“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
I love that quote. It’s often attributed to legendary erotica author, Anais Nin — but it apparently comes from a poem by writer, Elizabeth Appell. It goes on to say that “life is a process of becoming.” I think all of that ties into sexual self-discovery and sexual awakenings so, so well. I hear about that kind of growth in nearly every interview I conduct, every story I share here on the show…and from many readers and listeners.
Early this year, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Residence 11 Desire Summit in Los Angeles about sexual awakenings. I co-presented in conversation form with my friend and colleague, Lynn Brown Rosenberg.
So today, for a little something different as we wrap up the Girl Boner year, you’ll hear (or read) that conversation. Lynn and I explored our own awakenings, which unfolded between ages 19 and 70. We also shared tips for inviting your own.
Listen to the Girl Boner Radio episode on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Spotify or below! Or read on for a lightly edited transcript.
First, speaking of events, there’s still time to get early bird pricing for Afternoon Delight, the live podcast experience I’m co-hosting with three awesome colleagues who host shows you may be familiar with: Sexology Podcast, Sluts and Scholars and LuvBites with Dr. Tara.If you’d like expand your pleasure capacity, whether you’re single or partnered, this event is for you. It’ll feature intimate conversations among us hosts, followed by audience Q&A. Afternoon Delight is sponsored by Beducated and Couply, and oh my gosh, the gift bags are incredible. It’ll take place in-person in Los Angeles on February 10th, at a very chic venue with limited seating. We also have a video on-demand option, if you’d like to watch from home.
Sign up at ADLive.eventbrite.com or the link in the show notes. I would love to see you there.
And now, on with the show! Starting with an introduction from Keisha from Residence 11. I really hope you enjoy it.
[acoustic, encouraging music]
Keisha: August is a nationally recognized health and sexuality writer, the author of the book, Girl Boner, and she also has a podcast by that name. So do check it out. It is very cool. At seventy years old, Lynn Brown Rosenberg discovered sex can be fun, sex can be fantastic. She’s going to share with you today the path she took to sexual freedom and how you can discover your own path to a fulfilling sex life. So I’m gonna let these ladies take it away.
August: Thank you Keisha, and welcome everyone.
So Lynn, you wrote an incredible memoir, as Keisha mentioned, called My Sexual Awakening at 70, and you write about having been sexually repressed. How did that happen?
Lynn: I had many impactful experiences growing up. And one of them, uh, happened when my parents took me to a resort near Palm Springs called Highland Springs. They had a party for teens one night and I went, met a boy, 16, I was 14, and we danced and we talked and pretty soon he asked me if I’d like to take a walk and I said, sure. So we took a little walk out in the moonlight. It was so romantic, and we ended up on a chaise lounge kissing. That’s all we were doing by the way.
I was 14. And it was, it was fantastic. And into this bliss came my father’s bellowing voice, “Lynn, get up.” And I got up and he sent the boy away. And, I knew I’d never see him again. So, on our way back to the cabin, my mother said, “Any woman who enjoys sex is a prostitute.” So that was my first experience.
August: Yeah. And I remember learning that both premarital sex and sex work are very shameful. So I can imagine how you must have felt.. It’s so confusing and there are so many layers of shame, right?
Lynn: Yes. It’s very difficult.
August: How did your path to sexual awakening start? And what steps did you take to move past that repression?
Lynn: Well, first I needed to realize that I was repressed and in order to come to that decision, I had to think about myself and where I was at. And I did that when I was packing up to leave one condo to another.
And I was looking through boxes and what to keep, what to give away, and all of a sudden I evaluated myself. And I realized I hadn’t had sex in over a decade. So I called my psychiatrist to see if my medications had any influence and he said it could. So he changed the medications and while I was waiting to see if that was going to help, I had an appointment with my urologist, just a checkup. After she examined me and she was about ready to leave the room, I said, “I haven’t had an orgasm in 12 years.” And she said, “Go get some porn and and a toy.” So I did what the doctor ordered. [audience laughs]
So speaking of The Pleasure Chest, that’s where I went. I was so nervous. Someone would see me in there, someone I knew would see me. Uh, I sat in my car for about 10 minutes, you know, trying to get the courage up to go in. So finally I did. And the saleswoman was really nice and helpful, and actually I kind of felt relaxed in there. So I got the porn and the vibrator and I took my little purchases home and tried out, and lo and behold, success! Twice! [audience cheers] So that turned out to be a great experience.
August: I love that so much.
Lynn: Thank you.
August: And what a beautiful thing for a medical professional to say to you. I wish, I wish that happened more often. What role did your psychologist play in helping you along? Huge role.
Lynn: A huge role. I had enjoyed the DVD that I got, but I got tired of it after, you know, I don’t know, a week, whatever. And I, I said to my psychologist, well, I was nervous about talking to this person because it was a man. So now I was gonna bring up my sexual issues with a man. So when I started to talk, I guess he could see my hesitancy, and he said, I’ve heard it all. So, okay, full speed ahead. So I told him, I, you know, I was a little tired of watching this DVD, but I really didn’t wanna go back to the sex store. So he said, there’s free porn on the net. Oh my God. Oh my God! Couldn’t, I couldn’t believe it. So that afternoon when I came home, I Googled porn and, and I saw a few videos, but one,
one in particular really got my attention and that was of a naked woman and a man, and all she did was talk and touch, touch and talk. That was it. And he was a very happy man. So anyway, this woman, she kept asking him erotic questions. And it was just really fascinating cuz most of these porn videos are just action and no, no talk at these, the ones I’ve seen.
Anyway, after that I, uh, you know, watched these porn tapes and, I got tired of that. So when I went back to my psychologist, I said, you know, I, I really like to connect with someone, but I don’t have a boyfriend right now. And he said, there are sex dating sites. Oh, no, no way. No way in hell was I gonna do that.
And I mean, I said to him something like, “uh, okay, I’ll think about it.” But I often say no before I say yes. So, later on I thought, well, if I did, go on the site, if I did, what in the world would I say? And then I remembered the woman who talked on that film, and I went back and I wrote down word for word, what she said. Word for word. And I joined these sex dating sites. Well, I was having such a good time.
August: So you were a role playing essentially.
August: You took on that spicy role you had seen. And how did it go?
Lynn: It went fantastic. I had a good time and they had a good time.
August: You write about really deeply personal experiences and sexual experiences in your memoir, My Sexual Awakening at 70. How did you come to write it and did you have a particular audience in mind?
Lynn: Well, I came to ride it because this, on the sex site, I was having such a good time and I thought I’d like to share this. Because I was thinking, you know, maybe other women were in my position and could use some help in this direction.
Lynn: And I did wanna say that, if anyone is interested in my psychologist’s info, let me know because he was fantastic.
Lynn: Well, thank you for writing your book, Girl Boner. It’s a really amazing book.
August: Oh, thank you.
Lynn: Very educational and fun, Girl Boner. So, August, uh, you had a sexual awakening of your own, around age 19, which you wrote about in your girl boner book, one that you credit for saving your life. Could you tell us about that?
August: Yeah, so prior to this, I’d been living in Europe. I was working in the fashion industry, and I had this really sexy career in a lot of ways. But I was completely disconnected from my sexuality, and really just struggling in so many ways. And so I’d gone back to Minnesota where I’m from, don’t you know? And I was doing the conventional treatments, therapy and all of that. I did not have a sex positive therapist, unfortunately.
Lynn: Hard to find.
August: Yeah, hard to find for sure. So I wasn’t making a lot of progress in my treatment and I really needed something else to think about. And so I took a college course and it was on the psychology of women, and one day the teacher stood before the class and said, “Today we’re going to talk about sex.”
And I was aghast. I had never talked about sex really. I realized that I had never even talked about sex to the person I’d been having sex with. And I’m like looking around , does anyone else find this unusual? Then I had this kind of classic light bulb moment. Where like in a second, just the world changed.
I went home to my very shy Minnesota boyfriend and I was on a rampage. I’m like, “How did I not know about this? Why didn’t we talk about this? And I need to know a lot more about this clitoris thing we talked about.” [audience laughs] He was scared. And later on I realized that that healthy anger and intense curiosity, it was the moment that I stopped wanting to brutalize my body. I still had a lot of healing to do and that took time, but it really was the beginning and I was able to replace that shame, or at least some of it, with self-compassion and respect for the first time. Because I realized, oh, this didn’t come from inside me. This shame was put on me, put on all of us, on so many people. And I haven’t really stopped talking about sex since. [audience laughs]
Lynn: You then had another sexual awakening at age 30. How was that different?
August: Oh, so different. At that time I considered myself very sexually empowered, enjoyed sex, had orgasmic sex. I had not, however, embraced or even delved into self-pleasure. I even wrote a college paper on why I do not need to masturbate, which is another topic. [Lynn and others laugh] I was in a long-term, monogamous relationship, and I was alone at home and my longtime partner was away. And so I started to feel like this blah feeling and it was kind of like pining, which I was sort of embarrassed about needing him. I’m supposed to be the strong, independent woman and I really want him to be here.
And I thought I was lonely. But then I realized what I wanted to be doing with him if he were home. And then it dawned on me that, oh, I’m horny! So this was light bulb moment number two. However, I did not know what to do about this moment because again, self-pleasure did not exist for me at this time. So I did what I had done every time this came up and I tried to distract myself. I turned on the TV and I’m scrolling through Netflix, and I’m not kidding. It recommended to me “Diary of a Nymphomaniac.” [audience laughs] Has anybody seen it? Whew. It’s very hot. I couldn’t take my eyes off. It’s a French film and this woman is just so into sex and she wants a lot of it and she keeps going after it and it’s whew.
And involuntarily my hand went to my crotch like woo. And then because I think once an awakening starts so often, we have the answers inside of us. There’s so much wisdom in our bodies, and I just let that take over. And what came to mind for me was this sex toy that was up in our drawer upstairs. It was a joke gift from a friend… And so it’s like still in the packaging. It actually glowed in the dark if you put it like next to a light bulb for a while. But I didn’t wanna deal with all that because I was really excited.
So I crept upstairs, all nervous and giddy and naughty in a good way, like a teenager or something. I found the toy and I pulled it out and I put it on the bed and I climbed on top of it. And I rode that toy and I made myself come. [audibly tears up] And I get emotional thinking about that because and this is actually what happened at that moment is I went from this like euphoria to sobbing on the bed, just like fell down to the bed. Because I realized I had this residue of shame that I had not addressed yet. And I saw myself in the wall mirror, and I just saw this beauty, this glow. And it wasn’t about anything physical. It was about this embodiment. I was so in my body.
And I realized that I had been seeing sexuality, my sexuality, as something that was dependent on another person. It was not my own first. It wasn’t something that was inherent in me and it was completely life-changing. and I started Girl Boner not long after that with, on my blog initially. It’s been quite a journey.
Lynn: What advice do you have for someone who might wish to invite a sexual awakening?
August: If you want to invite a sexual awakening, again, I think there is this wisdom that we all have that we can tap into. When you think of awakening, it’s like something maybe a little asleep. Is there some part of your sexuality that feels a little bit stuck or dormant or just like super routine, something that you wanna shake up or open up in some way and then journal about it.
I’m such a fan of journaling and I think because there can be shame around these areas that we want to entice and, and wake up, I think. by letting your thoughts out in a non-judgmental way that no one else is going to see. It’s really healing. And you can write or you can record your journal, into a voice memo app. You can paint your thoughts out, whatever works for you. But I think that’s powerful. What about you, Lynn? What would you recommend?
Lynn: I would recommend that, you look inward and try and see really where you’re at. See if you, are maybe repressed, or even if you aren’t, you might want to follow my path or someone else’s path or your own fantasies. That’s what helped me. And lastly, I came across a couple of studies and one of them was from a science magazine, and it said, have a sexual awakening, women will find sexual satisfaction increasing with age, so I like that. [laughs, audience laughs]
August: Yes! So inspiring. Thank you, Lynn. You’re awesome. Thank you all. [audience claps]
Keisha: Hey, does anybody have any questions? Uh oh, that hand went up so fast! Hold on, hold on.
Good morning. So I have a question for you, Lynn. So those questions that you heard that were really pivotal to you in that porn video. What were they? What was it that [audience laughs] Y’all, I’m a romance writer. I’m researching.
What was it that was so pivotal that resonated with you? Not just because you watched it and they enjoyed each other, but it stuck with you enough that you then incorporated it into your role playing?
Lynn: Yes. Thank you. Um, I didn’t anticipate that question. I’m trying to remember. It’s been a while, a long while since I’ve seen it. Um, she was saying things like, “Does this feel good?” It’s in my book word for word.
Anonymous attendee: Does this feel good? Is a great one though.
Does this feel good really is a great one. Definitely bring that to the bedroom, or whenever you get busy next. Take it into your relationships and holidays, too. Ask yourself the same question while you’re at at. Checking in with our wants, needs and what actually feels good might sound simple, but it’s really powerful, important stuff.
Order Lynn Rosenberg’s memoir, My Sexual Awakening at 70, on Amazon, Audible or your favorite bookseller.
To make like Lynn and get an accessory to shake up your sex life, head to thepleasurechest.com. In addition to awesome vibrators, dildos, cock rings and kink sets, Pleasure Chest gift cards make awesome last minute, or any time gifts. And get this — though the end of December, you can save 40% on all already discounted products — so it’s the perfect time to stock up or save on a pricier item you’ve set your sights on. Again that’s The Pleasure Chest at thepleasurechest.com.
As this year moves toward the end, I hope you find peace, light, ease and joy. And as many orgasms as you desire. I’m already excited to join you back here in January. Thanks so much for listening.