Before we jump in, you’re invited to join me for a special Ask Me Anything Episode recording on December 15th at 1pm ET (10 am PT)! All you have to do is go to https://andreaowen.com/ama. You can submit your questions beforehand by emailing support(at)andreaowen.com or come live to ask. Hope to see you there!
This week, we’re continuing the conversation on women’s health and sexuality. Joining me to discuss that, plus today’s culture and reclaiming your sexual agency, is sex therapist and clinical sexologist Danielle Kramer. Danielle’s specialties include sexual concerns of women and AFAB folks, religious trauma and purity culture recovery, nontraditional relationship orientations, and those questioning their sexuality.
In this episode you’ll hear us talk about:
- How our culture harms women's sexuality and leads to both relationship and health problems (6:05)
- Purity culture: what it is and how it harms women's health, sexuality, and sex in relationships (6:48)
- We explore the topics of talking about sex and sex positivity with our children (19:56)
- FRIES is a framework everyone should use for consent (32:15)
- What is healthy sex, anyway? (36:04)
- Unpacking how misogyny shows up in our lives (51:30)
The updated and revised edition of my book How to Stop Feeling Like Shit comes out later this month. Woohoo! 🎉 We have some amazing bonuses and giveaways planned, so head over HERE to pre-order and grab those!
Danielle on TikTok @inbedwithdanielle
Danielle on Instagram @inbedwithdanielle
Episode 312: Sexuality and Spiritual Awakening with Jessica Graham
Tea consent video
You know how I love a good personal development book, right? I’ve compiled a list of book recommendations, as mentioned in past episodes. Check out these amazing book recommendations here. Happy reading!
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Danielle is a sex therapist and clinical sexologist specializing in LGBTQ+ and women's healthcare. Her clinical specialties include sexual concerns of women and AFAB folks, religious trauma and purity culture recovery, nontraditional relationship orientations, and those questioning their sexuality. Her research focus is on the use of misogyny as a tool to oppress marginalized sexualities. She currently practices in Florida and Nebraska.
Does it feel healthy for you? Does it make you feel good? Does it make you feel nourished? Then that's a good healthy sexual ethic for you. If it's making you feel bad about yourself, making you feel bad about your relationship, that's probably not healthy. But those things are going to be different for everybody. So in terms of like, what does healthy sex look like? It looks like you being happy and healthy, having consent, not being hurt, not being manipulated, right? If it feels good for you, and no one's being hurt. That's a good healthy sexual ethic.
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast number 493 with guest Danielle Kramer.
Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast, your guide for strategies, tools and insight to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable confidence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.
Hey, everybody, welcome to another episode of the podcast. I'm so glad that you're here. So today we have another sexpert on. Is that really hokey that I called…? I don't know if that's a word that gets used. But at any rate, I forgot to mention in the intro last week, that I feel like I shared a little bit too much. Definitely In last week's episode, I don't think as much in this one with Danielle. Definitely in the one last week with Whitni. I had Darlene, our wonderful and amazing Podcast Producer take out a part where I was just like, Andrea, what? Why? No! Thinking back on the episode, I'm like, I really probably should have had Darlene take out more. Sometimes I forget that we're not best friends, you and me. And I just I divulge a little bit too much information and then I have a vulnerability hangover.
But at any rate, we're still talking about sex this week. Danielle Kramer is on. She's a sex therapist. I'm going to tell you. I'm gonna read her short bio in just a minute here. But don't forget, December 27, this month, if you're listening to this in December 2022, you may not be but How To Stop Feeling Like Shit is coming out again, updated and revised. I'm so excited about this edition. I mean, I just love the book. I love all my book babies. This one was extra special because she has traveled around the world and been translated into 19 languages, is available in 23 countries. And I'm so grateful that the publisher Hachette agreed to have me do an update on it because a lot of big things happened between today and 2018 when the book came out. So December 27th. We are doing giveaways. We have freebies, we have drawings, we have special podcast, secret podcast series, that point to the book and help you out even further a free workbook. Head on over to AndreaOwen.com/HTSFLS. If you didn't know that stands for How To Stop Feeling Like Shit. I just assumed everybody knew at this point. And you can see all of the free stuff and the drawings and all the fun things that we're doing to celebrate the rerelease of this really fun, amazing book.
All right let's get into this week's episode. Let me tell you a little bit about our guests. Danielle Kramer is a sex therapist and clinical sexologist specializing in LGBTQ plus and women's health care. Her clinical specialties include a sexual concerns of women and a fab folks, religious trauma and purity culture recovery, nontraditional relationship orientations and those questioning their sexuality. Her research focus is on the use of misogyny as a tool to oppress marginalized sexualities. She currently practices in Florida and Nebraska. So without further ado, here is Daniel.
Hey, everyone, before we jump into today's episode, guess what? We're doing something fun on the podcast and I hope you can join us. On December 15 coming up here in just a couple of weeks, at one o'clock Eastern time. I'm doing a live AMA call. And it literally, AMA, you can ask me anything. You can ask me what my favorite moisturizer is. You can ask me what my middle name is. You can ask me something advice. You can ask me a question about one of my books. Literally anything. And Emily is going to be here with me hosting and we're going to record it and then it's going to be a podcast episode the following week to celebrate the rerelease of How To Stop Feeling Like Shit. You don't need to sign up for anything. You just go to AndreaOwen.com/AMA. It's that easy. On December 15, at one o'clock Eastern time. If you have a question, shoot us an email support at AndreaOwen.com. Or you can even DM it to me on Instagram if you want to. Please please give your questions. I'm going to be so embarrassed. And if you are there live on Zoom, you can ask your question and then hear yourself. It's totally optional, but you can hear yourself on the podcast. So December 15, one o'clock Eastern time. AndreaOwen.com/AMA. See you there.
Danielle, thank you so much for being here.
Thank you so much for having me.
I told you before we started recording, I'm like, I have like 30 questions. And I have a feeling I know what's gonna happen is I'm going to start asking you stuff, and we're gonna get into it and then more things are going to open up. You know, my audience is very much on board with how our culture sort of conditions us to act a certain way to think a certain way to be a certain way. And when I say us, I mean people who identify as women. So can you start by letting us know, how do you think that our culture harms women's sexuality and how those problems kind of go into both relationships with our partners as well as health problems? I'm starting you out with a whopper? I know. No big deal.
