Recently a mom on one of our boards posted:
I feel frustrated by a theme that keeps coming up: Love yourself first and foremost and then love will be drawn into your life. HOW EXACTLY does one, who has highly developed neuropathways of “not good enough” transition to the “I love myself” place? I feel like I've tried everything, and it just doesn't seem to stick. I still look in the mirror and see the cellulite and the “not good enough” features of my body. Worse, I'm still dealing with the deep childhood imprinting of not being wanted or unconditionally love. I'd like some actual technical advice on this matter! It's getting old just hearing “love yourself” “have confidence,” etc. without any tangible how-tos that follow.
Such a common challenge and I appreciate how frustrating it is when all you're offered are vague platitudes about self-love.
No one's life has ever been turned around by an inspirational Facebook meme!
Therapy can help you get to the root of your lack of confidence — and turn it around. I'm a huge fan of online therapy, which is affordable, anonymous, and convenient since you connect with the counselor via text, phone or video. BetterHelp has an A+ BBB rating, fees starting at $35/week for unlimited sessions, and financial assitance. Find an online therapist now>>
If you're struggling with feeling hot and sexy…Here are 11 things you can do to feel confident:
- Consider therapy
- Give yourself a compliment on your appearance
- Give yourself a compliment on YOURSELF every single day
- Think to times you adored another person's body, in all its human splendor, because you adored him
- Dress up and look your best every single day
- Get a makeover
- Fake it till you make it
- Note someone in your life who walks about as if they are confident and sexy all the time
- Have sex with yourself all the time
- Consider a personalized workout plan and weight loss program
- Just get out there already
Serious self-images are usually rooted in old trauma. Never be ashamed to get the help you need.
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Give yourself a compliment on your appearance.
Every. Single. Day. Every morning when you're getting ready, note one thing that is awesome about your appearance: Your pretty teeth. Long eyelashes. Shiny hair. Round booty. Lovely toes. Great style. Perfectly arched eyebrows.
Give yourself a compliment on YOURSELF every single day.
That you're a fun mom. You killed the presentation. A good listener. A friendly neighbor. A thoughtful friend. A funny lunch companion. Make a mean roast chicken. Have an eye for color in home decor.
Think to times you adored another person's body, in all its human splendor, because you adored him.
His flabby tummy. Bald head. Love handles. Limp dick. Pock-marked skin. You and your human body are just as lovable, too.
Dress up and look your best every single day.
This should not take you less than 20 minutes, but will include pretty hair, makeup, and clothes you feel great in. If it takes more than 20 minutes, get a new hairstyle and check out some videos on quick makeup.
How to dress sexier and look super-attractive when overweight, from my gorgeous friend Marlena Stell, of Makeup Geek:
Get a makeover.
Sure, get your hair, makeup and wardrobe overhauled (if you can afford it), but cleanse your home and closet first! Rid your space of old things that remind you of old ways of thinking.
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Fake it till you make it.
Literally, pretend that you feel sexy and confident until you actually do.
Make eye contact with an attractive man, even if inside you are absolutely going to die a thousand painful deaths.
Strut into a meeting in which you are intimidated with your shoulders back and head held high.
Call a meeting with someone who scares the crap out of you.
Ask for the promotion as if you know you'll get it.
Reach out to a guy on the dating site ignoring any nasty murmurs in your mind that suggest he is out of your league or will reject you.
Just go about your life as if you are the confident, sexy woman you want to be.
Note someone in your life who walks about as if they are confident and sexy all the time.
Fact: They are faking it at least some of the time, too.
When I was in college and finding my own sexuality, I read a book in the cafe/bookstore where I worked about ‘How to Make Man Crazy In Bed” or somesuch. In the forward, the author recounted how when her circle of girlfriends went out, one woman always got all the attention from men when. The other women couldn't figure it out — after all, their friend was heavy and not particularly pretty. So they asked her secret. “I know I'm not a natural beauty,” the woman said. “But before I walk into a bar or club, I tell myself: ‘You are the hottest woman in there.' I believe it, and men then do, too.”
Have sex with yourself all the time.
These are my tricks on how to be confident in bed, and feel super-attractive if you are overweight:
At least twice per week, masturbate. Maybe you invest in a toy or two, check out some porn or erotica. Learn what turns you on. Get your sexy hormones flowing through your veins, and sexy thoughts flowing through your mind. You can be confident in bed when you're overweight, underweight, unshowered, unshaven, tired, grumpy, on your period.
Mama Gena shared with me in this podcast all the reasons and whys and hows that your pleasure — of all the senses — is essential to your success in every part of your life. Listen here, and full transcript at end of post:
Consider a personalized workout plan and weight loss program
There are people who will tell you that you should just stick with your current weight, and fuck societal gender norms. No and yes. We should all feel beautiful and sexy no matter what. We should reject unrealistic and unhealthy body norms.
But we should all strive to be as physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually healthy as possible. That includes maintaining a healthy weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise (including sex!).
Thankfully, there are some effective and affordable apps that can help. Noom is getting a lot of media about being an effective online weight loss company.
This app costs $49+ per month (after a 14-day free trial) and is aimed at sustainable, healthy lifestyle changes. Noom features include:
- Track foods and count calories via Noom's database or scanning barcodes
- Track your daily exercise, weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar
- In-app 1:1 health coaching
- Track any weight loss in the app
Just get out there already
Thinking about dating after divorce and babies can be beyond daunting.
After I stopped nursing (a blissful period during which my round hips narrowed, my small tits swelled, and my acne-prone skin cleared and glowed), it has been all downhill for this bod.
