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To say we #taboogirls are OBSESSED with one of our Favorite Chicagoans is an understatement. She’s our go-to girl for basically anything close to our hearts and minds and for some really important reasons. She’s a pleasure-positive Sex Therapist and Educator as well as the Chief Operating Officer (A.K.A #BOSSLADY) for Intraspectrum Chicago, an LGBTQ-Affirmative psychotherapy practice in Chicago. On February 10th Rena is leading an amazing workshop for us in our brand new space called Expanding Pleasure: How one simple equation will change your sex life forever. In her workshop she’s going to lead participates through an adventure to expand their capacity for pleasure as well as understand what their turn-ons and off’s are. We got super lucky to have a few minutes to sit down with her and ask her some questions.
Get Your Tickets Here for Rena McDaniel @Taboo Tabou; Expanding Pleasure February 10th 2016
Q/A With Rena McDaniel
My interest in Sex Therapy and Sexuality Education happened very organically. Through my work with the LGBTQ population and trauma, I started hearing more and more sexual concerns that were impacting folk’s lives. I developed a passion for helping these folks break down barriers and develop new pathways for pleasure and fulfillment.
I’m also a human who has been on a journey of self-discovery for quite a while, a journey that has taken some turns that are surprising, delightful, and painful (sometimes all at the same time).
Who inspires you the most in the world of sexual education?
There are so many incredible voices out there in the world of sexuality education. My current sex ed hero is Emily Nagoski. Her new book, “Come As You Are” changed the way I viewed the systems that govern pleasure and serves as the basis for my upcoming workshop, “Expanding Pleasure: How one simple equation will change your sex life forever”
What’s your favorite ways to spice it up/add adventure in the bedroom?
Oh, fun question! And I’m going to give you what some of you folks might consider a boring answer. Slow down and get curious. Many times, spicing things up is less about what toys/role-play/etc you add and more about tuning back into your own body and sensations. You might be surprised at what you discover when you get curious about the things that turn you on (and the things that turn you off). When you focus on slowing down and letting yourself really experience pleasure (and not rushing towards some sort of orgasmic goal), you give yourself a lot of more room for adventure and discovery. That said….
What are some toys/lubes/products you think are awesome?
I think toys/lubes/other products are a fantastic way to add variety and excitement into your sex life and expand SO many options to people with all different types of bodies and abilities. Despite some recent misinformed folks saying that lube isn’t important on major media (cough, cough), lube is incredibly important (and fun!) for everyone. In general, you want to find a lube that is as natural as possible, with as few ingredients that you can’t pronounce as possible. There are a lot of great brands out there, but I am pretty partial to UberLube. They have a great product and their bottles are pretty enough to sit on your nightstand. Also, silicone lube and silicone toys generally don’t go great together (chemistry, you know), so make sure to have a good water-based lube on hand as well. There is a lot more to know about lube than I can give in this snippet, so be sure to ask your friendly neighborhood feminist sex toy store employees for recommendations.
Toys have also come a long, long way in recent years with medical-grade silicone becoming standard and drastic improvements in design (battery powered Hitachi, anyone?). Lelo makes some really beautiful and functional toys, but there are so many other wonderful brands as well. One fairly recent development that I am excited about are the availability of products designed for trans and/or gender non-conforming folks of any body type-more comfy binders and packers, pumps and attachments designed for clitoris-owners, and vibrators designed for penis-owners. Anything that helps someone feel more comfortable in their body is going to dramatically increase that person’s capacity for pleasure.
If you were to say there was a sex-ed bible, for you, what would it be?
At the risk of sounding repetitive, I can’t recommend “Come As You Are” by Emily Nagoski highly enough. It is incredibly readable for any level of sexual knowledge and is backed by really great science.
What’s your favorite thing about Chicago?
So many things! I love that Chicago truly has something for everyone. I am incredibly blessed to be in a city that has so many welcoming spaces and events for queer folks and several informed and feminist-focused sex toy stores (like Taboo Taboo!), as well as resources/events for anyone wanting to explore their own sexuality in a more expansive way. I also love the energy of Chicago Sometimes I still drive along Lakeshore Drive at night and am in awe of how beautiful the city really is (I know, I know. I can’t help it. I’m a romantic at heart).
As a therapist,what are some of the services you can offer and how can I contact you regarding these?
If you are interested in reading more of my work or getting updates on future workshops and events, please sign up for my mailing list at practicalaudacity.com. You can also drop me a line on the site if you are looking for something specific. I also post a lot of fun stuff on my Practical Audacity Facebook page if you want to check that out.