Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Authors Posts by Dr. Ava Cadell

Dr. Ava Cadell

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Dr. Ava Cadell is America’s #1 Sexpert as a Clinical Sexologist, Sex Counselor, Founder of Loveology University & President of the American College of Sexologists International. Author of 9 books including the upcoming Sexycises by Sexperts: Intimacy Through Yoga, Dr. Ava is also a sought after media therapist & global speaker; her mission is to empower people to overcome sexual guilt & shame so they can enjoy the benefits of healthy, sexual relationships.

Sexperts Share Secrets at “The New Rules of Sex Summit”

As a graduate and faculty member of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS), I get the privilege of teaching students who want to become sexologists, like me. Lauren Brim was a top student in my class and I’m so proud of what she’s created with her New Rules Sex Summit that runs this July 30 – August 8, 2018.

Lauren is collaborating with top sexperts like sex researcher, author and global speaker Dr. Zhana Vrangalova, psychologist and transgender expert Dr. Elise Turen and Sheri Winston, who is a Wholistic Sexuality™ Teacher and founder of the Intimate Arts Center. The Sex Summit topics range from orgasmic potential and sexual consent to sexual healing and getting what you really want in bed. My interview was a lot of fun as Lauren wanted me to talk about sex toys, since she enjoyed my presentation on the evolution of sex toys since the beginning of time.

You can tune in to listen by joining here. My interview airs on July 30, 2018 at 8AM Pacific Time. First I give an overview of the history of sex toys and then we discuss how toys can help with sexual issues or incompatibilities for both individuals and couples. I give advice on what couples can use to create novel experiences in long term relationships and address the worry that many men have about sex toys being a penis replacement.

Also, all the sexperts at the Sex Summit are giving away free gifts when you sign up! Mine is a free download of my entertaining seminar video from the Sexual Health Expo called Unique Orgasms! Watch Dr. Hernando Chaves and myself demonstrate sex toy techniques and discuss orgasms you may not have heard of. It’s part of “The Big O” course at Loveology University®, but I’m giving it away here for free. So don’t forget to sign up and get my gift as well as 19 other fantastic gifts of sexual knowledge!

Interview With Karla Jo Helms: A PR Pro’s Opinion On How to Get #MeToo From Outrage to Progress

I reached out to public relations expert Karla Jo Helms of JoTo PR to hear more about her strategy to transition the #MeTo movement from outrage to progress. She’s worried about the ‘backlash’ to the movement that’s beginning to shape the story as “witch hunt” versus “anti-feminist,” which in my view too, completely misses the point. False accusations are unfortunate, and certainly not all sexual harassment claims are the same – some perpetrators are worse than others – but the suffering that women (and many men) have endured for decades (okay centuries) needs to end, and THAT is the point.

Social media may have been the spark that kindled the #MeToo movement and fanned the flames of division,” says Karla Jo, “but it can prove to be a unifying force if we use it to reset the strategy and create a new narrative.”

Here is my interview with Karla Jo where she discusses the ways in which PR stories can  change the conversation from negative to positive.

Dr. Ava Cadell: I share your concerns about the #metoo backlash, and would also like to see solutions for all of us to come together to make the world a safer place, rather than creating this division between women. I think all women agree that there’s a society-wide problem with violence against women, but of course false accusations are unacceptable. I’m curious about your take on how we can move forward to really make a difference in actual behavior, rather than get lost in this “witch hunt” versus “anti-feminist” story that isn’t what the conversation should be about.

Karla Jo Helms: In my opinion, we need to start publishing POSITIVE stories of women and men working together successfully to improve the world—improving business, improving economic and social issues, improving the environment, education, etc. What you put attention on, you get.  Let’s start putting attention on what we really want—yes, we primarily want to stop being sexually harassed and harmed—but even more foundational than that, we want equality and the actual comradarie of working together to improve our society and culture.  It can be done.  It is being done.  We need more of it—we need to exploit the good.

DA: Are women losing real opportunities because of the #metoo backlash? Which industries are most likely to be afraid of hiring more women for fear of sexual harassment accusations? 

There have been many reports that women are concerned about not getting hired for fear that they’ll make sexual harassment claims. I started seeing it in the news in January, where women lawmakers in the Florida House and Senate were having that experience.  In March the news picked up on it, with Vox publishing findings of a nationwide study. Some women are worried about the men in their lives getting falsely accused, others are worried that the men whose accusations are less serious are getting punished with the same fervor as more serious allegations.

But this entire scenario has yet to really play out completely. From my experience, when issues like this occur, I have seen people speak up LESS about sexual harassment in order to thwart the backlash!  Speaking up can be the hardest thing to do, but speaking up is the only way for real substantive change to happen.

DA: What are the solutions you see to ending harassment in the workplace?

In my professional opinion, harassment in the workplace can be slowed by using a combination of Human Resources and Public Relations together. In fact, the only successful method I have seen get results is when HR is given the power to create strategies and carry them out with executive support, and the stories are amplified at least enough for the culture of the company to be affected. HR and PR departments need to work together.

These are the three main points of action as I see them, and all these things combined will create powerful change. You’ll note that in the first point, I’m advocating for rehabilitation for mild offenders, but this begs the question, “What is a mild offense?” This is a huge conversation in and of itself that needs to be initiated – how to define behaviors and categorize them.

