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Leah: If I hadn’t believed all those things for all those years, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now, because I wouldn’t have gotten into all of the messes that I got into and feel so passionate about helping other women to not go there or to get out of them themselves. So, I wish that I had had more of a sense of self, but I also recognise that this was my path.
Hi, I’m Agrita Dandriyal and welcome to Mind Full of Everything, the podcast that cultivates a space for socially and environmentally conscious minds, actively striving to achieve greater ecological and community healing, for a safer and healthier planet. In today’s episode, I had a very transparent and open conversation with Leah Carey, a sex and intimacy coach and host of the Good Girls Talk About Sex podcast, where women of all races, genders, sexualities, and backgrounds talk about their sexual journeys, entirely anonymously. Leah’s past struggles in denouncing misogynistic stereotypes on sexual exploration and embodiment of her sexual energy motivated her to aid other women in embracing their sexualities.
This episode addresses multiple issues that women often face when it comes to sexual relationships and acts as encouragement for women to actively engage in discourse around the importance of sex-positive romantic relationships and taking full control of their own bodies. Although this conversation revolves around heterosexual sex issues, particularly due to the need for misogynistic power dynamics to be addressed in heterosexual relationships, issues discussed are applicable to all women in all sexual and romantic relationships.
Agrita: So Leah, how did you come about to be a sexuality coach? Have you always been very comfortable in talking about sex and sexuality in general?
Leah: Actually, exactly the opposite. I spent most of my life being very repressed around sex. I grew up in a home where my father was inappropriate with me, sexually. He was an alcoholic who was emotionally abusive and all of that it was really confusing.
Leah: So when I say he was inappropriate, he would, you know, talk to me about my body, talk sexually about my body. He would talk to me about his sex life with my mom and how unhappy he was with it. He would speak to other women sexually in front of me who were not my mother. So, there was a lot of sexual energy flying around in our house. At the same time, he was telling me, starting around the time that I was about 11, that I was getting fat and ugly and no one would ever love me. And he was also telling me that he was going to lock me in my room until I was 30 and break the kneecaps of any boy who ever showed interest in me. Anyway, so all of that put together left me completely confused who I was supposed to be, how I was supposed to show up in the world. So instead of trying to sort through that as a teenager and a young woman, I just shut it all down.
Leah: It was like, you know, it just didn’t feel safe to date or to get involved. I got a little bit older, I finally had my first serious boyfriend and my first sexual relationship at age 25, and I started choosing partners who were like my dad, who were emotionally abusive, who were inappropriate in various ways. So that continued this feeling for me of “I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve to have sexual partners or romantic partners who treat me well or who care about my pleasure”.
Leah: It wasn’t until I was 42 years old that I finally decided, this is so painful. I mean, I was single most of my life because being in relationships was so awful, and I desperately wanted to be in a good relationship. I wanted to have companionship and touch and love. So finally, at age 42, a bunch of things happened in my life that brought me to a moment where I was able to take an extended road trip around the United States. I was on the road for about 6 months and during that time I started exploring my sexuality. It was like I needed to leave everything behind –
Leah: – in order to finally be able to see myself as something new and different than what I’d been told my whole life. At that point both of my parents had passed away so that like also left me free to explore myself anew. So it’s really only been in these last four or five years that I have finally discovered that there is this person inside me who’s allowed to be sexual. Who’s allowed to see myself as attractive to other people, who’s allowed to participate in this part of the world that I always thought was closed to me. And it turns out that I happen to have a good facility for talking about it and sharing about it and the more that I shared, people started asking me their own questions, and so that’s how I ended up in this role as sort of like a guide, an advisor to other people who are wanting to explore their sexuality and their capability for intimacy that maybe they haven’t explored before.
Agrita: That’s amazing. I know that your podcast gives that platform to women to be anonymous and also talk about their sexual experiences and sex life. So, do you think that your podcast really helped a lot of women that perhaps wouldn’t have talked about these things, come forward and be accepting of their bodies and also not be afraid to talk about their experiences?
Leah: Yeah, so that’s exactly why I started the podcast to have these conversations. So, first of all, I should say the podcast is called Good Girls talk about Sex, and it comes very much from my background, feeling like I was a good girl and I wasn’t allowed to talk about sex and so like now it’s time to turn that on its head.
Leah: I interview women about their sex lives like you said. The responses that I get from the listeners are that they’ve never heard conversations like these before and that it allows them to explore parts of themselves that they have never felt like they had permission to explore before. I frequently hear that people feel more liberated after listening or that, they’re exploring parts of their sexualities with their partner that they’ve never felt comfortable before, or they’re having conversations about sex that they’ve never had before, and all of those are exactly the reason they started the podcast, because I was that person who couldn’t talk about it and who was scared to bring it up. I find so much freedom now in having these conversations, I want other people to feel that same freedom of being able to talk about it and hear other people talk about it.
Leah: My favorite thing is when somebody has been listening to the podcast for a little while, and then you know, contacts me and says I want to do a conversation with you now, I’ve gotten so much out of it and I want to be brave and talk about my own sex life, so that’s the best.
Agrita: It’s amazing that you’ve created a small community and everyone is just so comfortable in talking about their bodies and sex and anything that they felt uncomfortable talking about to people in their lives, friends, family.
Leah: Thank you for saying that, that is absolutely my goal, and part of what I think allows that to happen is that most of the people who do the podcast do it anonymously.
Leah: So, either they’re using a fake name or they’re just using their first name. All of my graphics show just their eye, so you get a little bit of a sense of who, you know, somebody’s age and skin tone and all of that kind of thing. But because they’re anonymous, they can be really free to tell all.
Agrita: Why do you think so many women refrain from talking about sex in the first place? In terms of talking about either their sexual needs or any problems that they have in their sex lives despite it being 21st century and most people are very much open in talking about sex or anything related to it. So yeah, why do you think that is the case, that so many women are still feeling uncomfortable to talk about sex and their bodies?
Leah: It’s a big question and there are a lot of answers, but I’ll try to sort of focus in on two that I think are the biggest issues. One is that we live in a very sex negative culture. Now, people might hear me say that and think, but we see sex on TV all the times. We see advertisements all the times that feature sex, but we are only seeing one very particular version of sex. You know, think about a perfume commercial for instance, what we see is a very thin, very beautiful, very white woman who has men often sort of hoarding around her. Our concept of sex in this culture, the sex that is being sold to us through all of our media is very thin, very beautiful, very white and very young. So anybody who is not all of those things begins to feel like I’m not the person who sex is for, I’m not going to have any interest. No one’s going to pay attention to me and I’m not allowed to want to have interest because that’s no longer appropriate for me. So when I say sex negative, what I mean is that if we don’t fit into this one teeny tiny box, that honestly if we did a survey of all of the, let’s just say, all of the women in this culture, we might find you know 1% of them actually fit into that very thin, very beautiful, very white, very young box all at the same time, which means what? The rest of us are supposed to not ever have needs or desires? That’s bonkers.
Leah: But that’s what advertising and media has sold to us. I talked to so many women who say nobody is ever going to want me, I have an extra, you know, I’m overweight or nobody is ever going to want me.
I’m over 40. Well let me tell you, I am over 40. I am overweight I am carrying probably about 40 extra pounds right now. In the last four years I have gotten more sexual interests than I have my entire life, because I made myself available for it. I’m not thinner, I’m not younger, I’m not anymore white than I was, and I’m not anymore beautiful than I was four years ago. In fact, I’m older and heavier than I was four years ago, and yet I’m getting more interest than I ever have before. So that’s one issue, is sort of this tiny little box that we say these are the people who are allowed to have interest. The other piece of, why I think that people don’t talk about it, is because we have again, our popular media and culture sells us this narrative of what the “normal sex life” looks like. It’s one man and one woman who are married probably, or at least who are in a committed relationship, who have missionary sex once a week.
You know, even if they’re not specifically saying those words to us, there is a very common narrative about what the “normal” sex life looks like. There are plenty of people who have that, but there are also so many people who don’t. Whether it’s because a woman has a higher sex drive than she thinks she is, supposed to have, or they’ve been in a sexless marriage since the kids were born, or a single woman who is enjoying being single and is having lots of sex. Hopefully not during the Covid lockdown!
Agrita: (laughs) Yeah.