Yeah. Very big question. But honestly, it's probably one of the biggest topics I get asked to talk about so much, because our culture is really hitting like kind of a shift point where I talk a lot about purity culture. And in people, when I say purity culture, people usually think religion. But it's something that has been kind of extrapolated to our entire society. Most of our sex education in the United States is purity, culture, and abstinence based. So even if you go to a public school, you're getting purity, culture indoctrination. And when we take a look at what purity culture says women should be, it completely takes away our sexual autonomy, and our agency. Sex is being something done to women rather than with them. It's something for men, and that's kind of the cultural messaging around sexuality for women. Good girls don't want sex. Sex is really more for men. Like maybe like sex, maybe, but you shouldn't say that, because that makes you look bad. That makes you look like a slut. Right, so it really removes our sexual agency, our culture in our society, in general has removed sexual agency from women and we're kind of hitting the shift where women are starting to try to take that back. And I love it.
Let's like take a few steps backwards. And maybe somebody…I'm guessing that the majority of my audience knows what purity culture is, but can you sort of like give us like the ABC 123 is on what that looks like what it is?
For sure. So purity culture definitely started in evangelical Christianity. But in the 80s-ish, like the first Bush era, really, it kind of started with Reagan but there was this big push about sexuality education in America. And if we look at the history of America, it totally makes sense. In the 60s, we kind of had this big sexual revolution sort of carried us into the 70s, LGBTQ rights, right? And then we hit the AIDS pandemic, the AIDS epidemic. And there was this huge cultural shift away from sexuality and towards kind of controlling sexuality. Sexuality is dangerous. And so they started to implement Saturday purity culture education in all public schools across America. And the purity culture education is don't have sex until marriage, when you have sex, it must be within the confines of a heterosexual man plus woman marriage, and that's the only appropriate way to have sex, right? And if you have sex outside of there, there's all these other messages, right? Like women are damaged goods, nobody's going to want you, your husband is not going to want you. So that education, that messaging, we usually think is linked to religion, but unfortunately, that's the majority of our public school sex education even today in the United States.
I'm having like some flashbacks. That's my pause. I'm thinking back to school. Public Schools. I grew up…so I was born 1975 So I'm a I was a child in the 80s in a teenager in the 90s. So I remember and I grew up in a Lutheran Church, which I listened to a podcast and my very best friend grew up in the born again Christian evangelical place. So I listened to those and I'm like, oh, my gosh, I had it…I feel like in many ways, I had it kind of mild, where it was what you just talked about, of, you know, it's like, you wait until you have wait to have sex until you're married, good girls don't want sex, and if you do, just act like you'd like it for your husband, like as a performance, and you know, kind of all those sort of generic things. But like, I hear some women's stories, and I am just aghast at what they grew up understanding sex was and women's sexuality. And it's just, it was abusive, like it was just so incredibly abusive. So and I might be jumping ahead a little bit here. Can you talk about just generally speaking, how that type of conditioning can create health problems for women, even when they're teenagers and young women and into even midlife.
So you mentioned like the 90s, right, which is really, when that purity culture education started to get pushed even heavier in the schools. Through the 90s and early 2000s we started seeing things like Purity Balls, I don't know if you remember, but there was like, who was it like Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers, they were all wearing purity ring.
Yes, yes. I never went to any of those. I remember that in those pop stars. Those pop stars and even like the, the obsession with Britney Spears virginity, and Jessica Simpson. I was in my 20s, then yeah, sad. It was so gross.
Right. And so what we see in the therapy room, we started to see a lot of people it's been called, like an epidemic of shame that occurred, we started to see people who went to school 80s, 90s, 2000s and they would come to therapy, and they were experiencing all these symptoms, they couldn't fully engage in their sex life. It's interesting to me that you use the word performance, because what we found is there's a lot of women performing sex. Are you having sex with your partner or are you performing sex in the way that you think a woman is supposed to have sex? So what we…for your partner's pleasure, right? Not for you for your partner. And because sex is for him, right? So what we started to see where it's all these people coming into the therapy room, and they had symptoms that looked like sexual abuse. They had the exact same experiences and symptoms as people who had experienced sexual abuse. And therapists were like, what is going on? Like, we're seeing these trauma responses, seeing anxiety, we can see people with vaginal dryness, which is very painful contractions of the internal vaginal walls, vulvodynia, which is nerve pain outside of the vulva. There's a lot of different physical issues that can come up for people that were raised in purity culture, but therapists were like, what is going on? These people have all these symptoms of experiencing intense sexual abuse, but they're saying they've never been sexually abused. And what we found is being raised in purity culture, and just like you said, it's on a spectrum, right? Some people got it really heavy, some people got it less so. But being raised in purity culture, and being given those messages, particularly for women, because the messages are so shaming for women, we see people have the exact same symptoms or responses, all the things that we see with actual sexual abuse.
That's fascinating. I mean, it makes a lot of sense, you know, thatthings can happen in our brain. But then they manifest physically, I mean, we see it all the time. And it's interesting for whatever reason, and I don't know how I ended up dodging this bullet I talked to my best friend about you know, her upbringing and, and she has religious trauma, and she always says, when we talk about it, she's like, the difference between you and me, Andrea, just like you didn't internalize it. Like I heard all of those things and for whatever reason, I don't know why I was able to kind of just on a practical level, like understand like, okay, if I have sex before I get married, it's likely that I will go to hell, but it feels like it's worth it to me. Like I didn’t dwell on it. It didn't keep me up at night. For whatever reason, I wish that I knew what it was that made me be able to escape that because I would tell people yeah, it's definitely it makes so much sense that women are experiencing these physical symptoms.
And so are some common things that you see women come into your practice for who are partnered when whatever kind of relationship that they're in. Do you does it do they do they typically come in and say like, I have these sexual problems? Or do they come in and say like, oh, I need to talk about my family of origin and then it ends up coming out like, is there kind of a pattern that you see?
