It’s the day before Thanksgiving here in the good old US of A. And all I can say is, I have plenty to be thankful for. My world is full of exciting people who give generously of themselves by coming by here and chatting with us. They enrich our lives immeasurably by bring us delightful entertainment and timely information about sex, sexuality and eroticism.
Today my friend and colleague, Kristen Knapick, returns for Part 2 of our conversation for this the SEX WISDOM series. We had such a marvelous time together last week. I learned so much about her remarkably innovative style and her special outreach to sexual minorities in her private practice.
But wait, you didn’t miss Part 1 of our chat, did you? Well not to worry if ya did, because you can find it and all my podcasts in the Podcast Archive right here on my site. All ya gotta do is use the search function in the header; type in Podcast #309 and Voilà! But don’t forget the #sign when you do your search.
I think you’ll agree; we have been on quite a roll with the SEX WISDOM series. Over the last couple months I’ve been able to bring you a wide variety of intelligent and thought provoking interviews with some of the most interesting movers and shakers in the field of human sexuality; people who are making news and helping us take a fresh look at our sexual selves. Today I’m happy to add to that illustrious lineup and I don’t even have leave the Emerald City to do so. I am proud to welcome to my show fellow therapist, Kristen Knapick.
Curiously enough, despite living in the same town, being in the same line of work and having numerous friends and colleagues in common; Kristen and I met for the first time just recently. That’s not to say that I didn’t know of her; I certainly did. I heard tell of her remarkably innovative style and the uniquely sensitive outreach she brings to her private practice. So, when we finally met, it was like meeting an old friend. I think you’ll be as impressed as I when you meet her in a few moments.
Few things are as magical as the female orgasm, whether you are experiencing it, inducing it, or just a casual observer. It is essentially pure art in motion. Yet, there are many things we don’t know about the phenomenon, scientifically speaking, such as, why it exists. Scientists have been pondering this for centuries.
Apart from vestigial organs, there are few structures in the body we don’t know the function of. It seems that the clitoris is there merely for pleasure. But would evolution invest so much in such a fanciful aim? Over the years, dozens of theories have been posited and hotly debated.
One prevailing theory is the “byproduct hypothesis.” The penis gives pleasure in order to drive males toward intercourse and ensure the perpetuation of the species. The sex organs are one of the last things developed in utero. Due to this, and the fact that women develop their pleasure organ from the same physical structure the penis is formed from, the clitoris is therefore a “byproduct” of the penis. You could imagine how some women feel about this theory.
Another is the mate-choice hypothesis. Here, it is thought that since a woman take longer to “get there,” it would pay for her to find a mate invested in her pleasure. A considerate lover would make a good father, the theory posits. Yet, the female orgasm happens rarely during penetrative intercourse, undercutting this theory.
Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy. By: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. 1606.
Researchers at Yale University posed this theory, in a study published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B Molecular and Developmental Evolution. Gunter Wagner was its co-author. He is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the university. According to him, previous research has been looking in the wrong place. It focused on how human biology itself changed over time.
Instead, these Yale researchers began by analyzing a large swath of species and the mechanisms present in females associated with reproduction. Wagner and colleagues also looked at the genitalia of placental mammals. They focused on two hormones released during penetrative intercourse across species, prolactin and oxytocin.
Prolactin is responsible for the processes surrounding breast-milk and breast feeding, while oxytocin is the “calm and cuddle” hormone. It helps us to bond and feel closer to others. Placental mammals in the wild need these two hormones to trigger ovulation. Without them, the process cannot occur.
One major insight researchers found is that in other species, mammalian ovulation is induced by contact with males, whereas in humans and other primates, it is an automatic process operating outside of sexual activity, called spontaneous ovulation. From here, they looked at those female mammals who induce ovulation through sexual contact with males. In those species, the clitoris is located inside the vagina.
Evolutionary biologists believe that spontaneous ovulation first occurred, in the common ancestor of primates and rodents, around 75 million years ago. From here, Wagner and colleagues deduced that the female orgasm must have been an important part of reproduction in early humans. Before spontaneous ovulation, the human clitoris may have been placed inside the vagina. Stimulation of the clitoris during intercourse would trigger the release of prolactin and oxytocin, which would in turn, induce ovulation. This process became obsolete once spontaneous ovulation made it onto the scene.
