Pop Culture Pillow Talk: Starstruck on HBO

What happens when your brain is so busy it can't slow down to enjoy having sexy time with the cute guy who's totally into you? 
Good Girls Talk About Sex
Good Girls Talk About Sex
Pop Culture Pillow Talk: Starstruck on HBO
Episode art "Pop Culture Pillow Talk: Starstruck on HBO"

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What happens when your brain is so busy it can’t slow down to enjoy having sexy time with the cute guy who’s totally into you?

In today’s episode, we break down the first two episodes of the HBO show Starstruck with teen sex and relationship educator Julia Sheldon (who also happens to be Leah’s dear friend.) We focus on lead character Jessie and how overthinking gets in the way of being present.

Also: you can now sign up for the Beyond Permission classes at www.beyondpermission.com. The schedule is:

  • Thursday, Feb. 22 – Embracing your inner MILF with Danielle
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27 – Dating at midlife with Leah
  • Tuesday, March 5 – Sex toys show & tell with Leah
  • Thursday, March 7 – Ask a couple with Danielle & Adam
  • Tuesday, March 12 – What’s wrong with my libido? with Leah

All classes are at 8 pm eastern / 5 pm pacific, and there will be recordings available if you register but aren’t able to attend live.


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In this episode we talk about

  • Hypermobility spectrum disorder and chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety vs. Overthinking
  • Pop Culture Pillow Talk
  • Consent conversations
  • Self-Perception
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Non-concordance, aka “sex brain”
  • Period sex


Connect with Julia:

Website – www.askauntiejulia.com
Instagram – @askauntiejulia
TikTok – @askauntiejulia
Teen Camp – connectioncamp.org

Registration is now open for the Beyond Permission classes at www.beyondpermission.com. The schedule is:

  • Thursday, Feb. 22 – Embracing your inner MILF with Danielle
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27 – Dating at midlife with Leah
  • Tuesday, March 5 – Sex toys show & tell with Leah
  • Thursday, March 7 – Ask a couple with Danielle & Adam
  • Tuesday, March 12 – What’s wrong with my libido? with Leah

All classes are at 8 pm eastern / 5 pm pacific, and there will be recordings available if you register but aren’t able to attend live.

Full episode text

LEAH: 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!



LEAH: Hey, friends! Turns out putting on a weekend-long workshop is a heck of a lot more exhausting than I expected. I’m not really sure why I didn’t clock that beforehand, but it’s why you may have noticed that I missed an episode a couple weeks ago. I’ll come back to that in a minute.


But first, an update on the Beyond Permission workshop. It was great. Danielle and I were both pleased with how engaged people were and the feedback was really good. With that said, it was our first time co-hosting together, and we learned a ton. Some of it was about what we did well, and a lot of it was about what we need to change before we do it again. I’ll keep you updated as we figure that out.


In the meantime, Danielle and I are doing a series of shorter classes that you can get in on now. Here are the topics and dates. Thursday, February 22nd, Danielle will be leading Embracing Your Inner MILF. On Tuesday, February 27th, I will be leading a class on Dating at Midlife. On Tuesday, March 5th, I’ll be doing a Sex Toys Show and Tell. On Thursday, March 7th, Danielle and her husband Adam will be doing an Ask Me Anything for the couple. So, we’re calling it Ask a Couple. And on Tuesday, March 12, I’ll be leading What’s Wrong with My Libido? They’re all scheduled for 8 pm Eastern, 5 Pacific, and there will be recordings available if you register, but you’re not able to attend live. All of the information and registration is at www.beyondpermission.com.


Okay. Now, circling back to the missed episode, Over the last several months, I’ve shared a lot about my health challenges. Learning about hypermobility spectrum disorders is an ongoing eye-opener, and it feels like I learned something new and I’m elated that there’s an answer to something I’ve been experiencing my whole life, quickly followed by grief at how much of my time I’ve spent trying to pretend to the world that nothing was wrong.


