Women, reclaim your sexuality on your own terms!
with Kate Balestrieri
Women never gave up their claim; it was stripped from them, finds Kate Balestrieri, PhD, licensed psychologist and certified sex addiction therapist. Women can build resilience and lead the life they want – sexually and holistically. During a Smart Sex, Smart Love podcast, Dr. Balestrieri talks about the challenges women face when it comes to sexuality, identity and vulnerability, and how they can reclaim their sexuality on their own terms.
Women often are treated in unwanted ways and society tolerates it, she professes. This is a challenge women constantly face. “Push back and punch down,” she advises women. Why are men allowed to demonstrate “weaponized incompetence,” she calls it, and expect women to be and do it all. “We end up being over functional to compensate for men’s weaponized incompetence that they use against us, but they still expect us to perform in bed,” she says. In this podcast, she also talks about the Madonna whore complex, sex after trauma, slutting (“Go slut, go!” she announces), and the constant cat and mouse game women must play. It’s time for women to have a positive, liberated and shame-free life.
JOE KORT 0:04
Welcome to Smart sex smart love, we’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboo and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. Today my podcast title is women plus sex, reclaiming sexuality on your own terms. My guest today is Dr. Kate Balistreri, a licensed psychologist, certified sex addiction therapist, pact therapist and founder of modern intimacy, a group therapy practice in Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Denver and Chicago. She’s a regular contributor to act push, P O S H, your tango and Psychology Today and serves as the in house expert for House of the whys of Jimmy Jane. Throughout her work, Dr. Balistreri focuses on helping people build resilience and recovery from their pain and discomfort and lead a life where they can thrive holistically. Today she’s going to talk with me about women reclaiming sexuality on their own terms. Welcome, Kate. Hi, Joe. Thanks so much for having me today. Oh, yeah, it’s so good to have you. I was telling. You know, I probably should have said this too. Before we are after we got on here. But it is like having a little bit of a celebrity because I watch all your videos even though I already know you, you know, some of the reaction. But yeah, you’re developing a persona and you’re educating and your videos are very good on Tik Tok. Oh, thank you. Thank you. I feel the same way about your videos I learned so much from you. Thank you right now I’m banned. Because I
want to talk to you at some point on this about why you I don’t know how if you get then some of your stuffs way more controversial than mine. All I did was talk about straight men who have sex with men, I repurposed my viral video, and someone flagged it as hate. It got submitted for an appeal, I won. But then you still have violated community guidelines. So I’m out for three days. You know, I hear you and I talk about this quite a bit on all the platforms, Instagram, Tik Tok all of them because I get banned frequently and repeatedly. And what I think is happening is people don’t like to challenge ideas that they have understood as truths. So when we start putting content out there, and that disrupts what people understand to be their truth about the world that they live in.
Kate Balestrieri 2:17
You know, they don’t like it and they experience it is really hard to handle. So they make complaints and then we get flagged.
JOE KORT 2:25
I know, do you have it saying that you could possibly be a view only thing you do.
Kate Balestrieri 2:30
I’ve taken a big break from Tik Tok because of all of the censorship, but also, it’s just a really hateful platform. So many people speak and leave comments that are just absolutely harassing. So I took a break.
JOE KORT 2:44
Yeah, that’s a good idea. Maybe my break is good, because they always tell me to take breaks, because I get so riled up, and I never do it. So it’s a forced break. When I say social media, you know, it’s like having a borderline response I’ve looked at the entire entity is like a borderline is in your room, you know?
Kate Balestrieri 3:00
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a really interesting way to think about it collectively, there’s a big fracture in the way that people respond to your content. You know, I’ve seen people who just love it and adore it, and idealize it and find so much value in it. And then people who really just want to destroy it.
JOE KORT 3:17
Well, we’re not gonna do that to your content today. No, and a lot, and I’ve so I mean, I could do this for an hour or more with you. But let’s start with the first question, which is, how do women reclaim sexuality on their own terms? And when did they give up this claim?
Kate Balestrieri 3:31
And I really love that you’re asking that question, because and the way that you’ve asked it, women never gave up the claim, right? Women’s autonomy around sex was stripped from them many, many, many, many, many years ago, I think around the Joseph Campbell era of history, and there was a shift where we used to collectively really value women worship women think that women were wonderful and equivalent with men, sexually and otherwise. And and then a real puritanical shift happened, I think, globally. And, you know, now we have had centuries upon centuries of sexism and all kinds of misogyny. And that process, that ideological shift is what really eradicated women’s connection to their own sexuality and the permission that they give themselves and that is given to them about how they can be sexual as opposed to being sexualized and commodified for their sexuality.
