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08 December, 2021

Come As You Are

Hello Bizzy Bees!

Happy hump day! 

Today, we thought it would be fun to talk about the book Come As You Are by Dr. Emily Nagoski, Director of Wellness Education at Smith College, where she teaches Women’s Sexuality.

This was another book Jessica and I read together and discussed as we went along to learn more about each other and how we work: how we feel about our body, what turns us on, what turns us off, and so much more.

Early on in her book, Emily talks about anatomy and describes in detail how “everyone’s genitals are made of the same parts, organized in different ways.”  This was such an mind-opening section as she discussed homologues (“traits that have the same biological origins, though they may have different functions”) such as nipples on both men and women with different functionality or soft genital tissue that fills with blood on both men (the penis) and women (the clitoris).  It really makes you realize that we are much more similar than we are different.

Another huge point of discussion was how sex and the brain work together.  Emily describes that, “your brain has a sexual “accelerator” that responds to “sexuallly relevant” stimulation–anything you see, hear, smell, touch, taste, or imagine that your brian has learned to associate with sexual arousal…” AND “your brain also has sexual “brakes” that respond to “potential threats”–anything you see, hear, smell, touch, taste, or imagine that your brain interprets as a good reason not to be turned on right now.  These can be anything from STDs and unwanted pregnancy to relationship issues or social reputation.“ 

So when you want intimacy in your life and/or relationship, the name of the game is getting your foot off of the brake and onto the accelerator.  It doesn’t work very well if you have one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake either, so it’s important to understand the factors in your life that keep your foot on the brake (or better… get your foot off the brake)!

Emily describes in great detail how to “turn on the ons” and “turn off the offs” if you are interested in sexual intimacy.  She talks about how the context of the sexual encounter is one of the most important things when getting intimate and that “for most people, the best context for sex is low stress + highly affectionate + explicitly erotic.”

Emily found that “stress reduces sexual interest in 80-90 percent of people and reduces sexual pleasure in everyone–even the 10-20 percent of people for whom it [stress] increases interest.  The way to deal with stress is to allow your body to complete the stress response cycle” and then begin to move forward.

I guess I’ve innately understood this next nugget of information, but Emily learned that “there’s a 50 percent overlap between blood flow to a male’s genitals and how turned on he feels, and there’s a 10 percent overlap between blood flow to a woman’s genitals and how turned on she feels.”  This is facinating and should be extremely helpful when relating to the opposite sex during intimacy.  Ultimately, “the best way to tell if a woman is aroused is not to notice what her genitals are doing but to listen to her words.

Sometimes desire is lacking in your life or your relationship.  Emily found that “about 15 percent of women have a spontaneous desire style–they want sex out of the blue.  Thirty percent experience responsive desire–they want sex only when something pretty erotic is already happening.  The rest [55 percent] about half of women, experience some combination of the two, depending on context.”

Emily states, “Sex is not a drive, like hunger.  It’s an “incentive motivation system,” like curiosity.  So… stay curious.”  “When sex feels like a drive, it’s becuase of the little monitor in your emotional brain, whose job is to reduce discrepancies.  The monitor motivates you to pursue novelty, pleasure, ambiguity, etc. so to increase sexual desire in a relationship, increase novelty, pleasure, ambiguity, and intensity!”

What about the “BIG O”?

Well, when it comes to orgasm, Emily clears it all up stating, “orgasms happen in your brain, not your genitals.”  “Thirty percent of women are reliably orgasmic from vaginal penetration alone.  The remaining 70 percent are sometimes, rarely, or never orgasmic from penetration alone.  The most common way for women to orgasm is from clitoral stimulation.  Fortunately, “orgasm is not an evolutionary adaptation, necessary for survival.  It’s a fantastic bonus.”  And “to have bigger, better orgasms, turn off more of the offs, and turn on the ons more gradually.”

Most people are interested in better sex and intimacy with there partner.  Emily leaves us with the best way to improve our sex life is… no surprise here…  have gratitude for where you are now!  “The most important thing you can do to have a great sex life is to welcome your sexuality as it is, right now–even if it’s not what you wanted or expected it to be.  When you give yourself permission to be and feel whatever you are and feel, your body can complete the cycle, move through the tunnel, and come out to the light at the end.”

Until next week… Get Bizzy,

Jessica & Denny

  • Nagoski, Dr. Emily; Come As You Are; The Surprising New Science That will Transform Your Sex Life; Simon & Schuster; New York; 2015
Real Vulnerability, Real Education, Real Connection

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