My good friend Crista Anne has recently catapulted into the spotlight for her awesome Orgasm Quest. As defined by Crista herself, Orgasm Quest is about self love and beating depression-related anorgasmia. Because
I send her pictures of my boobs she’s such a dear, Crista has agreed to answer some questions here for my readers!
1. How does it feel to have basically blown-up over night? You’re not new to blogging, to orgasms, or to the sex ed community. Does it feel like your hard work has finally paid off?
To be honest, I think I’m still in shock. I’m a pretty intense introvert, so there have been a few times that I’ve had to shut my computer and curl up in a blanket fort for self care. When Dildology launched we went through a similar period of viral attention, that was when I felt that my hard work was paying off. #OrgasmQuest feels different, not that my hard work is paying off, but that I found a sweet spot that is getting the “right” kind of attention while furthering my larger goals within progressive pleasure cultural change.
2. The “right” kind of attention is definitely important, especially for sensitive introversts. From your recent appearance on Dr. Drew’s show, it sounds like you’re doing really well with boundaries and self care in the midst of all this.
In what ways do you think your quest could help other women?
I’m a woman and this is my personal project, so while most of what I am saying is “woman” oriented, I believe that breaking social stigmas about speaking openly regarding sexual side effects of medications, the positive benefits that masturbation can have and speaking openly about mental illness can help anyone of any gender. That it helps our society at large. These stigmas are toxic. The silence is hurting people. I want to start conversations and start changing that.
3. Excellent point: People of all genders do deal with this, and they shouldn’t have to do it alone.
What do you typically say to people when they express concern over how your children will handle growing up with a sexually open mother? (I know there’s gotta be better phrasing for this, but I haven’t finished my coffee.)
Obviously, there has been a lot of questions/comments about this because most of the media focuses on my Motherhood as part of the narrative. To begin, my kids are very young so at this point all they really are aware of is that Mama is typing at her computer a lot. I was raised by a sex-positive Mother (though she didn’t have that language at the time) and I’ve turned out wonderfully. My children are being raised in a sex-positive, body-positive environment. We have open dialogue with them on topics across the board. As they grow up, Val (my partner) and I will be as open as is age appropriate about what I do for a living. There won’t be surprises, they aren’t going to have a friend suddenly say “Your Mom talks about SEX online” and be shocked. #OrgasmQuest and my writing all speak about sex in frank manners, but I tend not to be sexually explicit.
Right now they know that there is a locked chest in my office that is Mama’s “specials” and isn’t for them. They check out my vulva puppet, which we’ve used as we’ve explained body parts to them, and they think it’s pretty. Our partnered sex life isn’t open about the house, they aren’t being “exposed” to anything.
It’s very important to me that my kids understand that Val and I are people as well as their parents. That we have parts of our lives that do not involve them. I was raised that way and I credit that as a huge part of why I have such a wonderful relationship with my Mother. She knows everything I do, she reads my blog, she’s really proud of me. I’m incredibly proud of her as well. Beyond being my Mom, she’s an amazingly strong woman who has survived great struggles. Hopefully, this carries on and I have a similar relationship with my kids. I’m dong the best I can, and I’ll find out in a few decades how that worked out.
4. Your mum sounds great! Your relationship is similar to mine and my mum’s, and I was raised similarly as well. Of course, I think your kids are adorable and will turn out to be awesome people, well-versed in consent and sex-positivity.
Why do you feel that masturbation is so important to you? (I know the answer to this, but my readers would love to hear it in your own words, I’m sure.)
I came out of the womb depressed, but I also came out of the womb with one hand on my clit and it’s really never left. My Mom raised me without sexual shame. When I was very young and discovering my body (as kids do!) we called it “my feeling good stuff” and I was taught that I should engage in “my feeling good stuff” in my bedroom because it was a private, special thing just for me. From that amazing foundation, I’ve masturbated virtually every day of my life. Heck, I had an orgasm during my homebirth with my youngest child. Masturbation is my life hack. Masturbatory orgasms are a tool for me more than a sexual act. I can use them to combat panic attacks, stave off migraines, help calm a fibro flare. When I’m overwhelmed with life, those few minutes of pleasure are something I use to feel connected to my body, to remind me that are good feelings to be felt when I’m in dark places.
Not everyone has this relationship with masturbation and that’s valid, my brand of sex-positivity is the Carol Queen brand. I believe that sex and masturbation can be good and healthy, but also recognize that they are not for many others and that’s okay. That’s Valid. I am in no way saying that EVERYONE SHOULD MASTURBATE!! I’m saying that for me, it’s an invaluable tool that I desperately want back.
5. Yes! I love that you’ve clarified your sex-positivity. It often gets a bad rap, but what you’ve said makes perfect sense. Love it.
What do you think about society’s fixation on partnered pleasure, especially when it comes to women?
Oh goodness, I have a lot of “feels” here. A fixation on pleasure within a healthy relationship/healthy sexuality is a good thing in my book. Our society’s fixation on Orgasm being the End All Be All of sex is flawed and toxic. Anorgasmia (Inability to orgasm) affects millions. Orgasms are hard to achieve for a wide variety of reasons, sex without getting off is not a failure. It isn’t “less” valid than sex that does include orgasms. My personal view is that the cultural idea that vulva owners should be getting off constantly, the pressure that places on people, is part of why some vulva owners cannot orgasm. I’ve heard from thousands of folks who cannot orgasm easily or at all over my career – most of them feel broken. You. Are. Not. Broken. Society is lying to you. (Emphasis added by Sarah.)
Focus on mutual pleasure is important. Sex without an orgasm can still be mind-blowing. Can still be positive, intimate, pleasurable.
I want to make this abundantly clear because I realize that I’ve stumbled on this clarification at the start of #OrgasmQuest: My Quest is not about my partnered sex life, it is not because without orgasms my personal sex life is suffering. Yes, I do miss the amazingly intense, universe creating, orgasms that I had before. I would like those back because tap dancing dildo gods, they felt great. My partnered sex life is just as good as it was before. #OrgasmQuest is about my masturbatory orgasms. It’s about getting those back. About my pursuit of self pleasure and self care.
The focus on orgasm goal oriented sex is something that I believe to be toxic, I hope that conversations about that happen along with the other conversations that #OrgasmQuest has started.
6. That’s a great, multi-faceted answer. I don’t even think I have anything of value to add to that ’cause you got it all.
What’s one piece of advice you would give someone beginning their own Orgasm Quest?
Be patient and kind to yourself. Focus on yourself. Your pleasure. Give yourself an abundance of time to get where you want to go with your own quest. Try not to focus on the orgasm, enjoy the journey. Also, if it is feasible and something you’re interested in, invest in a quality sex toys. They are amazing tools.
Thank you so much, Crista, for agreeing to one more interview on what I’m sure is a long, long docket. Crista has now been featured on The Daily Dot, Jezebel, The Doctor Drew Show, CNN, and in the Philadelphia City Paper article that started it all. You can follow Crista on Twitter and check out her blog here.