A recent study about the impact of providing women with a safe place to talk about sex, confirmed the importance of community during Awaken-Love classes. Though I suspected the importance of sharing and processing with other women, until now, I didn’t have any real evidence.
In the study, small groups of women met once a week for four weeks. To encourage conversation the women agreed not to judge each other or give advice. Each week they answered a prompt like,“what kind of messages did you receive as a child around sexuality?” Or “how do you feel about your body or about masturbation.” These simple questions helped them process past experiences and become more self aware. After only four weeks, women not only improved their feelings about themselves but they started making positive changes in their marriage.
Statistically, things like desire, arousal and orgasm all increased for the women. Overall, sexual function increased 20%, but just as important sexual distress, or worrying about sex, decreased 28%. The open conversations with other women helped to normalize their own experiences. They became more accepting of themselves and excited to explore what worked for them. Talking about sex in groups also equipped them to talk to their husbands in order to improve their sex life. Another common side benefit for many women, was talking to their kids about sex for the very first time. Talking about sex with other women helped them not only embrace their own sexuality, but inspired them to make a difference for the next generation.
In Awaken Love classes I have personally witnessed the power of women talking about sex with other women. We use mixer questions every week like, “How did you learn about sex?” or “When have you the felt the closest to your husband and why?” Weekly, opportunities are given to share what women are learning through the homework or reading. On baggage week, we share about our sexual baggage. At first most women feel timid talking about sex, but as we establish trust, they open up.
In class, the most important thing a facilitator does is to create a judgement free zone for conversation. If women are going to be honest, they must feel safe. We must not only guard our words, but the tone of our voice and facial expression as we share in group. Respectful conversation must be maintained – both in what we talk about and how we talk about it. We don’t need to arouse or tantalize others with graphic details. We share in general, respectful ways. Talking about sex empowers us, equips us and encourage others.
When women gently share about their struggles, they don’t feel so alone. When regrets are met with compassion and grace, women receive healing. Steps of growth challenge and spur others on towards their own growth. And just like in the study, women begin talking about sex both with their husband and their kids. Talking about sex can be a powerful way to help women embrace their sexuality and ultimately change the world.
It is important to learn to talk about sex in respectful, God honoring ways. When we do, we will not only improve our own sex lives, we will help others.