  • HR training, HR reporting, HR transparency to investigating, punishments for egregious offenders, rehabilitation for mild offenders, punishment for false reports/accusations, and ongoing education—not just a set it and forget it set of training modules once a year.
  • PR—publishing internal and external stories, case studies and testimonials about gender quality and working together successfully to improve aspects of a business—and even the world. A continual connection to people’s ‘stories’ is imperative, otherwise the ‘staying power’ of the HR conversations get lost.
  • Continue an ongoing campaign that includes both the HR and PR strategies above so that the workplace culture does not sink back into silence on these sexual harassment issues.

I don’t think you can ever be successful by staying static. Human history has proven that promoting healthy working relationships between men and women needs to be fostered continually to get positive results!

What’s Your Sexual Personality?

One of my life goals is to help couples discover their compatibilities in order to enrich their sex lives. In my decades-long private practice, I’ve helped many people who didn’t know how to relate to each other, mostly because they were speaking their own language instead of learning the language of their partner. So I developed a unique sexual personality to enhance a much more fulfilling love life mentally, physically and sexually.

This work is what inspired me to start my ongoing research project on sexual compatibility which has reached over 2,500 participants since 2015. Please take a moment to take my anonymous survey here. We don’t collect IP addresses or e-mails – it’s completely private so that individuals feel free to express their true feelings. Plus, it’s fun to answer the questions and think about your own preferences and desires! I encourage you to add to this valuable study.

Here are some of the questions in the survey that are answered on a rating scale, to give you an idea of how we’re trying to categorize behavior to come up with compatibility solutions:

  1. How important is it that your long-term partner is good in bed?
  2. Do you like to plan your sexual activity?
  3. How do you express love?
  4. How much do you enjoy the following acts? Erotic embrace while dressed, deep kissing, stroking your sexual partner’s genitals, giving or receiving oral sex, favorite intercourse positions, anal sex.

The study is based on psychology’s well-established ‘Big Five’ personality traits called OCEAN (Open, Conscientious, Extroverted, Agreeable, Neurotic) which began with the research of D. W. Fiske (1949) and was continued by other researchers including Norman (1967), Smith (1967), Goldberg (1981), and McCrae & Costa (1987).

Here are some brief descriptions of the five sexual personalities I created based on the ‘Big Five’ psychological personality types. Read them all and see what jumps out at you as familiar or not ‘you’ at all.  Find yourself and your partner in these personality types, and choose more than one if you like! It’s all about figuring out who you are and how to successfully communicate with others. There are more detailed descriptions in my free e-book Your Sexual Personality: Find and Keep Your Perfect Match.

OCEAN Sexual Personalities

Open

If you have an Open personality, you are creative and outgoing sexually. You feel comfortable giving the kind of love you would like to receive and are more likely to have adventurous fantasies like threesomes, domination or exhibitionism.

Conscientious

Conscientious lovers are the most mindful, and pay attention with all of their five senses. If you’re sexually conscientious, you are more likely to believe that relationships can be “worked on” to achieve compatibility. You require a higher level of trust before becoming intimate with someone, and are more likely to be turned off by the idea of someone else finding your partner sexy.

Extroverted

Sex with an Extroverted person is energetic and exciting as they enjoy risky sex locales and erotic communication. If you are an extrovert sexually, you’re more likely to be the one who initiates sex and more likely to enjoy sex acts others may consider taboo, like group sex or BDSM.

Agreeable

Agreeable personalities in bed are passionate and loveable with lots of enthusiasm to please their lover. If you’re an Agreeable lover, you are the most likely of all the personalities to be turned on by taking a romantic bath, dancing or sharing meals, and are more likely to express your love through compliments.

Neurotic

Neurotic lovers can be the wildest sexually or the least sexual, depending upon their mood, as they are highly emotional and sensitive. If you are considered a Neurotic sexual personality, you are significantly less willing to talk about your desires and you have difficulty expressing your love. You are less likely to be the one who says, “I love you” first in a relationship.

Did you recognize yourself? Many people find they are a combination of personalities, with some traits from one type and others from another. So what can we do with this information? My e-book also gives you lots of sexy tips for each personality type, but here are a few at-a-glance ideas you can use at home today to spice up your sex life.

If You Are Sexually Open…

Feed your sexual appetite and increase intimacy with new sexual activities you haven’t tried, whether it’s Tantric sex or sensual BDSM power play. Striptease is also a great option for you since you have fewer inhibitions. Even if your partner is not as open as you are, they might enjoy the show! For some Open couples, inviting a third into the mix can also be an appealing idea. Sexually Open and Agreeable people are most compatible because both types are able to give the kind of sex that they need for satisfaction.

If You Are Sexually Conscientious…

Build romance with a bubble bath after a stressful day, followed by an erotic massage or mutual masturbation to promote sexual health and wellbeing. Add erotic talk for orgasmic intensity! As a sexually Conscientious person, you might enjoy taking sexy selfies and sending them to your lover in a ‘for your eyes only’ message that gives them a thrill and makes you feel valued and loved. A Conscientious lover with another Conscientious or an Agreeable lover offers the most compatibility because they are both more likely to express their feelings.

