Can Gender-Bending Improve Sex?

  • Do you have trouble expressing your desires in bed?
  • Are you nervous – to open up about your fantasies?
  • Do you have difficulty tapping into sexual turn-ons?

Perhaps the constraints of gender (and the associated shame) are holding you back from experiencing deeper pleasure. Fret not. Dr. Candice Nicole joins Jess & Brandon to help you shed gender shame and bend gender all in the name of hotter sex.

Dr. Candice Nicole Hargons is an award-winning associate professor of counselling psychology at the University of Kentucky, where she studies sexual wellness and liberation. She is the host; of F*ck the System: A Sexual Liberation Podcast and How to Love a Human, a liberation podcast that asks people with multiple marginalized identities what the world would be like if it loved them.

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Rough Transcript:

This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health, or other professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.

Can Gender-Bending Improve Sex?

Speaker 2 00:00:05 You’re listening to The Sex with Dr. Jess podcast, sex and Relationship Advice you can use Tonight.
Speaker 3 00:00:14 Welcome to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. I’m your co-host Brandon Weir, here with my lovely other half, Dr.
Speaker 1 00:00:20 Jess. And we’re back because we skipped last week.
Speaker 3 00:00:22 We did. How do you feel
Speaker 1 00:00:24 About that? Not gonna talk about, not gonna talk about it. Honestly, that’s the first podcast we’ve missed in all the years doing this podcast.
Speaker 3 00:00:31 All the years. A lot of years.
Speaker 1 00:00:32 Many a year. But we’re, we’re back. And I’m happy to be back and super excited for today’s topic because we’re talking about gender and sex. And we’re going to be joined by Dr. Candace Nicole, who is an award-winning associate professor of counseling, psychology, a sexologist. They work at the University of Kentucky where she studies sexual wellness and liberation and she hosts multiple podcasts herself. She’s published over 50 research articles. You probably have seen her in Cosmo, the New York Times, and the like. And she’s here to help us break down how considering the possibility of redefining gender can lead to happier relationships and hotter sex. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Candace. How you doing today?
Speaker 4 00:01:12 I’m doing wonderful, Dr. Jess. It’s so good to be here with you.
Speaker 1 00:01:15 And tell us, what are you working on these days,
Speaker 4 00:01:18 Girl? Trying to get this book proposal accepted by an agent. So that is the word.
Speaker 1 00:01:24 Can you tell us anything about the book? Can you tease a little,
Speaker 4 00:01:27 Okay, here’s a little teaser. So it’s going to be about sexual liberation and how these systems of oppression try to fuck it up
Speaker 1 00:01:36 And why sex, why? I mean, they’re attacking everything, but why sex in particular? Like what? What is it about sex that lets systems exert greater control?
Speaker 4 00:01:45 I don’t, I don’t even know if it’s greater control. I just think it’s an area where we have an exam, how capitalism and racism and sexism and heterosexism and elitism and all that stuff gets in the way of good sex.
Speaker 1 00:01:57 Yeah. And when you say all of those things, I think about performance and I think about pressure and I think about roles, which is really why you’re here today. Yes. To help us break down gender roles. And I think when people think about gender inequality, they might think about income, they might think about politics, they might think about, you know, a number of topics that they see as politicized. But it all boils down to every area of our lives, including sex, love, relationships. Uh, let’s talk more broadly. How does gender inequality harm folks of all genders? Right. I think sometimes, you know, in some of the modern conversations it really becomes about men versus women. But gender inequality, sexism, misogyny, as it ties in with every layer of oppression, harms, everybody. It’s not good for anybody.
Speaker 4 00:02:43 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I really love the way you broke it down, where it’s not just about like how it harms women, which it does, but it really comes down to the rigidity and the flexibility in your gender roles. Rigidity and flexibility make the difference between how constricted people feel in their sex lives and how open and liberated they feel in their sex lives. And the behaviors could very much be the same. But if you’re living to these scripts of really rigid gender roles, there’s such a narrow window of what men can be such a narrow window of women can be. And then if you live outside of that, there are social sanctions. And that can be painful, it can be humiliating, it can be shameful even if it’s healthy behavior, behavior that you enjoy. And so we can get into what some of those sex roles are or what some of those narrow really rigid scripts are and how you can break ’em down a little bit for
Speaker 1 00:03:38 Yourself. You know, when I think about gender roles, I have the feeling, and I may not be correct, but I have the feeling that for women there’s a little bit more flexibility. And I think with every layer of privilege, there’s more flexibility. I think about all the ways that I’m allowed to engage in roles that are traditionally masculine. And in fact, in many cases I’m rewarded for being more masculine in those areas, whereas maybe you may not be. But I’m curious why you think women have a little bit more flexibility when it comes to gender roles than men or, and maybe you disagree with that.