A newly poofy stomach, C-section scar and boobs that would not stop lactating — all while my thighs grew increasingly gooey.
But once out on the dating scene, I got over it quickly.
That I don't look like Heidi Klum or Kim Kardashian (that butt, I mean, really) has zero to do with my ability to find really amazing sex (keep reading) and love.
Your body has absolutely nothing to do with your ability find a man to adore you and enjoy mind-blowing sex.
No matter what said body may look like.
Don't believe me? Read these ….
Three things to read if you feel too fat for sex and need to feel sexy:
1. I'm Fat, Forty And Single And I'm Having No Problems Getting Laid All The Time
Published on xoJane by a Canadian single mom, this was one of my most favoritest readings, though it has since been taken down.
The writer details how her obesity did not stand in the way of her post-breakup quest for lots of great sex — often with men who are classically handsome and successful and not fetishists.
Her essay is all about how to be confident in bed when overweight and feel attractive when you're overweight — because at its core, sexuality, and sexual attraction has little to do with whether each of us is an ‘ideal' weight.
I'm rather short and weigh almost precisely 300 lbs. I wear size 28 clothing. Unless you think such things are mutually exclusive, I would describe myself as reasonably pretty, in a natural, low-maintenance, naughty librarian kind of way. I am fiercely intelligent, deeply hilarious, casually stylish, utterly unselfconscious and really, genuinely nice. I am also an absolute riot in the sack.
She goes on to detail the amazing sex she's had with all kinds of men, including:
One of the first men I met after the separation was someone I initially assumed was completely out of my league. He is the absolute whole package — smart, successful, a hell of a nice guy, not to mention extremely handsome with the gym-perfected body of a Greek god. The kind of guy who can pretty much have his pick of women. To my surprise, he was incredibly into me, and continues to be to this day.
We were lying in bed one night after some of the best sex of either of our lives and I asked him what it was that had attracted him to me in the first place. I knew I wasn't the type he always went for, so I was curious. He just looked at me and shrugged and smiled and said “confidence is sexy.” Those words were a touchstone for me.
The most common experience, however, is with “guys who are openminded to all kinds of sexiness.”
They don't have a physical “type and have enjoyed women of a variety of shapes and sizes. To them, my sex appeal has more to do with my spirit of adventure and capacity for joyous abandon than the composition of my body.”
Those who find me really, really physically attractive and have no problem owning that desire. Guys who love my softness. Guys who massage my belly, who grab handfuls of my ass, who bury themselves between my breasts. Guys who can't get enough of every last inch of me. To them, I am a revelation – an ample woman with no body shame who says sure, let's have sex with the lights on.
Have a read.
Thank me later.
Not just because I love Amy Schumer and think you should watch way more of whatever she's putting out, this one quote got all kinds of play, as does Amy. The news hook is that Amy does not look little like what the media tells women we should look like, but is in deed doubtless catching all kinds of dick because she's funny as shit, charming, edgy and herself.
Plus, I weigh about 160 lbs so when I heard that number my love for her swelled and may or may not have made my panties look like I blew my nose into them (joke credit: A. Schumer).
3. My last week
As I wrote, I spent most of August in Europe thanks to HomeExchange.com, and on one of the last days I had a wonderful evening with a hot, single Danish dad.
I had a hunch the night would be fun, but it turned out to be FANTASTIC, in part because there was just so much freaking chemistry that defies any OKCupid algorithms that tossed us together.
Laughing and talking most of the night and through the next afternoon, over the breakfast he cooked and into the shower and back to bed again.
Heartbreaking that it ended (though isn't that inevitable ending part of why travel affairs are so intense?), it was one of those things.
A big part of the experience was how much this man adored my body.
My juicy booty that has attracted cat calls from black men since I was 15 and makes it nearly impossible to find jeans to fit?
This white European man couldn't get enough. Squishy thighs that I was pretty sure turned off a promising date a few years ago.
Best thing that happened onto his sheets.
Listen to my Like a Mother episode on this:
Ladies, that's what I'm talking about.
This would be a less poignant story to share if it were anomalous, and in a way it was.
But in the past few years since becoming a single mom with a less-than-perfect body, I have been seduced by men who are younger and hotter and fitter and more charming than me, some of them had me wondering, almost aloud: “Do you have eyeballs? That work?“
They could in fact see me, and they liked what they saw, and usually, we had a pretty good time, and some I dated for a while. Because chemistry doesn't have a whole lot to do with any 1 through 10 numbers that men and women assign each other, but rather a messy, sometimes delightful amalgamation of zillions of human characteristics — only one of which is the physical bodies that we each occupy.
Case in point: The sexual chemistry with my Danish lover was white-hot because our intellectual, humor and world-view rapport was so intense. But as our librarian friends so acutely points out, sexual chemistry defies bodies, and often explanation, and has a whole lot more to do with confidence — confidence that it really doesn't matter a whole lot about what you have going on under your Spanx.
Why you need to stop using your mom-body as an excuse not to have the sex you crave:
- See above. Sexual chemistry doesn't have a whole lot to do with what you look like naked.
- Guys bodies go south as they age, too. Including that their dicks stop working. Which is really stressful for them.
- Men have been having sex with mothers since the dawn of time. You think you're going to single-handedly stop the evolutionary cycle?
- Guys just don't care as much you think they do. They just don't.
How to look attractive and dress sexier when you're overweight
Thankfully, all variety of clothing lines are offering a wider variety of sizes, and sexy, trendy styles for all body types. In other words, you don't have to shop only at the ‘Plus Size' department or Lane Bryant if you are larger than a size 12.
