Dive Deeper with Leah Carey
I have been through the fire and come out the other side. Now I’m here to walk with you as you do the same.
I will help you take a stand for yourself, your desires, and YOUR PLEASURE.
It’s been a minute, but I’m back!
In this episode, I talk about what’s been going on and where I’ve been. Then, we take a deep dive into a question from Reddit about whether not saying “no” is the same as assault.
Beducated – Get a free trial PLUS lock in a rate that’s 65% off FOREVER! Use the coupon code GOODGIRLSTALK. Sign up at: http://beducate.me/pd2208-goodgirlstalk
Improve your sex life with STARS episode – https://www.goodgirlstalk.com/posts/podcast/improve-your-sex-life-with-the-stars-talk/
Catieosaurus episode – https://www.goodgirlstalk.com/posts/podcast/adhd-and-your-orgasm-cate/
The hateful salesman tactics – https://copyblogger.com/get-to-yes/
Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach, Leah Carey, and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!
I’m back! The hiatus over the last six weeks wasn’t planned in advance, but it was much needed.
A number of you have reached out to ask what’s going on and make sure I’m okay. I really appreciate your concern and support. And while this isn’t specifically sex related, it feels like a good opportunity to give you more specifics about what’s been going on. And don’t worry – I’ll talk sexy stuff in the second half of the show.
You may remember that back in January I published an episode with TikTok star and all-around badass Catieosaurus about her experience with sex and ADHD. We recorded that conversation in October of 2021 – around the same time that my primary care provider suggested to me that I might have ADHD. My PCP thought it was possible that the level of exhaustion and overwhelm I was experiencing wasn’t a result of being too stupid and ineffectual to get things done, but rather there might be something going on with my brain.
That was a huge surprise to me, because all I knew about ADHD was that it primarily affected boys who were constantly acting out and couldn’t sit still. That was most definitely not me –
I’ve never had behavioral issues and there’s nothing that makes me happier than sitting like a lump on the couch watching TV. But I love and trust my PCP, so I started looking around for a specialist.
I spent a couple months at the end of 2021 seeing a provider who was not a good fit. She was very sweet, but she wanted to focus on behavior modifications and “coping skills” and I was already so overwhelmed that learning new skills and behaviors proved impossible. All I wanted to do was cry and go back to bed. Ultimately she suggested that I see a psychiatric nurse who could prescribe ADHD medications.
Which is how I came to start seeing Molly, the woman I’m working with now. I cried through a lot of our first consult because I felt so seen for the first time ever.
“I’ve always felt like I have a really smart brain, but I’m too stupid to accomplish anything with it,” I told Molly through tears.
“That’s an ADHD sentence if I’ve ever heard one,” she said in a soothing voice.
“But I don’t have tons of excessive energy, I’m not constantly running around, and it’s not a problem for me to focus – in fact, it’s the opposite of all those things. I rarely have any energy, I’d rather be watching TV, and I can get so focused on something important that I forget to eat or go to the bathroom for 10 hours at a time.”
I explained to her that I used to be a lot more on top of things, but that started falling apart when my mom got sick.
“I was so stressed and had so much anxiety, it seems like all my coping mechanisms fell away. But I assumed that was short term and they would come back after I’d had time to rest and recover from her illness and death,” I told Molly. “But that hasn’t happened. I feel like I’m drowning most of the time now.”
“You’re just barely dog paddling?” Molly asked.
Molly nodded as if she’s heard this story a thousand times – and she probably has.
“And when you fall behind, people say, ‘You’re so smart, just try harder,’ right?”
“You’ve probably had this your whole life, but no one noticed because you fit into the societal expectations for a good girl.”
No seriously, y’all – she used the phrase “good girl” with absolutely no prompting from me! Talk about feeling seen!
“Attention deficit doesn’t look the same for women as it does for boys and men. We have a lot of rejection sensitivity, more anxiety. From the outside, we appear over-organized. And those characteristics are praised in the classroom. Good job, you sit still, you’re quiet, you don’t mess around, you’re overly organized, and you’re very sensitive to the needs of others.”
