“How do you want to feel when you’re fully present in your sexual power?”
That’s one of the questions that sex coach, sex educator and activist Dawn Serrasuggested women ask themselves to shed the expectations and shame put upon them and move toward embracing their sexuality.
“Celebrating your sexuality is about knowing yourself intimately and not apologizing for who you are and what you crave,” Serra says. “What kind of pleasure do you want to experience? What kinds of touches does your body crave (if any)? What stories do you need to let go of? What turns you on, what gets you excited, what makes you moan with anticipation—both in and out of the bedroom?”
So how do you start to answer those questions? We asked the experts for their tips—so break out your party hat (and vibrator) and start celebrating:
Your sexuality is constantly evolving, Serra says—so give yourself permission to change your mind about what you like (or don’t like). “Get curious and try new things—take a BDSM class, try some tantra, get an erotic massage, buy yourself a new sex toy, watch some feminist porn and see what your body responds to,” she advises.
Write it down
Getting curious and trying new things certainly benefited Rachel Kramer Bussel. The erotica writer, editor, and teacher decided to give erotica writing a try after reading it for years in college and law school. Today, she’s edited over 60 erotica anthologies and written a compilation of essays. She also teaches erotica writing. “It’s a wonderful feeling to find writers who may start out timidly or feel like they have nothing to write about start to look at the world through an erotica lens and discover that every day is full of infinite possibilities for story fodder,” she says. “Once you give yourself free reign to write whatever comes into your head without censoring yourself, I think most people will likely be surprised at what is lurking.”
Do some reading
You don’t have to write erotica to enjoy its benefits, Bussel says—just reading it can be a starting point to explore your sexuality. “You might be surprised at what parts you identify with and what moves you,” she says. A survey conducted by erotica and romance writer Alessandra Torre found that erotica readers felt that sexy stories empowered them and increased communication with their partners.
Show yourself some love
May happens to be National Masturbation Month, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t celebrate all year. “Using toys solo can be a good way to learn about yourself, without the pressure of an audience. It’s one way to take control of your sexuality and make sure that you’re getting what you need — no matter what else is going on in your life,” says Janet Lieberman, CTO and co-founder of Dame Products.
And don’t be shy about bringing the toy along for partnered fun, too. Lieberman helped create the Eva, Dame’s hands-free, couples vibrator, to ensure women were getting the same pleasure during partnered sex as they do going solo.
“In heterosexual couples, women are more than four times likelier to describe recent sex as unpleasurable,” says Lieberman. Studies have also shown that men are up to twice as likely to orgasm during sex. “Couples’ toys can be helpful tools to help with clitoral stimulation during penetrative sex — a key ingredient for a lot of couples — and thus help address this gap.” And they do—research has found that using a vibrator in the context of a relationship is related to increased sexual satisfaction.
Connect with your sensuality
Take time to treat yourself and your body. “Getting a massage, taking a candlelit bubble bath, wearing silky or satin lingerie are a few great ways to step into your sensual side and feel good (literally!) in your skin,” says Andrea Syrtash, relationship expert and author of Cheat on Your Husband (With Your Husband). Once we feel present and sensual, we are more likely to connect with our sexuality.’
Don’t “save” the clothes that make you feel sexy for a special occasion. “Wear a garter belt and stockings to the library,” says Sherry Richert Belul, founder of Simply Celebrate. “We celebrate and enjoy our bodies when we are wearing clothes that make us feel beautiful and desirable.” Lynn Brown Rosenberg, author of My Sexual Awakening at 70, agrees.
“Last weekend I went out and bought two new ultra sexy bras,” she says. “Appreciating your body and enjoying maximizing your assets can bring a great deal of pleasure, and opportunity to celebrate.” Image consultant Kendra Charisse Porter suggests starting with undergarments that are sexy—whatever sexy means to you. “No matter how shy a woman may be, purchasing lingerie allows them to act on their sexuality in a more private way,” Porter says.
This isn’t a project for a rainy day—celebrating your sexuality is a lifelong journey that can start right now. “Your body is capable of immense pleasure exactly as you are right now,” says Serra. “Not 5 or 50 pounds from now, not a new outfit from now, not a raise or a promotion from now.