Speaker 4 00:04:08 I don’t disagree with that. I just think that what we have to contend with is women looks different than what men have to contend with. So it’s not that we, we have it easier or men have it harder or men have it easier, women have it harder. It really is that sometimes men, because they have the power in these systems are policing each other. And so what they get to do is as open as what anyone gets to do. But what are the consequences? What are the consequences? And the type of friendships you get to have the way your peers pick on you, tease you, play with you if it’s on the light end or the violence that some men have to deal with when they transgress these gender roles. Whereas for women, sometimes it can look like isolation or being objectified or dehumanized, but the violence typically like that, that violent male policing happens in different ways with women. So they’re like ways to be a good girl and a good wife and a, you know, and a good friend and a mom petitioned, right? Like this is the best motherhood version. We still have to deal with all of that
Speaker 1 00:05:07 As well. Yeah. And when we think about that from a a, a socio structural systemic perspective, it’s one thing, but it trickles down into every area of our lives, including our sex lives. So I want you to talk a little bit about how strict gender roles hold us back when it comes to sex and relationships.
Speaker 4 00:05:24 Yeah. Let’s start with the easiest is like who initiates <laugh>? Who initiates the sexual encounter. And the way we have those really tiny, narrow gender roles is that men are supposed to initiate all the time and women are supposed to receive all the time. And so if a woman desires sex and she initiates, then that means that she’s doing too much or she’s acting outside of her character. If a man doesn’t want to initiate but wants to be desired, then he’s weak or you know, he’s not powerful enough. And sometimes women can perpetuate these stereotypes as well. So we get stuck in these, these dynamics where it’s like, well, it’s your job and if you didn’t say anything about it, then we’re not gonna have sex. As opposed to, well, there’s a time when I want sex as a woman, I can ask for it. There’s a time where you want sex as a man, you can ask for it.
Speaker 4 00:06:12 And then we both have the option to say yes or no. So when we think about the initiation part, we also think about who gets to say no to sex. A lot of the men that I work with in my research and in my practice are often like, I wanna feel like I get to say no. And right now I don’t feel that way because I feel like either I’m gonna be shamed for saying no or called gay for saying no. Not that there’s anything wrong with that as an identity either, but because of the way sexual orientation is or identity is policed, a lot of men feel afraid of that. Or I feel like I’m never gonna get it again. If I say no, I’m gonna be punished.
Speaker 1 00:06:48 Ah, yeah. And, and that really speaks to gender roles because I’ve talked about this before. I think so much of our sociocultural sexual capital for women is located in being wanted. So it’s not so much that we feel we have to sit back, it’s that many of us can’t even get turned on unless someone first expresses a desire for us. And that’s a really, it’s a dangerous dynamic in most relationships. Of course, somebody’s gonna say we’re the exception. One of us likes to do all the initiating Cool. In the thousands of relationships that you and I look at, we see how the dynamic of one person being tasked with the onus of always initiating sex mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we see what it does to sexual frequency, to sexual satisfaction. To sexual confidence. Because that also means that the person who does all the initiating is also burdened with the potential of rejection. Of
Speaker 4 00:07:36 Rejection. Yes.
Speaker 1 00:07:37 Right? And we don’t know how to manage rejection, especially as it intersects with gender <laugh>. So, you know, if women’s sociocultural, sexual capital is located in being desired for men, that same experience is oftentimes rooted in being, having the prowess, having the skill, being able to get the girl. And we can see, I mean, listen, we see the, the almost obvious thing is that people stop having sex because sexual initiation becomes one-sided because that one person who’s always initiating honestly gets tired of being rejected. And because from my clients, cuz I’m working with a lot of folks who have a lot of power in life mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they want to feel the power of being desired. And they’re able to say, I wanna be wanted, like, this is why when I get attention from someone else, it feels good because back home, I, I’m begging for it. I’m begging for, I’m begging for them to say yes. Because there’s the layers of, oh, some women feel they need to give a little bit of resistance. And, and I wanna be clear, I’m not making excuses for people cheating or doing things that transgress the, you know, boundaries of whatever relationships you’ve negotiated. But there’s, there’s a lot here. And you bring up, probably, like you said, the most obvious thing is in initiation. So if that’s one tiny thing. So it could be initiation, it could be not wanting to try certain things, it could
Speaker 4 00:08:49 Be, but you spoke about desirability and I think that hits home for so many people, especially when you give the, the dynamic of like, who’s powerful outside of the home. We think about what intimate justice looks like in the home. It’s like people who have the most power outside of the home wanna come home and sometimes sub out, you know, like, I wanna be the sub, I wanna be the person that receives. And you know, like that is a, that feels desirable and not for what I can do or who I am in the world or how much money I have, all of these other categories, but just because I am, and if you get into those gender politics of initiation, then it does then decrease the amount of energy a person had if you initiated all the tasks you had to do for work all day long. Like, did it balled out? You know, you just thrived and then you get, oh, it’s like, that’s it. That initiation energy couldn’t be gone. Mm-hmm.
Speaker 1 00:09:39 <affirmative>, I, I mean, I’ll say I think I struggle with that, not because I do more at work. Brandon definitely does as much as I do. But I think both of us can arrive at the end of the day feeling decision fatigue. Like we are just making every decision making, every kind of initiating every process. And if it only fell in one of our laps, it could get tiring. Now I’ll admit we are not 50 50 because nothing in life is, look at Brandon shaking his head. He’s like, no, we’re not fif what, what number would you give us? Who initiates
Speaker 3 00:10:05 It? Depends, well depends on the task that we’re talking about because there are different elements. Initiating it. Oh, initiating sex. Oh yeah. Um, I would say right now I’m, it’s tilted in. I do 65%. I think,
Speaker 1 00:10:18 I think you’re giving me more credit. I think he’s given me more credit. I think he’s just being nice here. <laugh>
Speaker 3 00:10:24 Plus 20%
Speaker 4 00:10:25 <laugh>. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:10:26 Plus five and five.