“That’s a description of my whole life,” I said.
“What makes us good girls, fundamentally makes us unhappy. So instead of treating ADHD in girls the way we do with boys, who tend toward hyperactivity, women’s ADHD is overlooked and even encouraged because it makes other people happy. It doesn’t do us any good. It’s not beneficial to our life and it makes us miserable, but we’re devoted to keeping up appearances because that’s what we get acknowledgement for.”
Working with Molly has been a god send.
But it also hasn’t been easy. Over the course of four months, I’ve been on and off four different medications. The first two made me so nauseous I couldn’t function.
The third one made me very, very tired, but I was willing to push through that if it were a transitory issue.
But then one day I looked at my boyfriend and, out of nowhere, said, “If the apocalypse happens, you need to leave me behind. I’ll just drag you down, so go ahead without me.”
My partner had tears sliding down his cheeks as he looked at me in confusion and horror.
Y’all. This is not a normal conversation for me.
It took a couple weeks for me to realize that the apocalyptic thoughts were getting worse and they had started very soon after starting the third medication.
So now I’m trying a fourth medication. As of this recording, I’ve been taking it for a couple weeks. So far – no nausea, no apocalyptic thoughts. Molly said it needs some time to build up in my system, so I probably won’t start to notice any positive effects for another few weeks. That’s okay, I’m willing to wait – and hope.
Throughout this time, I’ve been working to understand my brain better. When I get into the space of hyper-focus, I recognize it now for what it is. I don’t try to interrupt it so I can get 12 other things done, I let myself focus on the thing that has my attention.
When I hit a day of intense brain fog, I’m trying to give myself the space to watch TV until it clears. And it usually does clear at some point if I give myself some down time. But I didn’t know that before, because in the past I’ve shamed myself for being lazy, which only made it worse.
The one thing that has actually gotten easier for me during this time is coaching sessions. I’m not sure why – maybe because I’m focusing on someone else, rather than on my own internal workings. I was talking with a friend who is a disordered eating coach and she confirmed that at her most overwhelmed, she also finds that coaching is the one thing that feels good and productive, even when everything else is falling apart. So… cool?
I’m shit at the paperwork and the billing and the email part of coaching, but lately the sessions I’ve been having with clients are absolutely off the hook! I love my clients so much, and if you’d like to work with me, I’ve got slots open. Go to leahcarey.com/coaching to learn more.
The other thing that has been thriving during this time is work on my book – it’s the memoir of my year of sexual healing. If you’re on my email list, you’ve been reading excerpts as I write. If you’re not on my email list yet, go to leahcarey.com/book to sign up.
Writing the first third of the book felt really hard. It was all very internally focused – exploring my good girl tendencies and how they affected my ability to interact with my body and my sexuality. Now that I’m in the middle third of the book, I’m raring to go because it’s the fun squishy stuff – literally! I’m at the part where I’m either about to write, currently writing, or have just written a sex scene. It’s so fun!
The other thing that recognizing ADHD as a force in my life has prompted me to do is look at how I use social media. Maintaining Instagram or Facebook or YouTube – or any of the platforms – has been an ongoing struggle for me. I can be consistent for a couple months and start to get traction, then all of a sudden it’s WAY too overwhelming and I disappear. I always thought this was a failing on my part – that I would never be a good enough business person if I couldn’t maintain a consistent presence on these channels. After all, that’s what all the business gurus say: choose a channel and pour your heart and soul into it.
Turns out, I’ve always been this way. It’s what my mom always used to tell me: I would sit on the sidelines and watch for what seemed forever, and then all of a sudden I would jump into the middle of whatever was going on. Fully committed, fully present. And then a moment would come when I was OUT. Once the switch flipped there was nothing that could convince me to go back to something I had been enjoying just minutes earlier.
So I’m trying to figure out how to turn this into a plus instead of a minus for my business. I’m thinking that it might be that I show up on whatever channel happens to have my attention for that moment, and then have one place (likely Instagram) that is a clearinghouse for everything. If I get a bug to make a YouTube video, it doesn’t have to be a sign that I’m now supposed to devote myself to YouTube forevermore. It can just be a video, and then I announce it on Instagram. And if the following week I’m feeling Twitter, I’ll switch over there and announce it on Instagram. Meanwhile, I’ll switch Instagram from a place that I need to provide pithy educational content every day to feed the algorithm to a place where I just share my current thoughts and feelings with you. Not carefully packaged for greatest impact, just me and you having fun together.
I don’t know for sure that this is the answer I’m looking for, but it feels a damn sight better than what I’m doing now.
And you’ll get your first taste of that after the break, when I’ll share with you the results of dipping my toes into Reddit to offer sex and relationship advice. Back in a minute…
Y’all, I’m SO excited to tell you about an amazing platform I just joined! It’s called Beducated – that’s Educated with B – education for your bedroom! Clever, right?
They provide on-demand courses in all sorts of categories: communication, kink, anal sex, penis massage, vulva massage, etc. There’s a huge library of courses that teach techniques on live models, so you’re not left trying to interpret a somewhat ambiguous line drawing to figure out how something works on an actual body.
When I signed in the first time, the course I was immediately drawn to was “Erotic Spanking.”
Fuck… y’all… Lemme tell you. I’ve been watching this course and they demonstrate spanking positions I’ve never seen before, they talk through different types of impact and how/when/why you might use them.
Here’s a tidbit from one of the lessons:
“Before you start a spanking game with your partner, think about and discuss what kind of erotic energy you want to experience. As the person being spanked, do you want to feel like a delicious sexy being who is being worshipped with every spank? Or a naughty, dirty slut who needs a firm hand? Do you want to feel playful and frisky? Or do you want to be quiet and serene?”
Friends, I’m not gonna lie – watching the demonstration videos was a huge turn-on.
I’m eagerly waiting for an evening when my partner and I can dive into this class together because we’re going to have a lot of fun learning the techniques they teach!
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Let’s get Beducated!
Are you aching to explore new vistas of your sexuality? Do you hear me talk about concepts on this show and think, “It makes sense, but I need help applying it to my particular situation?” That’s where personalized sex and intimacy coaching comes. When you work with me, I promise to help you feel safe exploring your sexuality.
Together, we’ll look at your needs and desires without judgment and help you figure out how to fulfill them. There is no single answer that’s right for everyone. So, I’m going to help you discover what’s right for you. And we’ll go at your pace. That’s the pace that respects your emotional needs, your boundaries, and your nervous system. Because going too fast can send you into shutdown while going too slow can be infuriating and exhausting. The goal is to find what’s right for you.
I work with clients who are motivated to explore many different areas of sexuality including things like expressing your sexual desires to current or future partners, exploring if you might be queer, challenging body image insecurity in sexual relationships, dipping your toes into BDSM, exploring consensual non-monogamy, learning to date after a long time out of the dating pool, exploring your sexuality for later in life virgins, and so much more. I want you to have a deeply fulfilling intimate life and together we can help you get there. For more information and to schedule your discovery call, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That’s www.leahcarey.com/coaching.
A few weeks ago I decided to poke my nose into Reddit. I’ve been intrigued by some of the Am I The Asshole content that has become prevalent on the internet.
I started poking around and found a board where people seek sex and relationship advice, so I replied to a few.
Here’s what I’ve discovered about Reddit: there is virtually no space there for nuance. If someone says, “I love my boyfriend, but I don’t want as much sex as he does. Should I stay with him?” all the responses seem to come down in one of two ways: either “dump him, he shouldn’t be pressuring you for sex” or “he needs to leave you if you’re not willing to give it up to him.”
