There’s no question that the generally hostile environment of the 2016 election and the ensuing Trump administration have left women and LGBTQ+ individuals particularly traumatized. In the autumn of 2016, a flurry of articles came out as therapists started to speak out and a survey from the fertility app Kindara found that women who identified as Democrats were having less sex because of election stress. That survey is small and self-reported, but the number of personal essays, similar surveys and social media shares saying “same” made it clear.Forget everyone else. Give yourself an orgasm. Click To Tweet
The ongoing sexist, homophobic, racist and all around triggering rhetoric is taking a toll on our libidos. Now that we know the emotional exhaustion of the election isn’t going anywhere, it’s time to figure out how we get through this.
Before I begin, if you can get pregnant and aren’t trying for kids right now, get yourself an IUD. Like, yesterday. Right now, if you have insurance, getting one won’t break the bank and that looks like it may change. Also, we don’t know what the future of abortion access is going to look like.
OK, now let’s get to the fun part.
1. Disconnect (non-sexually) from stress.
It can be easy to get used to the nonstop consumption of news, but we must learn to disconnect from it sometimes. It’s hard to disconnect and jump right into sexual intimacy if you aren’t also taking time off for other activities. Read on the couch, take a long bath and listen to music or sit down and do something creative.
You are a creature of habit, and in the past few months, no doubt, your habits have probably been altered by your late-night panicked Twitter habits. Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour a couple times a week and make space in your frazzled psyche for something that is healing and good. Maybe at first, you use that mental space for painting, but it’s also crucial for intimacy.
Get stuck into some escapist reading: we have some suggestions.
Paint. Draw. Knit. Experiment with makeup. Allow creativity to be all you think about for a bit.
2. Forget everyone else. Give yourself an orgasm.
In fact, schedule time to masturbate and keep it like you would an appointment. Sex with another person is inherently more complicated and navigating two people’s feelings at once is hard when you aren’t at your best. Turn off safe search and get yourself on the dirty side of Tumblr, shut the bedroom door and disconnect from everything outside of yourself and your body. If you aren’t used to masturbation (don’t worry, that’s fairly common), here are my hacks:Don't rule anything out, if it's turning you on then go with it, babe. Nobody has to know. Click To Tweet
Play music that makes you feel sexy as hell. Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and Floetry are my go-to’s. It’s all about getting your mind off the stress outside and music is singularly good for that.
Mood lighting. Like you would if your partner was coming over. Fairy lights, candles, whatever makes it feel right.
Porn. is. your. friend.
It doesn’t have to be mass market stuff – get onto Tumblr and scroll through whatever works for you. Tumblr is a treasure trove of amateur kink, queer and generally inclusive porn of the visual, textual, hard or soft varieties.. I didn't even know what to do until I went to college, so I can relate. Click To Tweet
Also, check out the site We Love Good Sex. Don’t rule anything out, if it’s turning you on then go with it, babe. Nobody has to know.
Really get to know yourself.
Women, in particular, are not encouraged to explore their bodies’ sexual capabilities during their crucial teenage years. I have met so many women FAAB who didn’t give themselves an orgasm until their late twenties. I didn’t even know what to do until I went to college, so I can relate. Regardless of your physical sexual presentation, it’s worthwhile to explore the parts of your body that respond to touch in different ways.
For people who have female genitals, I highly recommend OMGYes! A series of videos that resulted from a large study about the actual masturbatory practices of women. They are easy to watch, easy to follow and the entire series, including new videos coming in series 2, costs $35. That’s about what you’d pay for two good books. They also offer also a free trial.
3. Expand your definition of sex.
This is one is most important for people with opposite sex partners. For whatever reason, we have been taught that sex only counts if it’s penetrative. If every time I wanted to have sex it meant getting nailed, then I would be having a lot less sex right now. If it’s hard for you to adjust, you can gamify it. It’s so helpful to put your phones in a different room, shut the door and just commit half and hour or an hour to being with your partner with no expectations.For whatever reason, we have been taught that sex only counts if it's penetrative. Click To Tweet
Communicate with your partner, explain what you are dealing with and how sex makes you feel right now. It’s OK to not want to have penetrative sex right now. It’s OK to not want any kind of sex right now, but you need to talk about it to figure out where you both stand.
Challenge each other to stimulate any part of your bodies but your genitals for a set amount of time. This lets both of you focus on a particularly soothing kind of physical intimacy.
Just make out. Cast your mind back to before you became sexually active- making out could keep you entertained for hours.
4. Engage in some make-believe.
There is something really powerful about pretending to be someone else. Roleplay is more than just an overprescribed solution to “spice up your love life”…whatever that even means.
Playing with power dynamics is an amazing way to erase some of the baggage that comes with partnered sex. Giving up control might be really liberating for you and so might taking the reigns and running the show. You probably have an idea of what role appeals to you, so talk to your partner and see if an alternate reality helps you overcome the mental barriers you’ve put up.
Dress up, use your imagination, imagine you’re in a steamy historical romance novel. “Marie Antoinette is lounging in her boudoir, and what is this? The stable boy has wandered into her private chambers! Gasp!”….. You get the idea. Pretend to be a character who is untouched by everything that’s been stressing you out so you can focus on having some sexy fun.
Lastly, remember that it is totally normal to experience an ebb and flow of your libido.
What matters at the end of the day is that you are able to have the sex life you want and need, whatever that looks like for you.