Speaker 4 00:10:28 Now if you contract with your partner, that’s, I think that’s the thing that a lot of people don’t do enough of, which is sexual communication is something that you talk about in your work all the time. It’s like, if you and your partner contract around like, this is how much initiation works for me, how much works for you? Where’s our middle ground? And the middle ground is not 50 50. Cool. Right. If it’s like, no, 80 20 works very well for us, then cool.
Speaker 1 00:10:51 Well, and I, I think that you’d probably like me to initiate more. Is that true or false? I don’t know.
Speaker 3 00:10:56 Yeah. I mean, I do enjoy when you initiate and I would like you to initiate more, but I also understand that this is fluid. The way things are today is not the way things were, uh, six months ago or maybe completely different in a year from now. But right now Absolutely. It’s fine. It’s cool. I’m doing and we both win <laugh>
Speaker 1 00:11:13 And we get it in, so we’re done. Yeah. <laugh> it’s happening. And I mean, the advantages that we’re able to talk about it, actually, it’s interesting that we’re gonna talk a little bit about breaking down our notions of gender so that we can enjoy better sex because many of our gender roles in this relationship are completely reversed. I am the one on the road away from the home, deriving a huge amount of thrill and passion and honestly feelings of, of power and confidence from my work. Amazing. Right? And Brennan, you know, was doing that and now he’s winding down kind of exiting his business and we’re gonna see some changes. So
Speaker 4 00:11:49 Does it feel freeing though, Brandon, to be like, I’m winding down?
Speaker 3 00:11:53 Yeah, it does. It it definitely does. But there’s a, there’s a piece too where there’s little anxiety there as well. Yeah. Right. Making sure everything goes smoothly, but yes,
Speaker 1 00:12:00 <laugh>. So I wanna talk about how we break down our notions of gender so that we can enjoy better sex. And I know that you, you ha kind of have a five step process. And I was reading through the notes that you sent in advance and Brandon actually kind of got started on the notes. Ooh, I did not. Cuz I’m the worst student and the worst client ever. <laugh> every therapist nightmare. Did you do your homework? No. <laugh>, no. Here were the 19 reasons why <laugh>. But if you could walk us through, I don’t know if you wanna go step one to five or just start with the first one and then Brandon can share with you what he’s come up with.
Speaker 4 00:12:35 Oh yes, absolutely. So the first one is write down everything you’ve been taught about being a real man or a real woman. Of course this is heteronormative like cis. So I just wanna name that there. But each partner should write down their own list for both genders. So if you’re thinking about you and your partner in that context, what did you learn about being a real man if you’re a man, what do you learn about being a real woman if you’re a woman? And then what did you think your partner was supposed to bring to that gender role as too?
Speaker 3 00:13:06 Oh, am I supposed to answer right now? You can
Speaker 4 00:13:08 Is if you want to, you can to consent into answering.
Speaker 3 00:13:10 I, yes. And I do consent into answering because I, you know, I love getting put on the spot here. So, and again, remembering that this is what I had to remember, this is what I learned about what it was to be a real man. I’m not saying I’ve subscribed to this. Right. So a real man works. He works and he earns money. I don’t know why. He also speaks with a deep voice. He does.
Speaker 4 00:13:29 He’s
Speaker 3 00:13:30 <laugh>. He’s a Batman. He’s also Batman. He fixes things. Uhoh. Uh, I’m not doing well so far. The fix I am down for sure. He drinks, he plays sports. He wants sex all the time. Oh, he shows little emotion. He has a small group of friends. He’s a disciplinarian when it comes to, um, the children. He may travel for work. Uh, he works out and it’s strong because he’s bad men and he’s tough. I just, you know, shortlist there and on. Um, when I think about what I learned, uh, for women that they also work interesting. But they manage the household. They have a large, they have a large group of friends and they socialize often with their friends. They have a lot of hobbies. They do crafts. No, just kidding. They don’t do crafts.
Speaker 4 00:14:10 <laugh>? No, no. That was normal. Is
Speaker 3 00:14:12 That they do crafts. They don’t want sex as much. Uh, they’re more emotional. They’re more sensitive and caring. And they also, I mean they manage the household, they manage the children’s schedules and, and calendars and things like that. So that’s kind of where I stopped
Speaker 1 00:14:25 Uhoh. So I am the least real woman ever because I don’t, I don’t manage the kids. I barely manage the household. Show me that list again. What else is on there? Um, I do socialize a lot. I don’t have a lot of hobbies cuz I, my hobby is
Speaker 3 00:14:37 Working. You’re not good at
Speaker 1 00:14:38 Crafts. I’m terrible at crafts. I hate craft, craft saying don’t like shopping. I think I’m emotional, but I think if we had to choose one of us who’s more emotional, I think we’d both pick you.
Speaker 3 00:14:49 I am more emotional because Batman is also emotional.