If You Are Sexually Extroverted…

You find it easy to talk about your sex fantasies, especially to another Extrovert, or an Open person, who are your best sex matches. Since you are more likely to make the first move initiating sex, be sure to find out your lover’s boundaries on any unexplored erotic desires you want to explore. You are more likely to enjoy a game of strip poker or be on board to discover his P-spot or her G-spot during sex. Role-playing games may also excite you, for example pretending to be strangers at a bar, and going home together as if you’ve never met!

If You Are Sexually Agreeable…

As the most flexible lover of all the personalities, work on getting your sexual needs met by stating your desires through dirty talk. As you’re likely turned on by erotic visuals, ask your lover to do a striptease and masturbate for your voyeuristic pleasure before having sex.

As an Agreeable, you can create a sex match with anyone – even a Neurotic lover can fall in love or lust with you. Try giving or receiving an erotic massage with a happy ending.

If You Are Sexually Neurotic…

For great sexual experiences, focus your attention on pleasing your lover before yourself. And before sex, have a date that involves laughter such as watching a funny movie or going to a comedy club, as this will access parts of your brain that will help you to relax before sex. Masturbation is a surefire winner for your personality type, and you can work on letting that extend into your sexual relationship as mutual masturbation. Sexually Neurotic people are most compatible with Agreeable personalities.

No matter which sexual personality type or combination of types describe you and your partner, have fun exploring your compatibilities together. And remember, every couple can learn from each other, whether the compatibility test says you’re a good match or not. If you have chemistry, you can train each other to express love in the way that you both want and need for a fulfilling relationship. Just taking the test and reading the e-book will make you feel more empowered with the knowledge that communication is something you can improve.

Train Your Brain To Better Sex For $2.99

On April 12, 2018, Early Bird Books will be offering my book Neuroloveology: The Power to Mindful Love & Sex for only $2.99! I urge all my readers to snatch it up at this price because it’s packed with unique exercises on how to train your brain for better sex and a more fulfilling relationship.

Why should you buy this book? The main reason is that you should be making love a priority in your life! But since I’m an overachiever, I’ll give you ten other reasons:

  1. Experience Self-love and Acceptance

True love can only happen when you love yourself first. My tried and true plan for singles shows you how to benefit from neuroscience to get those brain chemical cocktails flowing, and how to exude confidence and sexiness to find the perfect partner. If you already have a partner, you’ll learn how to maintain passion and boost intimacy.

  1. Find & Maintain that Loving Feeling

Did you know that a 6-second hug releases oxytocin, the bonding and long-term love chemical in the brain? My book is filled with quick, easy ways to use brain science to boost intimacy between you and your partner. So, if you’re not hugging at least twice a day, you need this book.

  1. Replace Distractions with Mindfulness

Check my list of internal and external distractions to see what might be keeping you and your partner from having regular sex. Is the laundry basket visible from your bed? Are you worried the kids will barge in? Is the TV on or the clock facing you? Are you listening to negative self-talk? Learn how to clear away all distractions and get focused on your mutual pleasure.

  1. Enhance Left & Right Brain Communication Skills

Many couples are banging their heads against a wall trying to become closer, but their brains are clashing because they don’t know which brain hemisphere is most prominent for their partner. Find out with easy tests in my book whether your partner is left or right brained, and speak to them in their own language. You’ll be amazed how many couples experience dramatic results with this knowledge.

  1. Take Dating to a Higher Level of Intimacy

Learn all about the many stages of love, and what’s happening to your brain along the way. Feeling like your relationship has lost its fire because you’re suddenly not having sex three times a day? Take back the reins by realizing you’re in the next stage which can be just as exhilarating if you know how to dig deeper and experience more intimacy.

  1. Solve Relationship Problems with Meeting of the Minds

Find out what’s happening inside your partner’s brain, and learn to communicate with each other successfully to create the relationship that you truly desire, not the one that you’re settling for. Through my ‘brain activation’ exercises, you can grow brain cells, change the way you think, and get closer together with renewed mutual responsiveness.

  1. Raise Sex Hormones and Ignite or Rekindle Passion

Explore the five levels of touch to find out whether you and your partner agree on what it means to be passionate, or healing – or how about romantic? Get on the same page with dozens of exercises that teach you how to synchronize your bodies to be fully present and enjoy the best sex of your lives.

SEX equals Sexual Energy eXchange.

  1. Expand Physical, Emotional & Sexual Boundaries

Challenge your relationship to elevate to new heights of enrichment with my intimacy challenges that are also fun to do. Sharing romantic memories, naming your strengths and weaknesses, describing sexy fantasies – these verbal games grow your passion by allowing you to learn about each other. Plus you will never lose your curiosity for each other and have plenty to talk about on date night.

  1. Over 100 Neuro-cises to grow new brain cells and your relationship

Have you ever heard of “Mirror Neurons?” They activate upon watching and emulating the actions of your partner. When we laugh, for example we can actually feel the other person’s sensations, movements and emotions inside us. There are fun exercises in my book that bring couples closer together, using this cool brain function that creates a bridge between two brains. And that’s just one neuro-cise!

  1. Experience Braingasms

Learn the 7 steps to a “Braingasm,” a mind-blowing technique I developed by putting together all the powerful brain science I discovered while writing this book. You can experience a braingasm on your own or with your partner. And remember, sex begins between your ears, and then between your legs!

