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February 19, 2021

Reproductive Justice: Power, Positions & Pleasure

Episode 201

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The unapologetic sexologist, Michelle Hope, joins us to chat about HIV stigma, forced sterilization, COMMUNITYx, reproductive justice and more. We also address listener questions about anal sex, positions for a tilted cervix and loss of libido.

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The COMMUNITYx App is the premier Social Network for Social Good. Built by changemakers, for changemakers, COMMUNITYx puts organizing and connecting around vital issues at the forefront, without the distractions of other social platforms. The App allows like-minded people from around the world to connect and mobilize in an effort to address some of society’s most pressing social issues, allowing members to create a variety of calls-to-action all in one place. Founded in 2019, by Chloe Cheyenne, since its launch, Chloë and COMMUNITYx have earned major accolades such as being recognized by Forbes 30 Under 30 as the #1 Startup of The Year and is also a Techstars Portfolio Company.

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Rough Transcript:

This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.

EPISODE #201: Reproductive Justice: Power, Positions & Pleasure

 (00:05):

You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Sex and relationship advice you can use tonight.

Brandon (00:18):

Welcome to the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast, I’m your co host Brandon Ware here with my lovely other half, who’s celebrating her birthday week.

Dr. Jess (00:27):

Yeah it’s my birthday week but you know we’re on what, day twelve of our fourteen day quarantine right now? This is a condition of our travel back home, that we can’t go outside or let anyone in or even meet anyone outside.

Brandon (00:43):

It’s amazing how I miss walking in the really cold weather.

Dr. Jess (00:47):

I’ve never wanted to go out in winter so badly.

Brandon (00:50):

The other day I was like, I wish I could put it in the garbage.

Dr. Jess (00:53):

That’s the exciting point. So I guess we’ll be celebrating my birthday with takeout. And maybe my mom will come by and wave from the door, even though it’s what, negative twelve degrees celsius out there?

Brandon (01:05):

I think that’s without the wind chill. We talk about the wind chill and the humidity all the time.

Dr. Jess (01:09):

And it was your birthday last week.

Brandon (01:11):

It was.

Dr. Jess (01:12):

You turned…

Brandon (01:14):

forty three.

Dr. Jess (01:15):

I swear to god, Brandon, so I met you when you were what, twenty three?

Brandon (01:19):

Yes. We moved in together when I was twenty three.

Dr. Jess (01:24):

It kind of baffles my mind. I don’t know like, it just, I can’t imagine you as forty-three year old.

Brandon (01:31):

Why? I hope you can envision me as sixty three or even eighty three.

Dr. Jess (01:34):

I don’t know you still look, you look young to me now. I mean everybody says that, but no really like, I don’t know. I don’t see a big difference between forty three year old Brandon and twenty-three-year-old Brandon when I look at you guess. Because I see you every day.

Brandon (01:47):

I think the changes are felt internally. It’s like a few extra aches and pains, i don’t want to tell you how difficult it was to get out of bed yesterday or something like that. So I’m trying to keep those personally, I’m not sharing them as much.

Dr. Jess (02:01):

You know, you do maybe complain about the body a bit more. But I’m not gonna lie, do you remember when you were twenty three and we were working together in that nightclub? I remember you having some sort of a back spasm episode and you ended up on the ground, do you not remember? And you were just young.

Brandon (02:20):

I mean these ailments that kind of just creep up on you that start when you’re younger. I think looking back. I just felt like I was invincible. Not that I did silly things or stupid things. I just didn’t stretch properly.

Dr. Jess (02:33):

Well that’s my problem right? At forty, I guess forty one now, or I’ll be forty one this week. I still sort of feel invincible. Like we were playing, we were throwing the frisbee in the park this summer, and I don’t know a dog got in my way, and then there was a tree, but I really wanted to catch the disc, and so I sort of like jumped around the tree and it was wet, and I slid and just kind of went flying through the air and landed on my back. And then you’re lying there and you’re like, “am I okay?” and then I just bounced back up. But there’s gonna come a day when that stops right? By my age it should’ve stopped.