Both ways. I think it kind of depends on where the person is when they seek therapy, because everyone chooses most of the time people think about seeking therapy for about six months before they actually reach out to the therapist depends on where they are in that journey, and what prompted them to reach out in the first place. Usually, there's something like an event or an argument with a partner or something that happens that really prompts them to take that. A lot of times I'll have people come to me, and what's really common is they'll say, I'm having this sexual issue, right? You're a sex therapist, I'm coming to see you because I have this sexual issue. And sex is almost never the problem. Sex is almost always the symptom of another issue, right? Your purity culture trauma might be a symptom of you not feeling safe in the relationship, might be a symptom of you feel like sex is not reciprocal. It could be a lot of different things, body image issues can play into how much you enjoy your sex life, all these different things. People will come to see me and they they'll say sex is the problem. I doubt it, but let's unpack this and figure out what the problem actually is. Let's get to the root of it, because it's coming through in sex, but the issue isn't sex.
And then I'll have people come to me. And they say, you know, you're a sex therapist, and I have some issues that I want to work on in my sex life, for sure, but I think my issue really is I'll go back to body image, because that's a very common one. I think my issue is body image, but it is showing up in my sex life. Is this something that you can help me with? Like, can you help me with body image even though my main issue isn't sex? And the answer is absolutely, yes, the main issue is almost never sex. But when people think of a sex therapist, they're usually thinking, I can only see you if my main issue is sex. And the reality is, we usually find that that is not your main issue at all. So it just depends on where the person is, and also how they're kind of internally conceptualizing their problem, right? Because I'll have some people that don't realize that it's purity culture. They'll come in, and they'll say, like, I can't have sex with my partner, you know, I panic every time I tried to, or I have vaginismus, what's going on, and we unpack it, and it's the purity, culture trauma that's causing this vaginismus response. And so we have to heal that. So sometimes people don't have any idea what the issue is, and they're like, help me find it. So it just depends on where they are.
Yeah. Okay. So I'm gonna ask you a question that might be impossible to answer and I'm sure therapists love this question. Can you said the word like, then we have to heal it? Like, what goes into that? Like, can you give us like a, I know, it's probably depends on like, the client, but like, where does one even start?
I'll go back to like, kind of my main starting points with just about everybody. I always like to have people kind of fill out the general intake questionnaire that you fill out, when you see a therapist, you know, are you having anxiety and depression, all these things. But then I really like to go through kind of a sexual history with my clients and odds are, they've never done it either. So it's kind of a roadmap of your sexual upbringing, your sexuality from the earliest memory you have. Because sometimes I'll have clients that remember masturbating when they're four years old, which is totally healthy and normal. And sometimes I have clients that are like, you know, I really didn't even conceptualize myself having a sexuality until I was like 11 or 12. So, go through this sexuality roadmap. What did you learn about sex? When you were a kid? What messages were you told? Um, question that I really like to ask people is was sex loud in your house or was it quiet? And a lot of times, if they were raised in purity culture, they say, oh, sex was quiet in my house, we never talked about it. It was such a shameful thing to even bring on existence. That means sex was right. It was nonexistent. That means sex was really loud in your house. If it was something that your parents were like, don't about that. That's disgusting. That's for marriage. We don't talk about those things. If you got these intense shaming messages, sex was loud. It was just negative. It was negative reinforcement versus like a body positive experience.
So I like to go through this sort of sexual history roadmap with my clients just to figure out where did your messaging come from, what were the things you were taught, what did your sex ed look like? We notoriously give her within that in the United States. I always like to say this sex ed in the US has been caused been called a human rights violation by multiple people, the World Health Organization, the American Bar Association, multiple big organizations have said that we are human rights violation with the way that we provide section 13 or 15. I don't remember off the top of my head. States require that sex education if provided be medically and factually accurate. Not every state requires sex education to be medically accurate.
Oh my gosh, so people so schools can just make up whatever curriculum they want.
They usually end up buying like a prepackaged purity culture, abstinence only one. So they usually buy like a prepackaged curriculum, but they can add whatever they want to the curriculum. They can take out whatever they want from the curriculum. So even if purchase of a good sex education curriculum, they can take out stuff about condoms, about birth control. We have three kinds of sex education in the US. We have abstinence only, abstinence plus, and comprehensive sex ed. Nobody provides sex ed, I think there's only like a handful of states that mandate comprehensive sex education. Abstinence plus is abstinence education do not have sex until marriage, but they can inform you about condoms and birth control. If you are teaching only abstinence education, you are not allowed to mention anything about contraceptives, unless you are mentioning their failure rates. That is the only thing you can mention about contraceptives. Condoms fail, birth control fails, don't have sex.
Imagine you get this messaging, right. And now you're in a most people think that like, you know, I got sex education, they don't think anything of it. They don't know what they don't know. So then they come into my office, and they have a lot of myths, a lot of stereotypes, and a lot of not good education, about sex. So I'm supposed to be helping you right and healing this issue, but we need a good baseline education first. So sometimes, sex therapy is re providing that good sex education, good fact-based sex education, without gender stereotypes without negative shaming messages. Because we have to have a good foundation in order to build you the sex life that you want.
Right. You got to start from scratch in many ways, I assume. Right?
Build it from the ground up, right. And if you think about your own sex education, like you said, you were mostly told, like don't have sex until marriage, right? That's not sex education. Sex education is the only place that I can think of any in the US where we provide a lack of education, and call it education.
Right? That's true. Kind of doesn't make sense. And thinking back again, as you're talking about my own child and teenage self, and I was also lucky that I have a sister who's 12 years my senior. So in some ways, she was kind of like the cool aunt. And she was the one who…I don't think she, you know, she didn't provide any information. But any questions that I had, she was straightforward with me and she was also the one that took me to Planned Parenthood to go on the pill, when I started having sex with my boyfriend when I was a teenager.
And by the way, the vast majority of us were having sex in high school as teenagers, even with our lack of sex education. I worked with someone previously, and I had her on my podcast, for those of you that missed the episode, I will put that link in the show notes. And she did something similar. We went through sort of like a timeline and I think another question that popped up for me when you were sort of giving examples of how you work with your clients of okay, how was sex talked about in your house? Was it quiet? Was it loud? I'd be curious to know from people like how did their parents or primary caregivers talk about women who were open sexually. Whether they were celebrities or not like in my day, I'm just about to say that. Madonna was the best example of someone who was so open with her sexuality, and she was crucified for it. And I remember that very much. And like I think of like Olivia Newton John and the movie Grease at the very end, and like her changing the meanings were the messages that we got, like, I'm very clear now of what was sort of, like put in front of me and my friends growing up. It's funny, you know, I mentioned just a minute ago that like, oh, I just I kind of dodged the bullet of all the internal messaging around religion. I'm not saying that I got away scott free, y'all.