Speaker 1 00:14:53 I do think I’m sensitive in caring, but so are you And yeah, so I don’t really check the boxes. Oh. And doesn’t want sex much. I would like sex much please. <laugh> much is the amount of time I amount and the frequency with which I would like sex. Okay. So he’s made these lists. So that’s step number one. Yes. This is a great exercise. I just wanna say thank you because I think there’s such value. Some people can go to therapy, some people can go to a retreat and a lot of people can’t mm-hmm. <affirmative> and so mm-hmm. <affirmative> to be able to give people actionable tools that they can try imperfect tools. Right? Like this could lead to a fight. I just think it’s so incredibly valuable and I think they’re, it’s a very small percentage of professionals who are able to put this together. So thank you. So number one, we’re making the list.
Speaker 4 00:15:34 All right. So you’re making the list and I really appreciate the point, Dr. Jess, about the type of trust you have to have and humor and like, uh, reciprocity in your relationship to even do this activity. And everybody knows what their relationship dynamics look like. So proceed with caution <laugh> number two. <laugh> number two, you’re gonna circle the things from that list that are congruent with your own values and then discuss why they matter to you.
Speaker 3 00:15:58 But am I only C And how
Speaker 4 00:15:59 They affirm
Speaker 3 00:16:00 You. Sorry to interrupt. Am I only circling the things because I’m, I, I’m a man. Do I, I I only circle things on the list for men? Or can I circle on both?
Speaker 4 00:16:07 No, I’ll circle the ones that are like, I love this.
Speaker 3 00:16:09 Okay,
Speaker 4 00:16:09 Great. In a partner. And these are the things that I really do buy into. Like, they, I value them, not just because they’re scripts that are popular.
Speaker 1 00:16:17 Well, and it’s interesting cuz you can see how working with a therapist or a counselor, just a community of support around these could be really helpful. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because a lot of this will be drawn from your caregiver experience. Right. So if my mother did something, I might either be very drawn to her doing that or maybe with, you know, some sort of antagonism or hurt, I might actually want the exact opposite.
Speaker 4 00:16:39 Mm-hmm. Oh, that’s powerful.
Speaker 3 00:16:41 Okay. So I’ve, I’ve now circled some things on my list. Now do I have to, what do I get to do next?
Speaker 4 00:16:46 Okay, so what are the things that do align with you and why do they matter? How do they affirm you? You get to discuss
Speaker 3 00:16:55 Those with each, don’t, I dunno if we have enough time to really delve into my safety, cuz we’ve here
Speaker 4 00:16:58 People
Speaker 3 00:16:59 Would be very afraid. I, I think it’s important for me. Yeah. I think it’s important. I’ll, I’ll, I’ll share a couple. I think it’s important for me to, to work and I think it’s important for me to also earn money to contribute <laugh>. I I do enjoy playing sports. I do want to want to have the sex. I don’t know that I, I don’t subscribe to wanting it all the time, but I do want it, I want to be emotional and I want to be sensitive and caring. And I’m sure I could make, you know, I could, I could go into more detail, but
Speaker 1 00:17:25 So you circled from both sides?
Speaker 3 00:17:26 Yes. I circled from both sides. Both in mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the men and the women. And, um, yeah, I mean it’s like, even this right now, there’s so much that I feel like we could, we could like have such a great conversation around these topics. Like why do I want to be emotional? I’m like, you know, growing up, yes. I don’t think I wanted, I, I think I just learned, you know, you’d be tough and, and you hold your emotions inside. And, and now that I’m older, I realize how bad that is, like how detrimental that is to, to who I
Speaker 4 00:17:52 Am. And it sucks on the inside too. Oh. Like, it just doesn’t feel good, you
Speaker 3 00:17:56 Know? It doesn’t feel good. So yeah, I want to be emotional. I don’t mean I want to cry over toilet paper, you know, commercials all the time. But I want to be emotional. I want to be sensitive. I want to be caring. I, I, I want to work, I want to earn money. I think those things are important. I, I like sports. I mean, I also don’t mind having a small group of friends, but I’d like to socialize more with them. I’m not worried about having a lot of crafts <laugh> because I’m not good.
Speaker 1 00:18:19 So what do we run into here? So I didn’t do my list. I mean we’re also 20 years into a relationship. We bend a lot of gender. We are open to these types of conversations and we have similar types of conversations often, although we’ve never done anything like this. And I think it’s super useful. What do you run into when couples start to navigate these conversations?
Speaker 4 00:18:41 People feel, even if it’s not coming from a place of blame, blamed if they’re not able to realize their partner’s idea of the other gender or of their, whatever their partner’s gender is. And so when the next part is explore other ways of getting or experiencing these things that you would like your partner to do. You didn’t, we didn’t quite get to that place yet, but I like what you did around this where you said, these are the aspects of real man or a real woman that worked for me across gender. Like I think that’s an adaptation I would actually make. Where it’s like I want to have deeper relationships with my friends. I want to have access to my emotional world and what that looks like in expressing it like that. I really like that adaptation to it. So if you were both to do it, then you could say these are the things that you like or would like in a partner. These are the things that you would like in yourself or val value in yourself. If I’m not able to meet them, which is totally fine because that’s how I am as a human. What are other ways that you can get that met? Like if you wanted someone that was crafty, <laugh>, oh Lord, you can go to Hobby Lobby <laugh> and meet some friends. You know, and they, and they would, and then you have deeper relationships and they’re like, oh yeah, we’re crafting together <laugh>. That’s not gonna be me and Dr. Cha. Right?
