Confidence is incredibly sexy. That’s why Kara works to empower women – including herself – to lean into their desires and truly experience pleasure on their own terms.
Find Kara on Twitter at @RedesignYrMind and on Instagram @karaloewentheil.
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People listening to this can’t see me. But I’m a fat woman living in a very fat phobic society and think I was like I just kind of started doing some of this work on myself about body image and diet culture. And I was with a partner, and I was naked and he told me to turn around slowly. And I was like, so I was just I had like, I was having like, such a strong reaction to it, like very defensive and stressed out, I think most women are familiar with like the constant daily catalogue of everything that’s wrong with your body every time you see it, right? And so my brain immediately just went to like, whatever the like, Top 20 chart was that week, which is like, your breasts are too saggy, your stomach’s too big, you have a double chin, your hair is frizzy, too mature there, and not enough hair somewhere else. So there’s just really think man would be shocked if they knew what goes on. Like what is happening in a woman’s brain.
Like, until you go in there and learn how to like garden and prune and change it is just like my brain was just like 24/7 constant. I was just assuming that he shared all that negative thoughts I had about my body and my […] he would be thinking about because if I looked at myself in the mirror naked, that’s what I would be thinking, you know, and he was sort of like, okay, what’s going on? Like, what, you know, like, what is coming up for you? What are you feeling? And I said, I really don’t like the feeling that I’m being evaluated. And he was just kind of like, a funnel like blown away and baffled, and he was like, I’m not critiquing. I’m not evaluating it, I’m enjoying it. I’m appreciating it. Like, it’s like, I want to look at you because I like the way you look. I want to like, enjoy that.
It was just such a like powerful contrast that in my mind, if you’re going to look at a female body, especially my body, it’s just a critique and see what can be better. He just that was such a like, brain breaking moment for me that like women are taught that anytime someone’s looking at their body, they’re critiquing it. And in fact, in a healthy sexual dynamic, like, that’s not why your partner is looking at your body. They’re not being like, why I want to check for your cellulite, right? They’re like this is hot. I like looking at it. This right, it’s an it’s satisfying for me to look at you. That’s why I’m doing it. I mean, I actually think it’s amazing. Anyone can take your clothes off without having like a nervous breakdown. Because that’s all you’re ever taught is that there’s something wrong with your body, it doesn’t look the way it should. The fact that anyone can take off their clothes and not lose their minds, I think is kind of a testament to the human sex drive and evolution, we’re like still willing to go through that.
Hi, I’m Kara Loewentheil, and you are listening to GOOD SEX. I’m a feminist confidence coach who teaches women how to identify the ways that living in our society have taught them to think about themselves. To me good sex is freely and mutually engaged in. And both partners are having an experience that is physically and emotionally pleasurable. So I think that when it comes to sort of people’s thoughts about pleasure, who’s entitled to receive pleasure, whose job it is to provide pleasure, right? Men are taught that sexual pleasure is something they can experience and enjoy. And that their job is to like, go out and get it. Right and not like in a sexual encounter. straight men don’t go into the ship sexual encounters being like, well, I don’t know, I guess like, we’ll see if I enjoy this right orgasm. Of course, sometimes that happens. But like most of the time, that’s not what they’re socialized to think sex is about.
Whereas women are socialized to believe that, number one, that their desire is receptive. Right? So like, men are socialized to think that their desire sort of exists or is caused by desiring a certain woman. And then there’s just like, go and get it, but sort of the desire can just be there and then be acted on. And women are taught to believe that what should turn them on or what does turn them on is being desired to being the object of desire is what is supposed to be erotic for a woman being wanted and not doing the wanting. And so I think, like, just when you start from that premise, and then you add in the sort of idea that, you know, a man’s sexual pleasure is like assumed, and a woman’s sexual pleasures, like a bonus. Right? Or, like, it’s rare enough that like, it’s something that a man would brag about to be like, I always met like, I you know, I like if I’m on online dating, sometimes you see the profiles, it’s like men being like, I always make sure you orgasm, and I’m like, is this a question, excuse me, like, this is not that’s like me being like, I won’t punch you in the junk like this is just should be assumed that that’s what’s gonna happen.
And so I think you sort of you add all of that to women being socialized to think that their, their purpose is to be sexually pleasing or provide sexual pleasure. And then you end up in a situation where women are very uncomfortable receiving pleasure. It’s very heteronormative. But this is kind of the dynamic we’re talking about. Although I think this happens in same sex relationships, too. Obviously, you have the same socialization, but a lot of women get uncomfortable with men going down on them. Right for with oral sex, even with sort of hand manual sex like anything where that’s the main activity is giving the woman pleasure. A lot of women are very uncomfortable with that. And I think it’s a combination of things. It’s like you feel very vulnerable, I think because all that focus is on you. It’s just like getting up on a stage.
