could see this work changing our world.

Betty Martin: Yeah, that's a great question. I'll go back to our first answer that I gave at the beginning, which was. About people becoming empowered, which means becoming aware of their own inherent human power and gaining the skills to learn to exercise that power is huge. This comes partly from the work of Cedar Barstow and right use of power.

She talks about personal power or as being that inherent. piece of being able to choose what happens to you and be able to choose and being able to having an influence on the actions of other people. And then talks about the power of role, which is a good example is the therapist has this role power as well as, you know, a lot of other people that because I'm in the role of teacher in this situation or because I'm in the role of therapist or because I'm in the role of the doctor or because I'm in the role of whatever, then my ability to influence is going to be greater.

So that's the type of power. And then of course, there's the status power that. Because I'm white and I'm not disabled and educated and, you know, I have access and there's going to be ways that I am able to be influential. So there's different levels and kinds of power and, you know, collective power, systemic power, the whole thing.

But at the base of it all, at the foundation of it all, is the personal power of Being able to influence others and have a choice about what happens to you when you don't have an experience of that in your body, which is going to vary by the person, depending on your upbringing and the social issues that have affected you and.

Lots of different factors. When you don't have the, the power or the skill to say no, you're stuck. And it shows up in personal relationships. It's also going to show up in your community, your work life, your family life, your, your political life. Yeah, it's taken me a long time to see that this work is fundamental to all of that because it's teaching you the skills.

To exercise your personal power. Yeah, which many of us don't even realize we have. But, learning that you have some power that you don't feel like you have, that doesn't make any sense. How are you going to do that? So, having a somatic experience in which you develop and learn to exercise your choices.

That's life changing. That's life changing.

Nicole: Yeah. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. In my clinical training, we had done one example that maybe you've, you've heard of where, you know, they gave us like a rope to draw out your space and say, this is my space. So first like claiming that and feeling into your body of like, what does it feel like to state this is my space?

And then we stood up and we had, um, we were just practicing as a therapist, had one of my colleagues stand from me. And then, uh, I would invite that therapist to step closer to me and like, okay, come closer. And then at every step they would take, I was asked to check in with my body of what it felt like.

Okay. Come closer. And then at some point they got close enough that it obviously, you know, hit certain things for me of this feels too close. You can stop. Yeah. Yeah. And again, I was asked to slow down and say, what are you feeling in your body when you feel that? Now, you can ask them to take a step back, take a step back, and then look at that embodied experience of noticing what it feels like to say, that's too close.

I have the power to have them move back. And then that internalization of that experience in the body.

Betty Martin: Yeah. Huge. Yeah. Huge, huge. Yeah. We do a very similar exercises in one of our trainings. Yeah. Yeah. And I want to say about personal power. I think it's the foundation of. Of our liberation, but I don't have any illusion that it's enough.

Oh, yeah. It's not enough. From it, we build our movements to change policy and, you know, change things in the wider world. And our ability to even think that we could change some policy somewhere is built on our knowing that we can choose. So, it's it's foundational, but that's not enough. There also needs to be larger policy and legal and social issues addressed.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. And I think part of this work too, is the fact that when you have these skills of awareness and your interactions with other people, you're able to build better collectives, right? Of intimacy and connection, because we have to work as a collective if we're going to change that, right? Yes. And then the other, right?

And then the other. The other piece of that I continue to reflect on, you know, is, is the more that you become embodied, the more that you feel the pains of the atrocities of the world for better or worse. I think that's true. And we need that, right? I just can't even, I think about how often we. We, you know, hear something on the news, these horrible pieces, and then we're just expected to go to work.

And what we're asked to do is shut down that body experience that we're having of grief and pain and all that stuff to go back into the system and in ways how that continues to disconnect us from our body from these real atrocities. And I think that the more you step into the pleasure and the sensation, it comes with the feeling of.

Fuck, you know what I mean?

Betty Martin: Yes, it does. Yeah. And also as we shut down the feelings of pain and self doubt and shame and all that, which of course we have to do to some degree to function and, you know, we get very good at it in lots of different ways. But when we shut that down, it also shuts down my capacity for pleasure and joy, which dang, you know, if you could just turn the dial to I'll take more of this and less of this, you know, that would, that'd be great.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But the light in the dark, there it is. Yeah, it's been really lovely to have you on the podcast. I have a couple of questions. I like to close with two as well. I, um, I've been playing around with this question and enjoying it with a lot of my guests. And I think, um, I want to ask if you could, you know, close your eyes and go back to that younger self who, you know, Didn't have this awareness of the body connection, didn't have the awareness of the different relational ways that you could exist in the world.

I'm curious what you would want to say to her.

Betty Martin: Well, it depends on what age I go back to. And generally, I mean, I'm, I'm drawn to my 20s. I would say, Oh, honey, it's going to be okay. Yeah, that's mostly what I would say. Yeah. Time. Yeah. And you're going to learn to trust yourself. That was a big part of my. Growing up in my 20s and 30s was learning to trust myself and it was huge.

Nicole: Yeah. Mm hmm. And I'll ask, you know, maybe a dumb follow up question. How did your pleasure change when she started to do that?

Betty Martin: Well there's no comparison. Yeah.

Nicole: That's why it's a dumb question. I'm like, I know what's behind that answer. Yeah, that's,

Betty Martin: that's a good question though, because. I don't think I really understood my, I mean, I had pleasurable times, of course I did.

But I don't think I really understood my pleasure until this, um, delving into Eros and, uh, within community and stuff that happened in my 40s and 50s. Yeah. Powerful.

Nicole: Powerful. Powerful. Yeah. And I, I hope that conversations like this, you know, having young listeners tuning in that are still in that space to be able to hear from your wisdom and grow from your experience.

I think such a powerful container for this. Yeah. Thank you.

Betty Martin: I hope it's useful.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Yeah. I do check in with every guest towards the end. You know, I have one last closing question that I can guide us towards, but I like to create space in case maybe there was something you wanted to say to the listeners that we didn't get to.

Otherwise I'll guide us towards that closing question.

Betty Martin: I don't think so.

Nicole: Okay. Yeah. Well then the closing question that I ask every guest is what is one thing that you wish people knew was more normal?

Betty Martin: Oh, having feelings come up when you're in pleasure or when you're receiving some kind of gift or the gift of touch or the gift of attention, that feelings are going to come up.

And it's not because something bad is happening, pretty much it's because all the times you wanted it in the past that you didn't have it. And now here it is, it's this wonderful thing that's right in front of you, and you have tears and you can't figure out why. Yeah. Feelings are going to come up, and as you can learn to be with them, then you'll discover that they don't kill you, and that they pass through you, and then they start to make sense.

Yeah. Also, it's perfectly normal and natural to need help with this. Which is what peer counseling is for, what body work is for, what therapy is for, the kinds of things.

Nicole: Absolutely. We grow in relationships together and, and to have conflicting feelings, right? To have like feelings at the same time and you're like, why are both here?

Betty Martin: Yeah. Totally. Yeah.

Nicole: Well, it was such a pleasure to have you on the podcast. Thank you for coming on today.

Betty Martin: Thank you. It's great to be here. I look forward to going now and listening to all those other ones. Oh, it's a trip.

Nicole: Oh, yeah. You should definitely listen to the Brita Love one. I'm, or I'm sure maybe you know about Brita Love.

I do know Brita Love. Yeah. Yeah. I know. Cause she had mentioned Your Wheel of Consent there when we got into that one. That was fun. Yeah. Um, but yeah, where would you want to plug for listeners to find you, connect with your work and everything that you're doing?

Betty Martin: The website that's most useful these days is School of Consent.

Myself and a bunch of other people are teaching this stuff. schoolofconsent. org and wheelofconsentbook. com. You can get a free chapter down there, free chapter to download there. You can also find me at bettymartin. org, but there's not much happening over there these days. It's mostly on School of Consent.

Nicole: Got it. Great. Yeah, I'll have that all linked below so listeners can go and find the links and connect with you directly. Yeah, right. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. If you enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast and head on over to modernanarchypodcast.

com to get resources and learn more about all the things we talked about on today's episode. I want to thank you for tuning in and I will see you all next week.


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