One of those things is chronic fatigue. I’m finally letting myself admit that most of the time, I’m exhausted. And I’m not just admitting it to you. I’m finally admitting it in a real way to myself. Not in an, oh my God, I’m exhausted, what’s wrong with me? But, oh my God, I’m exhausted, and I have been for as long as I can remember. I’ve spent my whole life pushing myself way beyond my energy reserves so that I could look normal. And even as I pushed myself beyond what was reasonable for my body, my dad was telling me that I was lazy and pathetic. So, I would push even harder and torture myself internally for how broken I was. It’s been such a constant in my life that I had no idea I was even doing it until the day last summer when a provider said to me, “I bet you’re exhausted all the time, aren’t you?” And I lost it. I dissolved into sobs.


For the first time, someone was saying that I wasn’t at fault for being stupid or lazy or whatever, but my body is constructed in a way that takes a lot of extra energy to do things that the majority of people do naturally, for instance, stand up or walk. So, now, I’m trying to figure out how to live my life in a way that feeds my intellectual curiosity and emotional desire for connection and my passion for my work while also honoring that my physical body isn’t required to perform cartwheels in order to be acceptable and that sometimes I’m just too exhausted to do all the things.


It wasn’t my intention to skip an episode, but it’s what I had to do. And there may be times going forward that I do it again. I’m also applying for part-time jobs to ease the stress of being entirely reliant on self-employed income. I’m not going to stop coaching or producing the podcast, but I hope the structure of having a reliable income will lessen the overwhelm I’ve been feeling for the last several months.


One of my coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, and exhaustion has always been watching TV. That’s why including commentary about how sexuality, gender, and relationships are portrayed in pop culture is so much fun for me. Today, I’m talking with my dear friend, Julia Sheldon, about the show Starstruck on HBO. As promised, we’re looking at the first two episodes of this series. So, that’s season 1, episodes 1 and 2.


Here’s what I love about the conversation. I came into it with a very strong point of view. But as we wrestled through what we saw on screen, Julia got me questioning my own thesis. At the end, I’m going to come back in and tell you where I’ve landed after having a few days to think about it. Julia is a sex and relationship educator for teens and millennials. You can find her at www.askauntiejulia.com. All right, let’s get into it with Julia.


Hey, Julia, I’m so excited to have you back. We did an interview a long, long, long time ago where you talked about your sex life, and I will link to that in the show notes. But, now, you’re here to talk about anxiety and overthinking in relationships, a topic that I know both you and I know a lot about. So Julia, welcome.




JULIA: Thank you for having me. I’m so happy to be here.


LEAH: Absolutely. Just can you give people a quick introduction to who you are and what you do?


JULIA: You betcha. I’m Ask Auntie Julia. I am full of Auntie Julia magic when I work with teenagers in regards to relationships. And I also work with millennials. They seem to be drawn to me.




JULIA: So, I work with people around healthy sex and relationships.


LEAH: Awesome. And you are the resource that I send people to when they come to me with questions about, “How do I talk to my teens about sex?” Because you are so good at it. I think of it as you have this incredibly expressive face, and you just are so much fun. They trust you because you seem like a teenager with them, except that you have the wisdom of somebody in her mid-30s. So, it’s like the perfect combination.




JULIA: Thank you. Yes. I relate very well with teenagers. And there is something magic that happens when, hey, here’s another adult that I don’t really know who seems awkward like me and silly and also laughs a whole lot and makes this fun for us. So, that’s how I roll.


LEAH: Yes. All right. So, thank you for joining me today. We are going to talk about the first two episodes of the series Starstruck, which in the US is on HBO. We have discovered that in other countries, potentially in other places because Julia’s in Canada and we had to go looking for it for her.


JULIA: It’s on HBO in Canada, too, just I don’t have access to HBO.


LEAH: I see. Okay. So, what we’re going to be talking about today is the character of Jessie, the lead female of the show, shall we say, and her difficulty in creating stable relationships because she is such an overthinker, and it causes her so much anxiety.


JULIA: So, I’ve only seen the first two episodes, and in those two episodes, I didn’t notice a whole lot of anxiety. I noticed how Jessie responds to situations with Tom. So, it’s interesting to me that you are noticing anxiety in relationships, whereas I’m noticing she’s definitely thinking all of the things that I thought when I had one-night stands regularly.




LEAH: I wonder then if maybe we should talk about it in terms of overthinking rather than anxiety. So, self-disclosure, in my brain, they’re the same thing. When I go into huge bouts of overthinking, it is often either the on-ramp to anxiety or a result of anxiety, but maybe they’re not the same for everybody.