If you’re uncomfortable with how you look or how you speak, it’s like nothing else is happening, all the attention is directed at you. And so your brain is like running with all the things that you’re worried about. And as we were just discussing, women are taught that their bodies are like, not good enough and dirty and weird and gross, and you know, supposed to look like blow up sex dolls with like, no hairs, or creases or pimples or smells like not an animal, just a rubber being, like all of that stuff can come up. I often coach women around anxiety about taking too long to orgasm, having difficulty orgasm and not being confident asking for what they want to orgasm. So I think all of that adds up.
But then there’s also like this other level where that’s also the stereotype about what it’s like. And I coach a lot of women who have the opposite problem, which is that they want sex more than their male partners. And because of the same socialization that screws them up too, right? It’s like there’s no way to win with patriarchy. If they want sex more than their partner does, the way that women are socialized, makes them feel like there’s something desperate about that. If the man is not desiring you, how are you supposed to feel sexy? And I will, quote, Coach somebody the other day, who was like, my husband never initiates sex. He’s always up for when I initiate, and we have great sex, but I think I have to, like divorce him about this. And I was like, what are you talking about? I mean, I understand that thought process, right? Because women are so taught that their self-esteem should rest on being the object of desire that a man tries to get. But like, that’s an insane product of socialization. When you’re like, I can have amazing sex on demand, my partner’s always up for it, but I only ever have to even think about it if I want it and the sex is great. This is terrible. I should break up with it. Right? Like that is a hilarious brain outcome of patriarchy.
I’m a big fan of what I call, baby step or neutral thoughts or ladder thoughts. Those are all different words for just like not trying to go straight to like, I’m an amazing sexy goddess, but just like, a little factual thought, like, like you could practice thinking. It’s possible that given that my partner wants to have sex with me, they find me attractive. Like that they like my body. That’s possible. Or it’s possible. You know, it’s like women who have been married for 10 years always having sex with the lights off and their clothes on. Like it’s possible my partner does know what my body looks like, like we think, we think we’re like pulling this big like heist. Right? I used to be like this before I did body image work, it was like, I would feel attractive with my clothes on and then I would be nervous putting my clothes off as if the person that I was about to have sex with had never seen a naked woman before. Or even a naked fat woman like the internet exists.
Your partner has seen naked people like you before ,mostly. So like, you’re not this is not we think it’s like some huge reveal, like 8 tentacle arms are going to come out and they’re going to be shocked. So really practicing like those baby steps thoughts. I mean, that is the foundation of all the work I do. I always say like your thought you’re trying to practice should be so uninspiring that you would never put it on like a Pinterest graphic, or like embroider it on a pillow. Like we’re not going from my partner secretly hates my body to I’m an amazing, sexy goddess overnight. That’s not how your brain works. Just like you don’t walk into the gym and be like I’ve never lifted weights, I think I’d like to deadlift 500 pounds now, like, that’s how you break your back.
Start with like, a little thing. And then you move up again, a little more, and then a little more, right? And you just notice what comes up. So if you initiate sex, you get rejected. You write down what you think and feel, and your brain will say a lot of really mean stuff to you. Because that’s what it’s been taught to say. And then you have to choose like, Okay, do I want to keep thinking this now that I know, right? A lot of a lot of our thinking is unconscious. Nothing wrong with you that you’ve been thinking this way. But like now that you’re aware, it’s like if you found a new room in your house, you walked in and it was like there were raccoons living in there. It’s like, okay, well, now I know there’s raccoons in the house. Am I going to just shut the door and ignore it and let the raccoons live there or should I try to like trap them and put them outside? So am I going to now try to practice believing something a little bit different, and then move my way on up.
If anything that I have talked about today has really resonated with you then I encourage you to check out my podcast which is called UNF*CK YOUR BRAIN, you can find it anywhere you find podcasts. You can find me on any of your social media, by my name the only person with my name in the world and you can also go to unf*ckyourbrain.com. Thank you for listening to good sex and get out there and have some good sex.
GOOD SEX is a Lemonada Media Original. Produced by Claire Jones and Matthew Simonson. Our supervising producers are Kryssy Pease and Xorje Olivares, and our executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Music is by Dan Molad with additional music from APM music. Sound design is by Matthew Simonson. If you like GOOD SEX, the show, not you know, why don’t you rate and review us. Listen and follow for new episodes each week wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks for listening.