Nobody does, right. No one gets out unscathed.
This last marriage therapist that my husband and I went and saw I specifically wanted to see him. We chose him together my husband and I because he's a sex therapist. However, there was a part of me that because he's a man didn't trust him. And I'm like, I don't even care if you're gay, straight doesn't matter. Like you're a man I don't trust you. And I realized that part of me wanted to have him as a as a therapist, so that I could use that as an excuse as to not talk about it. It took me several sessions in for me to be like, oh, I purposely sabotage this for myself.
At least you can be honest about it, though,
Yeah, that's one of my really great attributes is how transparent and honest I am. And I was very upfront I've done this with all therapists. I'm like, I need to see you for like at least 10 sessions before I trust you enough to really, quote unquote, like, you know, get naked and… But talking about sex, even still, with that therapist with him. I immediately have a physiological response. My stomach just completely knots up and I have anxiety. It's almost as if Now as a 47 year old woman, I have a harder time talking about sex than I did when I was 17. I don't know why. I don't know if it's because I'm a mother now, or if it's because so much time has passed. It's just become more embedded. But I don't know. I don't know if you want to pick that apart.
I think it's a thing that I've seen before and I think it's multifactorial rights, things are so complex, because we're humans. But a lot of times that kind of adolescent period, like you mentioned being 17. And you also mentioned like, we were all having sex, right? Yeah, we were we were an even today, teenagers. Do we forget that? That's what adolescence is about? Like, I know, we don't like talking about it. I know, it makes everybody uncomfortable. But they're going through puberty. 11, 14, 15, 16, they're going through puberty, which is you becoming, you know, the ability to have children. That's what puberty is all about becoming an adult, whatever that is. And that's part of it. Discovering your sexuality, what things do I like, do I not like, it makes everyone uncomfortable. But those ages, you know, 15 to early 20s, that's part of that developmental stage. That is a normal, healthy part of that developmental stage, exploring your sexuality and learning about it. And what we do instead is we stopped down on it, and we say, don't look at that. Don't talk about it. Right? And so it's that curiosity point.
When you're really young, everything's new, everything's exciting. You have all these new sexual things to try. And yeah, it's nerve racking, yeah, it, you know, you can have some self-esteem issues with it. But usually, you're also doing it with a partner know what they're doing either. So you can laugh about it. And there's a little bit less pressure when we get married and we're in these long term partnerships, suddenly, sex kind of hot behind it. Because we know how to keep it healthy. We know if you're in a monogamous relationship, and not everybody is, but we know we have to keep this healthy sexual relationship with this one person. And that can be a lot of pressure for couples. This can definitely be something that breaks people up. And it's not so much about like, I'm not having as much sex as I want, it's about all the complexities that come around that about feeling rejected about not feeling desired or wanted by your partner. Suddenly, all these other factors come in that weren't there when we were 17.
That's multilayered. Yes, I see that. And I think, honestly, I think what sort of retriggered things for me is when my kids became teenagers. And even like, the time leading up to that, and I know we have not everybody listening, but there are many listeners who are mothers and I always knew that I wanted my children to grow up having a different outlook on sex than I did. Like, we were going to have a house where we talked about it, like I never wanted them to feel uncomfortable, or afraid, coming to me with things. And that is a lot easier said than done. I realized we have good intentions, right? Oh, 100%. Like such good intentions, I realized fairly quickly, not even like before it came up, like leading up to it. Like when puberty started. I was like, Oh my god. Okay, so this is…, you know, and this, no one had asked me about anything yet. Like, they were still even too little. And I was like, I need to take my happy ass back to therapy, because I'm getting retriggered about things and just also not knowing like, what and had to get books like what does it mean to raise children in a sex positive household? Does that mean like anything goes like, what does that actually mean? And it's a fairly new term. You know, and I think like my generation, like, you know, Gen Xers, elder millennials, like, we're kind of like the first generation to raise children where that's even an option because for…like that was a rare thing. If you had like a baby boomer or silent generation parent, who was like a sex positive person. I mean, unless they were like a sex therapist. I feel like Dr. Ruth might have been the only one and that was it.
Definitely. And that's the question that I get like, I have an entire on TikTok, I have a whole series about sex education, because I get parents, usually moms, but I get parents so often that that's in for anyone listening. Just know, that's a very common experience, that when your kids start to come ask you questions about sex, whether that means they're 10, or it means they're 14, suddenly, parents are like, Oh my gosh, my own sexuality education is extremely lacking. And I knew I wanted to provide this education to my kids, so it's very common to kind of get triggered or have sort of old dust get kicked up. It's also very common something that I see very, very often, just so that way people know that this is a thing, if you were sexually abused as a child, and you were abused at 11, or 14, when your child turns that age 11, 14, whatever it is, it's very common to have that trauma pop back up and get retriggered by that because now you have a child that in a way reminds you of, of yourself at that age. And so it's really common for those things to come forward. So that's definitely something that will bring people to therapy, or bring people to at least reach out and say, what resources do I need, I can look at them either by myself or with my child to bridge the gap in both of our education and a lot of times what I find is, parents are learning right alongside with their children.
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Well, speaking of sex positive, and you have an acronym that you talk about, and it's called FRIES consent, F-R-I-E-S. Can you talk about what that is?
Yeah, I love FRIES consent, purity culture, education, right? We're usually taught no means no. And we don't teach kids consent. This is one of the biggest issues in our culture. It's one of the reasons we have so much sexual assault in our culture. We do not teach children consent. We teach them look for a yes. And that's not good enough for me. So FRIES consent, F-R-I-E-S. So this is the framework that everyone should use for consent. And it's not just sex, right? This is about bodily autonomy, it can apply to a lot of different things. But the F stands for freely given. My yes has to be freely given. A pressure me, if you coerce me, if you say, well, I thought that you loved me. If you really loved me, you would have sex with me. That's coercion. That’s sexual coercion. If your partner is going to be mad at you, give you the cold shoulder, be passive aggressive, if you say no. You're yes is not freely given. You cannot say yes, unless you're free to say no. If you're not free to say no with no consequences, That's not a real Yes. So the F stands for freely given.