Don’t forget to sign up for your copy of Neuroloveology at $2.99! It’s one day only on April 12 – just fill in your e-mail here and click to buy when you receive April’s Newsletter.

Stay sexy!

10 Things You Don’t Know about Sex & Disability

There’s a common myth that people with disabilities don’t want, need or are incapable of having sex, but nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that one in five Americans have some sort of disability, making it the largest minority group in the country, according to Disabled World, an independent news resource on health and disabilities. They estimate that “10% of people in the U.S. have a medical condition considered to be a type of invisible disability.” That is, someone who is dealing with a chronic health issue that you can’t immediately identify as you would with say, a wheelchair or a white cane.

It may seem daunting to have to maneuver, adjust and find comfortable positions to compensate for a physical disability, but it can actually be a blessing that leads to deeper intimacy and better sex. Whether it’s spinal injuries, arthritis, anxiety or depression, fibromyalgia, Trigeminal Neuralgia, cancer, heart disease, migraine headaches, shingles, psoriasis, erectile dysfunction, or anorgasmia (not to mention the common cold), we are all going to experience some kind of disability in the bedroom that will affect our ability to have fulfilling sex. Don’t let it stop you from pursuing sexual pleasure. Sex is our second basic instinct after survival, and it can improve the quality of your life.

Some disabilities affect mobility, others are physiological, and some are emotional, mental or developmental. But by navigating these challenges, we can often untether ourselves from repetition and boredom in the bedroom. The disability supplies the opportunity to expand the meaning and experience of sex. Even if you have one of these debilitating experiences, you can always create intimacy through hugging, kissing, eye contact and open, honest communication, which are all preludes to sex, or can be fulfilling as the main event.

The myth that sex with disabilities is “not worth it” affects everyone, because it also assumes that just because you are an able bodied human being, you intrinsically know how to perform sexual acts and therefore, don’t require any education or guidance on the subject. It assumes that if you can’t figure it out, you should be left to do without it. So, even though everyone knows the mechanics of sex, not everyone knows how to give and receive sexual pleasure.

No one “naturally” knows it all. We do not come organically equipped with knowledge of condoms, nor are we “naturally” skilled to give erotic pleasure. People learn sexual negotiating skills, consent, techniques and boundaries. They learn what sex is and how to make passionate love.

Below are ten specific myths about people with disabilities to clear out and make way for accurate knowledge, sexual skill-building and differently-abled, erotic, intimate experiences.

  1. We are asexual
  2. Our genitals don’t work
  3. Only certain kinds of people hook up with us
  4. The disability is more important than sexuality
  5. Sex with disabilities is “a hassle” or “not worth it”
  6. People naturally know how to have sex, and if we don’t, we shouldn’t be having it
  7. It is better not to risk reproduction
  8. Sexuality is not part of healthcare for disabled people
  9. We are helpless victims, unable to have good sex
  10. People with disabilities aren’t at risk for sexual abuse

All people have the right to opportunities for sexual expression, sexuality education, contraception and sexual abuse prevention and treatment. These rights are often challenged or ignored because of myths.

To learn more about intimacy and disabilities, explore my online course: Intimacy & Disabilities at Loveology University®

Sexperts Honored By SHE Magazine

When I won the very first “Sexpert of the Year” award at the Sexual Health Expo in 2015 (now called Sex Expo), and to be frank, I was taken completely by surprise. I remember seeing the list of high profile nominees like Sunny Megatron and Emily Morse, thinking one of them will surely win, considering everything they contribute to sex education and entertainment.

This month I’m lucky again with a feature article called “From Sex Symbol to Sex Guru” in Sexual Health magazine where Editor-in-chief Ariana Rodriguez interviewed me about how my life journey from a refugee, to orphan, to sex symbol to sexpert led to a successful career in sexology, my new sexual healing book, what’s new with Sexycises and my pheromone jewelry line with Eye of Love.

Shangri-la – Peace to all who enter here :

 

The SexualHealth crew came to my house aka Shangri-La in Malibu for the photo shoot with Ariana, photographer Dean Capture, Sex Expo producer Sara Ramirez. Paula Tiberius, editor of Sexpert.com and my right hand for the past five years and I had a fun time collaborating on poses and outfits to show the different sides of my persona.

Zorro, being grumpy for his close up.

 

 

Zorro, my ten year old Ragdoll cat was locked in a bedroom for most of the day, so by the time he came out for his part of the photoshoot, he was pretty grumpy. But we managed to get some flattering shots of him anyway. Don’t worry, I’m not strangling him.

One of the things I love about the Sexual Health Magazine is that they honor the valuable work being done in sexual wellness by so many different experts. If you look at the recent winners, there’s the TV sexologist and author Dr. Jessica O’Reilly who’s touring the world with her speaking engagements and retreats teaching people how to communicate their desires and improve their love lives and Jessica Drake who has turned her adult film stardom into another career as a sex educator, re-inventing sexual instructional videos with her “Guide To Wicked Sex” series. The 2018 winner is sex and relationship therapist Dr. Chris Donaghue, author of “Sex Outside the Lines,” host of Loveline and Director of Clinical Education for the Sexual Health Alliance. I’m honored to be in the company of these individuals who all have their own unique contribution, like me with my university, www.LoveUniv.com.

My Sexycises team at Sexual Health Expo 2017  with Dr. Cat Meyer, Symon Murray, Dr. Nancy Sutton-Pierce and Miyoko.

I believe these awards are an opportunity to lift up voices all across the spectrum of sex educators and love coaches. The bottom line is that it feels great to be validated by a pioneer publication like Sexual Health Magazine because it lets me know that I’m on the right path.  I love joining forces with my peers to make the world a more loving place.

Read the full March 2018 issue of Sexual Health magazine for many insightful, informative articles by sexperts.

Me posing for a magazine in my sex symbol days.

Pheromone Jewelry by Eye of Love & Dr. Ava Cadell

As a sexologist, I get asked all the time if it’s possible to create chemistry. Whether it’s a long term couple craving that initial attraction that brought them together, or a single person who’s wondering how to get more dates, everyone is searching for that magic feeling of fascination that feels like love.

To get a new person attracted to you, we all know that eye contact is a potent trigger, as it activates the brain’s reward center and releases oxytocin, the feel-good chemical that’s discharged when you feel bonded with someone physically and emotionally. And visuals in general let you know if you like the person’s face, body or sense of style. But to get this new person hooked on you (or hooked all over again), you need to trigger desire through the strongest of senses – smell. A heady fragrance mixed with attention-attracting pheromones is the ideal combination.

With these needs in mind, I teamed up with pheromone experts Eye of Love, to create visually stunning jewelry sprayed with pheromone perfume that comes in a variety of fragrances. The After Dark fragrance blends jasmine, lily and white chocolate for a sweet, intense mood while Morning Glow is more fruity-floral with citrusy apple blossom, freesia and violets.

Pheromones themselves are odorless chemicals released by our bodies that trigger a social response in others. They are scientifically proven to make us more approachable and appealing. I’ve been talking about them for decades, and included them years ago in my Aphrodisiacs course.

One of my Loveology University® graduates, Tamara Bell (founder of the Home Pleasure Party Plan Association), told me I had to try Eye of Love pheromones since I was finally starting to date again since my husband passed away three years ago. They sent me some samples of all their fragrances and I chose one called Seduce, which I sprayed behind my ears, on the inside of my wrists and my clavicle. Then I went out to a party and definitely got results. I found I was approached more often than ever before by men, young and old, good looking and not-so good looking. In fact I thought maybe I put on too much!

I reached out to Eye of Love to let them know about the success I had wearing their pheromones. Our conversation was so inspiring that we decided to meet and work together to develop a line of pheromone induced jewelry.

The jewelry is for men and women and comes in silver or gold, with seven pieces to choose from including a pear-shaped pendant necklace, a two-tiered chain necklace with two lava spheres, dog tag necklace and fully beaded bracelets that come in both men’s and women’s sizes. The men’s size beaded bracelet also works perfectly as an anklet for women.

Dogtag Necklace

They all feature lava rock, a black on black ultra cool-looking stone that’s porous, so it soaks in the pheromone-infused perfume well. Lava rock is one of the oldest and most abundant stones that possesses energetic qualities. When sprayed with the pheromones, it acts as a fragrance diffuser that becomes a powerful attracting force. They’re also vegan and never tested on animals!

Independent studies have been conducted at leading universities worldwide, such as Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago and the Karolinska Institute, one of Sweden’s oldest medical schools have shown that pheromones do have a profound effect on human behavior.

Consequently, pheromones can help others to see you as more open, attractive, charismatic, and easy to talk to. They can facilitate conversations, interest and create enhanced friendly feelings. So, give yourself the gift of powerful attracting jewelry whether it’s a bracelet or necklace and get an unfair advantage, drawing people to you like bees to honey!

Pheromone Bead Bracelet can be worn as an anklet too.

Learn more here and enjoy your new attraction!

What Is & What Is NOT Defined As Sexual Abuse…By Law

As the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are continuing to bring sexual harassment and abuse incidents to light at breakneck speed, the onslaught of cases has many people wondering about what laws are actually in place to punish offenders. At the same time, we’re also witnessing an anti-#MeToo wave, notably defined by the open letter from 100 French women, (Catherine DeNeuve, Briget Bardot & Abnousse Shalman included) who are expressing their concerns about going too far with re-writing the culture, like erasing certain actors from films, for example. They warn of a Puritanical wave that could reverse the progress and awareness #MeToo has raised.

Personally I think that sexual abuse has been so rampant for so long that a little collateral damage (like Kevin Spacey getting cut out of his latest TV series, House of Cards) is not the end of the world. I’m not too concerned that a new wave of “political correctness” is going to undermine my freedom to act sexy or allow a date to open the door for me. After all, the “PC police” of the 1980s and 1990s didn’t stop the devastating number of campus rapes.

In researching my new sexual healing memoir with solutions for sexual abuse survivors, over the last several months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the subtle differences between types of sexual harassment and abuse. To borrow a phrase from Facebook: “It’s complicated.” For example in 1981, when Harvey Weinstein bought a British movie that I starred in called Spaced Out, Miramax paid for me to go to Chicago to promote it.  He invited me to his suite at the Intercontinental Hotel to meet him for the first time. When I arrived, his door was slightly ajar, so I peeked in to see him sitting in a bathtub with his back to the door. I called out to him and he turned his head with a smile and said, “You can come in to wash my back if you like.” I giggled nervously and said, “No thanks, I’ll meet you downstairs in the bar,” and left. It was an unmemorable experience which I personally did not describe as harassment. The sexual predators of my past had so influenced my behavior that it honestly didn’t even occur to me that it was abusive in any way. I even laughed it off with comedian Bob Saget who was there promoting the same movie, as Miramax had replaced the original British spaceship’s computer voice with Bob’s American one. But another woman might have been devastated by the exact same experience, and be completely within her rights to call out his inappropriate behavior.