Neither of those are useful answers, because they set human interactions up as black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. That is rarely a true reflection of the complexities of human relationships. Usually there are two good people with good intentions trying to sort through all the bullshit and issues they carried into the relationship, navigate their lack of communication skills, and figure out how to get what they need in the relationship without knowing what it is they actually want.
So I figured – great! This might be a good place for me to engage and really dig deep! People who are in anguish will be hungry for a more nuanced take!
Well lemme tell ya friends – I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
Reddit is not a place for nuance.
The other day, I saw a message from a young woman describing a sexual situation and asking if it was assault. Predictably, the answers came down as absolute yes’s and absolute no’s (mostly saying “no, it wasn’t assault and you’re psycho for thinking it was” and “This is why it’s so dangerous to be a man today.”)
I responded with some basic education around consent and coercion, and Reddit didn’t like it. I was downvoted and people pushed back against the idea that this wasn’t a cut-and-dried situation where she was wrong and he was right – nor vice versa.
So Reddit as a platform doesn’t appear to be a good match for me. But there are some questions that I think are excellent jumping-off points for conversations about things we already talk about on this show. For instance, we talk a lot about consent – and this question involves the nuance of consent.
So we’re going to try something new: I’ll share the original Reddit post with you (slightly edited for clarity), and then I’ll talk through some of my thoughts. If you disagree with something I say, have further questions, or would like to add something you think I missed, I welcome your feedback by leaving a voice mail at 720-GOOD-SEX.
So let’s get started.
Was I, a 19 year old female, sexually assaulted?
About a week ago I had my first sexual encounter with a guy who is 18 years old. We had agreed to have sex beforehand and we went to my place.
We sat down on my bed and we started kissing and it got a little more passionate, and suddenly, he hugged me really tight. I told him not to hug so hard, and he apologized and stopped.
We continued kissing and he pushed me down and got on top of me. I tried to move my arms but he held them down. At this point I was uncomfortable, but we kept kissing. We rolled over and I was on top of him, and we were like that for a bit, but suddenly he got back on top of me and pinned my arms down again.
He asked me if I was good with everything we were doing so far, and I told him I didn’t like how forceful he was being. He said “Oh, I’m sorry” and got off me and laid down next to me. I told him that the force made me uncomfortable, and it even scared me a bit. We took a break, and he said he was sorry for scaring me.
We started kissing again, and he ended up fingering me. He didn’t use force, and after that he asked every time he did something. I didn’t necessarily want to do any of it but I said yes anyway.
I’m wondering if it was assault. He made me very uncomfortable when he was being aggressive at first but he stopped when I asked him to, so I guess it’s okay?
Let’s go through this line by line.
She starts with “We agreed to have sex beforehand.” It’s good that there is clear intent from both partners.
But what’s not clear is what either of them meant when they said “have sex” – penis-in-vagina intercourse? Using their hands and mouths to bring each other to orgasm without penetration? Different people mean different things when they use the word “sex,” so signaling intent is good but it doesn’t necessarily imply consent because you can’t consent to something when you don’t really know what you’re saying “yes” to.
Let’s assume they were both using the word “sex” to mean penis-in-vagina intercourse. Even if they’re on the same page and saying yes to the same thing, either one of them can withdraw consent at any time. So just because she said yes at the beginning of the evening does not absolve him of any responsibility to keep checking in throughout the encounter.
“We went to my place” – I want to get out ahead of the people who are thinking, “If you took him back to your place, what did you expect? Surely you can’t be surprised at what happened.” Going to a man’s house, or inviting a man to your house, is not an automatic invitation for sexual activities. You should be able to expect that your consent is inviolable, no matter what. Even if you’re drunk. Even if you’re wearing provocative clothing. Even if you’ve already got your clothes off and you change your mind. ALWAYS.
Next, she says, “I told him not to hug so hard, and he apologized and stopped.” This is excellent – she isn’t comfortable with what’s happening, so she speaks up. She tells him what’s making her uncomfortable and he stops doing that thing. He acknowledges her discomfort with an apology. Plus one for both parties.