“It is important to stress that it didn’t look like the human female orgasm looks like now,” said Mihaela Pavličev, Wagner’s co-author of this study. “Homologous traits in different species are often difficult to identify, as they can change substantially in the course of evolution.” She added, “We think the hormonal surge characterizes a trait that we know as female orgasm in humans. This insight enabled us to trace the evolution of the trait across species.”
While the hypothesis is compelling, it has drawbacks. The biggest is that it’s difficult, if not impossible, at least currently, to investigate what, if any, sexual pleasure other female animals derive during copulation. Other experts say, more data is needed from other organisms to shore up this theory. Still, it seems the most persuasive argument to date.
To learn more about the biological basis of the female orgasm, click here:
Bodies do some pretty astonishing things. Everything from love to sex to reproduction is such a personal experience, and each experience means a different thing to each person. It is extraordinary when you consider all the experiences your body has allowed you to have and will allow you to have.
However, in order to understand these magnificent experiences, we need to gain a better understanding about our bodies as a whole. This will allow us to create and facilitate healthy sexual experiences and make healthy decisions about our bodies.
Sexual education does not stop at high school or middle school, it should continue in college. ASU provides STI testing to students, but not much is provided for students who do not have extensive sexual education. Of the programs provided at ASU, most are centered around sexual assault and not exactly sexual health.
Educating yourself about your body can include anything from reading about your anatomy to sexual exploration. It’s a personal learning experience, and it’s up to you to decide how you do it and with whom you share it.
Many people believe that their bodies are too complex and intricate that they are impossible to understand without a medical degree.
For example, it’s a common expectation for women to orgasm via penetration alone, when in fact this is only possible for 25 percent of women. Similarly, many people do not know that men have a G-spot. There countless other misconceptions about anatomy and sexuality that can curb positive sexual experiences.
It’s exceptionally important to learn about our bodies. We can’t expect to have good sex lives if we do not understand how our bodies function.
Knowing and understanding one’s body can be really overwhelming and difficult for some. A lot of people are very reserved when it comes to sex, which is completely okay.
“‘Normal’ has a wide range of possibilities,” Dr. David Glassman, an OB/GYN and member of the Phoenix OB/GYN Society, said. “Having knowledge of your body plays a role in feeling comfortable with yourself and (your) sexuality as well.”
Every person’s body is different. We can more easily celebrate this by learning about our bodies and understanding that our bodies do not have to look a certain way.
If we know our bodies, we can learn what feels good. This will enable us to communicate more effectively with our partners. As a result, we can develop healthier sexual relationships in which each partner feels fulfilled.
“As time has gone on sexuality has opened up a lot and has become more acceptable. People are much more comfortable talking about it. The more you know and understand the safer (your experiences) will be,” Glassman said.
Educating ourselves on this subject will also teach us about sexual experiences we do not feel comfortable with. This will allow us to prepare for when these situations arise, so that we can make healthy decisions and be able to accurately give and receive consent.
Learning and exploring our bodies will allow us to foster healthier body images, healthier sex lives and healthier relationships.By understanding ourselves and how our bodies work we can begin to construct more fulfilling lives and experiences as a whole.
A workshop and book signing event with refreshments for The Gospel of Kink by me, Richard “Dr. Dick” Wagner, Ph.D., ACS.
When: 09/21/13 3PM to 4:30PM (formal presentation starts at 3:30pm) Where: Annex Who: Anyone 18+ with ID Cost: $10
(No other CSPC discounts or AYCE cards applicable.)
Purchase Advance Tickets HERE! Enter discount code — E8F3Y — to get $5.00 off admission.
Book signing: 4:30pm – 5pm FREE
I will discuss the topic of my latest book: Building, Maintaining, and Deepening Kink Relationships Through Effective Communication. I will be joined by four of our favorite seasoned kinky, BDSM, and alt culture personalities (they contributed to the book) for a fun, lively, and stimulating panel discussion and Q&A. All we be on hand for a book signing afterward.
About the book:
The Gospel of Kink is a workshop in book form. Its innovative and interactive format presents the reader with numerous situations and dilemmas that arise as people embrace their kinkiness and integrate their eroticism into daily life.