It didn’t feel like harassment. But then in 2017, I wasn’t shocked to see Harvey’s crimes splashed on the headlines. If I had that incident to do over now, I would have called out his behavior because maybe it would have helped someone in the future to have something on the record.  But was Harvey’s behavior with me specifically, criminal? It was certainly “harassment” as defined by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in Title VII. Take a look (from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC):

“Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  • The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.
When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, EEOC looks at the whole record: the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis.”

But these Civil Rights Act laws are only applicable to the workplace when there are 15 or more employees working for the company. Harvey may have had 15 or more employees at the time, but would I have been considered one of them as an actor in a film he merely distributed? Probably not. Probably I would have been laughed out of any police precinct in the country, especially since it was 1982. I’m using this incident to illustrate the need for new, more descriptive laws. We need to map out what types of harassment exist and have a serious conversation about what the consequences should be. I’m sure the French ladies who signed their letter of warning would say that my Harvey story was not criminal, but if you look at it from, say, Rose MacGowan’s point of view, maybe his pattern could have been disrupted and she would have been spared the trauma of sexual assault? McGowan’s experience obviously falls squarely into the U.S. Criminal Code, which I’m publishing here at the end because I think it needs to be part of the conversation.

WHEN IN DOUBT, CALL IT OUT!

Part of my own sexual healing from abuse has been to define the behaviors of my aggressors in an attempt to figure out what exactly I’m recovering from. My story is extreme, beginning with rape in my early childhood and sex trafficking in my teens, and looking back, the most destructive element aside from the abuse itself, was how it was all ‘normalized.’ There was an expectation of secrecy which I was forced to participate in, because I was fearful of my own safety and the retaliation of my abusers. Silence is deadly, and in my case led to extreme self-doubt and depression. That’s why in this #MeToo moment, I’m going to herald a new cry: When in doubt, call it out!

Trust your instincts. If you think someone is acting inappropriately, or you know they are but aren’t sure whether to say something, say something! It’s the only way we can move away from this appalling “consent” that we inadvertently bestow on creepy individuals when we don’t speak up!

And speaking of consent, here is my Sexual Consent Form, which I created in 2006 with my late husband Peter Knecht, who was a criminal defense attorney. The catalyst was the Kobe Bryant alleged sexual assault case where there was a tremendous amount of “he said, she said.” I thought it was about time for America to come up with a solution whereby both parties about to have sex could slow down for a moment, long enough to talk about what they were about to do. By the way, this is just a good idea in general, for any couple, whether it’s a first date or a married couple.

Here’s why I think this sexual consent form works, as I wrote in a blog back in 2014 when Governor Jerry Brown signed the “Yes Means Yes” legislation in California. There was a push to solve the campus rape epidemic when Obama was president, and many sexual consent apps had come out, and were all but laughed out of the marketplace. I didn’t have a lot of company in my opinion that consent forms work, and it’s still the subject of much debate.

SEXUAL CONSENT FORM

As promised, here is the exact wording of American sexual abuse laws, from the U.S. Criminal Code. As far as my research has led me, sexual harassment laws are only covered in the Civil Rights Code (Title VII) and are only applicable if you are harassed at a workplace that employs more than 15 people.

From The United Stated Code – Title 18 (The Criminal Code)

  • 2241. Aggravated sexual abuse

(a) By Force or Threat.—Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly causes another person to engage in a sexual act—

(1) by using force against that other person; or

(2) by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person will be subjected to death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping; or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for any term of years or life, or both.

(b) By Other Means.—Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly—

(1) renders another person unconscious and thereby engages in a sexual act with that other person; or

(2) administers to another person by force or threat of force, or without the knowledge or permission of that person, a drug, intoxicant, or other similar substance and thereby—

(A) substantially impairs the ability of that other person to appraise or control conduct; and

(B) engages in a sexual act with that other person; or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for any term of years or life, or both.

(c) With Children.—Whoever crosses a State line with intent to engage in a sexual act with a person who has not attained the age of 12 years, or in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly engages in a sexual act with another person who has not attained the age of 12 years, or knowingly engages in a sexual act under the circumstances described in subsections (a) and (b) with another person who has attained the age of 12 years but has not attained the age of 16 years (and is at least 4 years younger than the person so engaging), or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for not less than 30 years or for life. If the defendant has previously been convicted of another Federal offense under this subsection, or of a State offense that would have been an offense under either such provision had the offense occurred in a Federal prison, unless the death penalty is imposed, the defendant shall be sentenced to life in prison.

(d) State of Mind Proof Requirement.—In a prosecution under subsection (c) of this section, the Government need not prove that the defendant knew that the other person engaging in the sexual act had not attained the age of 12 years.