JULIA: For me, they’re not. But you’re right, for a lot of people, they are totally the same thing. But for Jessie, it seemed to me like – we’re about to spoil the show, yeah?


LEAH: We’re going to spoil these two episodes, absolutely.


JULIA: Great, okay.




JULIA: So, particularly, there is this moment where she’s looking for a phone charger, and she comes across pictures of Tom, the guy she just had sex with, and his presumably girlfriend. They’re the photo booth pictures, and there are like 12 of them, so there are three strips of four, and she immediately freaks out and leaves while he’s in the shower.


If it were anxiety, I would think that we would be privy to a whole lot of her inner monologue, and maybe we would see some physical signs that she is experiencing severe anxiety. Interesting that you immediately recognize it as anxiety, whereas I thought, she just doesn’t want to have a super uncomfortable conversation. So, rather than asking a question and continuing to be awkward, because she is awkward. And, also, I think she’s hilarious. I think I relate very much to Jessie.




LEAH: I thought you would.


JULIA: But in my mind, what I saw was, I may have just done something terrible. I don’t want to deal with the repercussions of this. I’m just going to dip and never have to deal with this ever again.


LEAH: That’s so interesting. And I do think that maybe I have attached the word anxiety to what would more appropriately be called overthinking. Again, for me, they’re pretty much one and the same. And so, that didn’t feel like a major distinction to me. But as you’re talking, I can hear what that distinction is.


Let’s go back to the beginning of the episode, because I do want to talk about all those moments that you just mentioned. So at the beginning of episode one, it’s New Year’s Eve, we see Jessie with her roommate at the entrance to a club. Once they’re inside, the roommate immediately meets a guy who she clicks with. And so, Jessie is the third wheel. She meets this guy, Tom. They have this combative flirtiness, and the midnight countdown is going on. And she’s like, “You don’t have to kiss me.” And he said, “Genuinely never entered my mind,” cut to them in the cab where they are hot and heavy, making out, and she interrupts the whole thing to say.


Starstruck audio:

JESSIE: Should we split this, or should I put some money to your account?


TOM: No, it’s fine. Don’t worry. I got it.


LEAH: This is the first place where I think we see so much overthinking because she can’t just allow herself to be in the moment. She’s trying to take care of the situation and make sure that all her bases are covered.


JULIA: Yeah, I see a lot of myself in her. So, maybe I am projecting, and it could be overthinking. Yeah, for sure. You’re right. She can’t just be in the moment, even when she’s drunk. And in theory, a lot of when we’re intoxicated, many of our inhibitions go down. We don’t care about the same things that we care about when we’re sober. And so, even in that state, she’s still worrying about if she’s done all the things she’s supposed to do and making sure that she’s treating him fairly, I think. I’m noticing, as we’re talking about it right now, thinking about what happens in the episode, she keeps doing that. I think it’s very important for her to make sure that everybody’s okay and that all things are equal.


LEAH: That’s really interesting. I agree there is this sense that it’s not caretaking in the way that we often think of women needing to take care of men so that the men are happy, I don’t even know quite how to put it into words, it’s not about her trying to make herself attractive to the man. It’s about her making herself okay with herself. Does that make sense?


JULIA: Yes, totally.


LEAH: That’s the feeling I get throughout the whole thing. And maybe that’s what I am clocking as anxiety, a need to follow the societal rules. But what I see in her is this like, am I okay? I don’t know if I’m okay. I keep needing to check with the world to make sure that I’m okay. Does that make sense?


JULIA: It does, yeah. And what we see in this episode is sometimes she vocalizes that checking in, checking in with other people, checking in with herself. I don’t know if she’s aware that that’s what she’s doing or if that’s just where her brain goes.


LEAH: Yeah, interesting. So, I’m going to play another clip. We cut to them in the bedroom. They are hot and heavy. Most of their clothes are off. And she says this.


Starstruck audio:

JESSIE: Do you want to have sex?


TOM: Are we having sex?


JESSIE: Yeah. Do you want to?


TOM: Yeah.


JESSIE: Yeah, okay. I’m just checking it’s not a mistake.


TOM: No, It’s not a mistake.


JESSIE: Okay, all right.


TOM: Wait, do you want to be having sex?


JESSIE: Yeah. You?


