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February 17, 2020 3 min read

When I talk about my experience with BodySex workshops and my ongoing study to become a workshop facilitator myself, the most common question I’m asked is, ‘what is BodySex?’

BodySex is a multi-day workshop for people with vulvas to focus on overcoming negative body image and pleasure-inhibiting anxieties. The workshops are conducted nude, and there are deeply intimate examinations of self that are shared in the circle, but it’s not sexual.

It seems strange to a lot of people that activities like ‘Genital Show and Tell’ and ‘Erotic Recess’ aren’t sexual or arousing, but BodySex isn’t about performative sexuality or ‘sexiness’. It is about healing ourselves through connection and being pragmatic in our approach to our bodies and pleasure.

BodySex workshops and facilitator training have been developed over decades by the legendary Betty Anne Dodson. BodySex is based on the consciousness raising model of second wave feminism which acknowledges that there is an undeniably important value to women sharing space and experiences first hand.

I went to the United States in 2018 specifically to do a BodySex workshop. I couldn’t afford much more than the cost of the workshop and flights. In the lead up, my often anxious mind was reasonably easy to calm and I entered Betty’s apartment in Manhattan feeling open, rested, present and engaged. I managed my expectations, I allowed those two workshop days to be what they needed to be and I absorbed every drop of the experience.

After the workshop it became abundantly clear to me that I now needed to complete the BodySex facilitator training. BodySex filled my heart up. It nourished me both as a woman and as a sexual being. It clearly showed me the tools and skills I needed to further develop if I wanted to share this learning effectively with other people. I knew I just had to create a BodySex practice at home in Melbourne, Australia.

I began the academic work earlier this year and tackled the mighty reading list. I worked my ass off and returned to the US in July, where I attended the week-long retreat and completed the facilitator training. I have thought long and hard about what I want my BodySex circles to look like. And more importantly, I have had so many brilliant conversations with people from all walks of life about the ways this work could serve them.

There are some fundamental elements to BodySex but there is also a lot of room for interpretation - a freedom to shape your workshops into the form that best fits you and what you can offer to your community. In its barest form, a BodySex circle will have: a welcome and introduction, Genital Show and Tell, a Naming and Claiming Circle, Group Share/s, a Rock & Roll Orgasm demo, Erotic Recess, Group Massage and plenty of breaks, snacks and time for questions in between.

There is a vast capacity for healing and bonding in these activities, to sitting in circle and stepping up to our naked selves. To communicating openly and honestly. It is a precious and special experience for people to devote two whole days to their bodies and sexuality. In this time, we are able to truly focus inwards without interruption, and in the company of people that, despite beginning as strangers, we learn have had some startlingly similar experiences to us.

I have felt profoundly called to sex, sexuality, self-love, healing and pragmatic, secular sex education and expression for most of my adult life. BodySex is a brilliant framework for accessible and safe exploration. Pleasure can be spiritual but it certainly does not have to be. Ultimately, we all deserve to invest in our sexuality without needing that desire and effort to be framed under any particular model other than wanting to feel good, and to know our bodies.

The pursuit of becoming the very best sexual being we can be, for ourselves, is absolutely worthwhile. I know this firsthand, and I look forward to completing my BodySex certification so I am able to sit in circle and share this for many years to come.

- Jane Louise

Jane Louise is the founder of Hand On Your Heart Sexuality & WellnessYou can find Jane on Instagram at @handonyourheartmelbourne and on Twitter at @HandOnHeart_au.

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