They move to kissing and he gets on top of her. “I tried to move my arms but he held them down.” This is where things start to slide in a dicey direction. She has already said she’s not comfortable with a tight squeeze. Anything that happens after she said that needs to take into account her discomfort with that type of pressure. He is welcome to ask her “How would you feel if I pinned you to the bed?” – and that can be a super sexy question that can amp things up rather than killing the mood – but holding her down without asking is pushing against a boundary that she has already voiced.
She says “I was uncomfortable, but we kept kissing.” This is a very common response for those of us who were brought up as little girls: even though we may not like what’s happening, it’s ingrained in us that we have to take care of the other person’s needs. If you think about the fight/flight/freeze/fuck response, this is the freeze. “I don’t like what’s going on here but I don’t see a way out of it, so it’s safer to just let it happen.”
“He got back on top of me and pinned my arms down again.” This part is tricky – he’s done this once and she didn’t say no, so we can’t fault him for not knowing she was uncomfortable. Except that if he was really paying attention, he should have been able to tell. She’s already told him once that she didn’t like forceful touch, then she found a way to roll out of it a second time. I don’t accept the idea that “guys are so taken over by hormones that they can’t think straight or pay attention.” That is some world-class bullshit. We have given young men a pass on this for so long that they seem to believe the propaganda – they shouldn’t be held responsible for anything they do when their hormones are raging. Despite popular mythology, girls have a similar level of hormonal lunacy going on, but you don’t hear people saying she shouldn’t be held responsible for her actions. In fact, we hold women responsible for the men’s actions, saying they shouldn’t have worn those clothes if she didn’t want to get assaulted. Ugh, anyway, back to the question.
“I told him I didn’t like how forceful he was being” – this is now two times that she has called him off and told him that she’s uncomfortable. At this point, a reasonable human would stop and say, “I’m sorry, I guess we haven’t been on the same page. I was doing the things I thought you would like, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Can you tell me what you would like so we can do that instead?”
Instead, he starts fingering her, raising the interaction to a new level by introducing penetration. She says, “After that, he asked every time he did something. I didn’t necessarily want to do any of it but I said yes anyway.”
This is a classic example of being so worn down that you end up saying yes to all sorts of things you don’t actually want. I was just writing a chapter in my book where a man asked if he could put his mouth on my breast. I said no. A minute later, he asked if he could put his mouth on my breast. I said no. By the third time he asked, I was so worn down that I said yes. I didn’t actually want it, I didn’t get any pleasure from it, and it made me feel kind of icky. But it’s incredibly common for women to feel like they can only say “no” a certain amount of times before they have to say “yes.” And we train our little boys to believe that they should push and push until they get what they want – this is what is considered “successful” in the business and corporate world.
So now let’s zoom out a little bit from the specifics of her query and talk about consent and coercion.
There can be a violation of consent where the perpetrator has the best of intent, but they crossed their partner’s boundary without thinking about it.
There can be coercion where the perpetrator doesn’t realize what they’re doing, but it has the effect of coercing their partner.
Much of it is due to social conditioning. Little girls are taught to please people. Little boys are taught to pester until they get the answer they want. That leaves men not realizing that what they’re doing is coercive – “Well I asked her so she could have said no.” And it leaves women not knowing how to get out of situations that make them uncomfortable – “I don’t like what he’s doing, but I don’t want him to get mad at me.”
The other thing that happens is what I think of as Used Car Salesman behavior. People in sales are taught to open with a few innocuous questions that will get the prospect to say “yes” a couple times.
Rather than try to explain this myself, let me read to you from an article for sales people titled: “How To Convince Someone To Say Yes: 7 Power Triggers To Help You Sell.” As much as it pains me, I’ll link to the article in the show notes so you can read the tricks salespeople use for yourself:
When we are led to make a commitment of some kind, to go on record or take a stand or make a decision, there is an urge to remain consistent with that original commitment later on.