Brandon (03:10):

I think the most difficult thing for me, as you get older is just the acknowledgement that what you used to be able to do, you can’t do. And I’ve actually really struggled with that, because it’s this idea that I’ve lost something. And you know, as I have some of these chronic injuries that have taken their toll on me, and I’m trying to improve and get better. I just know that it’s, you know, you just have to accept it. It’s part of life and it’s, you try to fix it as best you can.

Dr. Jess (03:33):

I think I’m going to have more trouble than you like, I think I’m not afraid of being old I think, coming from a culture that does revere age. But physically I think it’s gonna be tough for me. But then maybe it’ll be okay, like look at my Aunty Thalia, who’s seventy. I guess I shouldn’t say her age. But she runs around in my high heels, in my clothes. She was wearing my bikini bottom the other day on the paddle board.

Brandon (04:00):

I’m not kidding, when we were visiting them in Kingston for that week a few years ago, I could not keep up with her.

Dr. Jess (04:08):

So maybe I, you know, maybe if you keep moving, my mother as well. I think everybody knows already that my mom turned seventy because I put it on instagram, so it’s okay to say it.

Brandon (04:17):

She plays tennis all the time, she’s super active.

Dr. Jess (04:19):

She’s so finding cause she’ll say “oh the old people.” And then husband is like, “you’re older than them.” But she just doesn’t seem old to me at all. I don’t know and again, I do kind of revere the idea or revere people who are older right. There’s this respect for them. But the big one for me is the physical. So I got to maybe start taking better care of my body. Now, today we’re going to be chatting reproductive justice, sex ed, censorship taking some questions about sexless relationships and more with my friend and fellow sexologist, Michelle Hope. And before she joins us, I want to remind you all of a project I’m working on with Walgreens, related to HIV. And HIV continues to be an epidemic in 2021, and it doesn’t need to be. We have the tools to eradicate it through prevention and testing and treatment. But I don’t think most of us are aware that so many options exist, and many of them are actually no cost. So for example, PrEP, which is Pre Exposure Prophylaxis is a pill you can take to protect yourself from HIV transmission. It is more than ninety nine percent effective at preventing sexual transmission of HIV. So I really want to encourage people to check out their options. You can talk to your Walgreens pharmacist, who has specialized training in each HIV care and you can also visit http://www.walgreens.com/prep for more info. And the pharmacy, again you can, with no cost options through the Ready, Set Prep program, and answer questions about testing and treatment as well. And in the stores, they have private rooms. So all you have to do is ask to talk to the pharmacist in private. And you know I got into this field because I know that sex ed can save lives. I know that a lack of sex ed is costing lives and costing us you know quality of life, and we can do so much better, so I was really happy to be teaming up with Walgreens to promote this initiative. So please do share the info with your friends, with your loved ones, with your lovers, with your clients, with your patients, with your network. And it really is as simple as walking into your local Walgreens pharmacy or checking http://www.walgreens.com/prep.

Brandon (06:35):

I didn’t realize that they had those private rooms. But that’s amazing.

Dr. Jess (06:39):

Yeah I was thinking about, even where I got my flu shot, it’s not like I did it out in the open right? I was able to go privately.

Brandon (06:45):

But being able to have a private conversation. I think it makes a world of difference.

Dr. Jess (06:49):

Absolutely, absolutely. So without further ado. It’s time to start chatting. And I wanna welcome activist, sexpert, media personality, and my friend Michelle Hope. Michelle and I met randomly at a coffee shop in Brooklyn a few years back. I’m a big fan of her work, she talks about all things justice. Racial justice, reproductive justice, economic justice, and more. Welcome and thanks for joining us Michelle, how are you?

Michelle Hope (07:21):

I’m good I’m good. I am so happy to be here.

Dr. Jess (07:25):

I love watching your work. You know I was saying that you and I we booked up accidentally at a coffee shop in Brooklyn and that’s how we met. How long ago was that? Maybe five years or so?

Michelle Hope (07:35):

I think it was about five years. I saw you, and I was like I have to, I have to say hello. And I said hello and you were so polite that it was so nice and here we are five years later.

Dr. Jess (07:49):

Exactly. Now even though we met in a coffee shop, we have similar backgrounds. You actually have a background in HIV education as well. You mentioned that you worked at Out of the Closet, where I’ve shopped. I have a cute pair of shorts from there. And I think so many of us in sex ed insects that started in HIV prevention. And for me, at least over the last decade some things have really changed. Like we have such a wider array of testing and prevention and treatment options but one element that really remains the same is the stigma. And I’d love to talk about that. Why does the stigma around testing, prevention, treatment, conversation around HIV continue to exist so strongly?

Michelle Hope (08:32):

So I think what we have to focus on is reproductive injustice. And not just reproductive injustice but also medical apartheid. And when we look to the communities that have the highest rates of HIV infection, AIDS related deaths, and just in general reproductive health issues, we see that it’s astonishing alarming rates in communities of colour. And when you think about what medical apartheid is, this idea that people of colour don’t get the same type of medical care as caucasians, you can better understand. Now, widen that scope to look at things like eugenics and reproductive oppression throughout US history alone, you then start to see why people are not as interested in finding out if they’re HIV positive, or talking about their status with their partners. And I think there’s a lot of misnomers that it’s a gay disease, which I think is incredibly damaging because it is not a gay disease. And I always say this, HIV has no face. It doesn’t care what you look like, who you love, what gender identity you associate with. It really doesn’t discriminate. It is probably the one of those things, that really does not discriminate at all.

Dr. Jess (09:56):

Absolutely. So often we hear people talking about how stigma is a part of culture, but it’s not cultural in terms of ethno culture or culture related to race. It’s socio, economic, political. There are reasons why folks are not inclined to trust systems that have a history of oppression. So I heard you last night on IG live, and everybody should be sure to check out your instagram, which we’ll link in the show notes. But you’re on IG live all the time, and I know you’re also gonna share some new technology that we should be following. But last night, you were talking about a film called Belly of the Beast. And I heard you talking about the fact that in the United States, two hundred and thirty one thousand women are currently incarcerated, 1.3 are currently under supervision. The majority, this interesting to me, you said the majority of these women are survivors, and women are the fastest growing prison population, with women of colour being most adversely affected. Can you talk to us a little bit about the language that you’re using around modern eugenics and how that ties in with forced sterilization, and how that is related to racial reproductive justice?

Michelle Hope (11:04):

Yeah I think what we have to understand about individuals who are incarcerated, you look at women who end up in the carceral system, and you look to their history, and you see there are many examples of victimization, whether it’s growing up in an abusive home, whether it’s experiencing sexual assault at sometime or whether it’s you know, some type of exploitation. And so I say they’ve been victimized prior to even entering the system, and there haven’t been many options afforded to them, and they’re making decisions on survival, a lot of times. That’s what ends up getting women incarcerated, in these spaces of trouble. So that’s that’s one element. And then when we think about when you go to prison, you are no longer a person. You are a number and a lot of your rights are stripped, as far as things like, you can’t give informed consent, signing consent while you are incarcerated is kind of a really perplexing and kind of an area that doesn’t make sense. Because you are a ward of the state therefore you have no rights to sign any kind of documentation. But then what was happening in, what Belly of the Beast shows, is women who are in prison ending up being being sterilized, having their reproductive organs removed, based on things as simple as an abnormal pap smear right? And you know these are medical jargon terms that a lot of people don’t understand and when you’re incarcerated nobody’s gonna sit there and fully explain it to you. You don’t have access to the internet to look it up to better understand. You can get an abnormal pap if you have a fever, if you have a cold so you know. There’s not a lot of informed consent happening. And this documentary took place over the course of seven years and they looked at women that were formerly incarcerated and that were incarcerated, that had had some type of hysterectomy partial or full while they were incarcerated based on the the medical teams assessment of their needs. So it’s just astonishing that it still happens. A lot of times we think of eugenics, we think of Margaret Sanger. We think of in the United States the times where blacks and whites were told not to mix races and you know. And interestingly enough in the film you come to find out that Nazi Germany actually went to California to study their eugenics program. So let’s not get twisted here. The land of the free is not really that free when you start peeling back the onion layers okay.

Dr. Jess (13:54):

Let’s go back to Margaret Sanger. Yeah I really appreciate that perspective. Because Margaret Sanger is often touted as a hero right, an activist and the birth control movement. But let’s talk about the history of experimenting on women’s bodies, black women’s bodies, other women of colour.

Michelle Hope (14:14):

Yeah let’s be clear. She didn’t come to the idea of birth control so women could be out here popping they poom poom okay, and we have the freedom to do what we wanted and we could extend our work like, no, no, no, no, no. The original concept was for individuals that they deemed not worthy of continuing to populate communities, and population control, and for I think like degenerates that wouldn’t be good or fit parents. So it was really designed that way. And then in the sixties they went on ahead to Puerto Rico, and they tested and tested and tested. And I believe there was one year in the seventies, his is what baffles me, so recent, where 45 thousand women became sterilized because they were given progesterone at twenty times the amount a body can take. And they had clinics in Puerto Rico popped up everywhere just giving away birth control like tic-tacs. Which we have to remember, birth control is synthetic hormones. That means it can throw everything in your body off. It’s not just your reproductive stuff, it’s your mood, it’s your appetite, its how you gain weight. It’s how you sleep at night. So I think it’s really important to help educate people, understanding that, this is all connected you know.

I always say, I look at the sexuality of social justice or the sex of social justice. Because they’re one and the same. You cannot, and reproductive justice is a part of that, and while that’s become a term that’s been pretty popular over the last decade, you know social justice is about sexuality, you can’t separate the two.

Dr. Jess (16:00):

Yeah. I think that’s an important important piece, And around Margaret Sanger, people can go and learn more about the way she really advocated for a eugenics approach, to what she called “breeding.” She talked about suppressing and eliminating and leading to the extinction of what she called “defective stocks” right? And that threatened the I don’t know, the language was something around the “fine flowers” of American civilization. So you know you said, the reason I bring this up, is you said well when we think about modern day eugenics we think of Margaret Sanger. But a lot of people still see her as an activist, as opposed to someone who caused all this harm and was part of a movement that forced people into sterilization, and into you know a number of health issues without informed consent. You know when you talk about birth control having all these effects, imagine that progesterone at twenty times the rate right? We know a lot more about how these things affect our bodies now. People can make informed consent to decide whether or not it is the right choice for them. And I think it’s really relevant today in February 2021. We’re talking about COVID vaccination programs and I keep seeing these headlines about how people of colour don’t want the vaccine. And I have to tell you something. So CBC in Canada which is sort of like our version of NPR, if that makes sense, but they have television as well. They were running headlines, I remember reading them, I remember picking up my phone maybe a couple of weeks ago, where it said you know, “Black Canadians don’t want the vaccine,” or something along those lines. Or “Black Canadians are nervous to get the vaccine.” And by the end of the day they had changed the language to say “Black people have been oppressed by the medical system and therefore are questioning whether this system is there to support or oppress them.” And I’m thinking you know even a year ago, I don’t think someone would have called that to their attention. But we’re seeing the language of this change. And I assume you got into this work because of justice, not just because of sex ed, not just because of the fun stuff, and of course you can talk about the fun stuff. You can talk about the pleasure. You’re one of those generalists sex educators who can kind of talk about everything and anything. But I’m really appreciative that you always bring in a justice lens. Because I think we as you said, we really cannot separate the two. Now just as a sexologist, I’m wondering if you can also help us out with a few, if we can change gears and answer listener questions, or would you be open to that?

Michelle Hope (18:32):

Absolutely.

Dr. Jess (18:33):

All right. So this question comes in, and this person says “I’ve been with my partner for going on seven years and it seems as though he’s no longer interested in sex with me. We used to have sex but sometimes it feels as though I’m no longer attractive. I’m constantly begging for intimacy. I know I should be supportive, as something is probably going on with him. But are there some other ways to have that intimacy back? I’ve tried talking it out and it seems as if the conversation doesn’t come to a solution. His response is usually ‘I’m trying.’ Please help me, because we’re very in love. And I’d like to save the relationship.”

Michelle Hope (19:10):

So a lot of things to unpack here, so I’m just gonna go straight to seven years you’ve been together. Sex changes, as we age sex changes, and there was a really interesting study that looked at elderly people and what sex looks like to them. And what they found was it wasn’t that they were less sexually active or less interested in sex, it’s just sex wasn’t necessarily penetrative. So my first recommendation is to think about how you can develop intimacy and sex that goes beyond penetration. That’s one. The next thing I want to know about, or I’d ask a deeper question, how much exercise are you getting? What we do know is that stress, depression would, let’s face it, after 2020, honey we’re all stressed out, got anxiety and are depressed okay. So that can actually impact individuals libidos. And for men, as they age their testosterone drops. So how often are you working out? Because you can work out, which will help bump up people’s libidos, and it creates an opportunity for you to have some intimacy. In addition to that, you’re gonna feel more confident in your body. And then I hope that removes this idea that he’s not attracted to you. My other question would are you attracted to you right? Again, we’ve all been locked in a house for a year. How often are you shaving your legs, when’s last time you went to get a wax you know? I know that during the height of the pandemic here in the city, I had to ask myself some days, when was the last time I showered? Because every day, it’s just the same. You’re in the house. So I think that is something to consider. And then lastly you said “I wanna be supportive.” So be supportive by trying out new things, trying working out, setting up a romantic date night in the house. So shave your legs. What, whatever works for you. But I want you to make yourself feel sexy for that date night. Whatever that looks like for you, make yourself look and feel sexy. I mean I love to put lotion on and perfume, I put perfume on before bed just because I want to smell good when I wake up. So you do what feels sexy for you, and then you just enjoy each other and you let it flow naturally you know. I have learned in my experience in heteronormative relationships with men, when things are stressful at work, when there is a dramatic shift you know, sometimes it throws them from being able to have sex. So if you can do a stay-cation at home, where you turn off all the iPads, turn off the cell phones, and really disconnect from the world to reconnect with each other, that can bring that spark that.

Dr. Jess (22:04):

Yeah that digital detox is so important. Brandon and I talked about that maybe a couple of weeks ago or a couple months ago on the podcast. We gotta unplug man.

Brandon (22:14):

Yeah I really appreciate the comment about, I mean for anybody but for me in particular, I’m effected drastically by stress. Like once I’m stressed out, and if I’m feeling down, sex is not something that I go to. So I find I really have to, like you said go with the flow right? Like start it, and it doesn’t have to be penetrative. I can please my partner, I can please myself. You know whatever. But I appreciate everything that you said there. I thought each one really hit the nail on the head and resonated with me as well.

Dr. Jess (22:50):

I love all of that advice and it can be a conversation right? Because this person is saying, “I feel as though I’m no longer attractive.” But sometimes our partners desire for sex oftentimes has nothing to do specifically with attraction to a partner right? It’s what else is going on in our lives. As you said, we’ve been stuck in the house, our anxiety levels are much higher. I don’t know about you Michelle, like I’ve never experienced the anxiety that I’ve experienced over the last year.

Michelle Hope (23:17):

No the last year was tough, not just because of COVID but then the racial uprising and me being biracial, mom’s white, my dad’s black, and you know with our crazy last president and all this racial division, it put a lot of stress and a lot of anxiety on me. And you know, masturbation is great. Just because your partners not into sex for whatever reason right now, that probably doesn’t have anything to do you, please yourself right? ‘Cause sometimes pleasing yourself next to your partner and, one thing I wanna say as it can be a discussion but it should not be a repetitive discussion. Because then that just puts more pressure on your partner. So instead of saying, start doing. Start creating romantic spaces, start creating sexy spaces, without the conversation happening all the time, because that in itself can become stressful right.

Dr. Jess (24:14):

Especially, I think it feels like pressure. So I hope this is helpful to this person. The fact that you’re asking how to have intimacy to me is so good as opposed to just sex, because intimacy can be verbal, it can be physical, it could be spiritual, it can be so many different things in the way we relate. I know that sometimes we use intimacy as a euphemism for sex, especially in media, which I find super confusing right? I don’t know if you find that Michelle, whenever like a reporter says how has intimacy been effected during COVID and then they’ll talk about all the ways intimacy has affected their lives, like “what about in the bedroom?” I’m like okay, if you mean sex, just say sex. But we’re running into troubles, are we not, on social media for those of us who are sexologists, sex educators, sex therapist. We’re not even allowed to use the word anymore. And so I know you’re doing work with a new platform that is actually sex positive. So I’d love for you to talk about this, new social media community called COMMUNITYx. It is the social network for social good, tell us what this is all about and how we can get involved.

