top of page

160. Updating Freud On The Penis Envy Thing with Em

Nicole: Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast exploring sex, relationships, and liberation. I'm your host, Nicole. On today's

episode, we have queer sex educator and podcaster, Em. Join us for a conversation about healing from sexual trauma. To embodying empowerment. Together we talk about the mindfuck of doming cis men, the subversion of roleplay, and the lifelong exploration of our erotic narratives. Hello, dear listener, and welcome back to Modern Anarchy.

I am so delighted to have all of you pleasure activists from around the world tuning in for another episode each Wednesday. And hello to all of you who are new here. My name is Nicole. I am a sex and relationship psychotherapist with training in psychedelic integration therapy. This episode was so fun to make and to edit back for all of you dear listeners.

And. We do talk about M's journey from sexual trauma, and I know given the rates of trauma and rape culture and patriarchy, very few of us have gone through this world without experiencing some form of sexual harassment or violence. And so as you listen to today's episode, I do want to remind you to tune into your body, be conscious and notice how your body starts to react as you hear the story, right?

I am a psychotherapist and I've been doing this work for a while now and hearing lots of different stories and still even editing this episode, it brought me back to my own journey with trauma. Right? And it makes sense. We're going to continue to hear other people's stories, whether it's in this podcast space or out in your lived experience, and we're going to be shaped by those stories and impacted by those stories.

And so. Tune in to your body. Try to scan and notice if your chest becomes tight, if you feel something in your stomach. How can you take a couple of deep breaths to feel safe and secure again? And ultimately, this episode and story reminds me of everything that brought me into the field of psychology.

After my own experience of trauma, I started volunteering as a psychologist. sexual assault counselor, and that's what made me want to become a psychologist and brought me into this space. And part of what makes me excited about this work is the whole healing arc, right? We spend about the first 20, 25 minutes talking about the trauma.

So again, if you do want to skip past that, I invite you to forward to that. point of the podcast, but I also think there's a lot of beautiful context and pieces of the story that might help you feel seen and in community to realize that you're not the only person who has gone through these sorts of experiences.

But I'm excited to be in this space to talk about that full healing arc, right? The trauma, all the way to play and empowerment and we spend the rest of the episode really getting into that and the joys. I hope it inspires you, dear listener. I hope you feel that zest and energy for life to keep exploring and to keep playing.

I want all of you, dear listeners, to feel that level of empowerment. That level of play and that level of pleasure. All right, dear listener, if you are ready to liberate your pleasure, you can explore my offerings and resources at modernanarchypodcast. com, linked in the show notes below. And a big thank you to all of our Patreon supporters.

You are supporting the long term sustainability of the show, keeping the podcast free and accessible for all people. So thank you. And with that, dear listener, please know that I am sending you all of my love. And let's tune into today's episode. So then the first question I like to ask each guest is, how would you introduce yourself to the listeners?

Yeah, it's . Hi Fat Cat.

Em: My cat was literally on the desk five minutes ago, . Um, so I, yeah, I relate to that. Um, . Yeah, it's a good, it's a good question. So, uh, I go by m in this space I identify as a queer sex educator. I identify as explorative. Um, I identify as. a creative thinker and, um, someone who seeks self expression and different modes of that in every kind of aspect of my life.

And I think for me, that ties into, uh, my sexuality and the way that I can self express by myself in a sexual way and with partners. And so, um, I think that's really the lens with which I think through sex education. And from that standpoint, I've been the host of the sex essentialist podcast now, uh, for coming up on four years.

Um, and for me, that's a vehicle to. Speak with people like you and other folks in the sex ed and sex coaching and sexuality related spaces to continue that learning journey and explore for myself kind of through that.

Nicole: Yeah. Well, welcome to the space. Thank you for joining all of us. today. And it was a pleasure to be on your podcast as well and have you hold me there.

And I didn't have to do any of the work.

Em: Yes. Relatable.

Nicole: So now you can let go and trust that I will hold you in this space.

Em: It's been a while since I've recorded for someone else's show. I'm like off duty. I know. It feels good, doesn't it? Yeah, it's strange. I'm like, I can just drink my coffee and have a conversation.

Nicole: Yes, you can. I got you. I got you.

Yeah. Well. I appreciate you coming into the space. I know that, you know, today we'll be talking a little bit about your own personal journey with sexuality and play. And yeah, where do you want to start that story? I'd love for you to take the time and really take up the space to share with me and all of the listeners, you know, your journey to connecting with play.

Em: Yeah. It's a really good question. And I think, like most people, my journey started in adolescence. I, um, mentioned I identify as queer. That's the word I prefer to use. If pressed, I will use pansexual. Some folks really want like a specific label and to understand what sexuality looks like for others.

And I get that. So that's, that's the term I'll use if I have to, but generally just identify as queer. I grew up in Texas and had a very specific lens to sexuality that was driven by a society's influence as a result of that. But yeah, it did have super open and progressive parents. My mom was a swinger for a number of years.

Yeah. And that was something I didn't know about as much obviously when I was young, young, but when I got to where I was early adolescence, she was kind of open with me about, um, some of what that looked like for her. And frankly, even, even before I knew that about her, she was always really accessible. So she ensured that like, I had pretty well rounded sex ed and there were questions that I found didn't get answered by sex ed.

Obviously everyone struggles with that. I luckily was put in a, a program hosted by a nonprofit outside of my school. It's actually the program through which I educate youth now. And so that's clearly resonating with me because I circled back to it in my adulthood, but, you know, It answered a lot of the right questions, but there were still so many questions to be had around pleasure.

So I, you know, asked her a lot of those questions. You know, I said, you know, mom, I understand what an orgasm for a penis owner looks like. I understand like the purpose of ejaculation, but like, no one's really telling me what that looks like for a vulva owner. Like, what am I supposed to be expecting? Like, what's the goal here?

Quote unquote goal. And she did a really good job of unpacking what that looks like anatomically and also that like pleasure can take a lot of forms and that it's okay to kind of live in the question that's sort of a phrase with which she thinks about life is like living in the question and so that really drove me to explore and be open minded but I think like with anyone who grew up.

Particularly in the U. S. And particularly in certain states, there was, of course, some shame and some stuff that I've had to unpack from a sexuality standpoint. Sort of what my role, particularly as a cis woman, um, you know, what my perceived role was by some of my partners, particularly my cis male partners.

Um, so there was that, you know, a little bit of a, a content warning for folks tuning in. But when I was In high school, I was sexually assaulted by someone I knew and trusted. And honestly, that's really what took me on a journey of exploring, in particular, various kink communities and kink play. In part, I think of a search for a reclamation of autonomy and agency.

Does that mean that I ended up in a lot of unsafe situations as someone who hadn't initially educated themselves about what kink and safe kink exploration should look like? Absolutely. And I, there's a lot of trial and error to be had there, but that's sort of what led to, uh, my being part of the community and then a desire to educate people in hopes of harm reduction and, you know, having people understand what a safe explorative journey can look like.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for trusting me in the space to open up about that.

Em: Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. I appreciate that.

Em: And I'm in a place where it's really, it's not that it's easy to talk about, but like I did the work, right. And that's for anyone listening who has experienced something traumatic or violating, I always say like you do have to do the work and you obviously know in your firsthand experience career wise that there's a lot of work to be done.

And so I always feel like I talk about. Therapy or some form of self care, uh, like all the time of the show, because it's like you got to do the work. Um, it's hard, but it's important.

