Hello, my loves. I am so excited for today’s guest: we have Dr. Tara here today!
Dr. Tara is on the UK’s hit TV show, Celebs Go Dating, and she’s a sex educator. We’re going to dive into all things sex today, and let me tell you…you are not ready for all the juicy topics we’re getting into today. So welcome, Dr. Tara!
Dr. Tara: Hello, Michelle. Are you having an orgasmic day?
Michelle: Always, babe. So, can you just share a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Dr. Tara: Well, I wear four hats. My first hat is that I am a tenured professor of sexual communication at Cal State University Fullerton. I teach sexual communication and quantitative research, and I teach there two days a week.
My second hat is that I have a private practice here in downtown Los Angeles for sex and relationship coaching.
My third hat is being a media personality. Like you said, I’m on the TV show called Celebs Go Dating. I’m on there as a dating agent/sex expert.
Then lastly, my fourth hat is being a content creator. I’m most active on TikTok and Instagram. I have over two million followers, and I just love using those platforms to teach sex education in a fun, accessible way.
Michelle: I just love that you have this big personality, but you’re also a professor. Dr. Tara. That is such a permission slip for women; it shows that you can be a professional woman and be sexual. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Dr. Tara: Thank you for pointing that out. I’ve been telling people for a long time that as women, we have been reduced to one dimension for centuries. But in actuality, we’re multidimensional bad bitches. I can be very smart, write research papers, and win awards as well as talk about blow jobs on TikTok. And that’s okay.
Michelle: When I was a stripper, guys at the strip club would always say, “Wow, you’re actually really smart.” I’m like, “Yeah, we can be sexual and be intelligent. They’re not exclusive from one another.”
Dr. Tara: The freakiest people I know are smart people.
Michelle: 100%. I fully back that.
Michelle: So, let’s dive into the sex conversation. When I’m working with a woman on sexuality, one of the first things that comes up for women is that it feels “dirty,” or it feels “weird.” Their attitude toward it seems to come from a place of shame. Can you speak to that at all?
Dr. Tara: Absolutely. A lot of women experience sexual shame, and it does often manifest as normalizing the idea that it’s common for women to not want sex or to not want to be sexual.
But here’s the thing: thousands of years ago, there was a time when sex and sexuality weren’t so taboo. Gender roles weren’t super clear. People were living more pleasure-based lives. But the rise of different organized religions and very strict teachings on the role of sex and sexuality for women and for couples, we then adopted this idea of purity.
So we have lived in purity culture for a very long time—several generations. And if you don’t know what purity culture means, it means that as a woman, you don’t want to be sexual. You don’t want to initiate sex, you don’t want to self-pleasure, and you want to be as innocent as possible, because you want to stay “pure,” waiting for the day that your husband will deflower you.
So, if this teaching has been here for hundreds of years, how can we feel sexually empowered?
Research has found that it takes a few generations to heal from family trauma, let alone this sexual trauma that we have experienced for multiple, multiple generations.
It takes time to break the wheel. But if you’re reading this, I want you to know that you can be the person that starts changing that pattern. Your children, if you choose to have children, don’t have to feel this way. Your nieces don’t have to feel this way. Your younger cousins or younger sisters don’t have to feel this way. Your students don’t have to feel this way.
When I teach in college, I’m very passionate about this, because I don’t want them to feel this way. And I want to help younger people feel more sexually empowered and to have that agency to talk about sex, to talk about their desires, likes and dislikes, boundaries, all of that. Because sex is not taboo. Sex is normal.
Michelle: So you mentioned that there’s a lot of trauma built up generationally around sex and sexual shame, but also it’s a sad reality that the vast majority of women have experienced some kind of sexual trauma on an individual basis. And when I asked my audience what they wanted to ask Dr. Tara, one of their questions was, how does someone come back from sexual trauma? How do you start to reclaim your sexuality after experiencing that?
Dr. Tara: Well, when we talk about sexual trauma, we should first define it a little bit, because it’s not only the people who were sexually abused from a young age or sexually assaulted. It could also be that your first sexual partner was very mean to you. Maybe they shamed your body or the way you had that sexual encounter. That could also be sexual trauma.
