JOE KORT 0:03
Hello everyone and welcome to Smart sex smart love we’re talking about sex goes beyond the taboo and talking about love goes beyond the honeymoon. My guest today is Sarah dye sock, a sex educator and owner of Early to bed and trans essentials. Sara started early to bed more than 20 years ago, when she could not find a safe, friendly shame free and personalized woman oriented shop for sex toys, she decided to open a place where she would shop. Today business is thriving in her brick and mortar store and on her website. It’s her mission to spread the good word about positive and healthy sexuality to as many people as she can through her shop, website, blog and educational outreach endeavors. In addition to running her retail store and websites, Sarah lectures to community groups and colleges on topics relating to masturbation, sex toys, and positive sexuality. She’s committed to working to create a culture where everyone has access to honest information about sexuality and the services they need to protect their reproductive rights. Sara is a proud member of Chicago’s LGBT, q plus community, and has been featured in numerous outlets, including New York Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Washington Post, women’s health, shape, play girl glamour, and many more. Today, she’s going to talk to us about sexual confidence and self esteem. Welcome, Sarah.
Searah Deysach 1:28
Thank you for having me. Happy to be here.
JOE KORT 1:31
Yeah, very, very great resume here and doing lots of stuff. And I love when someone says, because I did it myself. You don’t see it out there. So you create it and make it happen.
Searah Deysach 1:42
Find a need and fill it. That’s my mantra.
JOE KORT 1:45
I love that. I love it. All right. So let’s get right down to the first question, which is that you recently conducted a survey to see if the pandemic directly impacted sexual confidence and self esteem in adults in the United States. And you found some super interesting results. Will you share them?
Searah Deysach 2:02
Yes, I Well, actually, it was very interesting. And surprising. What we saw 30% increase in sexual empowerment as a result of a newfound competence in verbal self expression, which I thought was really interesting. People also reported higher surgeon body confidence, which was, again, sort of surprising. And 50% of the people that we surveyed said that they had a higher sexual self esteem they today than they did before the pandemic. So I’m particularly locked down to so I think that was all really interesting statistics from the survey that we did.
JOE KORT 2:39
Why do you think that is that the pandemic is you think it’s a result of the pandemic? Right?
Searah Deysach 2:44
I do. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence. I think that a lot happened really quickly. And really abruptly. And all of a sudden, we were one spending more time alone, to or with our partners, if we have partners we live with. But at the same time, all of a sudden, we had to think about our boundaries, we had to start talking about our relationships more. And I think that we had to just verbalize more about our lives. And think more carefully about our relationships, what we wanted and what we went on them and what risks we were worth were worth taking. So I think that’s kind of, especially with Black Diamond that’s like the, the base of where all of this kind of comes from.
JOE KORT 3:33
I love that. And why do you think increased sexual self esteem? Why did it what do you think that was about?
Searah Deysach 3:39
I mean, it’s hard to know. But I think that Well, first of all, we saw just a huge surge, huge surge of people buying sex toys, soon as lockdowns started. And I think that while a lot of that was fun and play, I think for a lot of people, that was a time of self exploration. And I think when you spend more time exploring your body, trying new things, accessing new avenues of pleasure, whether it’s with yourself or with your partner, who you’re stuck at home with, I think that that can’t help but build your sexual confidence because you’re you’re doing something new, you’re learning about new pleasure avenues. And that gives you more of an ability to be like, oh, right, yeah, like this variety of things, or like these new things, or it puts you in a position where you’re like, oh, wait, we tried that. And that’s not really my jam. So I’m going to feel confident, because we’re talking about things now more, I’m going to tell you, I’m not really into that. And that kind of helps, I think to build up your sexual confidence to when you have more communication in general.
JOE KORT 4:43
I like that it makes sense. I always say that in gay male relationships, and even in lesbian relationships. They’re much more verbal and much more sharing back and forth and talking about what they want, what they don’t like what they like. So, I would imagine that for straight couples, especially with COVID You’re like, Well, are you okay with this still? And what do you want to do? And maybe that’s where that came from. And I was like, this might have been a place to say I, there are things I’ve always wanted, maybe we could try to do these.
Searah Deysach 5:10
Oh, I totally agree. I mean, I don’t know, like, who was buying what from really to bed, but, you know, we saw particularly a surge in like anal toys, and kink toys. And so my interpretation of that is people are staying home. And they’re trying new things, because those are things that are, you know, as popular as they are, they’re a little bit more on that, you know, outer rim of whatever we would think of as, you know, traditional sex activities. And I’m like that, but I think that people were pushing their boundaries a little bit, probably partially out of boredom, and probably partially out of, Wow, we have, you know, all this extra time, let’s do this thing that takes a little more prep, or that takes a little more discussion. So, yeah, I think it was trying new things was really part of it, too.
JOE KORT 5:54
Do you think these changes are long lasting?
Searah Deysach 5:58
I hope so. I mean, I, I hope that when we build up our self confidence, and when we get used to expressing ourselves verbally, we don’t go backwards. And I hope that, you know, I believe especially this, because this is, you know, my identity, but like, sis women, like I think that they talk more about sex, when they’re more confident. And so I’m hoping that there’s some sort of like, I don’t know, if it’s a ripple effect, or trickle down effect or whatever kind of, you know, wave pattern it is. But that more sexually confident people talk to other people about sex and more sex than that sort of like, you know, increases the number of people who are feeling more confident, or who are asking questions, just saying, Wow, it’s amazing to see you talking like this. How did you tap into that? Or what did you do? You know, as I’m hoping that it’s just an upward path.
JOE KORT 6:51
And let me ask you this, since you mentioned that you’re a sis woman. What do you think? In general, I know that just your own thoughts or observations or speculations? How do they sis women feel when they find out that they’re straight? male partners? Have sex toys, particularly anal sex toys?
Searah Deysach 7:07
Oh, wow, that’s a divergent question. Sorry. No, it’s okay. Do I have any time? I think? Um, I think it totally varies. I mean, I think when you know, all of my experiences through the lens of running a sex toy store and seeing people who are coming in and looking for sex toys, right. So there, I don’t have the best view of people who are like, whoa, but sex is really weird. But we’re seeing more and more people who, you know, are just comfortable sex toys. They’re available in more places. And I think that there’s more and more if we’re talking about cisgendered heterosexual couples, I think there’s way more acceptance of things like blood sex, especially, you know, there’s this long history of men wanting it from women. I think there’s a lot of women now we’re like, Well, if you on it, maybe you know, we should try you first. So you know, appeals are just also, I think, this is my whole other thing I’ve got, like divergent thing I often go on. But I think there’s also been a huge shift with but sex and straight men when we start to talk about prostate stimulation. I think before we were talking about prostate stimulation, it seemed just like, more gay. And I’m using that in quotes, because I don’t believe that true, but that’s how people were seeing it. But now that prostate stimulation is like a healthy thing. People talk about it, it’s seems way more approachable for cisgender heterosexual couples, so then, sort of frame it as that which I think allows people to feel more comfortable with it for you know, whether that’s good or bad. I mean, it’s good, because more about sex is better for everyone who wants it. But um, yeah, I think I think there’s always going to be people who are confused by somebody’s tastes, or whose tastes because partners tastes aren’t going to align with theirs, of course, but I think we’re seeing a lot more open mindedness in general. Especially when it comes to things like butt sex and kink and stuff like that.
JOE KORT 9:05
Yeah, I have a tagline. I always say that, um, your anus doesn’t have a sexual orientation. It doesn’t know whether it’s gay, straight, or BI. And so I’m a gay man, and I’ve never had bought sex. I don’t want it. I don’t want to give it I don’t want to get it. And I coined the term several years ago called side Have you ever heard of that? No. Say it one more time. So its side so so you know how gay men are tops. They give a no sack. Oh, they’re bottoms they’re receiving. There’s versatile, we’ll have none of that. So I said if you can be a top or a bottom, can you be aside and I created a group I have a Facebook group of 7500 Guys, but the reason I say this to you too is I have learned for me being aside means no buts stuff don’t even get near there. And for some sides, they like sex toys, and they like but play they don’t want intercourse. But they liked the sensation of doing it to themselves, or even a partner using it, but not a real penis they’d rather hear Have a sex toy? Have you heard of that?
Searah Deysach 10:02
Oh, of course. And you think about Yes, for sure. And I think, you know, culturally, there’s this idea of it, like, blood sex being someone’s penis goes in someone’s anus, right. And like, that’s very traditional in many different ways. But I think that, you know, like any part of your body, there’s just a huge range of exploring the sensations, right? So it could mean stimulation only externally, it could mean only fingers, it could mean about toys. And if you think about a finger, or a bug toy, the size differential is in many cases, you know, substantial. And I think that it’s take, we do a lot of education, like, you know, just because you want to enjoy but sex doesn’t mean you want something the size of a cisgendered male penis in your butts. And just because you like something small doesn’t mean you know, just because you like playing small doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy by sex, it means you just like it to this, there’s limits. It’s the same, you know, with vaginal penetration or even external stimulation, like, you know, it’s not a one size fits all approach. But I absolutely think that’s the case for for lots of people. For some people, sex toys are especially but toys are a stepping stone to being prepared for something bigger. And for lots of people that, you know, many, but plug is great. And that’s where they’re going to stay and, you know, enjoy it, and then that really move on. So, yeah, there’s a whole range. And I think that, you know, of course, all of it is being validated and an awesome.
JOE KORT 11:28
What I love is that you want to have these kinds of on help people have these open, honest sexual conversations, like you’re so comfortable, and I’m so comfortable. What are some tips that you have for people to improve their verbal expression skills when it comes to their sexual needs and desires?
Searah Deysach 11:44
Well, I think practice, of course, is the most important, I think that we are not taught to talk about sex, we are taught that like, you know, you shouldn’t have to talk about it to just magically happen at this, you know, R rated movie kind of way like, that, I always think is almost worse than that. I don’t think porn is bad, but like, worse, showing how sexually is that porn sometimes is already movies anyways. Um, but I think practicing and starting kind of small, right? So if you want to start talking more about sex, or having more of a verbal communication with your partner, but you don’t want to start with, Okay, here’s all these things we need to talk about. Bla bla, bla, bla bla, I think being more specific, like if you’re having sex, and you’re like, Oh, that was great. