An important step to creating a profound and positive relationship with our bodies is one that may make some uncomfortable. But it shouldn’t. Sex and masturbation are a part of life and one that can bring us closer to ourselves.
Sex positivity seeks to change the stigma and open the conversation around what has been considered ‘taboo’ for so long… And starts with education and healing.
As part of our#OurStories campaign, Oh! My Mag sat down with Zoë Ligon, a sex educator, writer, artist and owner of Spectrum Boutique, to get her take on sex positivity and what it means to be a sex educator.
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, how would you describe yourself and what you do?
My name is Zoë Ligon. I’m a sex educator, journalist, artist, ‘edutainer’ I’ve been calling myself these days. Like education and entertainment. I just published a book called ‘Carnal Knowledge: The Sex Education You Didn’t Get in School.’ It is 52 sex ed, PSAs, public service announcements... a broad variety peek into the world of sexual relationships and all that jazz.
Has sexual liberty always been something you have been a part of?
I started having sex when I was 14, and it wasn’t really another 5 or 6 years until I even got close to prioritising my own pleasure. OK, so it’s more than just not getting pregnant and not getting STIs… The G-spot is a body part. I think that I was navigating so much trauma as a teenager that I was not really able to prioritise my own pleasure. And that’s something I still struggle with to this day.
What started your foray into sex education?
I always wanted to be working with people in some capacity. The first profession I really wanted to pursue was being a therapist or a psychiatrist. At first, I was really trying to take the medical route.
I think being able to talk to people from my own personal experience of not being sex-negative, but still having a lot to learn myself, and still to this day I do. It’s really peer education to me in the sense of like, I totally remember what it was like to think my G-spot wasn’t real. I’m not gonna think anything different of you if that’s something you still think about your body. If you don’t know where your clit is... There’s nothing unusual about any of that.
What do you wish you had learned in school in terms of sex education?
The entire book ‘Carnal Knowledge’ is a book I wish I could time travel and give my younger self. Although I’m sure that would disrupt the fabric of the universe. I mean, certainly using lube would have prevented me so much vaginal rugburn. It’s not even a lesson. I wish I could navigate the sex of my late teens or 20s with the confidence and knowledge I have today. Because now I really don’t feel like I let people walk all over me in the way I used to.
How do you define empowerment?
Empowerment is such a broad term, and I think everyone would have their own personal definition of what their own empowerment looks like. But, I think that empowerment is not something that’s just personal of ourselves.
It’s an energy, I guess, without being woo woo. It’s the bravery. I don’t think it should require bravery, but in a sex-negative world, I think sexual empowerment requires a bit of bravery.
I guess it’s an umbrella term for all those other things that we must do in order to make the world a better place.
What is the advice you most often find yourself giving to people?
I think that it’s really overall just people looking for validation that what their body does, what they’re experiencing in their relationship or in their own sexual journey. I think people just want insurance that there’s not something wrong with them. I think people are just afraid that they are broken instead of being something broken within the system of how we think about sex and intimacy.
What is your most favourite part about your job?
I really enjoy talking to people about their fetishes and stuff that gives people anxiety because they’re afraid it’s taboo. But you know, there’s truly nothing I haven’t heard before. It’s very rare for me to hear something where I’m like, that’s the first time I’ve heard that. I can’t even think of the last time that happened.
Also, I gotta say it’s fun to have a house full of sex toys. It’s really, I think, a dream come true for a lot of people.
What sex toy would you recommend for a first time user and why?
Overall, my advice would be to look for a toy that is versatile. That has multiple ways it can be used. So, for instance, if you’re looking for a vibrator, instead of getting a toy that can only be used externally, get something that can be used externally or internally. Something with speed control so that you’re not just committing to one vibration speed. Something that gives you options.
Versatility is key looking for a first-time toy, but there’s no one thing that’s best. Figuring out what you don’t like will only help you narrow down the specific gadget that will make your body super happy.
2020 has dealt some vicious blows; how do you think the sex industry has been affected by coronavirus?
For the first time ever, we were told to masturbate by our government. I mean, not nationally, but the City of New York literally said: ‘Please masturbate.’ For the first time ever, we have a very strong incentive to masturbate.
I think that one very small silver lining of coronavirus is that we are having conversations about safety and harm reduction that are so similar to safer sex conversations. Like having a conversation before sex about when was the last time you got tested, what were the results of that test, should I go get tested before we hook up? All that negotiation and communication around sex, we’re seeing that some conversations that look very similar to that when it comes to just like platonic hanging out with friends.
It so closely parallels to safe sex conversations that I’m like: ‘Huh, maybe we will finally learn how to, or some of us, will learn how to talk about safer sex in a less stressful way.’
Oh! My Mag would like to thank Zoë Ligon for the time she took to sit down with us for the interview. If you’re interested in seeing more of Zoë’s work, you can check her out on Instagram here. Or, head over to Spectrum Boutique for toys that can be used by anyone.
Oh! My Mag is also running a giveaway in collaboration with Zoë and Spectrum Boutique where you could be in to win a copy of Carnal Knowledge and as well as a toy of your own, so head on over to our Instagram page for more details!