When you’re learning how to convince someone to say “yes,” the key is to get the initial commitment, which can appear small, reasonable, and innocent. This commitment can not only lead to compliance via the principle of consistency, but also to further compliance for larger requests.
Application: Ask for a little “yes” first, then build on that. Sales people sometimes call this the “foot-in-the-door” technique. Begin by asking your prospect to agree to a simple request, such as making a small transaction or completing a simple questionnaire.
By getting people to make a decision, take a stand, or perform an action, you establish a new psychological “commitment.” Once you have that commitment, no matter how small, you can build on this small commitment and make ever-increasing requests.
Can you see how this relates to sex? Once you’ve given the “yes” for kissing or make out, your brain now thinks of this as an interaction in which you say yes. In order to not go into a state of cognitive dissonance, you are now primed to say “yes” to more things that have been asked of you and it becomes much harder for your brain to switch tracks and say “no.”
So back to our protagonist: even though her body didn’t want to keep going, she didn’t know how to end the encounter and she let it keep happening.
Would it stand up in a court of law as assault? No.
Did he employ coercive tactics? Yes.
Did he violate her boundaries? Yes.
Just because she wasn’t saying “no” doesn’t mean she was saying “yes.”
Am I saying you should never start something unless you’re ready to finish it? No.
Instead, before you begin an encounter, be clear with yourself and with the other person what your boundaries are for this encounter. For instance, any time I have a sexual interaction with someone new, my boundary is “No penetration during our first play session.” There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest one is that I want to know that a potential sexual partner is able to respect and maintain a boundary before I consent to going all the way.
The good news is that once you are aware of these techniques that can be used against you, you are less likely to fall for them. It won’t be perfect, but next time you’re in a situation where you want to say no but you’re not sure how, you can hear my voice in your head saying, “You’re in a ‘yes’ cycle right now. You’re allowed to switch tracks and say ‘no’ instead.”
And finally – I hope that in laying this out, it’s clear that this guy was pushing boundaries and involved in coercion. But I don’t think any of this was malicious or even conscious on his part, and I’m not saying he’s a bad guy.
But acknowledging that this woman experienced coercion and boundary violations is important. I’d like them both to learn more about boundaries, consent, and how to communicate about sex, but neither of them are in the wrong, because neither of them have been given the tools to do things right. Chances are pretty good that this guy’s primary sex education was porn, where he saw a lot of pinning women down, putting hands on throats, and other rough moves. So he gets into the bedroom with a woman and he mimics what he thinks he’s supposed to do.
All (or at least a lot) of this could have been avoided if they’d known how to talk about what they wanted before they got naked together. That’s where the STARS talk comes in. For a refresher on what the STARS talk is and how to have it, listen to the January 2021 episode “Improve your sex life with the STARS talk.”
What have I forgotten? What have I gotten wrong? What a-ha moments did you have hearing this? Give me a call at 720-GOOD-SEX and leave me a voice mail to be part of the conversation!
That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying this show, please take a moment to leave a 5-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts or if you’re using another podcast app, go to www.ratethisapppodcast.com/goodgirls. And remember, there’s a treasure trove of audio extras available for free at Patreon. Go to www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
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Show notes and transcripts for this episode are at www.goodgirlstalk.com. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube @goodgirlstalk for more sex positive content. If you have a question or comment about anything you’ve heard on this show, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX.
Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced by me, Leah Carey, and edited by Gretchen Kilby. I have additional administrative support from Lara O’Connor and Maria Franco. Transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.
Before we go, I want to remind you that the things you may have heard about your sexuality aren’t true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken. As your sex and intimacy coach, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours no matter what it looks like. To set up your free discovery call, go to www.leahcarey.com/coaching. Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!
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I’ve done this because not everyone has the means to pay for access, and I know this additional material can be deeply important for some listeners. But creating this show isn’t free, so if you’d like to support the work I do, I am grateful for your contributions at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
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