Nicole: Right. And I don't know if the work ends. Right. That's a true. You know, like, you feel like you've done it. And then there's like, somehow randomly something that comes up and you're like, Oh, it's still there.

But I feel like the space between how often that happens changes, right? Yes. What you were saying earlier to, you know, not just that experience in high school, but the ways that even gender roles or expectations and shame in the culture. I mean, we're talking about different types and levels of various traumas, right?

That societally we're always deconstructing. And so it's like, it's, it's still always here, you know? Yeah. Yeah. But a journey nonetheless. Yeah. I mean, I'm curious, you know, going back to the time in high school, I can only imagine, you know, starting a little bit there, how hard it was for you to have that with someone that you trusted a lot.

Take me back to that journey of what it meant to like reconnect to your body, reconnect to your trust at that point in your life.

Em: Yeah. And it took me a really long time to really even address it. Um, so at the time of the assault, I was in a relationship with someone else. I tried to be open with that person about what had happened and they were not responsive.

Um, which I, that inability to receive my situation, which again, I, I understand now in hindsight, like I was a child in a situation with another child basically. Um, and you know, that, that, Inhibited me from addressing it really with anyone else. So I didn't talk about it for a really long time. Yeah. In a classic college situation, I got drunk at a party and told my best friend.

So and she, she then later was like, Hey, you Not sure your call, but you did, in fact, you know, disclose this to me, and I didn't know how much it impacted me. I mean, I, you know, and I'd had other situations in my life that had posed difficulty. So I wasn't, I wasn't unfamiliar with mental illness and I wasn't unfamiliar with some of the symptoms of panic disorder and depression and some other stuff.

Right. But when I was kind of post sexual assault, there was There were a lot of things that came up as side effects of not processing that, that I had no idea where to place, right? So, like, I developed a really, really difficult relationship to my body, for example, and more so than I had before. Obviously, again, I'm a young millennial, so living in a world where like social media was really coming to fruition as I was going into college and like thinking about, and a little bit towards the end of my high school, I guess, but thinking about the impact that that had on body image and then thinking about the fact that for a while it felt really clear that my body didn't belong to me.

So I, I yeah, I faced a lot of difficulty around that, that I didn't realize was related, right? And so I thought I had some other stuff going on. I tried to unpack it, didn't have the right Mental health professional supporting me through that. And I kind of ditched therapy and started turning to experiences, I guess I would say around me to try to explore what rediscovering a bodily autonomy looks like.

And like I said, took some pretty unhealthy forms. I surrounded myself with people who were not super healthy for me. And I started exploring sexually in a way that. Was I'd say pretty unsafe just because I think my mentality around it was so much about having a negative view on my body and my role in this world.

And I didn't know where to put all of that emotion and energy, but I really didn't process in earnest my sexual assault until like seven years after. It's been several years since then, but it took me that long to actually go to a therapist and unpack some other stuff for sure, but say like, this is something I haven't addressed and I know it's impacting everything else.

And that's when I started putting the pieces together of like, oh shit, a lot of what I've been up to the last seven years is because of this.

Nicole: Mm. Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

Em: So it really took that time from the event to be able to go back into it. For sure. Yeah. And you know, some people do need that time, you know what I mean?

And it looks processing trauma. And again, you see this and I'm sure you see how varied it can be. It takes a lot of different forms. Um, and it can take a lot of different timelines.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. And so like ditching therapy to explore experimentally, you know, like what did, what did that look like?

Cause I mean, yeah, there's a lot where I think therapy can fail in terms of, you know, it's so much of the cognitive experience and the narrative of the processing, which is great, but there's the actual experiential pieces of it. Yeah. You know, learning there, I'd be curious. Yeah. What did that look like? I know you mentioned it was unsafe at the time.

Em: Yeah. So I, I entered into like a romantic dynamic with a person who I knew had, you know, when you're in college, like rumors get around, I entered into a relationship with someone I had been told had not been the kindest partner to other women. Someone who definitely had some untreated mental illness and some serious substance abuse problems.

Um, so those elements were things like. Drugs and alcohol, which I think can and should be used effectively. Um, and we've talked about this for, you know, your episode of my show, there are so many positive ways that certain drugs can be used therapeutically, um, whether in a medical setting or not. But this was like a self medication, um, that was not effective for me one and two, I think leading to some additional like non consensual situations.

I think I was putting myself in situations where I couldn't consent. Um, and I ended up exploring. Basically, a cuckolding dynamic with this person and any form of open relationship or ethical non monogamy can be super interesting and super validating for a lot of people. Obviously, we talked about that with, with your experiences on my show, um, and it can be so fulfilling and like far better for some folks than trying to, you know, fit themselves into a monogamous box.

Um, but again, I was in a relationship with someone who was not Healthy for me. And so I basically was coerced into a cuckold dynamic. And I ended up having zero agency over what that looked like. And so, whereas normally when you think about a cuck dynamic, you've got like that quote unquote hot wife who is, you know, Through things like joint experiences or separate non monogamous experiences and like subsequent degradation, humiliation, like there's usually some control given to the hot wife as to what this looks like.

And the cock is from a submissive standpoint, like consenting to it. And they've negotiated what that degradation or humiliation, if those are elements of it can look like. And usually again, though, the hot wife has some agency and it turned out that I was really kind of being told when I could and couldn't.

Like leave the house or see other people and my other partners. Got to a point where I was really manipulated in situations where the person that I believed myself to be in love with at the time was using me for, you know, a dynamic that I hadn't really consented to. And I was clinging to the validation and affirmation that I could get through the use of my body with other people.

So I was ending up to, and again, like a lot of, a lot of my partners in that non monogamous dynamic were actually really nice. And eventually we're like, Hey, I feel like maybe the dynamic you have with your partner. But yeah, I put myself in a lot of situations where I was engaging in sexual encounters with people, like, out of spite.

Or because it was, like, the only method of affection I felt like I was getting from anyone. Or it was sort of, like, the mentality was like, well, this is what I'm good for. So. Let me just use my body because that's all I've got.

That should never be the mentality, right? Like, you know, if you want to be degraded power to you, if you want to feel objectified in a consensual situation, then like, fuck yeah, go for it.

You want to map a scene with some of those elements in play. Like I love and empower those situations. But for me, my mentality was anything but that. And so. I had to rebuild my relationship with kink as well after all of that, because so much of it was, I have to do this because it's all I have going for me.

And it's the only way that anyone's acting like I'm worth anything, which is just like heavy topic for everyone on this episode. Sorry, but it's, um, yeah, you're in the right space. Yeah, fair enough. Um, yeah. But yeah, like, my mentality was broken, right? And it, I had, still was not connecting the dots that this was tied to my insubstantial assault.


And I also, it was around the time that I moved to Chicago, so I was isolated from my, the support system who had been aware of, of what had happened to me. But, Yeah. I mean, I made some unhealthy choices and picked some unhealthy people. And part of that was like with purpose as well, which is not good.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, the reality is you were doing your best at the time, right? Weren't we all, right? Weren't we all? We were just, you know, like. Shit. Like this is how I get love. This is how I get validation. I think that maps onto a lot of my own personal journey of like going through an assault and then like feeling like this was the one way I could secure this partner was to keep going back.