The R stands for reversible. My yes is reversible at any time. If we start doing something and I decide I don't want to do it, I can change my mind. The I stands for informed. This is informed consent. You don't tell me that you're single and then we hook up and I find out that you got a wife. That's not informed consent. I may not have engaged in that interaction, if I knew that information. Informed Consent also means I know what my partner's STI statuses. One was last time you were tested? You haven't been tested for a while we're going to use condoms. If my partner has herpes, they've told me that they do. I can then choose whether or not I want to engage in that risk. Right? But if you don't inform me, that's not informed consent.
The E stands for excited. I need you to be excited about your yes. It can't be a I guess, though, or a go ahead. And it's fine. Or a sure that's not a real Yes. For sure. Right. That's not a real Yes. Now the caveat being and I always get this, there are asexual people out there who are in partnerships that do have sex and so they usually say like, I'm not always getting an excited yes. That's okay, right? As long as that's something you and your partner have discussed and you guys are okay with. So the E stands for an excited yes. I usually tell people if it's not a hell, yes, it's a no. And the S stands for specific. My yes is specific. Yes, I would love to make out with you. That doesn't mean that I'm saying it's yes tp having sex with you. Yes, I would love to come up to your room for a drink. That doesn't mean that I'm consenting to having sex. Yes, I would love for you to go down on me. No, I do not want to have sex today, though. Intercourse, right?
So all of these things, these components have to come together, all of them to be consenting right? To be a yes. Now, once you're in a partnership, right, people usually discuss these things, they usually iron all this stuff out. But even in just will say hookup culture, you can still get a FRIES consent. You can still ask this person, they don't have to be your partner, this comes down to respecting another person, as an autonomous human being, who agreed to engage in an activity with you, right? So you wouldn't force them to do any other activity, go back to like the tea video that a lot of people have seen on YouTube, Google tea consent video. You're not going to force someone to drink tea, if they don't want it. So it comes down to respecting the other person as a fully autonomous human being who's doing something with you. You're not doing something to them, you're doing something with them.
We'll put the link to that to that tea video in the show notes. And it's T-E-A, not the letter T. That is so comprehensive. Thank you.
I want to kind of switch gears a little bit because while you were saying that I was thinking of a question that's not on my list of questions, but I think we see conflicting, you know, for people who are in long term partnerships, we see conflicting information about what is quote, unquote, I don't want to use the word normal, but I want to use the word like healthy sex life or sexual relationships that one has with their partner, because in my experience, it's sort of ebbed and flowed like throughout the years. And so what do you and your colleagues like, what are the what are the experts say, is a healthy sexual relationship? What does it look like?
It looks like whatever you feel is healthy for you. So in general, these are my kind of rules for healthy sexuality. You don't yuck someone else's yum. So if someone says into something that you're not into, they're not disgusting, they're not gross. It's just not for you. The worst thing you should say about someone else's sexuality or the things that they're into, as long as no one's being hurt, right, as long as you're not hurting somebody, as long as everything's consensual, the worst thing you should say is, you know what good for you, but that's not for me. That's good for you, but it's really not for me. So how often should people be having sex? Who knows. There's asexual people out there that don't have sex for months and months, and they're perfectly fine. I have clients that are in long term partnerships, marriages, their partners asexual, the man, I almost always treat women, and so it's the man that it has been asexual, in my experience. There's asexual people of all different genders, of course. But I just like to say that because a lot of people always think it's the woman. And that's not accurate, right? That's a stereotype of our our society, but they don't have sex in their relationship. And so a lot of people would be like, that's not a relationship. You don't get to define that. They get to define that.
And so everyone gets to decide, and that's a lot of sex therapy is about right is helping you develop a good healthy sexual ethic for you. What does that look like for you in absence of purity, culture messaging, in the absence of our cultural messaging about women being sluts, or, like you were mentioning, Britney Spears, and Madonna? Those are covert messages about women's sexuality, like no one has to tell us. Don't be like that. We just hear our parents or other people in our lives, let shaming women or putting other women down, and we get them. The girls don't act like that and if I act like that, there's punishment, right? So absence of all these messages. Let's unpack that deconstruct all of that. And then what we're left with hopefully, is what a good healthy sexual ethic looks like for you.
And I liked that you said I don't like the word normal. I don't either. And I really discourage my clients from using it. Because there's then there's an implication that something's abnormal, or there's kind of a it puts us in this kind of black and white area. So what I always say is normative. Is it normative? Which means that there's a very large wide spectrum of normal healthy behavior. It's very large and very wide. So does it feel healthy for you? Does it make you feel good? Does it make you feel nourished? If it doesn't, that's a good healthy sexual ethic for you. If it's making you feel bad about yourself, making you feel bad about your relationship, that's probably not healthy. But those things are going to be different for everybody. So in terms of like, what is healthy sex look like? It looks like you being happy and healthy, having consent, not being hurt, not being manipulated right? If it feels good for you, and no one's being hurt, that's a good healthy sexual ethic.
Okay, I'm just curious, like my own curiosity. Is there any, like misconceptions about sex therapists that that just bother you or that you just can't stand?
It's a thing that comes up. And it's not surprising, but there's a lot of people that think that we have sex with our clients as part of the therapy. Now, there are sex surrogates. There’s sex surrogates out there, and I've worked with one before, not myself, but with the client. So sex surrogates will have sex with the client, with the person, you're not there during it.
That is such an interesting term. Okay.