JOE KORT 4:30
Yeah, and I have noticed in your videos you’ve had to make from time to time, your own people objectifying you and having to put that in place. That’s got to be horrible.
Kate Balestrieri 4:40
It’s really frustrating. Yeah, especially you know, that there are content creators out there who, who are all about creating that kind of content. And I celebrate that I celebrate them, you know, having that autonomy and doing that. It’s not what I’m there for, and it’s not what a lot of women are there for and they receive that kind of objectification on a daily basis. As collectively, society just tolerates it. So I’m done tolerating it.
JOE KORT 5:05
Yeah, no. And you’re really what I like about your, your videos, even the way you speak is you say very strong things. But it’s done. The way you speak. I don’t know what the word is. But you’re it’s sort of soft, but firm and grounded. Didn’t want to tell you that.
Kate Balestrieri 5:20
Thank you. Yeah. When I used to work in the prison systems with sex offenders, I got a reputation as the velvet hammer.
JOE KORT 5:28
I love that exactly what you are. Yeah. I wish I was more like that. I’m very firm handed. And I’m Jewish. And I think that adds to the whole thing, you know,
Kate Balestrieri 5:37
and you’re also a man, so you can get away with that. If I start showing up like that I get called all kinds of harassing things.
JOE KORT 5:43
Yeah, right. And the whole thing about male female, like, I love I’m just gonna say, and I know, it’s because I haven’t been hurt by this. I do like to be objectified on tick tock. I like I have taken my I’m almost 59 years old, I can take my shirt off. And guys are like, and some women are like, into me, that feels so good. But I know it comes from a different place, because women are constantly treated the unwanted way.
Kate Balestrieri 6:03
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, I want to say I just really love the fact that you do that it has it has really sort of cemented for me the permission that we as providers, and as clinicians get to have to be whole humans, and I love it. So every time I see your videos, I’m like, yes, go, Joe. But, but to be clear, you know, I think a lot of people like to be desired. But objectified feels very different, especially when women are objectified, when you know, in ways that just degrade their humanity, there’s a way to celebrate that you appreciate someone’s appearance without reducing them to a masturbatory sleeve.
JOE KORT 6:42
Mm hmm. Oh, I like that. See, you just the words are just like so clear. I think about STR Parral. You know, her honestly. Well, she gets one of her lines in her talks is what she says women want to be desired in bed. And men like to be the ones doing the desiring. You agree with that?
Kate Balestrieri 7:02
Yeah, I really, she’s so artful too. I love the way she speaks. Like a poet, right? She’s like a poet. She really is. I think, you know, what I hear in that quote is, is this idea that, I think, you know, cisgender, men are often socialized and conditioned to find a lot of value in giving approval to women. You know, this is something that they’ve been told over and over again, it is your job to desire women, it is your job to love them to provide for them to be you know, of service in that way to women. So I think when they are the ones doing the desiring, it gives them a lot of ego validation. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But when it comes at the expense of a woman’s humanity, it can be really detrimental.
JOE KORT 7:47
Right? And that’s what your work is all about. And reminding people and teaching people, and even just your presence reminds us about your humanity and your vulnerability,
Kate Balestrieri 7:56
you know, yeah, thank you.
JOE KORT 8:00
Let me ask you about the new reproductive laws, and how they affect the sexual psyches of sis women, we first talk about what the new laws are
Kate Balestrieri 8:08
first, yeah, of course, I’m not an attorney. So I don’t want to go too deep in the weeds about the legislation. But I think that the highbrow topic to really cover is that there’s really a new researching war on reproductive rights in this country in several states have put forth legislation to minimize or completely limit abortions. And that really, I think, takes a toll collectively on the minds of women. Because suddenly, sex is not as safe as it once was. You know, I think women are blamed for being sexual. And I hear comments like, well, if they get pregnant, that’s just, you know, that’s there. They need to be responsible for their actions and have the baby. And, first of all, that’s just such an unfair thing to do to an unborn child to make them responsible for their parents behavior. But I think, you know, women are just, they’re getting shamed for sex, they’re their options are limited. And the same kinds of responsibilities are not put on the shoulders of people with penises, and you need penises and you need vaginas and uteruses to create a human. So I think it’s it’s really challenging for women to be sexual, even in long term committed marriages or relationships where, you know, maybe there’s not the same opportunity or pattern of being sexual with multiple partners. So I see a lot of women who are really confused, they don’t know what to do because now having sex with their husband maybe isn’t even safe anymore. Because what if they get pregnant and they’re not planning to have any more children and it’s not something that’s an option for them. So women are put in this really, really difficult Double Bind, of wanting to be whole humans who get to be sexual and having to be the Only people who are going to bear the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy. At least that’s sort of like the myopic view.
