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Natasha Helfer Parker interviews Dr. Jennifer Gunsaullus, PhD, a sociologist and sex educator of the popular In the Den with Dr. Jenn video podcast show. She recently gave an address at The New Narrative in San Diego titled Sex & The Price of Masculinity. She gives a detailed account of an encounter where, as a single, educated, mature woman, her date goes past the boundaries they had previously consented on — leaving her shocked at how this could have happened to her. They discuss how she handled the difficult conversations and reflections that ensued. Dr. Gunsaullus offers us a rare and vulnerable look into the complexities of consent. Not the type of consent that is obvious (i.e. don’t rape a woman when she is unconscious or inebriated) — but the more intricate power plays and sensual negotiations that occur during our dating experiences.
This podcast will be useful for single adults navigating the dating and sexual landscape. It will also be useful for parents to have some very frank discussions with their adolescents about what consent really means. Whether it’s intercourse or any other type of sexual activity, we all need to know how to communicate our wants, desires and plans. Especially with the gender messages we receive as a backdrop to communication going badly between dating partners. And the following note to parents: if watching her talk is uncomfortable, that’s perfectly normal. If watching the talk with your teens in uncomfortable (she has a worksheet available to help you do so), that’s perfectly normal. But if you are allowing that discomfort to steer you away from this type of opportunity because either it’s too difficult or you feel like your teen is too innocent to be introduced to such concepts, this podcast would encourage you to reconsider. Sexual assault and date rape are occurring at alarming rates — with repercussions that can last a lifetime. Our teens have more access to sexual information than ever before, and much of it not good or healthy. We have got to take ownership of having these types of conversations with our adolescents. They will be better prepared to make good, empowered decisions for themselves, and react correctly when others don’t. Natasha regularly sees young adults, single adults and adolescents within our church structure exploring their sexuality in a myriad of ways. We cannot ignore this reality just because their behavior may not fit our ideal of marital sex being the only type of sexuality we approve of. And many marriage partners can also use a healthy discussion on what consent looks like in their relationship as well.
Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, sociologist and sexologist, is a frequent speaker about sexual empowerment, healthy relationships, body image, erotic play, sexual health, women’s empowerment & nurturing, and mindfulness. She has presented two TEDx Talks, is a writer on sex and relationships, and a recurring intimacy expert on the San Diego morning news. Dr. Jenn is also an active philanthropist and leader within the Women Give San Diego donor’s circle. Her In the Den with Dr. Jenn educational video series has over a million hits on YouTube and she is an expert in the new documentary on masturbation, called Sticky: A (Self) Love Story. And, as a martial arts practitioner, she just was promoted to black belt in Soo Bahk Do (Korean karate)!
Resources mentioned during podcast:
Female Sexual Shame Hurts Us All Ted Talk
Sex: Mind full or Mindful? Ted Talk
Mindfulness and Sexuality at Mormon Mental Health Podcast
Miss Representation Documentary
The Mask You Live In Documentary
Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein
Thank you to Jeff Meyers for the intro and Peter & Mary Danzig of Otter Creek Duo for the concluding bumper music.
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, is the current past president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.