And so I think there's so much compassion to have when we look back on these younger parts of our cell or these younger aspects of our history. And yeah. I think it's sometimes wild to hold the, like, lack of consciousness we had at that time and what we were doing, right? And then that being the big shift between what you're talking about of, like, playing with kink in a conscious way of, like, Oh, I actively want to be degraded for fun rather than this is the only way I can seek your love is by being degraded, right?

Like, there's a radical shift. And I mean, a lot of, you know, what I think about in terms of the psychedelic work and drugs in general is like, you know, what's the relationship like kink is its own form of a drug, right? Like, yeah, that adrenaline, you get that high. It's not like the drug is bad. It's like, what's your relationship to it?

If you know, the only way that you can feel happy at a party is through a drug, Yeah. Maybe we have an interesting relationship to explore. You know what I mean? So it's totally, it's not the thing itself as much as it is our relationships to it. Right. Or even like the set and setting of the psychedelic of non monogamy, right?

Like, yeah, totally. If you're set and setting is not a great, you know, a space that the partner is there, then you're going to have a whole. Horrible trip, you know, you'll learn a lot in that bad trip, but like, whoa, you know, so yeah, it's just so hard. I think when we think about those like past versions of ourselves and as you were talking, like, I just felt this like strong desire to like, give you a hug at that younger point, you know what I mean?

I'm just like, Oh baby,

Em: you know, I know truly a baby. And I, and that was part of, of the resentment I had around it as well. And, and I don't know, I don't know how old you were at the instance of. Your assault. But like for me, even, even though I was 17 and you know, I, I had been sexually active and I, to an extent, obviously not quite as much as I have since then.

Um, sure. Yeah. Um, but I felt like my childhood had been robbed. Like, you know what I mean? Like as an adult, when I started thinking about this, like, fuck, like I wasted, it felt like I'd wasted years holding on to this. When I could have been having fun, right? I mean, like when I could have been learning or having that learning mindset that I have now as opposed to the like punishing mindset.

Nicole: Yeah.

Em: And like, I'm, I'm so grateful still for the, the lived experience because I think every decision I made after that. Led me to where I am now and having this really healthy relationship that I do with, with kink and, um, not that we don't have, I'll have our bad days, but generally speaking with my body, um, and like my body's capability for pleasure, but it made me so angry for so long.

Um, and that was part of what I had to unpack as well. It's just like the residual frustration about what I could have had instead, even though You know, I have everything that I could possibly want now. So it's like, there's a lot to, yeah, a lot to deal with. And I think there are some parts of it that I am glad I experienced.

Again, I think learning and making those mistakes, like you said, like you can have a bad trip and like it, that sucks. There are learnings from it. Yeah, there are silver lining. Um, and I feel like that's maybe what, what I unpacked. But I also think like, I had a lot of like, Questions for myself when I finally got out of the, the situation I was in and that those dynamics and, um, and I did stay friends with some of my partners outside of my sort of primary partner, um, after that.

And, you know, those relationships I think were healed and I think that helped, but a lot of it is I had been put by society and my trauma and my partner since like trauma into this like very traditionally submissive box. You know what I mean? It was like, uh, You, you have to be a submissive. Um, basically, which then was like questioned during the cuckolding dynamic, where it was like, well, am I submissive or am I the dom here?

And I struggled with what the dynamics were in relationship to like how I was being perceived or treated. But, um, And post all of that, like, I'm 100 percent a switch.

Like, I, it's like, I will very happily take full control and, and Dom a partner, but I also still have learned and healed my relationship with being submissive and relinquishing control.

And that was, that was difficult, but I never even thought that I could be outside of the submissive box because like, as a cis woman growing up in the South in particular, it was like, There is a patriarch, um, and everything I do is sort of to please the patriarch, um, or be part of that, that patriarchal structure.

Nicole: Yeah.

Em: So that was cool. And it like a shift for me that I discovered in adulthood.

Nicole: I'm excited to talk about this.

Em: Yeah. Yeah.

Nicole: Uh. Yeah. Yeah. Yes, particularly within an American context, right? We're based on puritanical values, Christianity, the woman submits to the authority of the man that is deeply interlaced within the history of this country and our culture.

And so I think that sort of messaging is all around us. It's hard for me to think of even like, you know, a movie of a strong, powerful woman who has her sexual agency and control, you know, like we just don't see enough of those narratives when we know that we're. Social beings and we look to other narratives of how to live our life and we're lacking this again.

It goes back to those roots So especially growing up in texas right growing up in a christian society the idea of being dominant You know was never a possibility Yeah, so What I find interesting is how our sense of self is, you know, we're, we're always looking internally, like, who am I, whom, who am I?

And it's like, psychology always talks about how, you know, our sense of self is created by all of our relationships, right? Including our relationships to society, nature, et cetera, et cetera. So it's like, when we're asking ourselves like, who am I? Oh, I'm a, I'm a sub. And it's like, well, yeah, I mean, your whole world has painted that mirror.

This is how people view you, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. When you start to shift those relationships, you become, you know, connected to other empowered women, you start to have conversations, you start to go, Oh, wait, there's another world that's possible. And then you step into this other side of yourself, right?

This dawn, this powerful self. And it's kind of interesting. I think that like psychological search for identity. And the ways that that shifts as you grow into your empowerment. Mm hmm. Yes. Same here, right? Where it was like easier first to step into a dom, or a sub role. Yeah. Much harder to switch into a dom role.

And it's like, what does that say about our psyche? Yes. In ways that I don't want to shame people who are in one or the other, but it's really interesting to think about how, like, in our own journeys, the actual psychological development of, like, outside areas of our life directly impacted that role, you know, and it's like, Oh my God, talk about that.

Em: Well, the first time I started exploring. Being more dominant was with women, right? Exactly. Yes. Right. And so I was like, Oh, I was like, wait, pillow princess, if there's a dick present, but like, like what's going on here. And that's when it was like, okay, so what's my perception of others as women. Right.

Because it's like, okay, well I see them in the role that they've been prescribed, but I'm also defying the role that I've been prescribed. Like, let's, let's explore and unpack that. And so. And then what was really, really empowering to me again, you know, one, because I enjoyed the sexual experience, but also because of what I was unpacking from a societal standpoint was the first time that I was dominant over a cis man, right?

Yeah. And I was like, Damn, this is wild, like having a mind blowing experience right now because it's one thing to feel like you have control over a situation and it's another thing to feel dominant in a situation, right? Or to take on a role of authoritarianism, um, something that we live within a construct of, um, so much of the time.

Yeah, I mean, it opened doors for me and also challenged me. There were times where I talked to my cis male partner and I was like, what's going on here? Like, is this weird? And again, I'm so open minded and like, there's nothing that anyone could ever tell me that they've done in bed and me be like, that's strange.

I might be like, oh, that's a different flavor than what I've experienced, but like, I want to hear more about it. Like, I just come from, as long as everyone is safe and consenting, I'm for it, right? Right. As long as there's safety measures in place, regardless of what it is. Like, I'm, I'm pretty open minded.

But I was like, is this exploration, is this breaking of gender roles a problem? Or does it mean, like, I need to explore, like, my gender identity? Like, does it have to be something that, like, challenges my identity? And I unpacked that, no, it doesn't. But I'm allowed to take on different roles that don't prescribe to what I've been raised into.

I mean, it was like, um, it was a mindfuck. It really was. Oh, totally. And it took some time and you know, I have a very cool as a cucumber partner. So he was like. Nah, like, we're exploring, and we're having fun, and like, we're communicating about it, and it doesn't have to be, like, an identity crisis, he didn't say it that way, but, you know, he was like, you don't have to panic, like, if you don't like something, you don't like it, if you like it.