Speaker 3 00:19:55 I I like that. I said I’m into crafts. Sure. I’m into crafts, but I’m not into fixing things. Not around the house. Right.
Speaker 1 00:20:01 <laugh>, dude, I’ve never seen you do a craft and you draw at like a, a level of a six year old
Speaker 3 00:20:06 <laugh>. I think you’re in, you’re, you’re not being very nice to six year olds right now. I do not draw well at all. So no, I go, I should go fix things.
Speaker 1 00:20:12 So I’ll be out at the wine cellar and people are like, where’s Brandon? He’s at Hobby Lobby with his new friends.
Speaker 4 00:20:17 <laugh> <laugh>.
Speaker 1 00:20:18 We don’t even have Hobby Lobby in Canada, but we have a version of it. We’ve got Michael’s, he’s out at Michael’s getting his dried flowers on <laugh>.
Speaker 4 00:20:26 Right. Like, cuz my sisters and mom are all about that. Like when my son has a birthday party, they’re like knees deep and decorative things and I’m like, just, I wanna just show
Speaker 1 00:20:36 Up. Right. My mom was like that too. I mean the level of craft personship in my mother’s little fingers, she’s incredible. And so, right. But it’s weird that I don’t don’t think of it as gendered, even though I’m trying to think if my parents played strict kind of along the gender lines. So the truth is I feel my mom just did everything. Like my dad absolutely did stuff. Like my dad did do vacuuming and he did do the laundry, but it was more that my mom kind of bought him to do it. So there was a heavy amount of emotional
Speaker 4 00:21:06 Labor’s that master.
Speaker 1 00:21:07 Yeah. And if I put together my list, a big part that would come out on the female side would be people pleasing and emotional labor. And I think about the things that I pay lots of money and time for therapy <laugh> to deal with. And it’s those things and they are tied to gender. And I wanna get to how this plays out in the bedroom around sex. But let me let you finish your list. So you’re going to write down what you’ve been taught, you’re gonna laugh through it and you’re gonna circle your list for both genders. Then you said you’re gonna explore other ways of getting or experiencing the things that you’re looking for if your partner is unable to offer them. That’s a hard step for a lot of people because yeah, they say like, oh, communication is the key to a a happy relationship. I think it’s like acceptance and flexibility.
Speaker 4 00:21:50 Acceptance and flexibility and being open to other people in your lives who can meet certain needs that your partner is not going to be able to meet. And realizing that your partner’s not designed to meet your every need.
Speaker 1 00:22:01 Oh that, that’s a big one. And and so what do we do after that? Like if we work through that, which I think is a long step. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it’s not like we’ve done this and it’s been 10 minutes. What are the
Speaker 4 00:22:10 Next steps? You gotta set up those. Yeah, you gotta set up those periodic dates to check in on these depending on how life is moving for you. So it might be quarterly, it might be semi-annually, but just check in like how are things feeling now that you’ve started to explore these other aspects of your gender that you hadn’t had the chance to explore before. How are these things that you’re working with other people to afford you? Like what, what does that look like for you six months later? And then evaluate like, you know, I thought I wanted this but I was just joking <laugh>, I don’t like it. <laugh>.
Speaker 1 00:22:40 I hate pushing. Yeah.
Speaker 4 00:22:43 You know, for like men work and they have to work hard and it’s like, you know, you, you did all that for six months and now you’re burnt out. And so I don’t actually like the way that looks on us. Can we reevaluate this piece?
Speaker 1 00:22:56 Perhaps the most important step in any program, right. With I think that oftentimes couples think one and done. Like I went to therapy and now I’m done. I went to a workshop, we had that conversation, but no conversation is gonna produce the same results today versus six months from now versus six years from now. So that reevaluating makes so much sense to me.
Speaker 4 00:23:15 Especially if you’re evolving as a couple. So you said y’all been together for 20 years? My husband and I are at seven and we’re now in the place where we’re like, okay, what is marriage? What, okay, what do we want it to be now? And it’s a conversation that’s gonna be ongoing.
Speaker 1 00:23:29 Absolutely. And you say you should just set periodic dates to check in on these depending on how life is moving. Like the, it might be that it’s once a year, it might be once a month really, I’m sure, depending on the couple.
Speaker 4 00:23:39 Mm-hmm <affirmative>. Absolutely. So if you’re in a spot where you need to check in more, maybe you’re trying some things that are really exciting for you and you just want somebody to process it with. Or you’re trying some things that feel really hard for you and you need accountability and support around it. It might be more monthly. But if it’s something that feels like you’ve always wanted to do this, do this, it has a bit more ease in it, then you can have more space between the check-ins and you might just be really busy and say you gotta schedule it.
Speaker 1 00:24:06 Right. And I mean you can prioritize your relationship without prioritizing every possible exercise you can be doing together. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, now I wanna talk about sex because yes, this gender fluidity, bending gender addressing some of the expectations must help to erode away at the shame we carry. And so I’m thinking about how have you seen this practically pay off in the bedroom? So initiating would be one. I’m curious if it pays off in terms of more broad and kinky explorations like dominance and submission. Is that something you’ve seen?
