Sex Educator Profiles: Sarah Sloane
What led you to become a Sex Educator?
Initially it was because of the men in the leather club that I pledged; they impressed upon me the need for everyone in the community to give something back, and they asked me to teach them what I knew about knife play; I found out after doing a few classes for them and for the other local kink group that I not only had a passion for educating, I really enjoyed watching class attendees embracing new ideas and new ways of having great sex & kink – so I kept teaching!
How did you start giving sex advice?
Back in late middle school, I was the only girl who had read a copy of Our Bodies Our Selves, so I had the information – even though I didn’t really know what to do with it! Years later, as I started to become more involved in the kink community, I found that there were tons of people who didn’t understand the basics, so I started researching and going to classes in order to be able to pass along information to others.
Where did you get your education in sexuality?
As I mentioned in a previous answer, my main initial source of information was Our Bodies, Our Selves; over the years I’ve been an eager explorer and have looked to both people and printed resources to learn more (including the old fashioned “try it” method!).
What do you love about giving sex advice?
I love seeing people become more empowered by learning more about their bodies, their emotions, and their relationships, as well as the techniques that they need in order to get what they want. Once they feel empowered &
What is your most common question?
There isn’t a most common question – my list of classes is so varied that there’s not even really a “common class” – but the types of questions I most often hear are from people who want to create more intimacy and trust in their relationships. Whether it’s a class on g-spot or anal play, or a class on heavy BDSM skills, I believe that a huge focus for most people is on creating positive change in their relationships, and how various sexual / kink techniques can strengthen & open those relationships up to even more amazing possibilities.
What is the most difficult or hard-to-answer question you’ve ever received?
When teaching a class on polyamory for non-primary partners, an attendee in the back row (who had been obviously emotional for the whole class) raised their hand and asked, “So, when you’ve identified your needs and you’ve asked for them to be met, and they haven’t been getting met, what do you do then?” It honestly broke my heart; most of us have been in a relationship situation where we had to decide if it was worth staying, and it was obvious that she was in that place, doing just that. It also brought out a lot of visible emotion from other attendees, so I asked permission to take a few moments to talk about making that decision of whether to stay in the relationship if our needs aren’t being met (or even acknowledged), and we as a class discussed it. It was one of the most challenging moments I’ve had as an educator, but because of that, I hope that it gave a number of people in the class the support that they needed at that time, and that I did my best to create that safe space for them.
What is your favorite sex toy and why?
My hands! Honestly – I can use them with force and finesse, I can explore the inside and outside of my partners bodies, I can play 100% safe with them by simply putting on gloves, I get immediate feedback through the sensations I feel, and they’re infinitely creative.
How do you think your book/film/website is different from others out there?
My website is really more of a resource for other folks about who I am and what I think is important; I am not a sex blogger (try as I might!), nor do I review bunches of cool stuff. I do write & put up links to my writing there, and occasionally when I feel like I have something important to talk about, I’ll do it there, but it’s primarily a way for folks to stay in contact with what I’m doing and what classes & services I offer.
Where do you teach? If you travel, what is it like? Where was your favorite place to teach? Most unusual panel or experience?
I teach pretty much anywhere that asks me. I’ve traveled from my home base (the Washington, DC area) all over the northeast, into the midwest, California, Canada, and New Zealand. My favorite places to teach are often kink camping events (Leather Retreat, Dark Odyssey:Summer Camp, Spank Festival, TEASE); they are usually more laid back than hotel events, and since I have all weekend I can take a lot more time with attendees to answer their questions and encourage them to give something new a try!
My most nervewracking experience was teaching a class on Polyamory years ago and having Tristan Taormino in the front row. Having to speak in front of one of my role models was terrifying enough, but knowing that she was so well-versed in the topic I was talking about made it one of those “We’re not worthy!” moments. She asked some amazing questions, and was so engaged in the discussion that my nerves slipped away pretty quickly, thankfully – and it was good experience for the times since that I’ve had people whose work I admire and follow sitting in the group that I’m teaching.
What was the most interesting thing you learned in your exploration of sex?
We *say* that everyone is different, but I’ve found it to be the absolute truth. I hear people in every class talk about what works for them, and I learn something new with every experience I hear about. In fact, the last time I taught my g-spot class at Good Vibrations in Brookline, one of my students showed me a different technique that I’d never used – and I’ve since passed that along to other students who’ve found it very helpful for them to get the kind of stimulation that they’ve been wanting!
How has what you’ve done or found at Good Vibrations helped you?
Good Vibrations has really set the stage for sex educators like me to do the work we’re doing in front of such diverse groups. It’s commitment to quality products and education makes it easy for me to suggest GV to people as shopping location, as well as to know that the items & books that I recommend can be found all in one spot (especially because I tend to be very picky about the quality of what I recommend to students). On a personal level, teaching classes at Good Vibes is highly rewarding, as I feel like I’m offering my knowledge to people that would never come to some of the other venues I teach in, and that I can leave them “in the hands” of the staff who are eminently able to help students find the right item for them to explore with.
What would be your number one piece of advice for someone interested in a career of sex education?
Only follow it to the point that you’re passionate about it. There are lots of ways to make a positive impact in sex education & sex positivity; teaching face to face is only one. I have seen some people push to become sex educators who find that they really don’t get a charge out of teaching diverse groups of people – and while it’s okay to feel that way, it does significantly limit the effectiveness. Do what feels great for you – work should be something that sustains us and feeds us, and brings us to a fuller sense of who we are in the world; if this is it, fantastic! The world needs you to teach! If it’s not? Find another way to educate – through writing, sex therapy or coaching, counseling, or any other way that gets your message across and leaves you feeling great.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned or best advice you’ve received?
Never “ Never, never – make an assumption about someone based on what you see or hear. The ultra femme person in the back of the room might identify as a male, and might resent being referred to as “she”; the apparently conservative, white middle class folks up front might be the kinkiest people you’ll ever meet. The least-attractive (to you!) person in the room might have a fantastic sex life – far better than yours or mine. And the person that looks like they have it all together might be the one in the most need of assurance that they’re okay.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about sex?
That this is all hard stuff. Really – it’s about pleasure – and the biggest barrier to the experience of pleasure is our own minds. The best combination of all, when it comes to enjoying yourself, is your attitude towards pleasure and your willingness to be creative. When we can relax and laugh, and think about doing things in different ways, our sex lives (whether it’s penetrative sex, or kinky sex, or dirty talk – or whatever!) can blossom in ways that we might not have expected.
Which is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
I honestly don’t know – I love the projects that I’ve worked on in the past, but I have a new concept for helping other sex educators that I’m working on getting off the ground. Stay tuned to my website for more details!
What is your best piece of sex advice for women?
Honor your own boundaries, and speak up for your needs. If it doesn’t feel good – change it, change how you look at it, or don’t do it. The GGG (good, giving, and game) concept for the type of “girlfriend” that we should be is great, but only up to a point – we need that same attitude from our partner if we’re going to try new things, or we’ll end up feeling taken advantage of. Your pleasure is worth your energy and time!
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on a few anthologies for the Power Exchange book series, rolling out a business geared towards sex positive professionals, writing for various websites, and planning two books on service.
Where can people find out more about you?
My website is SarahSloane.net – and I’m easily internet stalk-able.