Let's explore it. And I was like, yeah, that's fair enough. Like that, that can be it. I don't have to add the like cherry on top of, Oh fuck. What are the implications of this from like a societal standpoint?

Nicole: Totally. Totally. I mean, there's so much packed up in there, right? Like the second that I'm start, I'm like, Ooh, like I really want to do this or that with someone.

People have come back to me and say like, Oh, you sound like a man. And I'm like, yeah. What? Let's unpack that. Yeah, because I have ownership over my sexuality and I'm like, erotically charged and I want to do things like that's interesting, right? And then the first time that you start to wear a strap on, right?

You know, does this make me a man? And like, to me, no, I am a woman, right? Like, and it doesn't have to have that, you know, like, I think that. Again, because there's not this larger, where, where do I see an example of this? Where do I see an example of someone like swinging a dildo and being like, I'm totally a woman up in my power.

Right? Like, like I just don't have models of that. Right. So then you just go down this like deep spiral of what does all of this mean? And it doesn't. You're right. It doesn't have to mean anything. It can obviously mean everything to someone, but it doesn't have to, right? And so that ability to play, I mean, it is quite a, I think it's a psychedelic experience as we shatter truly the gender roles about what it means to be a woman and to be in power, to be dominant, to lead in ways that society has previously said were quote unquote, Masculine traits.

Em: Yeah. Yeah. And I think the roles of masculinity and femininity in, I mean, in everything are absolutely fascinating. I have such a frustration with the, not, not, I mean, the, the notions of masculinity and femininity are built into our society. I think that without, and you and I have talked about this a little bit, without a complete upheaval of those concepts, right, we have to run with them for what they are.

For me, if I want to play a stereotypically masculine role in a given situation, that I have the right to do so, and I have the right to take empowerment from that because I do live in a world where masculinity is treated as the role of empowerment or the role of strength, right? And so, you mentioned strap ons, like, yes.

I like to wear a strap on because having a dick gives me a sense of power because I live in a society where penis ownership is associated in so many contexts, not every context, but in so many with authority, right? That doesn't mean I want an actual penis. Quite happy having a vulva. I think it's pretty cool, but there is something to that.

Like, yes, I like a toy itself, but also maybe I like having a penis because of the implications of That society tells me it has right from an empowerment standpoint, but it's not easy to just jump to that conclusion, right? Sometimes like, fuck, like, do I like having a penis because I want to be packing all the time?

No, I just want to wear a strap on and play. And I don't want to do it every time, but. I like it when it's there, you know?

Nicole: Right.

Em: Yeah.

Nicole: Yeah. As you were speaking, I could like hear Freud being like the penis, envy, . I'm just like, yeah, Freud. I don't know. It's nice to just put it on and take it off when I want to, you know,

Em: Yeah. Like I, I'm good not having one all the time. I mean that one all the time. Yeah. But there is, there's something to that, like the, the weird. Claim I feel like, like I can imagine it's like the Stanford prison experiment. Like you're put in a situation of authority. Right. And totally take on those traits.

I feel like if I, if I wore a strap on enough, I'd be like, I'd be an asshole. Right. Because I did take on traits.

 It's hilarious. Yeah, exactly. I mean, yeah, I mean, there's just so many ways to play with it. I think, you know, like what we're saying is like, can, can we like enjoy these aspects for the play that they are and the role play, right?

Nicole: Exactly. Like it's hilarious to, in my opinion, like I was joking on another episode, how like, I feel like I've gone off such the, the, I don't want to say deep end, but the fun end of all of the types of, um, beings in play of like dumb and et cetera, where like being like a trad wife has been a hilarious role play of like, I don't think it's messed up, you know, they're all different roles to play.

And I love to play the like housewife that, you know, whatever.

Em: Um, no, but it's a rec. It's a, it's a, it's a subversion. Of that facet of our society, which I fucking love.

Nicole: Right? Like, it's hilarious to play in that. When you're, when you play so much in the Dom and the Powerful and the, you know, it's like, okay, I gotta go back to the other.

I'm like, oh no, you know? Um, and I think the same thing is possible with like, like, oh yeah, playing like a man. Like, I want to be the quote unquote man of society. These are all different You know, like psychoanalytic theory would always say like archetypes, right? Yes. The archetype of the mother, the blah, blah, blah.

So it's like, these are all different roles that we can play into and many of us play every day. Yeah. Without awareness of, right? Totally. But you can get this level of awareness to it and then like, oh, okay, cool. Like, which, you know, part of myself, do I wanna tap into what role do I wanna play out here?

And then like, I don't know about you, but like half the time I'm giggling in between orgasms. Yes. You know what I mean?

Em: Yeah. And I also feel like if you're not laughing at some point during sex, like, what are you up to? But like, sex is so weird and, um, messy and silly and like all the best way it's like, I think it should be, but no, I'm obsessed with that.

But like the idea of playing like really traditional just because like it is a subversion, like why not reclaim the role that we've been prescribed to?

Nicole: Yeah, it's funny. But then I start to go so deep with it. Like, it's like, um. I'm playing with one of my partners. Who's a man. And I'm just like, you never help out with the kids. Like all you do is watch sports and I feel so unsupported. It immediately just evolves, you know?

Em: No, I love it. I, um, I have the, I'm a, I'm a pretty big nerd, um, in terms of like, D& D and cosplay and LARPing, yeah, I'm part of the nerd communities. I think that's a fun way to incorporate, obviously, if you have a fantasy mindset in general, it's easier to integrate some of those, I think, into the bedroom without it being, like, kooky.

Like, I have, like, every time I come home from A comic con. It's like, are we going to fucking cosplay? Yeah. Why not?

But I, um, a lot of my social media algorithm around that are, you know, there's like a massive overlap on Instagram between those communities and like the book talk community, um, or books to Graham community. So I see a lot of what I perceive on social media as being like pretty traditional heteronormative relationships.

And it's always really funny to me. I watch these reviews of like women giving their. Partners or husbands, like one of their like fantasy smut books. And the men like read and react and the men are like, you like this? Like, this is so weird. And to me it's like, you know, PG 13, maybe R rated, but just like compared to the stuff that you see in kink and fetish communities and I laugh about it.

And I'm like, but there's also something like innocent about that dynamic that is. Interesting to explore from a sexual standpoint. Like, anyway, I, not that I'm getting off to people on bookstagram talking about fairy books, but it poses the question to me a lot about, is there something to be said about playing into that, like, quote, unquote, innocence and pence.

Role playing the open mindedness that can come from having your first kangaroo fetish experience, like for the first time and like role playing that not a stereotypical dominance of relationship, but like more of the virgin role. When you said the mother, that's what I was thinking of. And to me, yeah, maybe, maybe it comes from a position of having been in a sexual trauma situation, but there's something to me about the innocence before all that happened that I'm like, that's kind of a fun play.

Nicole: Yeah.

Em: But I don't know. I just go there. Yeah. Yeah. The internet is such a weird place to take reference from, but I do, I look at people's dynamics on the internet. I'm like, God, that's interesting. What would that be like?

Nicole: For sure. For sure. I think coming from purity culture, it's such a fun place to split, to play with.

You know, I should talk about like, again, when we're talking about healing from trauma, we know that we've healed from trauma when we're able to play with these things and have fun with them. Right. So yeah, it was a lot of fun for me and being like, Oh, I've never done this before. Before. Oh, no. Yeah, . I've never, I've never, oh God.

You know, so I think there's a lot of play in that, which is such, um, a, a great space. But so much of this, like you said, is like culture. I feel like the deeper you get into like kinky queer, open relating culture, you kind of like look back at the things that like, other people are like, oh my God. And you've just realized how deeply you've gotten into the culture that those things feel like PG 13, what, you know what I mean?

Yeah. I think, like, even, like, when I'm thinking about, like, dating partners, like, part of this game is, like, assessing where someone's at culturally with sexuality, because, you know, they may be in their 40s, but culturally, depending on maybe where they came from, they may have such a lack of experience around that, that, like, you do have to treat that like a new person.

A new little baby coming up into this world, truly, like I can't drop my craziest scene on you without being like, Oh, this is going to make you go into a wild head space.

Em: Yeah, this might break your brain. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. No, it's, I went to a wedding a couple of months ago. My, my best friend got married and there were other people at the wedding who like.

I had heard of, but hadn't met, so I spent a lot of time getting to know new people. But in a pretty intimate context, and one of the other people kind of in the wedding was like, I love being in, like, kinky spaces. Like very much was like, Yeah, I'm in a bunch of kinky spaces in my in my city, um, and she lives across the country.

And then I was like, yeah, well, I Do this podcast and I teach sex ed. So like, I'm, I'm kind of aware of what that might look like. And, um, she's like, Oh, are you kinky? Like, that was the question, which is so funny to you. Cause I don't know if anyone's ever been like, are you like, so are you kinky? And I, I mean, it was like, well, yeah.

But then after my partner was like, yeah, I guess so. And I was like, well, the shit we do is definitely considered bounds of pink. But it's part of that I think is his mentality. Right. To your point, like. The culture with which he entered our sexual relationship or the history of his own sexual experiences for him, what is deemed as, I don't want to use the word normal, but when I say it is like when I, when, when we do what is deemed outside of like the stereotypical, um, mainstream sex act, the mentality is We're exploring.

Yeah. Bodies are, are used for pleasure and we're expanding upon what that looks like compared to some of what we were fed growing up, right? And, but yeah, like if someone asks, yeah, those are things, the things that we do are considered within the realms of kink and or fetish, but it was like a funny, it was a funny conversation for him and I to have because We just don't talk about it like that.

Our own dynamic. Right.

Nicole: Exactly. Yeah. It's culturally laden. Right. And like, yeah, if the idea of kink is like the not quote unquote non normative and you ask, okay, what's the normative. And then like that shifts for people, you know what I mean? Like some people like a threesome is just there every day, Tuesday.

Like who, who cares? Like I do this all the time with three, four, five. Like, what are you talking about? How many, you know, some other, you know, Like people where that is like truly mind blowing. And so the reference point of whatever normal is then creates the opposite of AKA cake, right? So then it's like, ah, you know, but what's wild to me though, is if we go back to like the concepts of patriarchy and power and control first off, when I hear Christians say, I need to submit to the authority of my husband.

Everything goes through my head about that. I'm like, Whoa, what about, wow, that's a power dynamic that you're choosing maybe. Um, I don't know. And once you go down that rabbit hole of can you choose based on your societal context, I think it means all of us can't choose, you know what I mean? Like truly, we're always in our society.

So can I ever freely choose? Big question. Interesting. But like, The ways that so many of us are playing with power through gender roles of the man comes in and is controlling the scene and, you know, I'm just swept off my feet as the woman, like that is power play. You know what I mean? And so like getting people to see that I think is a part of this discussion.

Em: I think everything is power play. And like maybe, maybe, maybe from my perspective, I'm undermining, I mean, there are definitely situations you can craft scenes you can build with a partner that are distinctly, this is a power play scene. Um, but I also just think the infrastructure of our day to day life is grounded in power play from a work standpoint, from When I take the bus, what the power dynamics are on on public transportation, like they're everything is a little bit about what role we play and who's in charge, right?

Or who we perceive to be in charge and everyone will have a different perception as to who's in charge, depending on. their cultural background and the way that they feel about their fit in society. So it looks different for everyone, but yeah, like, and again, maybe I'm undermining the concept of power play, but in my mind, everything I do comes with some kind of power dynamic and it's how I respond to and perceive that power dynamic that either inhibits or makes space for my own happiness, right, in that situation.

But, um, It's also, I think, so important to be aware of some of those power dynamics in, obviously, societal context, but sexuality as well, because I think they can be unspoken. Unless you go out of your way to craft a really specific scene, there's always going to be potentially the taint of an unwanted power dynamic at play, um, even if you're in a healthy dynamic.

But it's, I think, empowering, or at least it has been for me, to explore what that looks like and to push the boundaries of my own power in a situation. But, and that's taken forms with different partners, right? And you know, there are situations where like, maybe I've been more financially stable than a partner and that's a power dynamic for sure, especially in the capitalist world that we live in.

But maybe I'm physically smaller, physically weaker. Maybe I'm physically bigger, physically stronger. And those are power dynamics. It's a great thing. But I think there has to be a level of awareness. I do think that the traditional puritanical structure of a woman submits to a man seeks to stifle the unspoken power dynamics.

My grandparents are, I think, a really interesting example. They both have passed away over the last several years, but they were in a relationship from the age of 15 and 17 to, you know, the day my grandfather died at the age of 88. And they loved each other very deeply, and they had a really, a beautiful relationship, But my grandfather was a, a pastor in Texas and my grandmother was the daughter of a pastor in Texas.

So it was very stereotypical evangelical, uh, purity culture in the South. And my grandmother submitted to my grandfather in a very dutiful way, but she put the quote unquote pants in that marriage. Like she was by far the, um, more outspoken, the more opinionated, um, I think Even like the smarter, um, you know, not, not that.

Yeah, I don't want to, I don't want to like say that like intelligence is like an effective measurement of like a power, but it can be like, you know, he was very academically driven. She had the street smarts and the common sense. Right. And so, in so many ways, I think about what. Her life could have been had she not had to subscribe to that submission because God, I think she could have done anything.

Yeah. But she was, she taught elementary school and then she retired and she was a wife. Like her, her role was a wife. So it's interesting to think about when you don't acknowledge it, what gets lost along the way.

Nicole: Yeah, I think it's hard sometimes when I think about those, like, examples of relationships, you know, where it's like, yeah, they met at 15 and they lived their whole life and people will uphold that as an example of how monogamy works and thrives and it's really hard for me.

Because if you look at the history of everything, you're like, Oh, okay. So that woman, women couldn't have credit cards in America until like 1972. So she had no financial liberation to live out on her own. And then like the scarier one, right? Like marital rape wasn't illegal until like 1997 or something in all 50 states.

It was very recent. Um, and so then we're thinking like, okay, so like even ownership over your own body, like your husband could rape you. And so then you're just like, wow, it was like, is this really the sign of. Romance, like when we look back to these examples and then like based on the data we have now of the orgasm gap, right?

So now you're thinking, God, like let's go back even a little bit further. What was the gap like at that point? You know what I mean? And like, I, it's just like women weren't as aware we didn't have this collective, you know, internet to actually talk and have these conversations that were so taboo back then, you know?

So like part of me is just like, God, like, like we look to that as an example and it's like, I don't know if we should, you know what I mean? Given like the lack of ownership and the problematic ways that pleasure was shut off for women's bodies, you know, it's like, we can't really look to that piece.

There's been so much liberation for women in the last like 50 years. It hasn't even been a hundred years, you know, like. We're just like at such a big turning point, I think, for what the future of relationships look like now that women have the money to get a car, have the money to buy their own fucking house and live their own life, how they want to live.

We're in a different time.

Em: It is a new world. Like the way that things look now is so different. And I, you know, I want everyone to have the agency autonomy and access to choosing their own adventure. And I've been really lucky and having that, you know, I put in a lot of fucking work and I'm still doing the work and it's not been easy, but I did end up in a situation with a partner who gives me the autonomy and agency to explore myself to the fullest and make those challenges, right?

Of my role and the world around me in general and embraces that, right? Not everyone has that. Um, and I know a lot of people in Dynamics where one of them seeks to challenge some of this and the other one is happy. Challenging it. Um, I think that's difficult to whether or not they know it. And again, that's my outside perspective, but having those questions and pushing the envelope is important to growth.

That's how we've gotten to the growth that we've made it as a society so far.

Nicole: Right, right. And like you said, in different areas of the conversation, like in terms of stepping into like a Dom energy, it's uncomfortable to shatter. These pieces, it, it reminds me a lot of when I was first in Christianity and starting to step out, right?

Like it was like, Oh God, like what is a world without God? And, you know, as you start to step out of that, that paradigm still step like is steeped so deeply in an unconscious way. We're like, I would make decisions and be like, well, what if this is not in line with the spirit? Like, what would God say?

Right? Like, even though I was like, no, I'm done with this, you know, still like years afterwards, it would like creep in. Oh, did you just use the Lord's name in vain? Like, Oh God. You know, it's like, fuck, I don't want to be in this paradigm, but it comes back. Right. And I think that that's been a lot of my own journey, right?

Is like, I, you know, I'm fucking non monogamous and then I'll like meet one person and be like, well, what if this is the one and I should drop everything that I've built and like, we could get married and run off. And oh my God. And it's like, Nicole, you've built a whole empire. Like, what are you like, you know, like, why is this coming in?

And it's, it's the same reality that like, when we've been socially conditioned, we can call them intrusive thoughts. CBT, whatever we want to call them, these thoughts of our previous paradigm are going to come up, especially if it's the society we live in. And so everywhere I see these rom coms, this and this and that of like the one, the myth of the one and all of this stuff.

And so it's like, of course these thoughts are going to come back. And so it's never, for me, it has never been the smooth ride. I've been like, I'm done with Christianity. I'm out. And then sailing. No, it has been fucking rock climbing again and again. It's hard.

Em: It is really hard and it's writing that line between like, am I having these intrusive thoughts?

If you want to use that phrase, or is it a reclamation and a subversion? Right? And so like, I love that you're maybe, maybe your intent isn't to combat one with the other, but I do love this idea of someone combating those intrusive thoughts with a, I'm going to role play as the trad wife, right? Like I'm going to reclaim that role in a, in a Non traditional, yeah, in a play role.

So that way it's, it is a reclamation. And same thing, like, I never kind of thought I was going to get legally married. I am legally married for a lot of reasons. That was the path I chose to take for a long time. I never thought I would. There are things I have done to kind of Reframe my thoughts on marriage, but I sometimes I like being a wifey, right?

Like sometimes I wake up and like today I'm gonna be wifey energy and I and I have found ways to Feel good and loving and happy about that dynamic without it being like, oh god Am I just doing this because like society told me I had to and also one of the things for me is I'm consciously child free part of that is for me like I got married for again a lot of different reasons, but You When I had the realization that I could be married without the implication of having children because for so long I thought that that was the only option, I felt this huge weight come off my back.

And so now when people are like, are you sure? Like, what if you change your mind? I'm like, Oh no, you weren't there in my body the day I had the realization. I felt the realization and my soul like experienced the joy and relief at realizing that my body could serve other purposes and only other purposes.

That it's like, I can have fun with this notion of being wifey without the absolute horror of, oh, fuck, that means I have to bear someone's children. Um, or I have to be a submissive role. And that's part of it too, is like, I can be whatever role I want. It just so happens that. I am married, right?

Nicole: And it's all about the choice to do that.

It's all about the choice and the freedom to do that and make that world. And, you know, like from a psychology standpoint, we're always creating narratives up in our head. Our narrative of our life is there and every single person has a narrative. of that, right? So everyone you meet, you know, and then you co create narratives with people, always check and make sure you're on the same page about what you're creating, but also like existentially you could never actually be on the same page because you're locked in your own head.

So we're, we're creating our own narratives and our story. There's a lot of stories from culture, you know, that say like you get married, you have kids, this is how you have happiness. And you know, then you step outside of our white Western culture and you realize there's other paradigms around that, you know, of what, how to do this.

And so once you get to that space where you're like, okay, like what story do I want to write today? You know, you get that freedom to choose that, which is scary. Cause it's like coming up to a blank canvas and being like, wow. Okay. There's no colors. There's no lines. There's Which one do I want? You know, like that's a lot of freedom.

But also, then there's like, like we're talking about, then there's that additional next level, right? Of like, cool, like, what narratives do I want to play with? What narratives do I actively want to have fun, pick up, and then put away, right? Yes. That's where your D& D skills come into, you know, you know, and where I struggle because that D& D was hard.

I played once and was like, I can't, I can't get into this. Improv is so difficult for me, you know, but I'm getting better. It's a practice of discomfort, right? It is, definitely. Totally. So it's like, what? Narrative do I want to play with today? What narrative sparks my fantasies and gets me, you know, up and excited that I can have in this container and then maybe never again, who knows?

Em: Yeah, seriously. And like, I love unpacking those fantasies as well because I do think that everything is more than just the surface level. I'm going to dress up as a fairy princess and my partner is going to dress up as a princess. I don't know, a dungeon Lord. I don't find making up weird shit. But, but it's like, okay, well, what, what's the thread there that I was drawn to?

Um, or like in a D and D session, what did I have the most fun with? And what about it was something I can recreate in other play, whether in like a role play, their costumes all situation, or even in just a specific sex act, right? Like, what about that? Can I, like, I want to pull on the thread and explore it.

When I talk to people about media literacy, and that's a topic I talk about a lot, but just like when you think about consuming different media and you're drawn to or stimulated by something, you know, what about it? Like pull on that thread and think about it critically, right? That's what media literacy is all about.

But On that thread and like think about ways to explore in your life because you don't have to rely just on the escapism of media, right? You can recreate those elements in your own sexual experience, but it does require the critical thinking and the time to explore what that fantasy is, um, or what that feeling is, whether a sensation or an emotional reaction.

I feel like that's the fucking fun, right? Like, that's literally the whole point. It's like, every day I want to be asking questions about, like, why do I like that? Or what didn't I like about that? And I do think, like, I was forced to ask myself those questions when processing trauma, right? Not everyone has the catalyst for those thoughts, but I do think we should all be seeking to think through them.

Um, But it is uncomfortable. And to be fair, I also did improv in college. So I, I am 100 percent that bitch, but, um, but, um, it's still like all of that stuff is like, sometimes it's cringy and awkward, but like, it's about having like the right partners for the right situation.

Nicole: For sure. For sure. For sure.

Yeah. I was taking like chemistry and physics where it was like, right answer, right answer, nothing strays, you know, like, so the idea of going out and just being like improv is like. Deeply terrifying.