Speaker 4 00:24:35 Absolutely. So I think your sexual self-awareness increases when your gender awareness increases in your gender. Flexibility is more open. So you may maintain the same behaviors, but now that you have more openness around them, then you know how deep it can go and how much you can play with it. And that can get into kink or power play or bdsm. It’s like, you know, okay we’re gonna go full throttle with this initiation thing now. Cause I actually do like it when one person initiates. But let’s make it a fun thing where it’s like, I have to do this, this, this. When you say, and at this point, you know, play around with the power dynamics of that. So you get to have more fun with it. I believe when you’re clear about what works well for you or when you’re open to shifting what works well for you, then that means you also get to say in particular those of us who identify as women and not doing as much emotional labor. Like, hey, this is what I want and I’m not holding your ego around this. I’m caring about you as a person, but I’m really clear about how this thing that you do that’s a gender role turns me on or turns me off. Like I turn myself on when I see you relaxing and you’re, and you have more energy for me and you know, I initiated and you received it well and you were, you know, like that, that dynamic I think shifts a
Speaker 1 00:25:50 A bit. I’m sure it just must open up new conversations and we might be more willing to admit that we’re into things. I think about how much gender holds us back in terms of talking about things with our partners. I get messages all the time around, well I don’t wanna offend him. Uh, I think a lot of straight women do a lot of protection. I always think about like the bowling, the bowling lane bubbles, right? They’re kind of building safety around their partner. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I think that’s beautiful and kind to care about how your partner feels. I don’t think you wanna protect their feelings at the expense of your own. And I think that we don’t say what we want. We don’t speak up when something isn’t working. I can see this leading to conversations also about fantasies, right? Opening up about stuff that maybe, um, really it’s not just about gender.
Speaker 1 00:26:31 I mean there’s all the layers of the way our identities, um, affect what we believe we’re allowed to indulge in what we give ourselves permission and what society gives us permission to embrace. But perhaps embracing and exploring roles that are incongruent with our lived lives. Like you talked about the person who has decision fatigue, just wanting to be a sub when they get home. I think, I think like everyone in sexuality feels that way. Yes. I don’t think there’s a sexuality professional who’s not like I’m a sub at some point in time. You might be a dom. Yes. But you’re like so many, um, somebody’s gonna come tell me I’m wrong. I know I didn’t mean every one of us, but so many of us,
Speaker 4 00:27:05 A lot of this,
Speaker 1 00:27:06 Listen, we’re in charge or we’re not in charge, but we’re supporting so many people’s sexualities that we’re just like, can somebody else just take care of Help me. Help me. Yeah. You do it. I don’t even care what you do. Like <laugh>, it can be anything at all. As long as I’m not deciding what it is. And it’s probably, you know, similar. You know, you, I get these questions, especially from young people. How do I reconcile a role I wanna play with the fact that it doesn’t align with my political identity or the values that are at the core of who I am.
Speaker 4 00:27:34 I appreciate that they’re even asking that question because some of those political and some judo Christian, like religious or you know, like really narrow roles that we talk about, they come from the politics, like specific politics and specific identities around religion. And we know for real, for real, that people who have those politics are playing with kink and gender and all of that all the time under non-disclosure acts. So let’s just like not pretend anymore. And if you, if they’re, if they’re asking those questions, I really like that for them. I love that for them. I would, I’ll back up a little bit and say, so for me, when I think about the gender roles that I was taught, especially around like cooking and cleaning, those were feminized, right? And so my husband is a chef in our household. He’s a chef by profession and he’s, and he’s the person that cooks most of the meals for the house that is, that does it for me. Sexually <laugh>, you know? So I’m like, yes, that was part of the reason that we got together. You’re making what kind of chicken
Speaker 1 00:28:33 <laugh>, oh,
Speaker 4 00:28:34 That was so good <laugh>. And
Speaker 1 00:28:36 So all of a sudden you got a whole lot more attractive <laugh>,
Speaker 4 00:28:39 Right? <laugh>. And so I think that even in those nuances, like what kind of chores and labor and, but what you do around the house can be made, not that it’s for transactional for sex, but that it can contribute to the sexual landscape y’all get to experience as well.
Speaker 1 00:28:57 Yeah, that absolutely makes sense. And I think about when we’re, when we’re restrict about things, or more importantly when we’re restrictive, when something is denied to us, oftentimes there’s an excitement, there’s shame and some people eroticize that not necessarily like sometimes in a positive way if you’re able to be open about it, but if it really is about deprivation when you think about like Judeo Christian, all of this stuff, um, and not to pick only on on one religion, but in so many areas, like so many cultures, when things are restrictive, we often turn to them as some sort of a relief. But that relief is shrouded in shame and secrecy. And so it doesn’t feel fully whole or no, it’s, it’s not the belief. It
Speaker 4 00:29:37 Could be, it’s not satisfying in the way that it could be. Like it, if you think about it, it from this metaphor of like a binge purge cycle. That’s what it feels like. It’s like I’m restricting, I’m restricting these sexual behaviors for as long as I possibly can and then compulsively I binge on this thing and then I feel shame and guilt and there’s temporary relief, but it’s not full relief because of the shame. And then I kind of go back into the restriction for as long as I possibly can.
