a shy person covers their face with their hand in embarrassment

Editor’s Note

Jordana Lipsitz wants to support her friends (and heck, even people she doesn’t know at all) in their zany sex adventures but she has a problem. And that problem is a visceral reaction to the thought of inserting anything, well, anywhere. Chalking it up to having been raised in a Protestant/Jewish household where the repression of the Protestant side was constantly at war with the easy-going attitude of her Jewish side, in this post Jordana Lipsitz shares her comedic journey into sex positivity.


I am a prude

— and I am not quite sure where this Freudian curse originated. Could it be my Southern Protestant and Eastern European Jewish ancestry, a legacy of stiff upper lips and guilt? Or maybe I never quite figured out the phallic stage. Anybody know a good sliding scale psychoanalyst?

Maybe it all started in my eighth-grade Catholic school sex education which wasn’t really so much an actual sex education class as it was the ramblings of our teacher during Catechism. She explained to a class of shamed tweens, “Girls, your virginity is a gift for your husband and you can’t let a man who isn’t your husband take that gift. Boys, a girl’s virginity is not your gift to unwrap unless you enter the holy sacrament of marriage.”

The image of a part of my own body that I didn’t quite understand as a gift for a man to “unwrap” after he owns me or whatever is burned into my brain for all eternity. I began to associate sex with something that I gave to partners and that did not belong to me. My vagina, not mine. It was all something that happened down there for somebody else, somebody I loved who might marry someday if I tried hard enough — even though, as my grandma once said, I gave away the cow way before the milk.

When we were grown college students, a few of my Catholic school friends described feeling similarly about their vaginas, often describing this necessary part of the body as, “yucky.” They and I had no desire to touch such a thing. “I just let a guy do it for me” was something I heard and repeated.

Like many people spoon-fed abstinence sex education, I have felt pleasure through all sorts of sexual experiences that I don’t feel quite right naming — I mean what if my mother reads this? I understand that I, and people all over the world enjoy all types of sexual experiences. I even accept pleasure and sexuality as an ultimately positive, essential aspect to most people’s sense of self. I have no problem at all with any human being doing something to which they consent.

But on the other labia, items surrounding sex aren’t so easy for me. Being sexually active didn’t make me less of a prude. Trying to be sex positive and open has helped me to appear normal, but there’s still always a kernel of me that’s trying not to dry heave when a partner asks me to engage in phone sex.

I have a tendency to feel a visceral discomfort at the idea of any item entering the hole. Remember, for a long time my vagina didn’t feel like mine and sometimes, it still doesn’t. Just the thought of a copper IUD going all up in there makes me cringe. I cringed while writing this. I didn’t even realize I was having such a visceral reaction until an amazing friend (@zoelouisalewis pointed out to me that I became noticeably squeamish during her description of a CBD tampon.

Additionally, talking about sex, even to a doctor, has made me feel very anxious and upset. Thanks to my school’s backwards sex ed program, followed by years of experiences shared by my peers, followed state university where, holy cow everyone already has tons of sexual knowledge and experience, I developed a difficulty in expressing words around my sexual experience, and when I could, I felt shame and inevitably anxiety.

After performing a monologue in my university’s amazing rendition of Eve Ensler’s, The Vagina Monologues, I began to realize that talking about sex could be not just funny and a little weird but also informative and pretty downright enjoyable. Because I was playing a character, it was much easier for me to perform as a sexual person. As an actor, I felt no shame in wailing out my “Jewish moan” in front of our seriously-pretty-solid audience, even the night my parents came. The team of sensational actors and I talked about our vaginas onstage, we talked about our vaginas offstage, they talked about partner penises and partner vaginas. Even though it was hard for me to describe my own experiences, I loved listening.

BI hoped that I could someday be like these women. They were confident, loud and proud about their vaginas and whatever they chose to do with them. The irony was not lost on anyone that my monologue, “My Vagina is a Shell” was all about a character who finds “her vagina” and then gives herself an orgasm … and meanwhile I was personally far too uncomfortable to do such a thing and could barely even discuss the idea on my own.

These women, and all the other sex-positive women in my lucky, lucky life, helped me to talk sex positivity out. I slowly am learning that it’s ok to enjoy without feeling shame.

Recently, I figured an easy and fun was way to be sex positive was get a vibrator. I held onto a vibrator for a year, hidden under my bed in a box, unused and collecting dust. I had purchased it after watching Beyoncé Lemonade again after being dumped and/or duped by yet another LA man-child. I drove to the store thinking about how necessary this was: some men were clearly not to be trusted, I mean, who would ever cheat on Beyoncé?? I knew there would definitely be times that I needed to create the joy of climax for myself. As Bey said in an interview with Out, “There is unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality” She’s right. Obvi.

But after the initial burst of joyous anticipation at my pink purchase with clitoral stimulation, “Run the World (Girls)” chanting in my mind as I tossed the bag in my trunk, I found I couldn’t go through with it. Just the thought of using my vibrator down there of would begin a flood of embarrassment that washed over me.

I finally broke in my now dearly beloved pink friend after three months of being mostly housebound due to a traumatic roller skating injury. Tactics I was using to relieve stress and boredom like reading, writing, and watching tv, got old fast and I was anxious and angry more than half of my day. I decided that one day while my two roommates and my live-in nurse, AKA my mother were out for the whole day, I would give this self-pleasure thing a shot. That day, I came for the first time with no partner to be seen except a vibrating silicone doo-dad. Afterwards, I laid back in my doorless closet-sized room, shocked into satisfied submission.

While I had been working on sex positivity for quite some time, I truly feel that Pink Vibrator’s Maiden Voyage Day 2018 was the missing key to my puzzle. Sometimes all you need is a gentle push… er… gentle clitoral stimulation. And sometimes, a few tips from your friendly neighborhood blogger on how to free yourself from anxiety around sex and pleasure can help (I hope.)

1. Listen

Truly, this is the only one that matters. Listen. Listen to your sex partners about how they feel about your sex together. Listen to your friends when they talk about their experiences, even if it’s hard at first. Listen to people’s stories surrounding sexuality in art mediums! Get those listening ears on!

2. Read

Like listening to the arts, read about the arts. Read more text-booky books. I know it can be hard to get reading on, especially with the full day of work, and the yoga class, and the dog who needs walked. But, gosh even in a short article a person can learn so much!
There are so.many.sex.positive.publications. Would you like to go old school? Head to your local library and grab a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. The book is no longer being updated, but the most recent edition of this 1971 classic is 2011. Not bad! Or perhaps you’d rather dabble in something more modern and daring, such as the Women’s Anatomy of Arousal. Author Sheri Winston points out, “you can go repression light about [your sexuality]. Or you can celebrate it!” she then proceeds to give amazing tips for how to do just that.
Maybe the library is too big a move for you; “The librarian is judging me,” is something I have thought. In that case, stay home and chill on the potty as you scroll through online articles via sex positive websites like the Planned Parenthood blog or Scarleteen. Mazel Tov! you’re already doing it! You barely even need me.

3. Take a lot of deep breaths

As a person who has spent many of her twenty-seven years being anxious as hell, I have learned a thing or two about calming down this fast-moving brain of mine. One of those is diaphragmatic breathing. The practice of simply slowing down the breath, helps more air to enter the body and so it can help calm anxiety and nervousness, improve attention span, and even work to diminish pain levels. It’s the free-est way to calm down!
My favorite technique is a good old “box breath.” That’s five seconds inhale, five seconds hold, five seconds exhale, five seconds hold, repeat. Hey, breathing isn’t a cure-all, but again, the cheapest, easiest way to help your brain, and therefore your whole body so it seems worth a try.

4. Think before you speak

The golden rule, a real A-1 since day one, “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.” Again y’all, back to Step 1: listen, listen, listen. It’s ok to be feel like you’re isolated because of a conversation, but that doesn’t mean you can be a jerk as a result. Oh, and empathy is also important.
My favorite technique is a good old “box breath.” That’s five seconds inhale, five seconds hold, five seconds exhale, five seconds hold, repeat. Hey, breathing isn’t a cure-all, but again, the cheapest, easiest way to help your brain, and therefore your whole body so it seems worth a try.

5.Communication is key

10/10, healthy communication heals all ills. As my sexy, social justice fav, Colin Kaepernick might say, “Just do it.” It can be hard but you simply must talk about your feelings or else they stay all bottled up!
In the past, when a man would try to serve me some dirty talk, I would immediately giggle out of awkward discomfort. That’s admittedly not the best way to handle sexual relations. So, I had to adjust. Now, I choose to use specific words to express myself. I might say, “I’m not into being a “dirty, dirty, girl that needs to be punished by your big dick.” That doesn’t arouse me, and in fact takes me out of the moment big time.”

6. Try New Things

Baby steps. Remember, it’s okay to never, ever, ever do butt-stuff if you don’t want to. However, are we not but on this earth to experience new things and live this life to the fullest? If one feels comfortable with the right partner, partners, or solo, why not mess around with new fun sexcapades! Look stuff up. It’s totally normal to Google, “the best furniture to use for doggie style.” However, I would definitely recommend using Incognito mode at work.

7. Drink Water

I’m just throwing this one in the mix because self-care is important. There’s no easier and cheaper self-care than drinking water. Besides the previously-mentioned breathing.

8. Masturbate

Just, as a rule, you won’t know how to get pleasure from someone else is to learn how to get pleasure from your own sexiness. As I shared, I am still new to the magic of masturbation, but holy gosh it’s been a hell of a time and I can’t recommend it more.

9. Accept Yourself

Hey, it’s ok that you will never, ever, ever, let a penis or or dildo or mouth enter your tuches. As comedian/goddess Sarah Silverman famously reminds us, “Dookie comes out of there.” It’s fine that you start to break out in hives at the faintest whimper of phone sex. (Side note, I mean, maybe FaceTime, but come on, I’m just gonna hold the phone and touch myself that’s way too much work without enough incentive.)

Knowing your own boundaries is important. Respecting the boundaries of others is equally important. Hey there friend, just do your thing! No matter what always be grateful for any progress you have made, you beautiful star child.