Em: Yeah, no, my, my degree is in communication and art history. So I was all over the fucking, yeah, all over the fucking map.

Nicole: For sure. For sure. And I, I agree with you in terms of the, you know, exploration of the, I was going to say like Pandora's box. I don't know. Like, like what the hell is up here in the psyche? It has been the most fascinating adventure of my lifetime to try and understand that. And, and, and knowing that.

Given kind of what we were talking about, about narratives, right? Like we're at a space right now where things excite us as we continue to get more information, our narratives will shift and what will excite us will shift. And so it's never an end point, right? We're always going to be exploring what it is that turns us on erotically and what doesn't, and it's going to shift, you know, but if we look back to those old days, like, man, I used to get off on the idea of like marrying a pastor, having four kids by 20 and being a submissive housewife that stayed at home.

The visceral reaction my body had. I know, I'm like, I'm like, I have to remember that like, you know, like, and I think this is where it gets tricky about like the identity stuff of like, Oh, that's my identity and who I am. And it's like, Oh my God, like that was shifted and created by my environment. And I'm wearing that right now.

I am just a product of my environment, people. You know what I mean? Where I will be will be a deeper product of my environment. So it's like, I think we do have to ask deeper critical questions. You know, if the only way that you can get off is by degrading women, I don't know. I asked you for questions. If that's the only way, if it's a way versus multiple different ways, you know, like, why is that the only way

Em: what's going on there?

Nicole: That's the only, the only, I'm there for you. for it. But the um, again, you can only have fun at the party when you're drinking alcohol. What's up?

Em: Yeah. What's up? What's up? Let's talk about that.

Nicole: You know, I mean, it is fun. Don't get me wrong. Alcohol is fun, but that's the only way you have fun.

Em: The only way.

Yeah. What's, yeah, there's something to unpack. What are we, yeah, what are we hiding from?

Nicole: And that is not Alcohol shamey, that is not kink-shamey,

we're just asking deeper questions about the context. Totally, yeah. There are so many times in my life where I was like, I won't do this, or I'll only do this, or like, these things are off the list, or these are the only things I'm, you know, and really now I'm an open book, but there is a critical lens to all of this.

Em: You can't just Fuck without thinking about it. Though we all do try sometimes. But there's, there is, there are thoughts to be had about all of it. And I think, like, if you let yourself, like, lean into the fun of it, it's worthwhile, even when you have to ask yourself the hard questions or ask other people the hard questions.

Nicole: Right. Yeah, because I think a big one for the majority of women is, oh, I see my man crying. That's unattractive.

Em: True. In my world, I felt like that conversation has come up or in media, it's come up more and more lately, which is so weird because to me, it feels like such an outdated, like archaic notion of masculinity and femininity, but.

Yeah. I feel like I recently have been like, Oh my, like I saw him cry or he cried at this thing and it was like, so weird. And I'm like, why was it weird? I don't know about you, but I cry all the time. Right. Happy tears, sad tears. And like, he can do whatever the fuck he wants. It's not going to like turn me on.

It's just like, why are certain expressions of emotion associated with masculinity or femininity? And it's just, yeah, it's one of those things that makes sense. It's just still mind blowing. Totally. And I think

Nicole: that's exactly like the point here then of like, we want to be. Open to all the different things that turn us on and move us and like, not shame ourselves for those things.

And also we can't just have that experience of being like, Oh, this man cried. I'm not attracted to him anymore. And be like, that's just who I am as an identity is that I'm just not attracted to like weak men. It's like, Oh, you have to understand that you are a product of your environment. And that, that lack of eroticism is so deeply laden with systems of oppression that we will.

Continually go through unpacking of for the rest of our lives. So like enjoy your eroticism, but like have a critical lens to the ways that it's shaping what turns you on.

Em: Yes, 100%. I mean, I'm lucky in that I met my partner organically and didn't have to deal with the nuance of dating apps , which I have used before, obviously, but I feel like.

It comes up a lot when we think about dating apps. Like, oh, this gave me the ick. And I'm like, it's a pretty superficial way to get to know someone. And I mean, again, sometimes things do just give you the ick. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes I've seen messages my friends get. I'm like, that's icky. No, thank you.

But sometimes it is that, right? It is the societally structured response to what we've been told is an ick. I'm like, maybe that person's just being genuine. And if so, like if that genuine element of that person isn't going to be compatible with your genuine essence, then fine. Then fine, but maybe we should unpack, right, some of what we, our reactions are, you know, configured by our societal programming as opposed to just our inherent reactions to things.

Nicole: Which is then, I think, also complicated when you think about, like, So if we're talking about the discomfort of challenging those things, and it's like, oh, this is uncomfortable, and then like, you never obviously want to force your body and soul to be intimate with someone that gives you the ick, or in that way, like, you know, like, it's like, that gets a tricky space of like, I can see my bias right there.

Yeah. How do I unpack that? This in ways that aren't forcing my body to like be with someone that gives me the act. But I also know that this is a bias and I can see it's a bias. I think that's a tricky dance of like unpacking that through time. And I, I think at least in my own experience, that's really what it's been is like, uh, obviously never forcing my body to do something, but getting curious about it, growing through conversations and community about it.

And then eventually that it kind of has shifted into other spaces now where I don't have it. And it's. there, but it's just really is a tricky dance. I think in terms of the discomfort when we're dismantling the ways that these systems impact our eroticism. Yeah.

Em: Yeah. Yeah. And, and on the same note, but flipping it on its head, like the things that we do experience as attractive or arousing, and we feel shame about them because they're associated with something we've been programmed to think we're not supposed to.

Right. And so I think like it's twofold, the things that Our responses is configured and should be unpacked versus the things that we pretend we don't have a response to at all. But that's why opening up on all fronts and exploring is so important. And for me, like, I had a lot of shame about being. About enjoying being submissive, immediately following my sexual assault because I was like, I'm an empowered person and I should never want to be in a situation like that again.

Why am I able to get off in a situation where I'm being more submissive than not, right? And so it's like, you know, that's, that's one specific instance of my life. Life is comprised of countless, countless experiences. And I think that there can easily be shame about Oh, I didn't like the situation, but there's something about it that I keep coming back to.

That, that's okay to unpack, but like, so much of it is, is understanding what drives the response and is it something genuine to who you are as an individual or is it something that's constructed? Yeah,

Nicole: yeah. And the frame to all of it too, right? Because like, when you're bottoming or subbing, like, you are the empowered partner in that dynamic, right?

So it's like, what's the frame to how we're looking at this? Is this like a powerless state where I'm giving up stuff? Or is it the reality that that top, that Dom can't do shit until you give them the green light? So you are the empowered one on that bottom there. You are the one controlling the scene.

You are the one who draws the line at every turn. any point that you want it to be drawn, right? It does have that empowerment of like, I am letting go to you so that you can actually service me here, okay? So it's like, even that frame of like, how do we look at it will shift whether we have that deeper shame about it or whether it goes into that narrative of empowerment, right?


Em: Yeah. And I so try to explain that to people who aren't thinking about this communities because it's and it's tough. But like when I have friends even, um, who were like, I don't understand the appeal of. BDSM. That's always, like, the one that people use because they, Fifty Shades of Grey is sometimes the closest anyone's ever gotten to being, like, community adjacent, which I try to unpack that as well.