Sex surrogate. So, for example, if I have we’ll say, a man that comes to see me that says, I've never had sex, you know, I'm 35 years old. I've never been intimate with someone before and I want to, but now, it's been so long, and I'm so nervous about it, that like, I don't think I could do it. And so you work with them, right, and you get them to a certain level, but if they want to work with a sex surrogate. That's something you offered to them. It's a resource for them, right? And they are a sex worker. Sex surrogates, by definition are sex workers. And so they'll sit with the client and usually it's multiple sessions, right? They'll sit down and they'll have like a date, where they hold hands, and then maybe they'll kiss. Maybe this person has never seen a vulva before. So there'll be like, this is my vulva, this is a clitoris, these are the labia. This is where you can kiss, this is where you can… So there are sex surrogates out there that do have sex with clients, right as part of a therapeutic approach. Sex therapists themselves don't have sex with clients. And so I always say that it's somewhat irritating. Not in that I'm a very sex worker, positive person. It doesn't bother me that people think I'm a sex worker. There's no shame in that. What tends to bother me is you get disgusting emails, you'll get emails from men. You'll get disgusting emails from men that are like, can you do this to me? Can you and it's, it's clearly like, again, I'm not shaming anyone elses King. I'm shaming you sending me disgusting emails that are clearly elicit. And you know what, you shouldn't do that to a sex worker, either. You shouldn't be emailing a sex worker telling them all these things that you want to do to them. Like, that's not cool. So that's probably the biggest thing. I think that kind of bugs me is that will happen.
And it's more just people's reactions, like when you're out to dinner, and people say, what do you do for a living? And you always think in your head, you're like, what kind of reaction am I about to get from these people because when you say you're a sex therapist, people either love it, or they lean into it, and they're like, oh, my gosh, let me tell you about this. Let me talk about my relationship. Or they lean away from it. And they're like, ooh, I need to dip out of this conversation. So you get two reactions, but the people that want to dip out of the conversation, I'm good with that. I'm like, that's cool. You're probably not someone that I would want to have a conversation with anyway.
And those people probably are worried about a few things, I'm sure, like, they just don't feel comfortable talking about sex, they have their own issues. But they're also worried that you're going to kind of psychoanalyze them. And even just by like, dropping out of the conversation, they maybe unknowingly are like, okay, Danielle, just for lack of a better term, nailed it in terms of like, what their issue is, or if they have issues or not. That is really fascinating.
Because that's sexual shame, right? If you're dipping out of the conversation, you're telling me this is uncomfortable, I know you got some sexual shame.
Yeah. My reaction would be oh, my God, that's so fascinating. I have so many questions. Can I ask you something, but I usually like to respect people's career, you know, and like being off the clock and things like that. But I think it's just such a fascinating conversation. I've always been just fascinated with it. And I as this conversation has been going now I'm getting like flashes of different things that have happened throughout my life that I didn't realize that at the time, but have set up my own sexual shame. So I was probably, and I tell this story, because I think it's a common one young Elementary School, probably eightish, eight or nine and I had a family friend who was a couple years older than me and her dad had a subscription to Playboy magazine. And she had a play house in the backyard. So we snuck one of the magazines and we're looking flipping through it and her play house and I remember that there was like kind of such the 80s They were like there was one spread of this woman like on a mink coat and like the bush and like just so much care. And I read I'd seen my mom naked she was never like a height or like that it wasn't out in the open but so that wasn't a surprise but I just remember seeing all the big hair you know on her head and everywhere else and just not really thinking either way anything just it just was naked women, but then we got caught at and it was her mom caught us. And we didn't… She wasn't saying things like, shame on you should, you know, whatever, but we were definitely in trouble. But that had such a big impact on me. And like realizing like, oh, okay, this is definitely something that is hidden that we're gonna get in trouble for. It's dirty. It's shameful. I was pretty young. So it all matters. Yeah.
It does. I always tell parents did you were talking about raising, you know, sex positive household and sex positive kids. And I tell parents all the time, you are communicating what you feel about sex in your reactions to your children. So if you walk in on your like, I was talking about young kids masturbating. Young kids masturbate, it's a thing. It makes people uncomfortable. We don't like to talk about it. They don't know what they're doing. They don't know what it has to do with sex or sexuality. They know that it's a stimulation that feels good for them. Just like you rubbing their back or scratching their back, they know that they have found, oh, if I rub, you know, my body up against this, like this, like a chair or something like that. It feels good. That's all they're doing. They're seeking the stimulation.
But a lot of times, I'll have clients in therapy that say, Yeah, I remember masturbating when I was like, six and then my mom walked in and she's like, what are you doing? We don't do that. Don't touch yourself there. You're communicating shame. You’re telling your child, this is a shameful dirty disgusting activity and your vulva is dirty and disgusting. Don't touch it. Don't do that. You're communicating sexual shame. You walk in on your kid that has a playboy, right? Even if they're really young. Maybe there's like a 10-year-old has a playboy, and you respond like that. What are you doing? Don't look at that, that's gross. Whatever it is. You're communicating sexual shame. Your child's curious, exploring their body and they're exploring other things. So is it jarring for you as a parent to walk in and see your young kid looking at porn or maybe it's on the internet? Let's be honest things are on the internet these days? Yes, it's scary as a parent, and it's jarring but don't impart sexual shame on your child. That's your reaction, right? Handle Your reaction? And then come to your child. They're exploring their curiosity. Hey, buddy, we don't watch this. This isn't for you. If you want to watch it at some point when you're older, you know, we can talk about that then like, but let's talk about what you saw. Let's talk about you watch there. What did you see here? Yes, that's two people having sex. This isn't what sex looks like. This isn't what real sex looks like. Now, that woman's not fully participating. You can have a conversation about consent with your child, you can have a conversation about how porn is recreational people use it for recreational thing and it's a recreation, which means it's not really representative of real sex.
Again, we don't have good sex ed in this country. Most kids are getting sex ed from porn on the internet. That's not what we want. But then we end up with, usually men, who think that that's what sex is supposed to look like. And then we end up with women that think that that's how they're supposed to perform during sex. So rather than shaming your child for watching porn, pull your child away from the porn, right, have a conversation about you know, you're not old enough to be watching that. But then also have a conversation about what they saw. And discuss consent, discuss bodily autonomy, discuss treating a partner with respect, right? That's a learning opportunity. Or you could shame it and shut it down and not have that conversation. Which one do you think is healthier for your child?