JOE KORT 10:09
No, I like your view. i It’s so strange to me to watch the juxtaposition of the me to movement and the growing social justice for women. And then to watch this, you know, yeah,
Kate Balestrieri 10:18
yeah. Well, I think that bifurcation is loud right now. Because as we move toward a collective shift in our society, the people who have benefited from the old structures are really getting scared that they’re not going to benefit anymore. And so they’re going to push back and punch down so that they can try to keep as much control as they they think is merited.
JOE KORT 10:38
How does inconsistent emotional labor in relationships influence low libido?
Kate Balestrieri 10:44
Yeah, so one of the things that is really, really hot right now and tick tock is this conversation about emotional labor and weaponized incompetence? Have you heard that term? I can’t, but I don’t know what it means. Yeah, this is like one of my favorite terms ever. It weaponized incompetence is a term that really means somebody is playing dumb or doing things wrong, so they can get out of having to do things at all.
JOE KORT 11:08
Oh, yeah. Okay. No, that meant that okay. Oh, yeah,
Kate Balestrieri 11:11
yeah. So we see this a lot in straight cisgender relationships. Because, again, women are socialized to be hyper responsible. And they’re conditioned, basically, from birth to be mothers and take care of the home and do all the things and men are not given that training that language that responsibility. So as adults, women end up being a lot more over functional. And I’m saying this in very big generalizations. I know not all women, not all men, just for any haters out there listening. It anyways, anyway, yeah. But so what is happening is there’s a disproportionate amount of emotional and domestic labor, where even though women are working outside of the home, very frequently, they’re still tasked implicitly with managing all the things that run their house, and managing all of the things that impact everyone in their house doctor’s appointments, making lunches field trip permission slips, all the things and taking care of their the emotional labor in a relationship. And so their partners, you know, say things like, Well, I don’t know how to get the kids dressed. I don’t know how to find matching socks, I didn’t know that the diaper went on face forward, instead of face backward. I don’t know how to load the dishwasher. Right? This is weaponized incompetence. And it’s a collective double bind that everybody I think has sort of agreed to, and we’re starting to disrupt that. Yeah. So what happens in terms of low libido? To answer your question is, women are exhausted. And then they’re being asked to be sexual with their partners. And they probably want to be on some level, but they don’t have the energy for it. They don’t have the bandwidth. They’re touched out, they’re drained, they’re exhausted. And then they’re shamed for having a low libido or having no arousal. And it’s a really, really pernicious cycle. Because then couples start to polarize and they start disconnecting, they don’t build up as much goodwill, and they build up resentment and contempt, you know, the drill?
JOE KORT 13:08
I do. Yes, I know exactly what you mean. And I like I like that you talk about low libido because that’s one of the hardest things when I became a sex therapist to work with is somebody that has a you know, how helping them raise their libido, at least if it has this kind of a reason. And you can work with a couple and, and and stop all this emotional labor or reduce it. It could come back but low libido is hard to work with, isn’t
Kate Balestrieri 13:29
it? It’s so hard. Well, I mean, you’re asking somebody to pull energy from an empty well, where are you gonna get it?
JOE KORT 13:35
Yeah, right. Yeah. No, I love that. You talked about this. Now I’ve been dying to ask you this question. So we’re, this is my, this is an ongoing question for me and just loving the way you talk and what you think. So you talk about purity culture, reinforcing the Madonna whore complex, makes women the gatekeepers for sex and worth, which increases harassment and sexual violence. I want to hear your views on that.
Kate Balestrieri 13:58
Yeah, this is one of the really unfortunate ripple effects of purity culture, right? When you make one gender responsible for saying yes or no to sex all the time, then you’re putting a ton of pressure on them being the people who facilitate other people’s needs being met, and their own needs being met. And they’re also saddled with all of the emotional and social consequences of that if they say yes, they’re a horse. If they say no, they get to uphold all of that worth. That is attributed to the Madonna or somebody who remains pure, if you will. But then they’re frustrated sexually and shamed and their partner is not getting what they need sexually in the relationship or just in dating. So we create this kind of cat and mouse game with purity culture that says women have to say no, and men have to chase convinced coerce and take. And it’s it’s just this really unfortunate gatekeeping situation which then creates the very kinds of pressures that are A lot of men say they don’t want pressures to commit. Well, if you’re going to shame women for being sexual, but you don’t want to commitment, what? How do you think that’s going to work out? Right? And and I think collectively as, as a society, we really have to sit back and ask ourselves, what purpose is this serving? And how are we creating a successful outcome or a lose lose situation with some of these double bind rules that we have socially?