The Gospel of Kink is on the cutting edge of the sex-positive and kink-aware movements. This workbook helps the reader break free from the painful silence the dominant culture imposes on alt culture and those of us on the sexual fringe.
The Gospel of Kink provides an opportunity to learn from people just like you. Its on-the-page workshop features a group of ten fictional characters who are your fellow participants. In addition, it includes a panel of actual seasoned kinky, BDSM, and alt culture practitioners who share their expertise and life experience with you.
The Gospel of Kink engages you with numerous exercises and homework. As a workshop participant, you will complete A Personal Alt Relationship Inventory, discuss the Essentials of Effective Communication, identify Tools and Techniques for Navigating Alt Relationship Conflicts, and learn how to Keep Things Fresh and Interesting.
The Gospel of Kink provides a safe and secure place for you to air your concerns without fear of being judged for how you live your life or with whom you choose to live it. You will learn within a framework of honesty, activity, alliance, support, and humor.
The Gospel of Kink is a workbook designed primarily for the modern kinkster, but not exclusively. Family, friends, healing and helping professionals, teachers, students, indeed anyone who wishes to further understand and better communicate with those they know on the sexual fringe, will benefit from this book.
About The Contributors
Samantha is a bisexual switch who has been a part of the SM and swinger communities for 12 years. Her favorite motto, which she uses for both worlds is, “If it isn’t fun, then why the fuck do it?” Following in a tradition of her own creation, she would never claim to know the One True Way. And would not spend much time (let alone play) with anyone who would say such things. She is an active volunteer and she has several causes (kinky and not) that she supports.
Byrdie is currently a student who is trying to find ways to recover from codependency in every aspect of her life including romantic relationships, friendships, and work. She says she is learning to tell the difference between her instincts and knee-jerk reactions to triggers. She’s also learning not to be so afraid of failure. As she says, she has just as much right to ask for things, speak out, act, and follow her dreams as anyone else. Byrdie now says she is a hedonist. She wants what she wants when she wants it. She prefers primal play (punching, biting, scratching, growling) and deep thud sensations. And she has a fondness for Daddy/Girl play. She identifies as someplace between bisexual, pansexual, and heteroflexible, and is working to improve trust and sensual intimacy with other women. She is one of the earliest members of the Center for Sex Positive Culture. She is an avid attendee at culture-oriented workshops and is easing back into the social scene. Most recently Byrdie initiated the Seattle edition of Mollena Williams’ “Know Your Negro,” a photography project intended to bring attention to the dearth of brown faces in the Kink/Leather world.
Jack Slash, aka Jack the Journeyman, has been a member of the Seattle Leather community since 1982, and a practitioner of S/M since 1974. Before the year 2002, he was known as “Dragon Xcalibur.” He holds two past Leather titles: Seattle Leatherwomon 1988 and Seattle Leather Ambassador 1997. In the eighties and nineties, he was a member of the now disbanded Leather doo-wop singing group, The Sluts from Hell. He teaches workshops, judges local and international contests on the West Coast, participates in local fund-raisers, and leads spirituality circles at Queer Leather events since the 1980′s in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, B.C. and San Francisco. Workshop presentations include-blood sports, branding, impact play, fear and terror, ritual sacrifice, and honeybees. He is a sought after speaker on the topic of S/M and gender fluidity within the Leather community. As part of a group of community elders he often shares his perspective on the Pacific Northwest Leather history. Jack says that S/M has informed his life and his personal spiritual path for more than thirty years bringing him lifelong friendships, great enlightenment, and much joy and pleasure.
Kristen Knapick, MA, LMHCA, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Seattle. She specializes in working with those for whom kink/poly/sex work/queerness/gender variance are a part of life whether the source of a problem or not. Her nearly 20 years of experience as a member of all of these communities gives her a unique, non-judgmental perspective on mental health within them, and her professional training has sharpened her skills. Kristen has presented material at Babeland, Powersurge, Living in Leather, The Center for Sex Positive Culture, Women In Kink, and Gender Odyssey. She has organized professional trainings for mental health providers on polyamory and BDSM, and created a research project to explore the aging of the transgender community and the ways in which our current system is unprepared for assisting these trailblazers. Currently, Kristen is working to raise awareness and visibility for the needs of trans/gender-nonconformists, sex workers, and kinky and/or polyamorous people within the mental health system.