Lovehoney Sex Expert Interview: Michelle Hope
Michelle Hope is not your average sexologist – she is an award-winning, passionate edu-tainer and combines her love of pop culture, entertainment, and sexuality into events and media content that educate and motivate.
A speaker with over 15 years of experience, Michelle has delivered lectures nationwide, working to help contemporary millennials make healthy decisions for their sex lives in pursuit of successful, holistic living.
She has trained and facilitated national programs for Harlem Children's Zone, Community Health Network, LAPD, Pacific Oaks College, and many others. Her sexual education seminars, lectures, and workshops educate on safe sexual practices and prevention, including therapeutic alliances dealing with trauma, reproductive justice, youth rights, LBGTQ inclusivity, parenting skills, and creating safe spaces and healthy relationships.
Talk to us about some of the holistic implications of sexuality on a person's life and how it intersects with an individual's various social identities.
In my experience, when people hear the word 'sexuality', their initial thoughts usually revolve around physical aspects like the assignment of sex at birth or the genital act of sex. However what most people don't realize is that from the womb to the tomb, sexuality is a part of their everyday life.
Holistic sexuality speaks to all aspects of being a whole person. Sexuality implicates the social, spiritual, psychological, and physical aspects that make us human and impact how we come to understand life.
We come to understand sexuality through an array of experiences throughout our lives that are influenced by our family, community norms, media, religion, and even laws.
How can people identify how their sexuality is impacting their day to day interactions?
Well for starters, get out of your own head and get out of the bedroom – sexuality is all around us. It is the common thread that connects all humanity, yet it is often the most difficult for us to talk about with ourselves, our mates, and in some cases, even our doctors.
We all come to understand and engage with sexuality in very personal ways depending on our exposure, education, values, and experiences. If, for a moment, you thought back to your childhood to recall the first time you remember learning about sex or sexuality, what would come to mind? For some, it might be awkward memories of that puberty class in school. For others, it might be an early childhood memory of becoming an older sibling and someone explaining where babies come from.
Unfortunately for some, the memories can be painful, riddled with shame, and rooted in trauma. All of us have some type of memory, and whether we are conscious of it or not, those early memories and life experiences over the years shape how we understand sexuality.
How can incorporating toys into the bedroom help strengthen and increase the level of play in a couple's sex life?
There are so many ways toys can enhance sex lives (coupled or solo!) in and out of the bedroom that it would be hard to get to all of them in just one answer. What jumps out to me however, is that toys provide opportunities for couples to talk.I am a firm believer that great sex and healthy relationships are built through strong communication.
Even if you and your partner are just beginning to explore toys, the very act of window shopping for one together can be highly erotic. Talking with your partner about what you think the toy would feel like while shopping for one will activate the fantasy files in your brain.
What are some of your very best tips to help couples fully express themselves to each other sexually?
Communication is a major key, so be honest and open and remember that great sex should be fulfilling for both parties. Of course, there might be times when your partner comes quicker than you, but you should be able to talk about it and work toward solutions together.
To be able to find solutions to sex issues, it is very important that you come to the relationship with honesty and open mindedness.
Another important tip is to make time for sex. If need be, calendar it! Yes, send a calendar invite if you have a busy, active life like most people.We must take time out of our schedules to tend to our own sexual needs as well as the needs of our lovers. In fact, some studies suggest that by calendaring sex, your brain gets excited for sex, which can actually improve the quality of the sex!
So let's say you have scheduled a sex date with your partner. Now what? You are going to need to disconnect and unplug. Put the phone down so you can really connect with your lover. Although setting up a calendar invite might seem like work, this should be something you look forward to, so don't stress yourself out about it, but do keep your appointment. Your genitals will thank you...
Maybe you and your lover have to work your way up to an actual sex calendar invite. If so, that's OK. Start small with blocking out 5-10 minutes a day to talk about fantasy. This time should be uninterrupted and with minimal distractions – no phone, no TV, no computer. Additionally, this is not a time to talk about kids, the car pool, or dishes. This time is to be dedicated to you, your lover, and the feelings you share for each other.
What's your favorite bedroom advice to give?
For the bedroom, I recommend that the only electronics allowed other than lights and alarms clocks are vibrators and sex toys. In my opinion, a bedroom should be a sanctuary of restfulness and relaxation. Large flat screens and computers only lead to distraction and restlessness!
To find out more about Michelle's work, visit www.mhsexpert.com.
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