TOM: Yeah.




LEAH: I think this is so hilarious. And, also, I think it speaks to how her overthinking gets in the way of intimacy, which is where I started this whole conversation, which is that she gets into the sex and she realizes, God, we haven’t had a consent conversation, which God love you, Jessie. But she doesn’t actually stop what they’re doing. She just while they’re kissing says, “Do you want to do this?” And that pulls him out of being present to the kissing to say, “Yeah, yeah, no, this isn’t a mistake. Wait, do you want to be doing this?” And then she’s like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Wait, do you want to?” It pulls them both out of being present in that moment with the caveat that they are having a consent conversation, which I can’t argue with.




JULIA: The first thing he says is, “We are having sex.” She is on top of him. They are mid coitus.


LEAH: Exactly.


JULIA: And then, she decides to check that this is what he wants. You’re right. It totally pulls them both out of the moment. And I don’t think we really get to see how they recover from that.


LEAH: Right, and we cut to them the next morning. She’s still in his bed. She wakes up, and she goes down to make a cup of tea or whatever it is people do in England.




LEAH: And she’s not snooping, but she’s just looking around his flat and discovers a movie poster where he is the main feature of the movie poster, and she realizes he’s a movie star. She just slept with a movie star, and we hear this.


Starstruck audio:

JESSIE:  I know who you are.


TOM: Yeah, I should hope so.


JESSIE: You’re the guy! What the hell? How could you not tell me this?


TOM: What do you mean?


JESSIE: Who you are, what you do!


TOM: I did, actually. What do you do? I’m an actor.


JESSIE: This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.


TOM: Okay, I’m not sure why you’re freaking out.


JESSIE: Oh my god.


JULIA: She’s so mortified.


LEAH: I feel like we’re building a thesis here.




LEAH: I came into this conversation having a very strong feeling about one thing, and it’s morphing as we’re talking.




LEAH: Which is, again, that if she were concerned about what the world thinks, she’d be like, “Oh my God, I just fucked a movie star. I am the coolest.” But instead she’s like, “Fuck, I just fucked a movie star, and that’s going to fuck up my life,” or something like that.


JULIA: Yeah. I love that she was like, “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”




JULIA: You had sex with a movie star. Worst thing ever?


LEAH: Worst thing ever. Cool.




LEAH: And then, they have this conversation, and it is a conversation about sex that we very rarely get to hear about whether they orgasmed or not.


Starstruck audio:

JESSIE: I can’t believe I let you go down on me.


TOM: Let me? You told me to.


JESSIE: You shouldn’t have done it. Because if I’d have known who you were, I would not have let that happen.


TOM: You didn’t seem to mind last night.


JESSIE: I was acting.


TOM: No, you weren’t. Were you?


JESSIE: No, no. Yes, yeah. Yeah, I was only because I can’t when I’m tipsy. And so, I still enjoyed it.


TOM: Okay, yeah.


JESSIE: Sorry.


TOM: No, no, it’s fine. Same.


JESSIE: Yeah. So, what do you mean by that?


TOM: I didn’t either.


JESSIE: Yes, you did.


TOM: No, I didn’t.


JESSIE: I’m pretty sure you did.


TOM: No, I really didn’t.


JESSIE: No, you did.


TOM: No.


JESSIE: What, so you faked it?


TOM: Yeah, I guess.


LEAH: I love that we get to hear a conversation, first of all, about faking it because that is a conversation that we rarely hear, but second of all, about a guy faking it because this is a real thing that happens. Literally, I don’t think I’ve ever heard in any kind of media.


JULIA: No. It’s actually such a beautiful scene. It’s so real. They’re being honest with each other. They are taking in the information that the other is sharing. They’re not judging it, but they do question. And then, what happens right after is a very sweet kiss. And then, they have some more sex after. So, because of their combative flirting, then it becomes almost a challenge for each of them. There’s a moment right after what you just played. Tom says, “Kissing is not a competition.” And she’s like, “I’m winning,” or something like that.




LEAH: And then, they start saying, “Stop trying to be better than me. Stop trying to be better.” “But I am better than you.”




JULIA: Oh my God. I love that. Honestly, I must say, I love Tom. I love how even though he’s a movie star, he’s just a regular person and he’s kind and he’s genuine. And he likes her and is not at all ashamed or afraid of liking her. He’s very upfront about it so much so that after their first time together, he meets her outside of her work and says, “I remembered that you mentioned you worked at this movie theater in Hadley. Turns out there are a lot of them.”




JULIA: So, he’s been going around trying to find her, so he could have another conversation with her. And he is just comfortable with that. That’s just what he’s going to do because he likes this person.


LEAH: Yeah. And there’s no sense of, she’s a regular person, so she’s lower than me, which I think is very much playing in her mind.


JULIA: Yes. And there is a scene where he’s having a meal with his, I don’t know, agent, and she says, “You should only date actors. You can’t date,” I don’t remember what the term was that she used to describe. He was having a moment with the waiter. And the agent’s like, “No, actors only.” And it’s in her mind, it’s in Jessie’s mind, I think because we have this idea societally that there are the nobodies and there are the somebodies. She’s a nobody and he’s a somebody.


LEAH: And interestingly, while there are so many people in the world who are striving to be somebodies, she is so comfortable being a “nobody” that she really doesn’t want that to change. There’s the moment where she leaves his apartment first thing in the morning, and there’s all this paparazzi outside his door. And they start taking pictures of her. And then, they’re like, “Never mind, it’s just the cleaning lady,” because she’s not a star. And she’s perfectly happy saying, “Yep, cleaning lady.”


JULIA: She even picks up the garbage bags to really show like, yep, cleaning, that’s me.




JULIA: I wonder if she’s like, this is your life. I’m a nobody, I want to be able to leave my house and not worry about this kind of thing.


LEAH: Yeah. Exactly.


JULIA: Is that why she says, “This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me”?


LEAH: That’s exactly what I was thinking. That’s, I think, exactly where that comes from. Shit, I just maybe upended my life in a way I really didn’t want to.


JULIA: Right. Because she thought he was a nobody at the club.




LEAH: Do you wish your brain would stop yapping and making grocery lists, so you could focus on pleasure and even having an orgasm? It’s actually a pretty common complaint. We ask a lot of our brains to be efficient, effective, organized, and to never drop any of the zillion balls that we’re carrying. But then, we also expect our brains to automatically switch off when it’s time for pleasure, so they don’t distract us.


Unfortunately, for most of us, it doesn’t really work that way. So, whether it’s you’re carrying the mom’s mental load, ADHD, keeping up with the big project that’s due next week, or any of a million other reasons, we need to help our brains learn how to relax into pleasure. We may even need to teach them how to feel pleasure. All of it is possible, and it’s useful to have a guide who can see the bigger picture and help you navigate all the pitfalls that your brain has put in place trying to keep you safe from having to change.


I would be honored to be your guide toward a more deeply fulfilling intimate life. I’m queer, kinky, and non-monogamy friendly, and I’d love to talk with you on a free discovery call. So, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching to schedule yours. Again, that’s a free discovery call to find out if we’re a good fit. And you can schedule it at www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That link is in the episode description on the app. You’re listening in now. Back to the show!




LEAH: There was one other thing also that I wanted to share. I just think that this is another little mark around overthinking is that other people know that she does this. She gets home from the one-night stand and is talking to her roommate. And this is the conversation they have.


Starstruck audio:

EMMA: How did this happen? No, tell me everything.


JESSIE: I don’t know. I don’t. Genuinely, I don’t know because I was quite drunk, but I do remember I kept asking him if he wanted to do it, while we were doing it.


EMMA: You do do that.


LEAH: Her roommate is like, “Yeah, you do do that, don’t you?” So, this is a known quality of Jessie’s.


JULIA: Right. This is her pattern. Even though she and her roommate know that this is what she does, they don’t figure out, maybe this is a thing you should do before you’re mid coitus.




JULIA: I don’t know why I’m stuck on coitus today.




JULIA: Maybe before you’re on top of somebody or before your pants are off, it’s a good time to have that conversation of, “Is this a thing you want to do?” And I’m guessing here, but probably from Jessie’s perspective and from Tom’s perspective, there is a lot of nonverbal communication that is happening from the making out in the cab until getting into Tom’s bed. There has been a whole lot of bodily involvement. I think they both know that the other is interested based on all of the cues that are being given by each other’s bodies because our bodies say a whole lot, but our words also need to be involved. Maybe that’s what happens for Jessie. She’s like, “Okay, I know that our bodies were interested, but I didn’t actually check that this is what we both wanted.” So, maybe that’s why she stops.