Leah: (laughs) But people who are involved in kink or other kinds of “non-normative” sex, these people all fall outside of that sort of very normal box, and we’re also afraid that if we say this is what I’m into or this is what I want or my husband and I aren’t having sex, I love going out and having one night stands., we’re afraid that people are going to judge us. We’re so afraid of being judged that we avoid talking about it at all. So, we live in a society that tells us we’re not really allowed to have sex unless we look one very particular way. And we’re afraid that if we do have sex, we’re not doing it the “normal” way, and therefore we just don’t talk about it because we’re all so afraid. And what I find in the work that I’m doing, whether I’m you know, doing a podcast episode with someone who shares a story that other people are like, Oh my God , me too, or I’m doing group coaching where one of the women talks about something going on in her sex life and the other women in the circle say Oh my God, me too, these are the conversations we need to be having because it allows us to know that we are not alone. Not only are we not alone in the world, we’re probably not even the only ones in you know the community we’re in, and we’re probably not alone in the you know, the group of six people were sitting with.
Leah: There’s so much commonality if we’re just brave enough to you know to crack that surface.
Agrita: So essentially is all about self-confidence and also forgetting the sort of sexist stereotypes people have about women and how they explore their bodies.
Leah: And both of those things are very challenging. You know, it’s great to go online on to Instagram and see posts of people who are, you know, flaunting their liberation and saying you should do this too, you should just be more confident. That’s not how it works. It takes some time, it takes some practice.
It is a journey. I am five years into this journey and I am still learning every single day. I’m still growing, practicing and learning new things and learning new ways every day.
Agrita: You talk about, of course, sex freedom a lot in your podcast, and just as a person. We are part of a very great community, She Podcasts, and you mentioned [on there] that somebody gave a bad review because they are a pro life supporter. So how do you get about those sort of hurdles when you’re talking about sex in general?
Leah: Yeah, so I just got my first One Star Podcast review and I’m very proud of it (laughs). Because I, I’m assuming it’s a woman I don’t know that for sure, but I’m just going to use she ’cause that’s my assumption. She said that she’s gotten so much out of the podcast, she feels so much liberation, she’s able to talk about sex in a new way now, and she was really disappointed to find out that I was Pro Choice and that I donated some proceeds from my Patreon to two pro-choice organizations, and therefore she gave me a One star review. So, first of all, I’m really pleased that my morals are showing up. Like that’s important to me because that’s very much a part of who I am in the world. And I think, first of all, to that person and anybody who is thinking like her, who’s like I want to be sexually liberated but I also think that women’s bodies should be controlled, I would say that those two things are not separate. When you really believe in bodily autonomy, sovereignty of ourselves over our bodies, body liberation, that doesn’t just mean inside the bedroom, during the time you’re having sex, that means all of the time. We should be allowed to have sovereignty over our bodies and what our bodies do and what our bodies accomplish at all times. As to your specific question about how I deal with when pro-life people show up? Honestly, it doesn’t happen that often. I think that people who are nervous about sex don’t show. That may change, you know, as I get a higher profile, it may be that people will show up specifically to troll me and you know, I’m ready for that at whatever point it happens. But in the case of this particular person, the way I feel is that we are each on our growth and healing journey, at whatever point we’re on it, and we can’t be any further ahead than we are. That’s just, you know, you can’t be anywhere different than where you are. So, if this person has gotten to the point of listening to the podcast and feeling like I’ve really gotten so much out of it and I’m having better conversations and I’m having better sex, that is the point that they’re at. If that hasn’t yet rolled over into their understanding about bodily autonomy and sovereignty and all of that, in terms of being able to make their own choices about procreation, I don’t want to shame them for where they are. I want to support them in the fact that they are making strides forward and at some point hopefully will get over this next big hump too, but I have never felt like shaming people was a useful way to get anyone to change their mind.
Agrita: Yeah, definitely.
Leah: So yes, I want people who are anti-choice to hurry up and catch up (laughs). But you know, if you’re listening to the podcast and you’re getting something out of it, great. Keep listening, ’cause maybe at some point you’ll get the next piece too.
Agrita: Yeah, I just love how positive you are about practically everything! Like that’s exactly what we need right now. So, I wanted to talk about birth control and the sorts of birth control that are available to women. I personally find it very difficult to gain proper knowledge on the types of control available. The only information that I’ve actually gained is from the Internet and a lot of the time the stuff on the Internet doesn’t feel correct. So, what do you think we can do to make more women like me know exactly how to go about getting birth control in a safe manner?
Leah: Yeah, so let me just be upfront and say birth control is not one of my specific knowledge areas, so I’m not an appropriate person to teach on this. But there are definitely organizations that are invested in putting out good information. I’m not sure what they are in the UK, but I can tell you that in the US, Planned Parenthood is one of the top organizations, so their website is a great place to get information if you’re in the US, they can help you get the information you need. There are some other websites like, I think it’s called Scarlet magazine, but I’m not positive, that is directed at teens and young adults, and specifically around sex and sexuality, and that is a great place for to get information.
Agrita: Do you that we don’t have enough conversations about birth control? Especially because birth control is something that women take on. I don’t even think there’s a pillow yet for male concern like
it’s very sad, but I mean it’s something that women have to think about as soon as they start getting sexually active. It’s just right all about breaking into that conversation and just feeling safe about talking about the choices that you make in terms of your body.
Leah: Yeah, I wish it were easier to talk about. It falls under that umbrella of things that feel taboo because it brings up conversation about birth control. Means that you’re going to be talking about your sexual activity, or lack thereof, which some people find embarrassing that,, you know, you’re at a certain age and haven’t gotten sexually active yet. Let me tell you, if you’re hearing this, you are not alone. You are completely normal. It’s not a problem, but talking about birth control is also going to almost certainly bring up a conversation about your period and sex and periods are two fairly difficult conversations for people to have. And so yeah, just having a conversation with your friends may feel really intimidating. As to what you said about women being responsible for most of birth control, well, what the hell! (laughs) Yes, men can wear condoms. I have some feelings about that. I think condoms are great, that’s what I use with my partner, but there are issues with sometimes men taking condoms off intentional in the middle of sex and if you’ve had that experience, you should know that that is a case of assault, you haven’t consented to that activity. Back to birth control with men, really the only full opportunity for men is vasectomies, and yet there is this idea that if men have a vasectomy, this is a cultural narrative and it has no basis in reality, but if men get a vasectomy, then they’re losing their manhood or losing their virility, and they’re also afraid of the surgery, which is kind of amusing, given that if the women go in to get a tubal ligation, it is a much more involved invasive surgery. I have a lot of feelings about birth control based on gender. It would be lovely if as women we were not the ones who are constantly on the stick for this. On the other hand, it is our bodies, you know, we are the ones who get pregnant.
Leah: So if we really are invested in our own sexual health, then we do need to be really involved in our contraceptive choices well.
Agrita: What would you say to women that haven’t had sex yet or haven’t been in a romantic relationship and feel pressured to meet society’s expectations of when you should be sexually active. What would you say to those women?
Leah: So I actually talked to a fair number of women who have not had sex in their mid 20s, late 20s, early 30s, and every one of them thinks that they’re the only one, they think that they are the weirdo. There’s something wrong with them. Every single one. I told you I myself didn’t have sex until I was 25 and I very much felt like the weirdo. In fact, when I did have sex, it was in a bad relationship that I knew I shouldn’t be in. But the story that I said to myself was I no longer want to be the world’s oldest living virgin (laughs). So, I’m going to get into this relationship and have sex so that I’ve had that experience. It was a terrible, terrible idea. I feel like most women just think of it like that.
Agrita: Absolutely, yeah.
Leah: And so, if you are listening to this and you have not yet had sex, you are not alone. There is nothing wrong with you. You get to make choices that feel good to you. There’s a whole range of sexual desire. We have an assumption that everyone has a base level of sexual desire that is, again, “normal”. That’s not necessarily true. There is a portion of our population that fall on the asexual spectrum, meaning they have little to no sexual desire, and that’s OK. It is not required that you have sexual desire in order to be a fully functioning “normal” adult human being. If you do have sexual desire, but you haven’t had sex yet, totally OK. You get to decide when it’s right for you. There may be people who will put pressure on you or who laugh or whatever. The thing to remember is that they’ve probably had some bad sex in their life and are they really asking you to go ahead and you know, it’s sort of like hazing, you know? Well, I went through it so you should have to go through it. Like that’s ridiculous! It’s so horrible. You wait until you’re ready and when you’re ready, awesome, do it. Have fun. And another thing, just because you’ve waited until your say in my case, 25, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily are doing that because you have religious restrictions. We need to decouple this idea that waiting to have sex is the same as waiting until marriage. They do not need to be the same thing at all, you just get to wait until you’re ready.
Agrita: I’ve often been faced with this racist stereotype that, because I am Indian or a South Asian girl,
I will refrain from engaging in any sort of sexual activity because my parents restrict me, my culture restricts me, etc. So many people actually, it sounds weird, but they don’t want to take that step even, like the initial steps of a relationship. I feel that has been the case with so many different people that have been interested in me, so I think just letting people know that this is just a personal choice and it doesn’t have to be dictated by your cultural and religious beliefs in anyway, it’s just so important to get that across to people.
Leah: Yeah, and I also want to say that regardless of whether you’re having sex or not, you still have a relationship with your sexuality. This is something that I’m actually trying to find someone to be on the podcast, who is in their 20s and has not yet had sex and I’ve had a few people who have said, yeah, I may be interested, and then after thinking about it said, oh maybe I can’t do that, maybe I’m a little too embarrassed. Maybe I’m not ready because there is this shame around being, you know, an adult and not having had sex yet. What I’m constantly saying to people is just because you haven’t had sex yet, doesn’t mean that you don’t have a relationship with who you are as a sexual being. You haven’t maybe manifested that with another person in the room yet but you still have feelings about yourself as a sexual human being. You still have questions about yourself as a sexual human being. You still maybe have explored yourself as a sexual human being. Masturbation, vibrators, all that stuff, reading erotica. All of that is available to you and someone who has not yet had sex. You are still a sexual person, even if you haven’t had sex.
Agrita: That was actually the next question I wanted to ask you. You don’t necessarily need to have sex to understand your sexuality, and where you are kind of in terms of the sexual spectrum that we have. Going back to the question about the conversation about asexuality, if you don’t have any sexual interest, that’s OK. You don’t need to push yourself to have sexual interest. I feel like in our sex-driven society, it’s very difficult for asexuals to, you know, feel like they’re not alienated from other sexual beings. I kind of lie in that spectrum in the sense that I think I’m a demisexual, where I feel like I am only really sexually attracted to those I’ve created a very strong bond with. That is something that people don’t understand or they feel like it’s not a proper sexuality. We just need to be respectful of the fact that not everybody is going to, like you said, fit that “normal” category.
Leah: Yeah exactly, and I’m pleased for you that you are figuring that out for yourself.
Agrita: So, when we talk about sex, why is it that we only focus on the pleasure side of things and not really the emotional side, or even consent, because there’s so many different forms of consent that people don’t understand? Of course, when you want to have sex, you want to focus on getting the pleasure, giving your partner pleasure, but there are so many different things about sex that we don’t pay attention to. So why do you think it’s the only pleasure side of things that we focus on?
Leah: So, this is another really big question.
Agrita: I love big questions!
Leah: I’m gonna focus on one portion of it, which is that in the sex education that we get, and not everyone gets sex education, some people get abstinence-only education which is not sex education. Some people don’t get anything. Far from. And then some people get what we call sex education, but which is really pregnancy prevention and disease prevention, yet has very little to do with communication, consent, pleasure. Like all of that stuff, how to have a healthy relationship, [it’s] not touched on in sex education usually. But here is what we do have in sex education: boys get erections, have wet dreams and ejaculate, girls get periods and suffer.
Leah: Basically, almost by default all of the conversation in our culture about sexual pleasure is focused on the man’s sexual pleasure. How do we give pleasure to him? Again, this is a very heterosexual-based conversation, so it completely leaves queer people out, but even just from a heterosexual point of view, how do we give pleasure to our partner? How do we make sure that we give them everything that they need? How do we make sure that they ejaculate? If they don’t, if they can’t get it up and keep it up, then what are we doing wrong? Like all of it is focused on this 1/6 inch appendage on the other person’s body (laughs)
Leah: And almost never is the focus on what do I need? What will I enjoy? How does my body want to feel so when we’re focused entirely on the other person and making sure that they get what they need, we’re not able to focus on ourselves. What I call it is performing pleasure, because very often, women in the bedroom will think I want my partner, again totally heterosexual focus in this moment, I want my male partner to have pleasure and to get it up and keep it up and have an orgasm. I know that part of what he enjoys is seeing me writhe and moan so I am going to writhe and moan for his pleasure, which is the performance aspect. When you’re performing you’re not actually feeling.