Speaker 1 00:30:01 I mean we, we can all think of circumstances where we’ve either done that in our lives or we’ve had partners who have done that and it’s so dangerous. I guess the question would be, so how do we break that cycle? And I think I, if it’s related to a specific role you play and we’ve been specifically talking about gender, but it could be another role. You’ve given us this formula of looking at what are the messages? Do I subscribe to them? Are they really congruent with my values? And how am I going to have that need met? So it might be with a partner, it might be for single people as well. So I think this formula is super helpful. I really love anytime somebody asks me to write things down <laugh> because it just makes it a lot clearer for me. Yeah. Abs And to put it on paper also feels like a weight off of your chest.
Speaker 4 00:30:42 Oh yeah.
Speaker 1 00:30:42 Right. There’s this release where I’m sharing it even if it’s only with myself or even just with a, with a partner or with a therapist. So I’m so thankful for this. I think it’s so important around gender, I think about fantasy, role play, anything kinky, simple stuff like initiation, relational interactions every single day. If we don’t start to break down gender. And to be clear, and I know that you’re very clear about this, but I just wanna reiterate it. It doesn’t mean that you must reject all things traditionally feminine. Yes. If you are a woman or vice versa for men. It’s really that we need to, I love that Brennan put it in the two columns and he was able to circle what he needed. And I, I understand that this is definitely along a binary. And so for folks who identify as non-binary, for folks who don’t fall into the gender binary, I think there’s still value in whatever you see as your role, role within a relationship or role within society or how you are perceived. Uh, because there’s still this notion of masculine and feminine and we see it across culture, right? I think about like very, very ancient Chinese culture, um, or Indian culture. We still see it along this binary. And in those cultures, gender wasn’t binary, it was just the masculine and the feminine. And so I think there’s still something to be gained. So
Speaker 4 00:31:51 Gender, gender, queer and trans folks have so many gifts to offer us if we are willing to receive them about how to transgress gender and the ways that you can set yourself free and the people within your community free by deciding and not seeking the validation of people who want to hold you to these scripts.
Speaker 1 00:32:08 Yes, absolutely. And I, I love when you’re talking about freedom and liberation. And just one more quick log. You host fuck the system, a sexual liberation podcast as well as, and this is so beautiful, how to love a human, A liberation podcast that asks people with multiple marginalized identities what the world would be like if it loved them. And wherever people sit, cuz I know like listen, we get feedback from people who love what we’re saying. We get feedback from people who really hate what we’re saying and especially, but they love it. Well they’re listening. You’re here,
Speaker 4 00:32:36 They’re listening.
Speaker 1 00:32:37 Or people who give Brandon a hard time around gender for maybe for thinking. I’ve heard people say, well he’s just saying what he thinks he should say. I’m like, or he’s done the work and is doing the work because we’re always doing the work. But I think no matter where you kind of fit in that spectrum or the web or whatever you wanna call it, don’t we want humans to all be loved? Don’t we believe that all humans are deserving of love and we all ought to be kind of working in the world to make that more possible? Because we’re not there. No, we’re not. We’re far off. So thank you so much for being here. Thank you for your work, your podcast. We’re gonna put all the links in the show notes and people need to absolutely follow along. I should mention, I’ve been following you for a long time on Instagram and I’m a long time admire and fan, so it was great too. Chat
Speaker 4 00:33:18 With you. Same for you. Love your work. And I really appreciate both of y’all for being here today. This made a lot, made a big difference in how we could have this conversation.
Speaker 1 00:33:26 Thank you so much. Yeah, babe, you doing that list was, uh, amazing. So appreciate that. And we’re gonna keep the conversation going and we hope folks will also, and we’ll put the five steps in the show notes too, just in case you wanna see a visual. Thank you again for being here. I love this topic. I love this conversation. I always said growing up that I was no good at gender cuz I feel like I was always spending it in some ways. And I know that, you know, I appear very feminine, which aligns with my gender, but I remember always screwing up gender. Like I wouldn’t remember, I would tell my mom that somebody died and it, I’d be like, oh, it was her grandma and then it was her grandpa or somebody has a baby. And I can never, for the life of me really remember, no, I never remember the gender of a baby.
Speaker 3 00:34:03 You gotta see the baby
Speaker 1 00:34:04 <laugh>. Unless I know the, like if I know the name. And that makes it obvious, but I always forget the gender of a baby. And I, I wonder sometimes if it has to do with being bi with being queer and seeing people a little bit differently. Like I don’t look at, for example, women as like allies who are my platonic friends versus men who are potential partners or that I don’t feel more or less sexual energy mm-hmm. <affirmative> with any particular gender. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> or I don’t feel a sense of comradery with a particular gender either. And I know for you, we’ve talked about how sometimes our gender roles are reversed in terms of what society expects, and that’s not always the case. Like we have a lot of things that really do fall into, I guess, stereotypical gender roles. And I also don’t wanna reject that. Like I do all the cooking, do all the groceries.