LEAH: I want to pause here for a second because I think what you’re saying is so important. We as sex educators talk a lot about having verbal consent conversations and that you need to have some conversation in order to gauge consent and talk about what you actually want to do kind of things. With that said, that doesn’t negate the fact that there is a ton of bodily signals and conversation that happens. And it’s not about ignoring that, but it is maybe about checking in to make sure that your observations, that you’re reading them correctly.


I think the most important part here is, this is going to go down a bit of a dark road for a moment, but that it’s very easy for people who have trauma in their backgrounds to go into a fight, flight, freeze, fawn response when they get into a sexual situation that they’re not comfortable with. And a lot of people know fight and flight. Some people know freeze. I think fairly few people are familiar with fawn as part of that. And I’ve also heard this as fight, flight, freeze, and fuck, which is in order to keep yourself in what feels like a safe place that is emotionally safe, you will do whatever is necessary to make the other person happy, including having sex, because that feels safer than any other option.


And this is what happens when later a woman comes out and is like, “That was not okay.” And the guy’s like, “You just changed your mind, and that’s not okay.” No, actually what happened is she went into a fight/flight response, and he didn’t notice. And so, that’s part of what this verbal check-in can accomplish, but it’s also, I think, on everybody’s part, they should be checking to make sure that what’s going on is actual involvement as opposed to a fawning response.


JULIA: Right. And while I love that Jessie said, “Is this okay? Do you want to be doing this?” There are sexier, flirtier ways to ask the same question while you are on top of somebody.




JULIA: You’ve seen the rest of the season. I hope that she comes up with other phrases to use with other people. Or does she keep just being like, “Is this okay? Do you want this?”




LEAH: She’s always awkward.


JULIA: Great, great, great.




JULIA: So, while I think all of us need to be paying attention to the bodily communication, then we should also check with our words because our body might respond to things, and our brain is like, “Okay, body, that’s not what I want, though.” That’s called non-concordance.


LEAH: Also called sex brain.


JULIA: Also sex brain, you’re right.




JULIA: Yes, so our brain is not engaged. Our brain doesn’t want something, but our body is like, “Yes, please let’s go.” And sometimes, we want our brain to get on board and get into it. And sometimes, we want our body to turn off. So, it’s important to be paying attention to your own responses as well as to the other person’s responses and then to check in verbally. And you can say, “Is this okay?” Sure. You could also say, and I hear this a lot, “Do you like that? Is that good? How does that feel? Or harder, faster, stronger, deeper,” whatever, all of those help us verbally to understand the consent and what is wanted.


LEAH: Yeah. You said that so well.


JULIA: Can we talk about how Tom responds to her period?


LEAH: Yes. Okay. Yes, please.


JULIA: I love Tom!




LEAH: This is the other part that I love, conversations we never get to hear. He comes to find her at the theater. They end up walking back to his flat, and this is the conversation they have.


Starstruck audio:

TOM: Do you want to come in?


JESSIE: Yes. No.


TOM: I didn’t mean for it to sound like that, like I wanted something to happen.


JESSIE: No, no, no, I do. I want to have something happen.


TOM: Okay, cool. Me too.


JESSIE: Okay. Great. No, I got my period this afternoon.


TOM: For the first time?




JESSIE: Yeah. That’s very funny, actually made me laugh. I usually find men funny. So, it’s a real win for you. No. I just wanted to flag it because sometimes people can be a bit…


TOM: You do know I’m an adult man, don’t you?


JULIA: Tom, yes! Oh my gosh, I love that. Love seeing this conversation of, “I want to, and I have my period.” And then, the response to be, “Okay, and? That’s not going to stop me. That’s like if you’re game, I’m game. I’m an adult.”


LEAH: Yeah, the whole, “I’m an adult man,” because so often what we see portrayed in media is a woman being like, “Man, I need some tampons,” and then all the men being like, “Bleugh!” They don’t even have to be in contact with anything, they just don’t even like to think about the concept. And here’s this guy being like, “I’m an adult, I can handle the fact that your body is doing its body thing.”


JULIA: Right. Yes. And I love that it normalizes that there are people who enjoy having sex while bleeding. And it also normalizes or it shines a light on how easy it can be to say, “I would like this, and I have my period.” And then, to wait for the response, and you can see Jessie’s response and her whole body, she’s nervous about telling him. And then, the way that he responds, she laughs at. He’s like, “For the first time? Oh my gosh, you got your period?”




JULIA: Man, and she laughs, which she was not expecting. She didn’t think he would have that funny reaction. And he’s like, “It’s fine. Don’t sweat it. No problem.” And then later, they end up having a drink together. And they make a joke about the last time they saw each other and how she ruined his sheets, and it looked like a Jackson Pollock painting.




JULIA: Again, this combative flirtation is still going. And they both laugh about it. The period is not gross. It’s not dirty. It’s not bad. It is a regular human experience. And I think he makes a joke about burning sheets, and she’s like, “No, you didn’t.” He’s like, “No, I didn’t. I washed my sheets.”




JULIA: It’s so great. And, sure, there are some people who don’t like to have sex on their period, myself included. I don’t like the smell of my period. So, I’m probably not going to be a person who has sex on their period. But I know a lot of people, and Jessie’s one of them, who’s totally fine with having sex on their period. And they think that it’s good, great, wonderful, what have you.


LEAH: There are plenty of women on this podcast who have said not just, “I will have sex on my period, but I love having sex on my period because for me, it feels even better.”


JULIA: Right. And especially, I love that Tom’s response was, “I’m an adult man.” To me, that says, “I am giving my consent, I can handle myself, and I’m not going to do anything that I don’t want to do. So, you’ve told me you have your period. Great. Let’s go.”


LEAH: Yeah. I think it also says two other things. It says, “I can handle you showing up as your full self.”


JULIA: Love that.


LEAH: And I’m not going to shame you for being who you are. So much of what Tom brings to this through the whole series, at least the part of it that I’ve seen, is, “I’m not going to shame you. I’m not going to make you feel bad for who you are.” And so much of what Jessie brings to it is, “Oh my God, am I okay?” At the same time that she’s also this kickass, confident, strong woman, she’s also at the other end like, “Oh my God, am I okay?”


JULIA: Yeah. That, “Am I okay?” You clocked it as anxiety. And I clocked it as a regular human experience. Where personally, I am seen as this incredibly confident, loud, energetic person. And when I’m getting sexy, I still have qualms about my body or about the interaction or about what’s going on. And so, just like Jessie, I have to say, “Am I okay? Is this thing that I’m doing, does this work for me? Does this work for somebody else?”


And just like what Tom did by not shaming and by totally accepting her humanity, that I think is so important for so many of us. That helps us to feel safe. And we need that psychological safety and that emotional safety in order to really be able to open ourselves up to not only a sexual experience, but a sexually intimate experience. And this isn’t clear, but I wonder if maybe she tells Tom, “I have my period,” and based on his response, she can gauge, okay, this is safe or not. And so, she knows that, yeah, I’m safe. I am welcome. I’m not too much.


And I think probably for Jessie, because she is loud and confident and has big curly hair and she says what’s on her mind, I think that she really values that “you’re not too much” message, whether it’s those specific words or not. I think I have noticed there are a lot of us, a lot of women and a lot of neurodivergent folks, hear often that we’re too much. Hearing something different or hearing that we’re not too much, hearing we’re amazing or you’re perfect the way you are, that can make such a massive difference in that feeling of psychological safety with somebody.


LEAH: Yes, for sure. I also want to go back and pick up something from the beginning of what you just said about how even when you’re getting sexy, you can get nervous about your body and whatever. I think it’s so important to flag that, yeah, you and I are people who talk about this stuff all the time. We have conversations with people, we teach how to do this stuff. And, also, when we go into our own bedrooms, we still have all our own shit.


Just because we have developed a facility for talking about it and understanding where other people’s issues might lie, maybe because we have had those same issues that we have worked through to some extent. But for instance, I’ve been very open about my own anxiety, depression, and also the fact that my partner and I are non-monogamous. So, I am in the process of starting to see somebody new now. We’ve been out on a few dates. And when it comes to talking, at our last date, we had our pre-sex conversation, our STARS talk. And doing that, I can be so confident talking about how to do it here. And yet in the process of doing it, I still got nervous and giggly because you’re being vulnerable and raw with somebody, and you’re waiting to see how they’re going to respond to you. All of that is incredibly vulnerable.