Here is a beautiful video about a woman who dresses plus-size women in lingerie:
Transcript of my podcast interview with Mama Gena, author of PUSSY: A Reclamation
Emma Johnson: So, welcome. I am exercising my most favoritest part of my job, which is that I read a book that I love and then I call the author and I get to meet them in person. Regena Thomashauer, and you may know her as Mama Gina of the School of Womanly Arts. Which is a book, it is an in-person course, it is an online course. You are really a revolution, which I will describe and I'll let you describe in your own words, is that you help women get in touch with their sensualities and leverage that to create their wildest dreams.
Mama Gena: Yeah, it's the key to everything. A woman who owns herself sensually owns her life. And if she don't, she don't. And it kinda cuts like that.
Emma Johnson: Well before I let you expound on that, because that probably blows a lot of people's minds. I mean, I feel like I'm a very sexually liberated woman and always have been, but you still really have pushed me to some very much higher levels.
Mama Gena: I'm so happy about that.
Mama Gena’s book, Pussy: A Reclamation
Emma Johnson: But we're speaking today in part, because you do have a new book coming out.
Mama Gena: I do.
Emma Johnson: And the name of the book is “Pussy”-
Mama Gena: “A Reclamation.” Okay, buckle up, because it's like a lot to dump on somebody. Even the title is so provocative. It's so scary. It's so offensive. It's like-
Emma Johnson: But the word pussy is a shocker.
Mama Gena: Totally.
Emma Johnson: And yet, is the essence of everything that you're doing in your work.
Mama Gena: Yeah.
Emma Johnson: So define pussy, because I mean I'll speak for I think what most people think. That pussy is a derogatory term used for men. Pussy is something really nasty that a man will say in reference to your genitals. Maybe it's a little bit sexy in bed, but usually it's really nasty. There's nothing really good going on out there-
Mama Gena: It's the global put down.
Emma Johnson: It's the global put down.
Mama Gena: Yeah. You wanna insult someone? Call them a pussy. Man or woman.
Emma Johnson: Right. And really, the takeaway from that is that women are inferior. If your book is all about our pussies, or vulva, our reproductive organs as the essence of us as women. Therefore, our most powerful source and therefore the most positive thing that we could possibly do or say about ourselves or each other.
Mama Gena: Highest of all compliments, really.
Emma Johnson: So, talk to me about that. But what is that? We're still not saying what pussy is. What is pussy?
What is “pussy,” as defined in your book?
Mama Gena: A wake up call. It's that smack upside a woman's head to say, “Hey! It is time to reclaim. It's time to take ownership of that which has been disparaged. It is a time to re-possess.” That we create life. That's what women do, and we don't behave that way. We behave as if we are not in charge of our bodies, not in charge of our lives. We behave as if we deserve to make 70 cents on the dollar that men make. Like, it's over sisters. It's like, we don't have time. It is time to step up and plug into the power source of being a woman, to learn the landscape of the feminine, and to allow that to connect you to your divinity. Creating life is the place where the human and the divine meet, and until we kind of enjoy that, honor that, we can't use our full wingspan as women.
Emma Johnson: So this is not to be confused with just sex, though?
Mama Gena: Not at all. Pussy is kind of a way of walking. It's a way of connecting to your deepest intuition. It's a way of knowing that your beauty is eternal, whether you are 18 or 89. It is a way of standing in ownership of your yes and your no. It's a way on understanding every aspect of your feminine and being proud at who you are and what you're capable of. It's standing powerfully in your voice and for your truth. It's knowing you're hot, always and at all times. Yeah, pussy is awesome. Pussy is your power source.
Emma Johnson: One of the giant themes of the book is, it's about pleasure.
Mama Gena: Yeah. It's a whole thing.
Emma Johnson: It's all about pleasure. And all of that wonderful power that you just described, you have to be feeling awesome all the time in order to exercise it.
Mama Gena: Yeah. We as women, we are undervalued at home. We're undervalued in the workplace. We're undervalued in a relationship. And we look for our value outside of ourselves. We want to say, “Yes! You are wonderful.” Or our husband to say, “You're the best, baby.” Or our boss to say, “Of course you're gonna get a raise and a promotion.” Or something. Like, we're always looking outside for that light switch that's within, that we've never, ever, ever, ever, ever been given the access to. The directions for. We've been taught to play life as if we were men, and we fail at that. And then we blame ourselves for failing, and then take antidepressants and drink too much and have eating disorders-
Emma Johnson: Mutilate our bodies.
Mama Gena: You got it.
Read more: Pussy: A Reclaimation available on Amazon.
The importance of taking time to enjoy your meals as a woman
Emma Johnson: Something I found so remarkable in your book was, that it's a feminine thing. Enjoy your meal.
Mama Gena: Yeah. It's so hard, isn't it?
Emma Johnson: Find your most, you tell us to shop for your favorite foods and lay them out beautifully on a plate. And take that luxurious bath every day.
Mama Gena: Yeah. It makes you queasy, doesn't it? To think, “Oh my God. How am I gonna have time for that?”
Emma Johnson: How are you gonna have time for that?
Mama Gena: Doesn't she understand?
Emma Johnson: But, speak to that. Once you nurture that, what happens to your time management?
Mama Gena: Oh my gosh-
Emma Johnson: This is for moms. The tag line of this show is, “For moms who think.” But single moms are like, “Oh, well I have to sacrifice. I have to sacrifice for my children first. I have to sacrifice in the workplace. Who's got time for a luxurious bath and nice meals? I'm just gonna eat my kid's leftover Cheerios for dinner.” So speak to that, 'cause I know in my own life I advocate for women prioritizing themselves first always. But, what's your take?