Speaker 3 00:34:48 Yeah. Thankfully you do all, all the cooking. It wouldn’t be
Speaker 1 00:34:51 Good gender or not, I’m not eating this
Speaker 3 00:34:52 Guy’s food <laugh>, I’m eating whatever you make. But no, I, I struggle with gender and gender roles, but I’m also trying to embrace it. I’m also trying to, you know, I recognize the power and uh, the freedom that comes with taking on, um, you know, more feminine roles or more feminine, you know, charac, uh, I guess characteristics
Speaker 1 00:35:10 Like
Speaker 3 00:35:11 What, like, or or elements maybe, um, you know, being more emotional over certain things, like letting yourself feel the feels. And I want to be around people that I, that encourage me to feel those things and that don’t judge me when I feel them because I think that it’s an important part of who I am. I mean, I loved the exercise today that Dr. Candace suggested were, you got to circle those elements on both lists and why they’re important to you. I think that’s a really great conversation to have.
Speaker 1 00:35:34 Yeah, absolutely. And you know, you talk about embracing being more emotional, so it isn’t that women are more emotional, it’s that we’ve been given more permission Yes. To express our emotions cuz Thank you. There studies showing that when women and men are exposed to emotional stimuli, women will express more effusively their emotional response. But when they actually look at the brain reactions in the centers of the brain that they associate with emotional response mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they will see more response in men, which potentially speaks to the fact that men are stymied. And I’m Yeah. Thinking like, how hurtful is that to not be allowed to be sad, to not be have any space to express that you’re heartbroken or that you’re lonely or that you’re in any way vulnerable. And I, I just think about human beings as human beings being needy of and so deserving of love, like every single person is deserving of love.
Speaker 1 00:36:22 I think we maybe spoke about this really recently and regardless of gender, like don’t you wanna sometimes be tender and sometimes be soft? And I know that you said in our relationship that you worry that because, you know, there’s a lot about you that is stereotypically virile that I’m attracted to. And so when you show that softer side, but what’s interesting to me is I’m attracted to all of it, to both of it, to <laugh>, to when you show vulnerability, I all of a sudden feel so close to you and so almost viscerally drawn to you in my body. But also when you’re tough, and again, I’m not saying that, you know, tough is manly and vulnerable is, is not manly or female, but mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it’s, you know, feminine. Yeah. It’s just that that’s what we’ve been taught and, and we’re not immune to it. Right.
Speaker 1 00:37:01 Like I know that I definitely feel pressure in terms of gender rules. I’m not like, oh yeah. Oh, I’ve got it figured out. I’m more evolved. Not freaking at all. <laugh> not at all. But I just think it is so important as it pertains to relationships and as it pertains to sex, because I would hate to not be able to share a fantasy or a desire with you because I felt restricted by what a good girl or a bad girl or a sexy girl or a, you know, there’s so much pressure on women to be everything these days. And same thing for you, I think about people who, for example, don’t want their partner to use sex toys because there’s this pressure around, well then am I a good enough man? Is my dick good enough? When in fact all of us can embrace all of those things if we just let go of gender a
Speaker 3 00:37:41 Little. When you talk about stymieing and feeling, you know, how it, how it impacts, I do think about suppressing those feelings, but, but how it impacts other aspects of my life. Mm-hmm. Because I do find that if I’m suppressing one place, it’s gonna, it’s kind of pushing it somewhere else. And, um, oh. Which I find, and again, this is just my experience that it, it really affects me in a, in another way. So it’s like, I might be suppressing my emotion because my dog passed away mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it’s like, how does that manifest itself in some other aspect of my life? Do I get more, do I, am I more upset about something else? Am I angrier about something else? Because I can’t let that feeling exist because of nor social norms. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> as to what I should or shouldn’t be doing. And you know, you also talked really quickly about, you know, exploring and new opportunities and because you know, you, you’re, you’re a good girl. You’re a bad girl, you’re whatever it is. I love the idea that when you start embracing these new ideas that other opportunities present themselves, like things that you hadn’t thought of before and, and in when it relates to sex, like the pleasure that can exist by embracing something that you were unwilling to before and all of a sudden you’re down this new rabbit hole of some amazing new experience. Right.
Speaker 1 00:38:46 Yeah. Some really important points there, especially around suppression of emotion showing up in a different way. Yeah. Right. When we don’t grieve Absolutely. It can erupt as anger. Yeah. It can erupt as shame, it can erupt as so many different feelings and then you can’t figure out the source of
Speaker 3 00:39:00 It. No, I’m, and then you’re spending, then you’re just more time in therapy. <laugh>
Speaker 1 00:39:03 More time, more time, more money, more time in therapy. Absolutely. Okay. This is a big conversation. I’m glad that we’re having it. Uh, again, I just wanna acknowledge that we absolutely don’t have it figured out. I think that, you know, we can defy gender norms and also feel huge amounts of pressure around gen gender norms. And I’m sure that is holding us back sexually too. So I’m interested mm-hmm. <affirmative> to see the ways in which we can discover new stuff together, simply using this, uh, this five step exercise. Yeah. So we’re gonna pen it in, we’re gonna stick it in the show notes. Uh, thanks for chatting, babe.
Speaker 3 00:39:31 Thank you. And thank you Dr. Candace. Thank
Speaker 1 00:39:34 You for being here. We are still running a sale. Just for podcast [email protected]. If you are interested in the Mindful Sex Course, the mind-blowing oral course, or the last Longer in bed, pre to six steps to deal with premature [email protected] code podcast. Thank you. Wherever you’re at, I hope you have a great one.
Speaker 2 00:39:56 You’re listening to The Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Improve your sex life, improve your Life.

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