But, um, but they're like, I don't understand why anyone would want to be dominated completely or something. And I'm like, that's interesting. Well, let's talk about, and the frame that you just described is part of what I try to drive home, is that for people who are fearful of submission. Because of the presumed implications they think it'll have on them or because they want to maintain a sense of autonomy or agency understanding that in consenting kink and fetish.

Dynamics, you have control, even if your role in that play is to relinquish some control, right? But you always are maintaining wholehearted consent, right? Again, if you're structuring, if you're structuring your dynamic and your play the way that I hope everyone is. But you have that autonomy, like you said, and the end goal should be autonomous pleasure in those situations.

But I think it's hard for people to understand if they're not open to understanding what elements of different types of play they can incorporate in their own. But it's, I mean, again, it's asking the right questions or, um, trying to expand, uh, your own mindset. And it's an uncomfortable thing to do.

Nicole: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. I'm just like trying to think of examples because I think there's a lot of different ways that we do that in our life where it's like, please plan this surprise party for me. Like, you know what I mean? Like, I'm going to hand over the power for you to create this world for me so that I don't have to do it.

And I'm just going to show up to the party and have fun. Like. Yeah, it's, it's, it's just interesting how that like dynamic, you know, of like, yeah, it's so empowering when you're able to like, let go and know that it's your container. It's your party. You could leave at any point. They throw a great surprise party, but you're like, I'm done.

You're not forced to stay, you know, the opposite of that is, is abuse. Right. And so that it's not kink with the opposite of Dom where you have no power is abuse. Abuse, right? That is not what we do. So it's like, but like you said, like trying to get people to see that frame and understand that world, I think is part of the dynamic, which is why I think this conversation between two women, right.

And the space is super empowering because you know, I do have conversations about doming with other women. They're like, Oh, I would never like, want to be a sub. Cause like, that's like, you know, so much of what I experienced in the world. And I'm like, you're missing. The frame, like you're missing the empowerment of it.

And, and yeah, maybe do it with another woman and then see how you feel about it. Right. Cause you might feel different when you do it with another woman or any gender, right? Like these, all these different pieces here, it's about seeing a whole new world. Isn't he right? Like a whole new world of options.

of play, uh, you know, when society has taught you such a small space of what is possible to start realizing, whoa, wow,

Em: it's a world of self discovery like that's a thing. And I feel like if you open yourself up to it, you can take things that you learn about yourself in a sexual context and apply them to your day to day.

And I don't think. Like, I think that there's a correlation between the way I see myself in the workplace and the way that I've explored myself sexually, right? Not to say that I'm taking on the exact same role in the workplace, but elements of who I am and how I present or choose to present, um, to certain people or respond to a certain, um, Dynamic has shifted over time and it's all interwoven, right?

It's it's all about the greater strive towards personal and collective growth.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. I'll just validate the hell out of that. Like, as a psychologist in training, I will validate the hell out of that, that how you learn how to play shifts the other aspects of your life, right? And so then, hence, we go back to that conversation we were having earlier about, like, Starting in a subspace, just like developing this dom part of ourself as we developed maybe more empowerment, trust of ourselves, et cetera.

Like these things are not separate as like hardcore identities as much as they're created through our experience of life and how we see ourself and et cetera. So yeah.

Em: Yeah. It can be difficult to be open to that, but I think it's important. Something I've unpacked in therapy.

Nicole: And something I will keep taking my dear listeners through in this space, baby.

Yes, I love it. Yeah. So I have two questions I want to ask you. So the first question is, what would you want to say to your younger self? If you could, like, take a moment just to call her to mind and really, like, see her. And you can pinpoint, like, wherever that is in your journey. Maybe it's all the way back to high school.

Maybe it's, you know, somewhere in college or afterwards. Just, like, who is that person and what would you want to say to her?

Em: What I would say is it will get easier. But you do have to put in more effort than you're willing to right now, and it will be difficult. But in the end, putting work into anything will in the long run benefit you and make life easier.

And I would say stick it out. On the bad days, just remember that they won't always be bad. And also that your body is your own and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Nicole: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Such wise words. And yeah, that, that path is bumpy. It has been a bumpy.

Em: It's been a bumpy fucking life.

Nicole: For sure. For sure. For sure. Yeah. But the empowerment, when you continue to go on that bumpy ride of growth, right? The discomfort of growth and continue to go on it and the empowerment, the enlightenment that you feel on that other side. Want to trade it for anything, right?

Em: No, yeah, it was worth all of, all of the fucking journey.

Nicole: For sure. Yeah. And before I ask the last question, I want to hold some space too, in case there was anything maybe you wanted to say to the listeners that we didn't get to. Otherwise I can draw us towards our closing question.

Em: I think the only other thing I'll say is to, um, Other survivors of sexual trauma or sexual abuse that it's scary to confront the lingering shadows of that even, even after you've processed the event itself, it is one of many life events that continues to have an ongoing impact.

But at the same time, I want to empower every survivor to know that it doesn't have to be your entire identity, that there's so much more to you than that one experience. And I hope that all of us can continue to explore what that means. And who we are as a person outside of that can be as life moves on.

Nicole: Totally. I'm like, okay, second hour of podcast. Here we go. How do we, you know what I mean? To leave that not, I'll come back and talk about it. Cause there is a whole other side. Once you kind of like leave that, not leave that identity behind, but like leave that identity behind to make new ones.

Em: Yes. Yeah.

That's another part of the fucking bumpy journey.

Nicole: Yeah.

I'm right there with you. Yeah. You gotta. Uh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well then, if you feel good, we'll go towards our closing question. Okay. So, the one question that I ask everyone on the podcast is, what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal?

Em: Ooh, that's a good question. I think it is, at least in the context of some of what we've been talking about, it is so much more normal to fantasize about yourself in roles that you don't wish were reality. It's so Incredibly normal to have those fantasies and explore them and discover that you don't actually like them in practice.

And that's okay. Um, and I think that goes back to the exploration. It's normal to want to try something and not like it. And that's a learning moment and there's nothing wrong or shameful about having had the thought or wanting to try it.

Nicole: Yeah. Sometimes I don't like that chocolate chip cookie and I want ice cream.

You know what I mean? We don't like beat ourselves up for taking the bite and then being like, nah, you know what I mean? That's so true. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I think a lot of, and, and then for like five years down the line, be like, actually that chocolate chip cookie sounds really good. And then like two years later again, nope, we don't do chocolate.

We don't do chocolate. That's the journey, right? Yes. That's the journey.

Em: Yes. Changing your mind. Human. Turns out. Yes. So weird. What a thought.

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

Em: Yes, I had an absolute blast. It was great chatting again. Would love to keep the conversation going.

Um, yeah. Have you on mine, be on yours. And yeah, folks listening, Sex Essentialist podcast, check it out. Right. Yeah. That's exactly what I was going to ask.

Nicole: Like, where can people find you? Plug away. Yeah.

Em: Yeah. So on Instagram at Sex Essentialist pod, it's existentialist with an S at the front. Um, bit of a mouthful, but, um, yeah, Sex Essentialist is on Spotify, Apple, anywhere you can listen to podcasts.

Um, yeah. Uh, we cover lots of topics, so I'm sure there's something for you. But if you, uh, have any podcasts, questions or requests, I do open my DMs So feel free to shoot me a note.

Nicole: Well, thank you for joining us today.

Em: Yeah. Thank you so much, Nicole.

Nicole: If you enjoyed today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast and head on over to podcast.

com. 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.


bottom of page