Mama Gena: And it's so easy to say, and it is so difficult to execute. Like, we have so much conditioning. If I called you up in the middle of the night tonight and I said, “I need a transfusion, can you meet me at the hospital?” You'd be like, “Got it! There.” You know? Whereas if I hit you as you're rushing home from work to feed your kids and I said, “Quick! Why don't we make a deal that both of us, before we even throw dinner on the table, we're gonna agree we're both gonna take a five minute hot bath with candles, music, and rose petals. Deal?” You'd be like, “I don't have time for that! I'm already late. The kids are starving.” Like, we exclude pleasure.
Realizing you’re worth taking time for yourself
Mama Gena: We just don't even, and what happens is when a woman begins that process of reclamation, which is saying, “Okay. Maybe I'm not worth it and maybe everything else is more important, but what if I just did an experiment where today instead of slapping my clothes off, dashing out of the house with wet hair. I took time and I took some coconut oil and I gently moisturized and then I did the teeniest dash of lip gloss and then maybe I just even gave myself like a little wink in the mirror instead of thinking that it's a bad hair day. Like, I just gave myself that moment.” Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! This amazing thing happens. Instead of her body flooding with cortisol, she changes her chemistry.
Mama Gena: Because when you create a pleasurable experience for yourself, whether you have it by accident or on purpose, you turn on these neurotransmitters which release prolactin, beta endorphins, serotonin. Which are all the hormones that make you feel good. That make you feel bonded. And those are all the hormones that we're hoping to release when we pop a Prozac. And we could actually create that chemical shift if we pay attention to our pleasure. But no one taught us, because our mamas didn't do it and their mamas didn't do it. So, we come from a legacy of women treating themselves as less than. And so, the reason I call my work “The Pleasure Revolution” is because I'm asking a woman in your lifetime, value yourself deeply and serve your joy, because it will make everything and everyone in your world better. But it's so tricky to get a woman to do that. That's why I had to call the book “Pussy”. ‘Cause it's like arousing, it's a wake up call. It's like, really?
Emma Johnson: I was finishing reading last night and I have a PDF version, and I did a search on the document how many times she used the word pussy. It couldn't count it.
Mama Gena: Okay, that's hilarious.
Emma Johnson: It's uncountable.
Mama Gena: I love that.
Emma Johnson: But you de-sensitize by using it and it becomes a verb. Pussify. And then you have a verb for clitoris. A clitify.
Mama Gena: It's like, you have to be cliterate.
Emma Johnson: You have to be cliterate, and it becomes this whole other language. Because I mean, there's women's studies, scholars who can tell us about the English language being masculinized and all these things, but you create this-
Mama Gena: I do love those people that do that.
Emma Johnson: Thank you!
Mama Gena: Love them.
Emma Johnson: And you are part of them, really. And you're doing it mainstream and not in your ivory tower, right?
Mama Gena: Exactly. Yeah.
Owning your sensuality and female sexuality
Emma Johnson: So first of all, let's talk about this revolution. I mean, I can just speak from a quick personal anecdote. You talk about your own experience, you were totally shut down sexually until you were like 30 years old.
Mama Gena: Yeah. That would be so accurate.
Emma Johnson: Yeah. And now you're like, so beyond right? You're like our shining star of sensuality and female sexuality, right?
Mama Gena: I do what I can.
Emma Johnson: False modesty is not allowed in these rooms. And so many of the women you mention, of your students, have similar experiences. Where they're very shut down in, not just their pussies and in the bedroom and in their sex lives, but in their life. Those things are one and the same, in your teachings.
Mama Gena: Yeah. You got it.
Emma Johnson: And so you have a whole curriculum about masturbating and getting in touch with your pussy and knowing your pussy. You had a brownstone where you taught your school in a vestibule, you had an artist paint it to look like a pussy including a shiny sheen on it.
Mama Gena: Yes. Yes, it's called sebum. It's the waxy substance that protects us from bacterial infections.
Emma Johnson: So, it's all about this pussy and this awakening. But, what about the world and society? So I mean I can just speak for myself, in my work in all about sexually liberating moms. There's just no space for mothers to express their sexuality, much less unmarried mothers. It's the worst. There's such a Madonna-Whore Complex going on. So, I'm very open about my sex life. I have a very active sex life. I write about it. I speak about. I talk to my readers about it. Well, my ex-husband has his ideas about dating and sexy women and mothers. It's right around in the 50s, right? And so as much as I want to shut that out, I still do have to face him and other attitudes like that. As somebody who is out there, I can tell you it is even hard for me.
Emma Johnson: So speak to the women out there who say, “Okay. I'm taking a turn in my marriage.” Or, “I'm taking a turn amongst my girlfriends. I'm going to prioritize my sensuality. My pleasure. My sexuality.” And they poo-poo] it. What's the answer to that?
Sensuality is like a foreign language – use it or lose it
Mama Gena: Well, I'm glad that you used the word sensuality because that's the game. The goal is inside a culture that doesn't encourage this, to remain sensually alive and sensually awakened. Let's say you speak fluent French but you stop speaking it for 10 years. It's really tricky to keep your conversation alive, that language alive. You know, you start losing vocabulary. There's no one to talk to about it. So the language of sensuality is not different than that, except perhaps it's even more challenging 'cause we never learned it. Right? It's not like your mama pulled you on your knee when you were little girl and said, “Darling, you are a woman. So, I want to introduce you to the world of your desires. I wanna know what you want. I wanna know what pleasures you. Let's explore that.” Like, my mama never talked to me like that.
Emma Johnson: Well, she didn't have the language 'cause she wasn't exercising that herself.
Mama Gena: Yeah. Exactly. So it feels like we all feel so awkward, so clueless, when we're exploring pleasure. But it's so necessary. Like when I first went, let's say to the flower store and tried to imagine, “Well, what kind of flowers do I like?” I had no idea. You know? Am I a white rose person? A yellow rose person? A pink rose person? A red rose person? And no one had ever asked me. I never asked myself. I never allowed myself to imagine into what is it that nourishes me in that world. And we don't get encouraged. Let's say when woman encounter each other, what do we mostly talk about? We are taught to complain. We're taught to complain about our boss, our husband for sure, our kids.
Emma Johnson: Our bodies.
Mama Gena: Our bodies, oh my God. The negative is what women feel comfortable sharing.
Emma Johnson: Yeah, what is that?
Mama Gena: It's the culture. It's a patriarchal culture.
Emma Johnson: Is it like a victim thing? Like, ugh life is so rough.
Mama Gena: Yes. Yes. And we're all raised to have a victim mentality. Like, it's always somebody's fault that things aren't … There's no good men out there. All that stuff. So it becomes challenging for a woman to even begin to explore, which is what my school is about. It's what my books are about. It's giving women an excuse to say yes. To figuring out am I light chocolate person? A milk chocolate person? A white chocolate person? Dark chocolate? Do I like 70% dark chocolate or? We want to know those things, because sensuality is more than sex. That's the least of it. It's choosing to remain sensually alive throughout your life so that your senses, your sense of taste, your enjoyment of what you put in your mouth. Your enjoyment of the fragrances. The enjoyment of the sounds, the music. All of those senses are alive and yes, that you stay in touch with the heartbeat of the feminine, which is your pleasure. Your sensuality. I think it's wrong when women think that their partners are supposed to be responsible for their sensual aliveness. I think each of us has to put our own key in our own ignition and turn that baby on, and take her down the highway. Because then you can invite passengers, but not until you've done some exploration on your own and some education on your own.
Practice rejecting victim mentality and culture
Emma Johnson: So, you are a single mom. You're a divorced mom.
Mama Gena: I am. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Emma Johnson: And you talk about that in your new book. And you had this passage in there that was so resonated with me and what I write about often. And so after your divorce, you had this really fantastic love with a larger than life, very glamorous successful man who just … you loved him and he swept you off your feet.
Mama Gena: Completely.
Emma Johnson: And the relationship floundered and he passed away. And it was this ultimate heartbreak for you.
Mama Gena: Beyond. Yep.
Emma Johnson: But the part that got me the most was, you reflected back on that. And you said, “You know what? If that relationship had persisted, I would have followed him and I would not have answered my calling, which is developing my programs and my business. And learning about being an entrepreneur, and serving these women.” And I don't know, I was just hoping you could elaborate on that because it speaks to what you just said about fulfilling yourself first and nurturing your desires and not turning to your partner. Because this guy was so enticing. Like where is he? I wanted to, I Googled him. I couldn't find him. Was that a real name?
Mama Gena: No. I had to change the names, 'cause you know they make you do that. I grew up the same way you grew up and the way our kids grow up. I was read Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, which are all these women that are basically in comas. That this prince comes and he awakens them and then he takes them to his dreams. And so I loved those stories, like every Halloween I wanted to be the princess or the bride. So, it gets inside your cells. As power, as we understand that men have it. So unless we're aligned with one of those that has power, judgment, all those things that we are taught we do not have, we're not gonna get where we wanna go. So, I thought I was so avant. I was such a feminist, and then this king, he was a king. He came along and I was willing to just be like, “Oh, the School of Womanly Arts? What's that? Let's go to Europe.” You know?
Emma Johnson: But it's totally relatable, because at the time you were struggling financial. You were in a huge pickle. You were a new single mom. Like, acclimating to that scene. And then this guy was wildly wealthy, successful, glamorous, educated and he adored you. What man can hear that story and not empathize or sympathize? It's so human.
Mama Gena: And you know, it's interesting 'cause all he wanted from me was for me to learn how to run my own company and be successful. His last text to me was, “Regena, the world requires your radiant light. You go for it.” Yet, I was trying to find all kinds of ways not to step in to that. I was so, in a way lucky to have had my heart broken open that much, because it was only a fall that steep that would have awakened me to having to get my sizzle together, raise my kid, and grow my company, and step into myself as a woman. ‘Cause I didn't have women around me who were stepping into themselves as women. I was raised by 50s housewives, and that's what I saw on the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family. I don't know, those kind of things who are the things that influenced me. So, I was so blessed to be able to break out of that and find and live my vocation.
Emma Johnson: I love that story so much. And another takeaway, which is that this incredibly successful man was seeking an incredibly successful woman to be his equal. Right? He wanted you to be his peer, he didn't want you to be his subordinate.
Mama Gena: Yeah. He was totally cool.
Emma Johnson: Yeah.
Mama Gena: I think of him a lot. And I feel like he would be so proud of me, because oh gosh. He saw me as a thought leader. You know, a leader in this world. An awakener. He would say, “Regena, look at the world. It's only in countries where women are well treated that there's peace. It's up to you to elevate the consciousness of women so that the world can get on with the business of evolving.” And yeah, he had a good eyesight.
Emma Johnson: And it's very true. I think that we need people, whoever they will be in our lives to see bigger versions of ourselves.