Yeah, yeah. And you know, the good news about the internet is that they're, it's rife with articles and like how to use to talk about to talk to your kids about these topics. And also what I have found, you know, years ago, as I was looking at, and like, okay, what are the ABCs, 123’s, and how to do this, look at the source where that article is from, because you might get vastly different information, if you're looking at like your site, for instance, or your social media, versus, you know, something from a church that has a very different angle.
Right. Exactly, exactly. So there's definitely really good websites out there that you can use to help teach you or your child about sex and sexuality, right. But make sure it's coming from a good reliable source, or you're just going to perpetuate the same issues that we have in public school sex ed.
I think it also goes a long way. And I'm thinking about someone listening right now who maybe their kids are older, like maybe they're in college or out of the house. And it's also never too late to circle back with your kids and say, hey, I'm sorry that I never talked to you about sex and you're older now and I might be really uncomfortable and maybe we're past that place, but I just… You know what I mean? Like I just I don't know, as a daughter and a mother. I have I figured out that that may making amends and circling back and cleaning up messes goes a long way. And then might just open up a conversation or heal a wound that you didn't even know was there. And sometimes it doesn't need to be. It doesn't need to open up a whole conversation. Maybe it's just that like, I'm sorry, I never talked to you about this. I didn't have the tools at the time and you deserved to have a parent who was open and honest and have their shit together about it and I apologize that I wasn't healed enough to have that conversation with you. And I'm sorry.
Absolutely. It's never too late. And I also tell parents, just like you said, it's half the sort of conversation, but it can open a door. Because especially if your child's a little bit older, like I'm thinking any anywhere between like 14 all the way through like college age, right? If you've never talked about it, again, was such loud or was it quiet, if you've never talked about it, don't assume that your child knows that they can. Don't assume your child knows that doors open if it's never been open before. So all you're doing is opening a door. And they might look at you and be like, ah, mom, like, I'm 20 years old, I don't need to talk about it. That's fine. Let them have that reaction. But you know what, you opened the door and now they know that doors open. So then when they have an experience in college, three months from now, they'll come to you and talk to you about it.
Exactly. Okay. And we kind of jumped all over the place. Thank you so much for all of this. And is there anything that you want, before we close up, is there anything you want to circle back to make sure that you touch on or say before we before we say goodbye?
I don't think so. Is there something that you had?
Well, I mean, I just I think the thing that but this this would be had to be like an entire other hour. I just I think we've barely even scratched the surface about misogyny. And like, what I mean, maybe I could just like spend a couple of minutes there and in how misogyny in our culture, how does that point to the problems not only with the women that you see in your practice, but with the men as well?
I'm so glad you brought that up actually. I'm so glad you brought that up. Because I do want to touch on that, especially because you were talking about you know, the messaging that we see with Britney Spears and stuff like that, like the obsession with her virginity that slut shaming. We often in our society, people conceptualize misogyny as the hatred of women. And it is right? But that's a very elementary kind of dictionary definition. It's way too simplistic. This is how when I teach and lecture on misogyny, this is how I conceptualize it for people. We live in a patriarchy, right, the United States is a patriarchal society. So you have to think of misogyny as the law enforcement arm of that patriarchal society. Misogyny is deployed to keep women in line and the hope is that if they do it often enough, and they do it early enough, you will never step out of line in the first place. So think about Britney Spears and she was let shamed a lot for what she was wearing right? So we will be like, oh, look at what she's wearing. Look at the way she's acting. The messaging to you as a woman is, if you dress like that, if you act like that, if you're not a good grilling, you don't fall in line. We're going to shame you. We're going to put you down. We're going to destroy you. No one's going to want you misogyny also, we see it every day in our language.
The best way to insult a man is to call him a woman. And when you say that, right, pay attention to your language with your kids. You hit like a girl, don't cry like a girl, are you a sissy, man up. What you're telling your child is women are less than, and the worst thing you can be as a woman. That's the worst insult. We can't teach boys and men all throughout their formative years, that being a woman is the worst thing you can be, the most shameful thing you can be speaking of shame, we shame men by calling them women. They're not going to grow up to respect women. You can't tell them that women are the worst thing you can be and then expect them to respect women when they become adults. So this misogyny in our culture definitely has a huge impact on women's sexuality. Definitely has a huge impact on women finding pleasure in their sexuality and owning their sexuality.
We have a major orgasm gap in our society, which doesn't exist in female-to-female relationships. Right? So that is not right. It's so it's not us that's the problem. Men focusing on their pleasure and their sex, right? And that's because of the way our society teaches about women and sexuality. So misogyny is definitely the ploy to keep women in line and they show it shames women's sexuality. healthy sexual ethic, and how can you find pleasure in sex and sexuality if you never believe that it's for you, and that you're supposed to want it and engage in it in the first place. If all of the sex that you are having in again, heteronormative society, all of this sucks that you're having, is supposed to be in service of a man, then it's never really for you in the first place. So we really have to unpack surrounding sex as well.
I've spent a decent amount of time in therapy, unpacking my former relationship, I was in a relationship for 13 years from the time I was 17 until I was 31, we did not have children together. And I find it's a different in my experience, it's a little bit of a different sexual relationship when you have children and you know, when you identify the mother, and then when you don't. And also, in that former relationship, I kept thinking to myself, like, it's clear, looking back that he didn't see me as a fully formed human. I hate this word, but I don't have a better one for it. Like it was as if I was part of his property. And that sounds really dramatic. But it's just that's an anyone who knows this person and was with me, I know there's people listen to this podcast, you knew me then they would they're nodding your head. But at the same time, why was I so enamored by the feeling of safety and protection that I got? And I'm like, oh, that's misogyny. It's because I was looked at as like, a piece of his property, like I was his and no one else's. And so that's part of like, how…
I want to give like some examples of like, how it manifests how misogyny manifests in relationships and, and I'll use myself as it as an example. When I went through my timeline of all the all the men that I've been with before sexually, like had actual sex with them. And there's, it's gone around on TikTok like that your body count, like if you could cut it down to the only the men that in a heterosexual partnership, the ones that you actually had an orgasm with those are the only the ones that count. I would cut it down to 25%. Only 25%. Sounds about right. Okay. So, but then I look back, and this is something that I unpacked with my former therapist, and it was like, oh, this is the reason I knew what could get me to orgasm and I would never say it. And I would, especially if it's like a new partner, I would never tell them what it was because I was afraid of how it would look. Which is like that explosion, right? Like, why on earth would you not tell your partner what it is that that you find pleasurable? And it was because I was raised in a culture that told me that good girls don't, a) they don't like sex, and then like to act demure like that was like a positive attribute for some reason. Like, I look back on it, and I'm like, What the actual fuck? But this conversation with you, it makes total sense. You know, it's like that is that is misogyny manifested.