  • 2242. Sexual abuse

Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly—

(1) causes another person to engage in a sexual act by threatening or placing that other person in fear (other than by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person will be subjected to death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping); or

(2) engages in a sexual act with another person if that other person is—

(A) incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct; or

(B) physically incapable of declining participation in, or communicating unwillingness to engage in, that sexual act; or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

  • 2243. Sexual abuse of a minor or ward

(a) Of a Minor.—Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly engages in a sexual act with another person who—

(1) has attained the age of 12 years but has not attained the age of 16 years; and

(2) is at least four years younger than the person so engaging; or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both.

(b) Of a Ward.—Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly engages in a sexual act with another person who is—

(1) in official detention; and

(2) under the custodial, supervisory, or disciplinary authority of the person so engaging; or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both.

(c) Defenses.—(1) In a prosecution under subsection (a) of this section, it is a defense, which the defendant must establish by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant reasonably believed that the other person had attained the age of 16 years.

(2) In a prosecution under this section, it is a defense, which the defendant must establish by a preponderance of the evidence, that the persons engaging in the sexual act were at that time married to each other.

(d) State of Mind Proof Requirement.—In a prosecution under subsection (a) of this section, the Government need not prove that the defendant knew—

(1) the age of the other person engaging in the sexual act; or

(2) that the requisite age difference existed between the persons so engaging.

  • 2244. Abusive sexual contact

(a) Sexual Conduct in Circumstances Where Sexual Acts Are Punished by This Chapter.—Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly engages in or causes sexual contact with or by another person, if so to do would violate—

(1) subsection (a) or (b) of section 2241 of this title had the sexual contact been a sexual act, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than ten years, or both;

(2) section 2242 of this title had the sexual contact been a sexual act, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than three years, or both;

(3) subsection (a) of section 2243 of this title had the sexual contact been a sexual act, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than two years, or both;

(4) subsection (b) of section 2243 of this title had the sexual contact been a sexual act, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than two years, or both; or

(5) subsection (c) of section 2241 of this title had the sexual contact been a sexual act, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

(b) In Other Circumstances.—Whoever, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or in a Federal prison, or in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the head of any Federal department or agency, knowingly engages in sexual contact with another person without that other person’s permission shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

(c) Offenses Involving Young Children.—If the sexual contact that violates this section (other than subsection (a)(5)) is with an individual who has not attained the age of 12 years, the maximum term of imprisonment that may be imposed for the offense shall be twice that otherwise provided in this section.

  • 2246. Definitions for chapter

As used in this chapter—

(1) the term “prison” means a correctional, detention, or penal facility;

(2) the term “sexual act” means—

(A) contact between the penis and the vulva or the penis and the anus, and for purposes of this subparagraph contact involving the penis occurs upon penetration, however slight;

(B) contact between the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or the mouth and the anus;

(C) the penetration, however slight, of the anal or genital opening of another by a hand or finger or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person; or

(D) the intentional touching, not through the clothing, of the genitalia of another person who has not attained the age of 16 years with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person;

(3) the term “sexual contact” means the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person;

(4) the term “serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that involves a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty;

(5) the term “official detention” means—

(A) detention by a Federal officer or employee, or under the direction of a Federal officer or employee, following arrest for an offense; following surrender in lieu of arrest for an offense; following a charge or conviction of an offense, or an allegation or finding of juvenile delinquency; following commitment as a material witness; following civil commitment in lieu of criminal proceedings or pending resumption of criminal proceedings that are being held in abeyance, or pending extradition, deportation, or exclusion; or

(B) custody by a Federal officer or employee, or under the direction of a Federal officer or employee, for purposes incident to any detention described in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, including transportation, medical diagnosis or treatment, court appearance, work, and recreation;

but does not include supervision or other control (other than custody during specified hours or days) after release on bail, probation, or parole, or after release following a finding of juvenile delinquency; and

(6) the term “State” means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth, possession, or territory of the United States.

Valentine’s Test: How To Find Out If You Have A Keeper This Valentine’s Day

How do you know if the person you’re dating is a keeper? I get this question all the time from clients, conference goers – even from friends. And when Valentine’s Day comes around, many people are drawn to evaluate their relationship compatibility and happiness. There’s something about watching a sea of couples descend upon local restaurants, bars and bistros that makes you wonder, “Are they happy?” and then comes the inevitable, “Are we happy?”

In order to help couples evaluate their relationships more easily this Valentine’s season, I’ve come up with a list of questions that will not only provide food for thought, but might even initiate a communication breakthrough. It always amazes me how couples can go for weeks, months, even years without diving deep and connecting on core values, beliefs and goals. I’ve even counseled newlyweds who are shocked to discover they don’t agree on whether or not to have kids.

You don’t need to barrage your lover with all 50 questions at once, but scan the list for the ones that stand out to you. For example, maybe you already know how your partner likes to relax, but you’d love to know when they last had a good cry, or what they consider their most prize possession. This list is good for couples who have just started dating, or are in a relationship.