We need people in our lives to “see bigger versions of ourselves”
Mama Gena: You got it. And that's one of the reasons that I structured my courses as a real time, real life community. Because a woman has access to becoming who she is and who she was destined to be not by the man she's with, but by the sisterhood that surrounds her. The way women naturally want to stand for one another's dreams and desires and see the best in each other. It's part of the community of practice and the legacy of the work that I'm creating.
Emma Johnson: Alright. I just wanna read a little bit from your book. This is some learnings from your students. It says, “We tried dabbing pussy juice behind the ears when going to a job interview with incredible results. A few dots of PJ perfume before a date, it was like crack cocaine to a guy. When we wanted to feel powerful in an audition or in a work presentation, we tried going panty free. And if we wanted to make ourselves positively bulletproof, we'd go panty free and add some temporary tattoos, press-on jewels and stickers to decorate our secret weapon, pussy. To our amazement, we discovered that adorning her activated her. Like Wonder Woman's golden cuffs.”
Mama Gena: Yeah. I should have brought you some temporary tattoos. That was so foolish of me.
Emma Johnson: I think we have some in my kid's junk drawer in the kitchen.
Mama Gena: I got a chance to meet the President of the United States, and that was so fun and such a great moment, and all that.
Emma Johnson: So, you talk about that. I pulled up a little bit actually from your … So you put some, okay-
Mama Gena: So I put a little P.J behind my ear and, ding! Went right into the White House, and in fact it's not easy 'cause there's over 3, 400 people there, but I found myself in exactly the perfect spot on the receiving line and I [inaudible 00:22:44] for Michelle. I left a manuscript.
Emma Johnson: So, he might be thanking you later for that?
Mama Gena: Yeah, so pussy's in the White House is all I can say.
Emma Johnson: And maybe that's a foretelling.
Mama Gena: I think it's a good sign.
Emma Johnson: I think that's it. Pussy for President.
Mama Gena: Oh! I think there's something there.
Emma Johnson: I'll wear that button.
Mama Gena: I agree.
Emma Johnson: I could get into that, right? But I have to say, like some woman who is about to deal with a grumpy husband 'cause his national football team was not gonna win and she flashed the TV and like [inaudible 00:23:12]. Like, some of it goes a little too far for me.
Mama Gena: It's kinda crazy. Yeah. All I can say is there's a significant historic precedent.
Emma Johnson: True.
The power of the pussy
Mama Gena: I mean, in Ancient Egypt if you wanted to secure a fruitful year of harvest, all the women would flash the crops and the fields and the harvest would be secure. You know, it's not a guarantee but it's better than a rabbit's foot or a horseshoe. And if you think about it, there's more relevance in the sense that we're simply honoring the source of life itself. There is no human being on this planet that does not exist, except that there's a pussy involved. And there's no child born unless it's C-section that doesn't pass through a pussy on his way in and on his way out. And it's about time that we honored and revered the portal to life that lives inside every woman.
Emma Johnson: I am just personally thanking you for saying that.
Emma Johnson: One more topic which we have skirted, which is just sex and sexuality.
Mama Gena: Let's talk about sex.
Emma Johnson: So, part of sensuality and pleasure is sex and orgasms specifically. Talk to me why women need to be having lots and lots or orgasms.
Mama Gena: Women are so deprived sensually, as we were talking before. In all of her sensuality. She doesn't enjoy the body women, she's in criticism of the body woman. She doesn't celebrate her beauty, she questions her beauty. The conversation really has to begin way before we get to the orgasm. It has to begin with her sensual awakening, so that she's in recognition of the privilege of what it means to inhabit this woman's body, and to live inside of it and the power therein. You know, every woman. No woman is different than Helena of Troy who could turn the heads of a whole army. No woman is different than Cleopatra. We all have the incredible, eternal magnificence. And it's one of the reasons women are so feared by men and 135 million women have experienced female genital mutilation to try to crush her power. They're not cutting off her pinky or her ear. They're cutting off her genitals. So for a woman to truly understand what it means to be a woman, she has to begin to take ownership of this body. And the highest concentration of nerve endings anywhere on a humans body is the clitoris, containing 8,000 nerve endings dedicated to pleasure. Clitorises don't ever disease. They don't atrophy. They will always be there for you. And the sole purpose of a clit is pleasure.
Mama Gena: That's different than a guy. You know, a guy's cock is more like a multi-tool.
Emma Johnson: That's what you say. And how many nerve endings are in a dick?
Mama Gena: 4,000. And we have these 8,000 nerve endings. Now, why? Why would the great divine in the sky create the feminine where she is so loaded to feel pleasure? Like, what is that? You know, if function follows, form follows function. Like, what is that? She is specifically geared to feel and receive pleasure, not to give it. Because believe me, every woman knows how to give pleasure. But not every woman knows how to receive pleasure. And it's problematic if she doesn't fire up one of her greatest strengths and one of her greatest gifts. So it becomes incumbent, you know it's our obligation. We have two legs, we have to learn how to walk or you're not really living life. You need to connect with those 8,000 nerve endings and understand what that means when you experience pleasure, and what that does to your whole body and your whole being. Because it floods a woman with nitric oxide, which turns on all those neurotransmitters. The beta endorphin, the serotonin, the prolactin. So, it alters her consciousness. It actually raises her level of consciousness, so that instead of viewing the world as a victim and she's needy and less than, she's viewing the world as gorgeous, glorious, divine, enthusiastic creature that she was born to be.
Emma Johnson: Abundance.
