Know Yourself, Experiment, Open Up and Be Real

I love Lena Dunham. She’s smart, funny and not at all afraid to be herself. So when a writer from her magazine called and asked if they could interview me for an article, I jumped at the opportunity. I like to think of our center, Maze Women’s Sexual Health, as channeling the spirit of Lena Dunham. We are all about learning to know yourself, experimenting, opening up and being real. And we are committed to women learning to be their own authentic selves in their sex lives. It’s not always easy. You need to give up your fear of shame. But I promise you it’s worth it if you can.

– Bat Sheva

AK: Do you encounter a lot of women who don’t know about vibrators?

BSM: Yes, but the thing is that even if she knew about it, to give yourself permission to actually use one is another thing. I see a lot of women who feel like vibrators are kinky or weird, or my favorite is that it’s “unnatural.” I always tell them, well, eyeglasses are unnatural, so are you just going to walk into walls? My dissertation was on vibrator use, so I’m a huge vibrator person. 

AK: What are some of the saddest cases you’ve had?

BSM: I had somebody who was married for 23 years, had two children, and had never had intercourse.

AK: Uh …hhow is that even possible?

BSM: They used artificial insemination because she couldn’t get a penis in her vagina. Four months after coming to see me, she was fine. 

I see this kind of thing a lot, and to me, it’s the most tragic because it’s not a complicated thing to treat. If we can get one message out to women, it’s that if your vagina hurts, you can get help. Don’t live with that. Don’t feel like you’re crazy or something is wrong with you.

But actually, this couple had still managed to maintain a sex life. They weren’t having intercourse, but they were doing lots of other things. Intercourse is only one kind of sex. That’s a myth that drives me crazy — that somehow intercourse is the end-all, be-all. Intercourse is just one way of having sex! When people use the word foreplay, I say, stop, stop, there’s no such thing as foreplay — it’s sex. Stop thinking that sex is a penis in a vagina and everything else is just foreplay. It’s a very androcentric way of thinking.

AK: What is the most important advice you’d give to the women who read Lenny?

BSM: I think the biggest thing that stops women from enjoying their sex life is shame. And not just religious women. Women are more embarrassed about things than they’re willing to admit. They’re embarrassed about watching porn, about what their fantasies are, about experimenting with things they might think are silly, about the way they look. And the more you can let go of any of those expectations and just say “Sex is fun,” the better your sex life will be. If you’re into, like, bubbles or Martians or whatever, that’s fine! It just is, and that’s fine. Have fun! 

If you would like to read the entire interview, please click here