Explore together with these Valentine’s Day compatibility questions:

  1. What is the worst thing a past date could say about you?
  2. What is your most precious possession?
  3. List the best qualities you have to bring to a relationship.
  4. Do you think you need to make any personal improvements? If so, what?
  5. What are your biggest fears about relationships?
  6. Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?
  7. Apart from your appearance, what is the first thing that people notice about you?
  8. What is one thing that people do not notice about you right away that you wish they would?
  9. What are 3 things that you cannot live without?
  10. What is your definition of intimacy?
  11. What was the most fun date you ever had?
  12. What is your favorite way to relax?
  13. What disgusts you?
  14. When was the last time you cried?
  15. What do you like to spend money on?
  16. How much money do you need a year to be comfortable?
  17. How would you describe a perfect date?
  18. What 3 qualities must your partner have?
  19. What is the worst habit that you have?
  20. What would you do if you and your partner had a mismatched sex drive?
  21. Describe yourself in one word.
  22. What makes you angry?
  23. Would you say that you are more dominant or submissive?
  24. Who or what do you love?
  25. What do you feel is the biggest success you have achieved in your life?
  26. How many times have you been in love?
  27. Would you rather your partner was funny, seductive, smart or nurturing?
  28. When do you feel most vulnerable?
  29. What lessons have you learned from past relationships?
  30. What is a relationship deal-breaker for you?
  31. What was your most embarrassing relationship moment?
  32. What is your favorite part of your body?
  33. What’s your favorite romantic, sensual or sexual activity?
  34. What makes you believe that you are ready for a relationship?
  35. What turns you on?
  36. What turns you off?
  37. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
  38. What’s the most hurtful criticism you’ve ever received?
  39. Are you fanatical about anything?
  40. What is the biggest failure or drawback you have ever experienced?
  41. Can you overlook anything from your partner’s past?
  42. Do you have any inhibitions?
  43. What do you love about yourself the most?
  44. What are you not willing to change for a relationship?
  45. What do you think are the benefits of being in a relationship?
  46. Do you believe in monogamy?
  47. How do you feel about having kids?
  48. If we have kids, what would your parenting style be?
  49. What would you do if your partner became physically disabled?
  50. What scares you?

If you’re feeling nervous about launching into this kind of couples’ self-discovery, try answering the questions just for yourself at first, and see what comes up for you. Grab a journal and write down your answers to whichever questions pique your interest, and let your feelings flow freely, without judgment. Insight into your own opinions and personal choices can only help foster clarity within the relationship, plus you’ll be one step closer to opening up a mutual dialogue and taking your intimacy to new heights.

May all your Valentine’s wishes come true!

Take This Sexual Assault Survey

The #MeToo phenomenon is unfolding all around us. Every day there is a new celebrity or politician being accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. And those are the only ones that we hear about. As a woman, I’m thrilled that this conversation is moving past the arena of therapist’s offices, and onto the world stage. As a Sexologist, I have so many questions. Why is it happening now? Is it going to end with a fairer world for women? Have views about sexual assault changed over generations?

Anthropologist and sexologist Dr. Leanna Wolfe has been studying people’s views on sexual assault and is currently gathering information on her study called What Is Sexual Assault? I urge everyone to take it now, and help her research become broader and more accurate.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WhatisSexualAssault

How would you rate the statement, “Is it possible for a man to be raped by a woman?” True or false? What about, “An unwanted pat on the back is sexual assault?” What one person considers assault might be another’s definition of “old school charm.” One woman’s definition of flattery or mild flirtation may be another woman’s idea of inappropriate harassment. There is so much grey area in the arena of sexual assault, that I find myself craving research like Dr. Wolfe’s to make sense of all the nuance, subtleties and not-so-subtleties.

I find it fascinating, for example, that survey participants across the board seem to have a pretty good handle on the definitions of ‘No means No’ and ‘Yes means Yes,’ but when it comes to things like whether vindictive women can ruin a man’s life with rape accusations or whether men are more insensitive about inappropriate touch than any other time in history, millennials and baby boomer generations are miles apart. So, what is happening in society? Studies like this can help us discover more about ourselves.

If we’re going to heal from the onslaught of sexual trauma, knowledge will be the key to our power. And learning about the history of sexual assault is important, so that we can understand how the society we live in has evolved.

Dr. Wolfe presented her research on Sexual Assault: A culture in turmoil… at the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexology, that begins with sexual assault in the Amazon, where Yanomami women would be raped if they attempted to run away from their home. Her research covers heinous crimes in India, where women have been gang raped and murdered by men and family members.

But sexual assault didn’t become part of the national conversation in the United States until the fall of 2016 when President Donald Trump is shown in a 2005 news clip bragging about groping attractive women. Brock Turner, a Stanford student and athlete was given a short jail sentence for raping an intoxicated unconscious woman at a frat party in January 2015. I wonder if now, even just two years later, views would be different at that trial, where the victim’s statement went viral as Turner’s father referred to the rape as “20 minutes of action.” Turner served just three months in jail. A few months after that, the popularity of a documentary film, The Hunting Ground reignited the debate over campus rape. The fact is that since 1987, six national studies – including one released in early 2016 by the Department of Justice show that as many as one in four women are sexually assaulted at college.

These sad statistics bring us to the current “Me Too” movement where a light has been shone on the sheer numbers of women (and men) who have been sexually harassed or assaulted in their lifetimes. Unwanted sexual behavior is rampant, and now that it’s finally in the spotlight, let’s move the discussion forward to solutions. And the first step is to really dig in to documenting the thoughts and beliefs we hold about men, women, sexuality, and what it means to be assaulted.

Take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WhatisSexualAssault