The health benefits of female masturbation
Mama Gena: You got it. And the only access is by engaging her pleasurable dialogue with herself and plugging into her source energy, which is learning how to play with her pussy.
Emma Johnson: I love it.
Mama Gena: It's free!
Emma Johnson: It is free.
Mama Gena: And it is free, right? And it's healthy. And you don't get a hangover.
Emma Johnson: Exactly. I wanna talk about motherhood. No one's talking about motherhood and sexuality, and I can just share my own experience.
Mama Gena: Please.
Emma Johnson: Which was that I think I was a really healthy, sexual woman. I was raised by a single mom. Very feminist, progressive upbringing. Kinda neutral on the sex, my mom's like an angry divorced man hater. But besides that, in terms of sex it's just like whatever. College, had a pretty healthy sex life in my 20s. I could married. Reasonably healthy sex life, even though it wasn't a great marriage. I was having my babies and getting divorced like at the same moment. So as I was becoming a mother, I was becoming single again. And at that same time, I've always been a journalist and a writer my whole career, but I started writing personally. So to me, all of these things blossomed. My motherhood, my sexuality, and my creativity in my mind are just one giant flaming ball. And they all are just completely intersected, and I had this incredible sexual awakening. It went from 80% to 200% or something.
Mama Gena: How old were the babies when that happened?
Emma Johnson: So, they were like one and three.
Mama Gena: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Emma Johnson: I just remember this one day. I live in Queens, which is arguably the most diverse place in the world. And I'd be at the playground with my babies, and I look around one day and every single mother there was from some other part of the world. But we were all mommy's, and we all looked out for each other. And like, some kid's got a snotty nose and magically some woman who doesn't speak your language shows up with a wipe. And there's a bandaid for, and I looked around. I'm like, “Well, if I have such an affinity with these moms in my motherhood, there is not amount of shame or confusion or joy or smells or pleasure. There's nothing I've experienced in my body that all these same women at the playground haven't experienced too.” And it was such this moment of just shedding any shame and garbage that I had, but it was connected to my motherhood.
Mama Gena: Yeah. You know, it's interesting. For me, motherhood was a huge wake up as well. Because when I gave birth to my daughter, I felt such a sense of responsibility to the girls of today, the women of tomorrow. What was I doing in my lifetime to make sure that the world could handle who and what a woman is, including the full vocabulary of her sensuality, which is why I started my school. So, she was my wake up call.
How to talk to your kids about sex and sensuality
Emma Johnson: So, how do we talk to our daughters or sons about-
Mama Gena: About sex and sensuality?
Emma Johnson: About the pussy and all of its forms. ‘Cause if we say that our parents didn't do this, we're writing that dialogue.
Mama Gena: Yeah, we sure are. And, wow. I have to say even though I was on the path with myself, I always felt so awkward. But I would just try to find moments. For example, Maggie and I would take a bath together when she was really little. And so from the time she was two, she knew she had a clitoris and she knew she had a vulva. We don't use pussy at my house.
Emma Johnson: Really?
Mama Gena: It's for adult women, it's not for little girls.
Emma Johnson: Interesting. Okay.
Mama Gena: So, we called it vulva 'cause that's the actual terminology. I just didn't wanna give her a linguistic cliteradectomy by calling it a vagina, you know 'cause the vagina is seen by gynecologist with a speculum and not by me. There's no vagina. Exterior genitalia is the vulva. So it's super important that she knew she had a vulva. ‘Cause that's-
Emma Johnson: That's the good stuff.
Mama Gena: That's the good stuff. So, that's where the body feels. So, she gets to five years old. She's in kindergarten and she comes back and she's telling me something or other about her vagina. I'm like, “Wait a minute. You have a vulva.\” And she said, “No, no, no mommy. At kindergarten everybody calls it a vagina.” Oh really? And I walked myself into that classroom the next morning and I was like, “Excuse me? I don't know if you know who I am. I am Mama Gena and my daughter.” And I said, “You know, you're not teaching them the correct anatomy. Do you call little boys penises scrotum?” So I sat 'em down and wanted to be able to pass out these, there's a beautiful article written by Dr. Harriet Learner about using the correct terminologies you raise your children. And they would not let me do that, but they permitted me to run a sex education class for primary school children.
Emma Johnson: Oh, wow!
Mama Gena: Which was awesome.
Emma Johnson: That's really revolutionary.
Mama Gena: It was great. It was a little progressive school called Manhattan Country School. So, they were open minded. But how I've taught Maggie has been just through conversations and sharing with her as things come up, making sure she knows she's beautiful. Her body is gorgeous. That she deserves pleasure. Now that she's a teenager, we talk about stuff like that.
Emma Johnson: Yeah. How do you approach this with your kids in an age appropriate way? You've used this anecdote in a couple of your books that I've read. It's an old film about the [crosstalk 00:33:03] and, you tell the anecdote.
Mama Gena: It's called Dangerous Beauty. Best film. Gotta watch it. And Jacqueline Bisset is playing the courtesan mother and she's educating her daughter, and she's giving her a bath and she says, “If you want to give pleasure, you must know pleasure.” And then her whole education ensued where she taught her daughter how to experience pleasure in the way she dresses. Experience pleasure in the way she eats. Poetry. Touching a partner. How to take your pleasure from that experience, rather than simply being a receptacle for his enjoyment. It's a learning process that used to be passed mother to daughter, and not longer is. But now we get to be the mothers that pass that to our kids, and the greatest thing about what you're doing is you're having a sex life while you're a single mom. You need to get a Nobel prize for that. That is not easy sizzle.
The importance of fostering sex and sensuality as a single mom
Emma Johnson: You mean logistically?