So we’re not only talking about the extremes of sexual abuse. We want to cover the full spectrum of what could have happened that resulted in very negative experience.
Now, in terms of healing, there are so many methods for people to face and overcome their trauma.
The first method is self-healing, which is the easiest for everyone to access. This can be done through journaling in a journal created specifically for that purpose; there are prompts provided for people who have experienced sexual traumas to journal through.
The second method is obviously seeing a sex therapist, and I am going to advocate for specifically choosing a sex therapist, because when I was in my first marriage, I met therapists—but they weren’t sex therapists, and they were shaming me about wanting to have a non-traditional marriage.
I don’t want to say all therapists are like that, but my friends and I have all noticed that some traditional therapists will unintentionally shame their clients over things like that.
The third option—and I think a lot of people don’t know this even exists—is a sexological body worker.
A lot of things are stored in the body, and to heal from certain traumas, especially if it was touch-based trauma, you need to work through that physically.
A sexological body worker works on your body, and it often couples with therapy. Sexological body workers are certified people who have learned how to work on your body to unlock certain things.
It could be shame. It could be trauma. It could be sexual dysfunction. Whatever it is, this type of therapy can help. Now, it’s non-traditional in the sense that you’re getting touched, and I think a lot of people are not used to that, so just be prepared if you go that route.
Fourthly, there is also a somatic therapist, which is another type of one-way touch therapy.
And the last method, which is legal in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and in the UK, is a certified sex surrogate. A sex surrogate therapizes you through touch, but it’s two-way touch.
A body worker or somatic therapist will give one-way touch, but with a sex surrogate, you can touch them.
This is not prostitution. Prostitution is for pleasure, which is great too. I love pleasure. But a sex surrogate is there to therapize you for a certain issue.
These are all great options. You just have to find something that works for you.
Michelle: So, Dr. Tara, once someone has dealt with the majority of their trauma—though there’s always going to be things that come up—how does someone then start to come into orgasmic living? What even is orgasmic living?
Dr. Tara: I like to tell people to have an orgasmic day. However, that doesn’t have to mean, “Remember to have penetrative sex!” To me, having an orgasmic day comes from living authentically and truly in your passion. And that can be whatever. It could be exercising in the morning, masturbating in the afternoon, having great sex at night, or having no sex at all.
Ultimately, it’s about you feeling like you’re living truly in your passions. And that’s how I want to live every day.
It’s not just about that actual scientific definition of clitoral or vaginal orgasms. I love them too, and I try to have them daily. But at the same time, there’s so much during the day that you can take advantage of; for instance, let’s say you take minutes to do sexual meditation, and it makes a day like a lot juicier. Or you start sexting your husband for five minutes, and that makes the day juicier.
Michelle: I love that, because this is something that really shifted for me. I thought being orgasmic meant that you were having orgasms all the time. You were constantly self-pleasuring, you were cumming every single time, you were always having sex…but for me, when I started to expand my definition of pleasure, that’s when things really started to shift.
I would sit on my couch and I would feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, and I would claim that as pleasure. I would literally say out loud, “This feels good.”
I remember being in the sauna, too; I was just feeling the warmth and feeling so relaxed, and I was stroking my body, and I said out loud, “This feels good. This feels pleasurable.” And I was rewiring my nervous system to be accepting of pleasure.
That doesn’t mean I’m getting fucked to God. It just means that feels good. That feels pleasurable. And I think a lot of women should have the opportunity to rewrite their experience and narrative around pleasure.
Michelle: Thank you so much for doing this! I really appreciate you being here, and I think you’ve offered such incredible insight.
Dr. Tara: I’m so honored to be here. I appreciate you giving space and time for normalizing sex positivity, because I feel like there’s good energy surrounding sex positivity right now. It’s a movement. So let’s keep it going, because if we can talk about sex like this between you and I, where we couldn’t have done this so openly ten years ago…what does it mean for ten years from now? We can be the ones that change it.
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I get it, girl. I’ve been there too. For years, I was going through the same experiences with men over and over again that left me feeling confused, anxious and pissed off.
I silenced myself in dating and relationships because I was terrified of being judged, rejected and abandoned. It all changed when I went through a break-up and thought “enough is enough. I cannot continue to repeat the same relationships with different men! Something HAS to change!”