JULIA: Yeah. And I think this show shows us Jessie’s vulnerability in such an honest way. And Jessie doesn’t have the same tools or skills that someone who does this kind of work would have. So, she’s doing what she can, she’s doing what she knows, and I think Tom is also showing her that it can be a little bit different.


LEAH: Yeah. And I think that that is part of why she’s so drawn to him. A big part of why she’s so drawn to him is that she finds herself being able to be honest with him, which is, I also think the reason that he is so scary for her. At the beginning of the second episode, she is coming off a houseboat where she’s just had a one-night stand. And they’re saying goodbye, and she turns around, she is already 10 steps away, and she turns around and says, “We’re probably never going to see each other again, right?” And the guy’s like, “Yeah, probably not.” And that is what allows her to be so joyful and have this whole dance number, the fact that she doesn’t have to get any more vulnerable with him than she was allows her to be super happy and excited. Whereas the whole Tom thing brought with it a lot of overthinking. I’m going to stay away from the word anxiety now, but just a lot of stuff for her that is what we see her deal with through the rest of the series.


JULIA: Now, I want to watch the rest of the season.


LEAH: That’s the goal.




JULIA: I love these two characters so much. I want to know more of what happens between them. I can see that there is the possibility for such individual growth and also relationship growth between the two of them. And by relationship growth, I mean whatever relationship happens between the two of them, any length of time. I love these characters. I want to see more.


LEAH: Yeah, yay! And I do also wanna mention that the woman who plays Jessie, her name is Rose Matafeo, she wrote this series. She wrote this as a vehicle for herself, and I think it’s fucking brilliant.


JULIA: Oh my gosh, I did not. That makes it so much better.


LEAH: Julia, thank you so much for having this conversation with me. I love you, I love this show, I love this conversation. So, please tell people who you are, what you do, where they can find you.


JULIA: Find me at AskAuntieJulia on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. My website is www.askauntiejulia.com.


LEAH: And if you are trying to figure out how to say the things to your teens that you just don’t want to say or don’t know how to say, Julia is an amazing resource, partially because she can say those things to your teens for you. Not for you, you’re not abdicating responsibility. But because she is an adult who your kid doesn’t already know as a particular figure in their life, she’s somebody who they can trust in a way that is really beautiful. So, highly recommend.


JULIA: Thanks, Leah.




LEAH: I hope you loved that conversation as much as I did. And I promised that I would come back with some final thoughts about where I’ve landed, having had a few days to think about what we talked about. It’s always interesting for me to have someone challenge an idea that is so firmly held that I just assumed it was true. Equating overthinking and anxiety is one of those things that I never even questioned, because in my mind, they’re the same. But now that Julia has pulled apart those threads for me, it seems obvious that there are two different things that happen to co-occur in my brain.


So, here’s my new thesis. Jessie has a really big, strong personality. She’s probably had people telling her throughout her life to tame it down, stop making problems, and generally act more like a good girl. A lifetime of that messaging can lead to Jessie constantly second-guessing herself. She has a moment where she lets her true self out, but then she hears the voices in her head telling her to pull it back, stop making problems, don’t be too much. So, she has to check in with everyone around her to make sure that she’s okay.


Her overthinking is a coping mechanism she has developed hoping that it will keep her safe. Instead, that self-awareness that is actually hugely self-critical makes it hard for her to truly relax into any situation because she’s always on edge waiting for someone to tell her to stop being herself, even with someone who really wants to get to know her as herself, and the result is that she ends up pushing them away. That’s what makes Jessie, for me, such an interesting blend of radiant self-confidence and also deep, almost paralyzing self-doubt. On that note, that is all for today.




If you would like to do a free coaching session with me, go to www.goodgirlstalk.com/session, and send me your info. If you’d like to become a regular coaching client, that information is at www.leahcarey.com. And those links are in the episode description of the app you’re listening on now. If you have questions or comments about anything you’ve heard on the show, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX. Full show notes and transcripts for this episode are at www.goodgirlstalk.com.


Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced and edited by me, Leah Carey, and transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.


Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!



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