Mama Gena: Logistically.
Emma Johnson: I am lucky because I do have a co-parenting arrangement. I mean, the kids are vast majority with me, which-
Mama Gena: I raised Maggie totally myself from the time she was eight years old.
Emma Johnson: Logistically, that is a totally other challenge. But one thing, I see so many moms having so much shame just about dating, right? And I mean, I just start there. My daughter, you can listen, she was in here a couple weeks ago and she did an interview with me. She was awesome. She's eight and she's just like so precocious and crazy. But we talked about dating and I said, “What do you think about dating?” And she's like, “Oh, it's just normal.” And I said, “Well, what do you think dating is?” And she nailed it! You know, she's like, “Well, it's like you go out with a man. And it's like if you were to go out with your girlfriends, except it's like a little bit more serious.”
Mama Gena: Does she ask you stuff about kissing or sleepovers with him?
Emma Johnson: Well, my kids have met a few men I've been involved with. I mean, just logistically I date mostly when they're with their dad. My mom when I was a kid growing up, and there were periods when she dated a lot. So she is in her late 60s now, so the men she was dating were raised in the 60s and 70s. So they would come to the house and pick her up and bring flowers on first dates. In my mind, that was the happiest she ever was in my childhood. She'd get dressed up.
Emma Johnson: Oh, here's a story that I cherish. I don't think I've ever shared this story. My mom was getting dressed up to go on a date and I remember watching her get dressed. She wore Norell perfume and the chunky gold earrings, because this was the 80s. She was going out dancing and I said, “Oh, mom. A little bit of your slip is showing out of your dress.” And she goes, “Oh, that's okay. It's sexy.” And I was so little but I loved that. I loved seeing that little bit of my mother's humanity. And we're protestant mid-Western, so there wasn't a lot of that going on.
Mama Gena: And isn't it interesting that that moment was so numinous for you. That it was the teeniest glimpse of the smallest dot of pleasure, but you were enchanted. That's beautiful.
Emma Johnson: I think so, too.
Mama Gena: Because how else are we gonna learn if our mamas don't stand for that aspect of themselves. There was a moment that was meaningful to me. One of the producers, I was on the Conan O'Brien show a few times, and one of the producers came to one of my men's courses. After experiencing it, because in the men's evening I educated men about a woman's body. Showed them where the clitoris was and how women liked to be touched and how to create a beautiful experience for a woman, and he went home and he called his mom. He said, “Hey, mom! Why didn't you ever tell me about the clitoris?” And she said, “You never asked.”
Emma Johnson: Oh.
Women need to have a relationship with their own pussy
Mama Gena: Right? I thought it was such a heartbreaking moment, because he would have loved to and it probably would have assisted him. You know, he was in his mid-30s I think when he took the course with me and he never really was taught. Right? So imagine him wanting to give his best effort to his dating life, and women, we don't teach our guys. We just lie there and we think they're supposed to know what to do and maybe we haven't done the exploration necessary. So it's just this big black out where pussy is concerned, rather than opportunity to create beauty and magic and connection, which is what it should be. So it was, I thought, so beautiful of him to make that ask of his mom and so sad to hear that she didn't ever feel that it was important enough to tell him.
Emma Johnson: My takeaway is that she didn't have a relationship with her own clitoris.
Mama Gena: Of course. Of course. And we don't wanna leave the world in the dark like it's been. It's time to flip the switch, as it were.
Emma Johnson: I have loved every moment of this conversation. It is such a pleasure.
Mama Gena: Thank you. It was a blast to talk to you.
Emma Johnson: Yes. What else? Maybe something you've been thinking about that you haven't written or spoken about yet?
Mama Gena: What I'm looking at, because the book's coming out in September, like how to give pussy a voice such that people don't shut her down immediately. I'm thinking how will the world receive Pussy.
Emma Johnson: How to go mainstream?
Mama Gena: Yeah, exactly.
Emma Johnson: You know, it's interesting 'cause last night when I was getting ready for this interview I Googled the heck out of you, right? We both live in New York, so your fan base is rooted here. I kinda always heard about just the words. Like, the School of Womanly Arts, but I didn't read anything until about six months ago. And in one week, three different people, like new acquaintances or blog, just three random people said, “I can't believe Emma Johnson, you haven't read Mama Gena.” So I was like, alright I gotta listen to that.
Mama Gena: Remember, my content is that most disparaged and despised aspect that we have currently in the world, which is the heartbeat of feminine power.
Emma Johnson: That's my takeaway, because I'm living in this weird place called New York City, which is not America.
Mama Gena: That's right.
Emma Johnson: But I wonder if we're underestimating.
Mama Gena: Yeah. That's what I think. I have really good timing. Like, I have pussy timing. And so I feel like the time is right.
Emma Johnson: I agree. And I'm seeing that in my work. The last six months, gay marriage, Caitlyn Jenner, everything just kinda switched. It was all this pent up acceptance and celebration, and it just switched and we're in it right now.
Mama Gena: But I still want you to rub your pussy power all over me.
Emma Johnson: You're awesome. I love you. I knew I loved you already, but this is a wonderful day for me. Thank you so much, Mama Gena.
Mama Gena: Mama Gena, author of “Pussy: A Reclamation.” And my other books are “Mama Gena, School of Womanly Arts”, “Using the Power of Pleasure to Have Your Way With the World.” That's number one. Number two is, “Mama Gena's Owners and Operators Guide to Men.” And number three is “Mama Gena's Marriage Manual.” And they're all really good.
Emma Johnson: They are good. Thank you for being here.