Leah: You’re doing it for somebody. So yeah, maybe we have conversations about pleasure, but honestly, think about where those conversations are focused. They are rarely focused on “how can I experience more pleasure?” They are usually focused on, “how can I get what I need without upsetting my partner?” You know, so frequently I get questions from clients about how can I talk to my partner about this thing that I want them to do a little bit differently without upsetting them? Why is it that we think that in order to get what we need, we have to make our other person feel bad? It’s like a zero-sum relationship, you know. In order for me to get more pleasure, the other person has to feel bad. That’s ridiculous! The actual mathematics of pleasure are that when I’m feeling more pleasure, I am going to do more of those things, the writing and the moaning and the you know, can’t keep my hands off of you. I’m going to do more of those things that gives my partner more pleasure, therefore, when I have more pleasure, both of us have more pleasure. That’s the actual mathematics, but we are so focused on this, zero-sum equation that rarely do people ask the right questions, so that’s where I hope that I can be useful in helping people to start asking the right questions so that they can get the kind of pleasure they want and their partner gets more pleasure too.
Leah: I’ve been saying, the particular dynamic that I was describing was a heterosexual one, but I want to be really clear that this happens in all kinds of relationships, regardless of the genders involved.
Agrita: Yeah. I just feel like heterosexual women feel like they need to stick to society’s kind of perception of what a woman is, so I feel like, in terms of that, they receive a lot of pressure. But of course, this sort of power dynamic doesn’t just exist in heterosexual relationships, it exists in pretty much every single sexual relationship, but I feel like because heterosexual women are always [expected to] feel like they can only get pleasure from their partner or that they have to give pleasure to their partner, things like masturbation just go out the window.
Leah: So many women are so weirded out by the fact that you can give pleasure to yourself, that’s just something I haven’t really understood over the years. But I know that is a major problem for so many women, especially single women. They feel like the only way that they can actually experience that pleasure in a good way is through having sex with another person.
Agrita: Absolutely, yeah
Leah: While this is no longer just an issue for people who come from religious backgrounds, this is based in a religious context or context which the religious story, I am not somebody who knows the Bible very well, but I would be hard pressed to believe that this actually shows up in the Bible, but the story that is told by people who say that they follow the Bible is that the only reason for sex is procreation. Now men get to have pleasure through the ejaculation and for some reason that’s okay. But that women’s only job is to procreate and to be the vessel that brings forth the next generation, women’s pleasure is not in there at all. Therefore, women’s bodies are only to be experienced through the conjugation, I don’t know if that’s the right word, but the coming together with a male partner. Then there’s also all of this religious teaching about, you know, masturbation is bad, you’ll go blind, you’ll get hairy palms, whatever (laughs).
Agrita: Yeah (laughs).
Leah: So again, that’s not, that is mostly taught in the religious communities, but those messages filter out into, I did not grow up in a religious home, but I heard all of that stuff and I believed a lot of it.
So yeah, masturbation is a really tricky subject for a lot of women. Believing that they’re nasty if they do it, believing that it’s dirty, believing that it’s not okay, or on the other side if they do it, believing that they do it too much, they’re getting too much out of it, and there’s also this idea that masturbation is like a gateway drug, so weird to me (laughs).
Agrita: Wow! (laughs)
Leah: There’s just a lot of really funky messages out there about masturbation, most of which have no basis in reality whatsoever.
Agrita: Yeah, exactly and again I blame the Internet for it. There are so many different articles, they’ll give a whole list of like pros and cons to masturbation.
Leah: Yeah, it’s just, there are no cons! It’s healthy, it’s normal, if you’re someone who hasn’t had sex yet or hasn’t had good sex yet, masturbation can help you get in touch with what your body really enjoys, which is incredibly helpful information to.
Leah: As for when you do engage with a partner and then you can tell them, hey, here’s what I enjoy. Here’s what will give me pleasure. There is no chance of contracting STI’s or getting pregnant when you’re masturbating, it’s the best. There’s so much good about masturbation.
Leah: Initially I say it’s the best way forward.
Agrita: Especially in a pandemic! (laughs)
Leah: Yeah, totally, there are no risks (laughs).
Agrita: I want to talk about motherhood and sexuality. So you released an episode recently about how sex life changes after giving birth. Do you feel like mothers tend to focus less on their sexual needs or just completely abandoned them after having children? I have seen this in my family, my relatives, it’s as if once they’ve had the children, that’s it. You just go about living a sexless life really, so do you feel like that’s a problem for so many mothers?