Definitely. I follow the rules, basically. And it's so concerning to because you said like we're supposed to be so demure. Like, I don't know anything. That's so gross. You're not having sex with a child, you're having sex with a fully formed adult woman who has a sexuality.
And has been masturbating for a long time, by the way.
And I also put it back the other way, too. How concerning is, that we don't…your partners, men, you don't even ask what your partner like. You're not even asking how you can get your partner to orgasm. That's so problematic, right? I can tell you, right, I can tell you what it takes for me to orgasm, but also, you should be asking your partner that you should want to know that information. And we often are kind of trained, right, patriarchal society, to ask men what they like. And men feel perfectly comfortable telling us what they like, good lord, they'll send you a DM not even knowing who you are. And tell you what they like. Right. They're so free about it. And I also talk speaking of misogyny, right. I also talk about the fact that we really indoctrinate men to like girls.
So I know speaking of Britney Spears, I don't think Britney Spears was picking out the outfits that she wore on the cover of Rolling Stone and in her music videos. I could be wrong, but I don't think so. I think it was probably grown men who were picking notes
Totally agree with you and made her look like a child. Do you remember that Rolling Stone cover where she was on like a bedspread and she's kind of at her kind of kink to the side and she's got a phone she's holding a Teletubby there's like a stuffed animal on the… She's a child. Yeah, it's perilous right smooth body. She looks like a child.
It’s so gross. It's so gross. Not that children are gross, but just that whole concept is gross and yeah, and back and that things like that. I'm like, No wonder. No wonder I behaved the way that I did. The reason that I wanted to say that last part, you know, it's no wonder I behave the way that I did is because in my own personal work around sex, and my sexuality, that has become a big player is like how being self-compassion and like, not beating myself up for the mistakes that I made, for the way that I behaved, for the things that I didn't ask for. Because again, like I played by the, by the rules, and I'm using air quotes over here I did as I was taught, and I knew that there was a punishment and reward system and it's allowed me to look back on my younger self and have so much compassion for her, and understand that she was doing the best that she could. And if I had to do it all over again, I would do it differently, but I can't go back. And so I just encourage anybody who is kind of having their own flashbacks right now, to maybe find a therapist who is a specialist like Danielle and, unpack their own stuff. It is very uncomfortable, but it is very much worth it.
It is very uncomfortable. I agree. And you know, I had to do it too, right. In order to be a psychotherapist, I had to go back and unpack a lot of my stuff. Even just in schooling like, you learn so much. And as you're acquiring all this information, you're like, oh, oh, oh, that's coming up. Oh, that scratched the surface there. So it really is like unpacking all this stuff and kind of re-healing, re-parenting yourself, if that's what you need to do.
And if I had advice for the women that come to my therapy room, it's to give yourself some grace, right? Self-compassion. Give yourself some grace. When you know better you do better. It's not your fault that you weren't given the information. It's not your fault that you didn't have that information. You acted on the information that you have. It's time. Don't judge yourself. Right. We talked about like Monday morning quarterbacking, if anyone's ever heard that phrase. Don't Monday morning, quarterback yourself, right? Don't stand there on Monday morning and judge the quarterback for what he did on the field. He was making a split-second decision with the information he had at the time with the view that he had. And here you are on Monday morning, knowing how that play is gonna play out. Right? Maybe you made a sexual decision in your past and you didn't know how that was gonna play out. But now you're judging yourself based off the outcome. You didn't know the outcome before, so why judge yourself on that, right? So you're judging that quarterback based off the decision he made in a split second on the field and now you have all this information Monday morning, and you have a bird's eye view of the field and you have the play back and you know how it's gonna turn out and you're judging that quarterback for that decision? That's not fair. Right? That's not an equal decision to be made. Don't do that to yourself. Have some self-compassion. You deserve it.
100%. And let's end on that. Thank you so so so much for your time Danielle and I know you're at you're @DKramer, Kramer with a K DKramerCounseling.com That link will also be in the show notes. Where do you want people to go to learn more about you? What's the best place for to send them?
So DKramerCounseling.com if you want to work with me, or I'm on TikTok and Instagram, you can also…there's a link in there to click to like, you know, book with me and you can send me an email on TikTok and Instagram @InBedWithDanielle. I tend to do a lot more on TikTok than on Instagram. I definitely have videos on sex education. I have videos on resources where to go to help learn sex education for your kids or with your kids. And tons and tons of info on unpacking misogyny in our life. So @InBedWithDanielle on social media or DKramerCounseling.com.
Thank you. And I know we didn't get into it too much but you are an intersectional feminist. You work with people in the LGBTQ community, all of that stuff. Is there anything else you want to mention about that?
Yeah, so I'm queer. And I work, LGBTQ plus community. I'm licensed in, we're currently accepting new clients in Florida and Nebraska. So you have to live in Florida and Nebraska to work with me that probably needs to be said. But, you know, there's best therapists all over the place. So my specialties in clinical practice are purity, culture, deconstruction, religious trauma, recovery, obviously, women's health and AFAB people's health because, you know, all people who were born female identify as women. So I'm the populations that I specialize working with women, a fat folks and LGBTQ plus hair, which is heavily heavily needed down where I am in the Bible Belt. So those are My clinical specialties. And those are the populations that I tend to work with.
Gotcha. And on your TikTok account, um, for those of you that aren't super familiar with TikTok, if you go to Daniels, main tic tock account, there's like a playlist and there's, you know, there's everything from stuff about abortion to unpacking, misogyny, sex, education, different resources and things like that. So it's just a wealth of information. Thank you so much, again, for being here. I have learned so much myself and everyone listening, thank you for hanging in there. I know this has been a little bit longer than my normal interviews, but there was there was a lot it was a lot and we're Remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place. Bye for now.
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