JOE KORT 15:29
Do you have ways that you help these kinds of couples when there is a Madonna horse split?
Kate Balestrieri 15:33
Absolutely, I work with so many people who experience that kind of love lust divide or or Madonna whore complex, I sort of see it in gradations, because a love lust of divide, I think is pretty natural, and to be expected when you’ve been with someone for a long time. But for people who have higher levels of sexism, and who really adhere to some of the rigidity of purity culture mandates, that there does tend to be an amplified Madonna whore complex, where women is seen as all good and to be provided for and protected, or all bad, and therefore I can shovel all of my sexual and erotic energy your way and destroy you. And I don’t have to care about you. So it’s, it’s, I think it requires a lot of deconstruction, and understanding how somebody came to develop that ideology and what they really want to maintain. And then we work on helping them build a healthy construct and a healthy script for arousal, but it takes time.
JOE KORT 16:35
does take time. Yeah. Can you talk also about online sexual harassment and how it influences libido?
Kate Balestrieri 16:42
And when you were just talking about this, right, I’m so curious, do you get a lot of sexual harassment as a man?
JOE KORT 16:48
Well, I don’t I get a lot of sexual interest in my DMs and you know, I’m just very polite. Thank you. And but that’s not what I’m here for. But I don’t get it doesn’t it’s not I never really had creepy.
Kate Balestrieri 17:00
Come to me. Oh, you’re so lucky. You’re so lucky. I think on a daily basis, I get some sort of unsolicited nude photo, or I’ve been getting a lot of audio and video. Unsolicited audios and videos sent my way. On Instagram and other platforms, it’s it’s really difficult to stomach sometimes the amount of entitlement that people have toward the female body. So a lot of women who receive these kinds of unsolicited advances and harassing narratives and dialogues and images, they start to see sex as something that’s unsafe, and they start to see men as something as severe as people who are unsafe, and that implicitly starts to shut them down little by little to the idea of being sexual volitionally. Right. It’s really hard to create a lot of erotic energy if you feel like you have to be self protective all the time.
JOE KORT 18:02
Yeah, right. That makes so much sense. Um, yeah, I don’t get videos. I mean, I do get those kinds of pictures that, but I guess I don’t find them creepy in the gay community. It’s like normalized, you know, maybe I should think of it as creepy. But I just think, okay, you just sent me a dick pic, whatever. I’m just gonna say, you know, thanks. But no thanks, you know, or ignore it, you know, but I totally get that for a woman, especially when it’s constant constantly. And it’s unwanted. It’s.
Kate Balestrieri 18:25
Yeah. And it’s not just about that when you say no or don’t respond. Often there’s a retaliatory response, there’s a critiquing of appearance or calling names or threats to report you for your content. And it’s like a, there’s this one sided, just conversation happening, that you can sort of watch the arc of someone’s hope, and then the arc of their anger when their hope is not met. And it’s really, really difficult to watch and can be really scary.
JOE KORT 18:58
See, that is information. I wouldn’t know like, that doesn’t happen if I Oh, it sent me a picture. Oh, I sent back. And then it stopped. But for a lot of women, it doesn’t. And it makes sense what you’re telling me but I don’t think that way, because I don’t know that men do that, huh? Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, a whole other conversation could be why do straight men do that to women and gay men don’t? Not that became and never do it to other men, but it’s so much less, it seems.
Kate Balestrieri 19:23
Yeah, well, gay men or women, right? And so they don’t get kicked the same way women get kicked, right, because there’s not the same expectation of women being in servitude to men’s needs. Yeah, that’s true.
JOE KORT 19:34
God, there’s I want to have you back to talk about for me, I want people to go to your tick tock, and your Instagram is amazing. You know, like, you know, we’ll talk about that. Um, what about sex after sexual trauma? What can you I know, it’s a short thing here, but like, how could you explain that?
Kate Balestrieri 19:49
Yeah. Well, for anybody who wants more information, if you don’t mind a shameless plug, you can. Thank you. You can go to my YouTube channel modern intimacy, and I’ve actually got about an hour and a half long webinar that I did about the dimensional impacts of sexual trauma for survivors? That can be a great place to start, if you’re really kind of trying to understand how has my trauma impacted me? And how do I talk about it with a partner. But sex after trauma, it can be really hot and exciting again, but it takes sometimes a little bit of intention and a little bit more communication. So you know, I certainly don’t want to sound reductionistic and, and say that it’s easy, but learning how to be present in your body and staying in the moment and communicative with a partner about what works, what doesn’t when you feel triggered when you feel alive and excited. You know, these are things that can help you take sex back on your terms.