Leah: Yeah, so just to just to clarify, I was answering another woman’s question about her sex drive after having had children, I myself have not had children. But I talk with a lot of mothers of young children, this is sort of one of the base demographics of my business. This is a little bit more complicated than people would think. The general belief is once a woman has had children, she’s so invested in the children that she just has no energy, no interest left in sex. I would say to you, based on the conversations I’ve had, the extensive conversations I’ve had, that is 100% not true. The issue is that when a mother, let’s assume that the mother is the primary caregiver, a mother is a feeding station for her child, her body is a jungle gym for her child. When her child needs constant attention and supervision and care and hugs and touch, all of that which is completely necessary for a child to have a really healthy development, that mother is putting out so much energy towards the child, that there is very little left when it comes to the partner. Now the partner comes in, assuming that this partner is not a primary caregiver, maybe they’re, you know, still working and they come home from work and they’re like “hey honey, let’s get it”, [the mother is like] don’t have anything left, and that leaves the non-primary caregiver feeling like “hey what happened?” It used to be that you had all of this energy and attention for me and now it’s all going to the kid and I feel left out. I feel like you don’t care about me anymore. I feel like I’m second place to all of those things. And then resentment starts to build for the other partner and then the mother or the primary caregiver feels like I’m not getting my needs met because I’m constantly putting out all this energy and you’re still making demands on me. So that resentment begins to build and what happens is just this, like level upon level of not talking, not communicating, feeling left behind, feeling not taken care of. And when that doesn’t get dealt with in those first couple years of the child’s life, it can grow and expand to the point that by the time the child is 8 or 10 or 12, you’re in a sexless marriage because there’s all of this resentment that never got handled way back when.
Leah: The issue here is not that women don’t want to have sex. The issue is that they don’t want to continue having the same kind of sex that they have in the past. The kind of sex that requires them to put out a ton of energy and attention to their partner. The kind of touch and intimacy and sex they need to be having at this point, it is the kind that nurtures them, the kind that takes care. “I need you to just touch me and to really take care of my needs because right now all of my energy is being spent on our children”. “I need somebody to now spend that kind of time and care and attention on me, and when you fill my cup in that way, then I have more to give to everybody instead of when you come in and demand my attention to be given to you, I have less”. So again, we’re talking about a zero-sum equation instead of thinking, how can we have sex in this situation that lifts us both up and gives all everybody’s needs taken care of? And let me say, this is not just about women being the primary caregiver. I’ve heard the same story when men are the primary caregiver, so this is really a question of who’s putting all of their energy out to the children and who then needs to have their cup refilled.
Agrita: If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be, in terms of sexuality?
Leah: Oh Lord, so many things! Just pick one? If I could tell my younger self one thing it would be to not believe her father. To not believe the voice and it was not just my dad, but he was the loudest voice. To not believe the voices that said that I was broken, there was something wrong with me, that I wasn’t lovable, that I wasn’t thin enough, that I wasn’t pretty enough. It would be to really block out those voices and to pay attention to what fed me. What did I want? What felt safe and good and right to me? But understanding that my younger self probably couldn’t have heard them because she wasn’t ready. If I hadn’t believed all those things for all those years, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now because I wouldn’t have gotten into all of the messes that I got into and felt so passionate about helping other women to not go there or to get out of them themselves. So yeah, I wish that I had had more of a sense of self but I also recognise that this was my path.
Leah: Thank you so much Leah for coming on the show and talking to me. Seriously, it’s been part of my To Do List to talk to a sexuality expert and kind of just have that free flowing, no filter conversation where I can talk about absolutely everything that I want to talk about and not be judged. Thank you so much for inspiring so many women to finally come to terms with their own bodies and to prioritise their needs, it’s just amazing. So, thank you so much for your work.
Leah: Well, thank you so much. Thank you for inviting me. I’m honoured to be here and we can have these conversations whenever you need to.
OUTRO: I had this conversation with Leah back in November and since it’s Women’s Month, I decided now was a good time to release the conversation. Again, this episode is fairly different to what I usually release, however, when we talk about community healing, we automatically include the prioritisation of women’s sexual health and sexual rights, most importantly, how women can better practices their sexual rights and freedoms to minimize, or even eliminate, the number of women within sex-negative relationships, and in extreme cases, in abusive relationships. This episode is really 21 year-old-me asking all the big questions I have around sexuality that I wanted to discuss with a professional coach, so I’m very happy to have had this candid conversation and really hope that this can inspire women to feel more comfortable in prioritising their sexual needs and seeking professional help when they want.
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