Michelle Hope (25:23):

Yeah absolutely so, I’m super thrilled about this. Because as you mentioned anybody, even if it’s you know sex educators, sex workers, people who sell sex toys, like you know, it has become a space in which I have been shadow banned a lot. I have been, Dr. Wednesday Martin, she is constantly, who’s another sexologist here in New York, also has a PhD in anthropology from Yale, but is constantly being shadow banned. So COMMUNITYx is a brand new social network for social good as you mentioned. And what is interesting about this, is this is a place for change makers to connect with other change makers. It’s not just about sex or sexuality, it’s about people looking to move the needle towards good in the social justice areas, climate change, health government, voting, racial inequities, you name it. And the app when you log on, it’s going to ask you to identify your five main cause areas that you really care about. Then the algorithms are going to create a community for you based on those cause areas. So you’re already in a pool of people who are into the same things you are. And you know we don’t allow for misinformation at all. And what we’re really trying to do is mobilize and unite the world. Because we believe that everybody can be change makers if they have the right tools and can connect to the right people. And maybe you’re sitting here listening to this like, “I’m not really a change maker. I’m not an activist.” But maybe you’re a concerned citizen and you saying to yourself, “How can I get more involved?” And by being a part of this community, we’re connecting you to those organizations, to those people, that are really active. On the app, you can connect with people and create calls to actions, you can create events. So instead of like, posting something, we say calls to action. You can sign a petition right, in app with a double tap and you can create groups and conversations and DMs, and so it’s going to function just like you’re used to but without the shadow banning, without all the disinformation without all the ads, without all as our current president would say, “malarkey” that’s out there.

Dr. Jess (27:45):

And so this is https://www.communityx.tech if people wanna learn more. How are you involved with this app?

Michelle Hope (27:50):

I actually am the vice president of marketing. And I’m so thrilled to be doing this work. We are a part of Techstars Social Impact cohort currently. And right now if you go to the website, we’re asking people to vote for the cause areas, because we are about to relaunch the app probably mid March. And so it’s really important that we wanna put the power of power in the hands of the people. We want to give you the ability to identify what cause areas we need to build coalitions around for our next launch. So if you go onto the website and you vote right, you’re going to go ahead and vote for those cause areas and we’re going to tabulate what cause areas came up the most, and those will be the coalitions. Cause in the app, you’re gonna be building coalitions. Those will be the coalition’s we launch with.

Dr. Jess (28:43):

Very cool, so I really encourage people to check that out at https://www.communityx.tech. Michelle, I actually didn’t realize that you were the VP of marketing when I asked about that. So that’s very cool. And I actually want to take a quick step back. Because we’re buddies, we started chatting and I was talking to you about the film you were talking about last night. I don’t even think I mentioned the film. The film is Belly of the Beast. And you can see it at http://www.bellyofthebeastfilm.com. Sorry sometimes we get a little carried away. Now before I let you go, can I ask you one more question for listeners? Because these listener questions are piling up.

Michelle Hope (29:18):

Yes, absolutely. I’d with you all day and talk, honey.

Dr. Jess (29:23):

I know I know. I feel the same way. Alright, this question is from a college student. They said “thanks so much for your work. I am a deaf learner, interested in learning more about sex. And I have a question” — and we do try and put transcripts up just so that people know — “I have a question about anal sex. I’m hoping you can help me. I wanna try it. But I’m worried about damage and I’m worried about poop. What can you tell me about poop and anal?
Michelle Hope (29:51):

Well first and foremost just anticipate a bit of a shitty situation. Even if you eat all the right things and you have, I don’t advise people to douche their anus or their rectum, because it takes out the good bacteria, but there is going to be some semblance of rectal matter, no matter what. Even if it looks clean. Secondarily, start slow and have a conversation with your partner. Slow, go, whoa, right? So slow, okay you can go. This is really kind of communicating that consent piece and then whoa, would be like whoa stop. And I also advise start with yourself and a butt plug, and really work your way up. You know there are a lot of butt plugs, that are a lot of different sizes. Do not use anything in your anus that is not a butt plug okay? Let’s be clear, because y’all anus is a muscle and it can suck it right up and we don’t want that to happen. The great abyss of your butt, you don’t want to get things lost there. Nobody wants to go the emergency room like, “I got this thing stuck in my butt”.

Dr. Jess (31:01):

However if you do get something stuck in there, go to the emergency room.

Michelle Hope (31:06):

Immediately. Immediately. Whether you want to or not. Ben wa balls, not anal beads. So make sure you know, when you’re picking out something, you want to start with something very small and gradually work your way up. I don’t want to sit here and act like the first time you have anal sex, it’s not going to be painful. And be aware that the anal tissue doesn’t self lubricate, so you need to make sure you’re using lube. You also need to make sure you’re using condoms. Even on your toys and lubey, lube, lube, lube, lubey, lube, lube, lube. I can’t say that enough. Because you can get some some minor tears, fissures, and it can cause hemorrhoids. So I just wanna be very clear. If you’re into that, great, it can be a good time. A little backdoor play you know is always a good time. But I want you to start slow. And I would advise doing that through masturbation and self pleasure first, so you understand what your limits are before you end up with a person. And then as far as diet, you wanna make sure you eat a lot of fibrous foods. Drink a lot of water prior to, and make sure you have a full bowel movement before you start to engage in that type of play. No chilli cheese dogs you know, six to eight hours prior to. Because remember, your whole entire lower intestine is broken into three kind of sections to make sure you have a really good bowel movement. And latex gloves, condoms and lube.

Dr. Jess (32:36):

I really appreciate that. All the playing on the outside right, it’s not like, you have to go in right? And take it easy. My additional rule besides getting to know your own butt first, is that whoever is playing with your butt needs to also put things in their own butt first. Do you know what I mean? So it’s so good that we learn about our bodies, but if Brandon’s gonna put something in my butt, I want him to put something in his own butt, so he knows what it feels like, he knows how it feels in there.

Brandon (33:03):

Yeah I that respect, I think that’s fair. I should really be able to appreciate it. And I love that “slow, go whoa.” I might do it the other way around, “whoa, go slow.”

Dr. Jess (33:15):

Michelle thank you so much for hanging with us today. Michelle Hope, VP of marketing at COMMUNITYx, the social network for social good, as well as an activist, sexpert, media personality. Probably about to get her own show. I’m just putting it out there. Thanks for chatting with us today. Really appreciate it.

Michelle Hope (33:33):

No problem. Thank you for having me. I look forward to the next time, and I’m coming to Canada. I’m gonna come visit you.

Dr. Jess (33:39):

Do it, do it, as soon as these borders open up. We’re all going to be going back and forth, masked up, I’m sure, but we’re all ready. Have you seen the meme of the airplane where they’re all going up the steps, you remember, the old steps to the airplane where you actually walk in from outside? It’s all these people saying, “this is how ready I am.” I think we’re all feeling that way.

Michelle Hope (33:58):

Absolutely.

Dr. Jess (33:59):

Thank you again. All right, before we wrap up, I want to answer one more question. Because we’re receiving them in great volume. So this lovely person writes, “My wife has a tilted cervix and sex can be uncomfortable for her at times. Also she usually can only orgasm while being on top. I would like to know the best positions for a tilted cervix, and how to get her to orgasm without her having to work for it.” I like that. Not having to get on top. not having to work for it.

Brandon (34:30):

That speaks to you, that really resonates?

Dr. Jess (34:34):

This without leaving my bed, getting off of my back. I appreciate this. I will say with a tilted cervix, it really depends on the length of distance between the entrance to the vagina. And when you hit the bottom of the cervix, it would depend on the angle, it would also depend on the angle of the inserted object. So there are a lot of things at play here. I will say the best position for most people with vulvas to orgasm, tends to be any position where they can rub and grind against the clit. So sometimes being on top feels so good, because we can kind of rock back and forth. Sometimes from behind feels good, because you can reach your hand down and touch her clitoris. Sometimes lying on the bed flat feels really, really good as you squeeze your legs together because you’re able to grind against the mattress. What are you laughing at?

Brandon (35:34):

I’m just laughing because it sounds to me like you’re actually doing some work.

Dr. Jess (35:38):

Lying down?

Brandon (35:39):

Yeah, I thought you wanted to do nothing, for it to just magically happen. Don’t you have a toy for that?

Dr. Jess (35:45):

A unicorn orgasm? So to say what the best position is, is very difficult. I have had clients who have had issues with pressure against their cervix, who have found that sex from behind, so sort of doggy style, can help. And that also has to do with the padding of the butt and the thighs, reducing the depth of penetration. So one thing I will say for the tilted cervix, is that something that can help, if it’s the depth of penetration that causes discomfort or pain, is the Not So Deep Donuts, those props that basically look like a small donut and fit at the base of your penis. So you can still feel like you’re thrusting all the way in and out, but there is some padding, so that is not going quite as deep. I think that can really help.

Brandon (36:36):

That’s great, all helpful tips.

Dr. Jess (36:39):

Other things are again, to go back to it. People with vulvas are more likely to orgasm from oral sex, from manual sex, from using toys. So I wouldn’t get too hung up on penetration. Of course if you enjoy penetration, whether I’m not sure what you’re using if you’re using a a penis or if you’re using a strap on, anything also that allows the vagina to control the depth of penetration. Which again might go back to why she can orgasm while being on top. But I do think it’s kind that you’re asking, you know, how to get her off, how to give her an orgasm without her having to work for it, so I hope that’s a little bit helpful. Not So Deep Donuts, anything that allows your partner to rub and grind, and then doggy style can be very helpful. But I can’t give a universal prescription so if you’re listening, feel free to get back to me and say “actually no, doggy style doesn’t work for us.” Because it really just depends on the person. Sometimes, even lying flat on her back with your legs on the outside of her hips and you slide inside and then she squeezes her legs together. So she can squeeze against the object, either the penis or the strap on, between her thighs, and that also creates a bit of a barrier for deeper penetration. But it still feels like you’re going all the way in and out for you, you’re still getting pressure against the base of your penis, or your strap on, depending on what you’re using, because she’s squeezing her legs together.

Brandon (38:07):

Yeah I mean, I’m just sitting here thinking to myself, visualizing, but no I’m thinking about the communication side, which I know doesn’t sound like the sexiest thing. But when somebody’s like “hey what can I do to give you an orgasm?” I’m like that’s awesome right? Because then you’re just like, this person really wants to give me an orgasm, like this is great.

Dr. Jess (38:29):

Here’s the thing where the sexologist comes in, and ruins that. Because that is really great in many cases. And then for other people it feels like pressure, especially for people who have trouble having an orgasm with a partner in the room or who feel they take a long time, or you know you have a partner whose performative and is like “I can give anyone an orgasm” you know? I’m not trying to be a killjoy. But the reality is in any field of human behaviour, and so of course it follows that in human sexuality, there’s just so much nuance and every experience is different. So I hope those three approaches help. And Brandon’s right. Definitely, the communication piece is important.

Brandon (39:05):

But the other things are very good too.

Dr. Jess (39:07):

You like the donut?

Brandon (39:09):

Any of those things. I think it’s a win-win.

Dr. Jess (39:12):

Win-win. So thank you so much. Thanks for writing in folks. Keep the questions coming and keep the feedback coming as well. Please do like, subscribe, share with your friends, follow along, I’m at @sexwithdrjess on instagram. And you should follow Brandon folks.

Brandon (39:26):

I’m not nearly as interesting but you know what, come follow along.

Dr. Jess (39:29):

You post some pretty pictures.

Brandon (39:31):

I do post pretty pictures

Dr. Jess (39:32):

It’s @veritybrandon. You can find him through @sexwithdrjess if that’s easier. Thanks so much for listening. Wherever you’re at have a great one.

(39:44):

You’re listening to the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast. Improve your sex life, improve your life.