JOE KORT 20:43
And I always say to, you’re going to get re provoked, you’re going to have triggers that come up and expect that and then have a protocol in place so that you can talk it through
Kate Balestrieri 20:53
totally, and sometimes people actually like to incorporate elements of the trauma into their volitional sex play because it gives them a way to have their power back and to take control over a situation where they felt really helpless.
JOE KORT 21:08
I saw you talking on Tik Tok about CNC consent, consent and I was shaking. I’m like, because everybody wants me to talk all my power that like, I’m not fucking talking about this on tick tock, I’ll be banned for life. Do you get
Kate Balestrieri 21:21
Yeah, I didn’t get banned for life. I did. I’m just really funny aside, I just was contacted by Vice in Japan, and they want me to talk about CNC kink, because apparently, in Japan, I didn’t know this. There are like whole erotic fantasies that get played out in a simulated experiment where people are going onto a simulated bus, where everybody there has consented, of course, but they’re acting out fantasies of front tourism and groping and other kinds of things. And I thought, Well, isn’t that interesting? And the question is, Is this okay, or is it setting up an implicit permission for people to do this in non simulated real life?
JOE KORT 22:01
Hmm, that’s great. I can’t wait to read that. And then the last question I want to ask you is, um, you recently wrote an article about queer majority that called for a reclamation of the word sludge, you made the assertion that sex positivity is necessary for world peace? Would you speak on that?
Kate Balestrieri 22:19
Yeah, it’s it’s it’s a big statement, right? Call me a slut for world peace for world peace. The articles for queer majority and I think it’s out but if it’s not, it should be soon. And in it, I really started thinking about what’s going on in the world with this regression, right of sexual repression that we were talking about earlier, is there there is a movement for sexual liberation and then a pushback. And just like many communities have taken words that have been shaming and degrading and reclaimed them as their own. I’m calling for us to do that with the word sloth. And let’s make this a positive thing. That doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how many people you’ve been sexual with, but speaks to a sex positive mindset, right? Like you get to be sexual in a way that’s meaningful for you go slet go, right. Something along those lines. Let’s take this word back and make it a positive thing because sex negativity is behind so much of the world’s ails. So much greed, so much power jockeying all of that. And when we have a more liberated and shame free position about sexuality, all of that quiets down.
JOE KORT 23:34
Yeah, no, I love, love. Love that. We have a few more minutes up. Is there anything we didn’t talk about that you want to make sure is added?
Kate Balestrieri 23:41
Oh, gosh, I feel like we could talk about so many things. I can’t really think I mean, not nothing that we could go into with real depth.
JOE KORT 23:50
But I have one more question. Okay. I have to ask everyone to ask you this for like, your dog’s hair is born. you dye it right. Okay. All right. It’s so good. I can’t be real,
Kate Balestrieri 24:02
right? No, no, she she’s apricot and color. But I got a little creative a few years ago and cut her hair like a lion and then dyed her mane and dyed her tail. And I just loved it so much. I kept it.
JOE KORT 24:13
I love it. And I have to tell you one of the sweetest videos, and I have watched it several times. I don’t know why it really touches me. Because you talking to your young self. Thank you. Oh my god. I just I don’t know what it is about your video, but just know talking and the words and the way you look and everything. I don’t know, that was very brave of you to make.
Kate Balestrieri 24:31
Thank you. Thank you that was a vulnerable video to make because it touches on a pain that I think a lot of women go through when they make certain life choices that differ from the trajectories their families have decided for them. So that was that was tough, but I really appreciate you saying that and seeing the tenderness in it.
JOE KORT 24:50
Yeah, and it’s pinned to your profile so people can see it easily. Yeah, yeah. Oh, okay. Um, So Kate, where can people find you
Kate Balestrieri 24:58
on Instagram and Twitter? Talk they can find me at Dr. Kate Balistreri. It’s Dr k, t, e, v a l, E, S, T, RI E, RI lots of vowels in that name. And on Twitter, Kate Balistreri, or my website, modern intimacy.com.
JOE KORT 25:14
You are very easy to find on many platforms. So definitely I hope people do that. And I so appreciate you came on my show and agreed to it. And maybe we’ll do it again.
Kate Balestrieri 25:23
I would love that. Thanks so much for having me. Joe. This was awesome. Yeah, thank you.
JOE KORT 25:27
And I want to just tell my listeners, you can hear more about my podcast smart sex smart love at Smart sex smart, love calm. And you can also go and follow me on Twitter, tik, Tok, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn. All of that is at Dr. Joe CT, Dr. Jay OEK, or T. Thanks for listening to me, everybody, and we’ll see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai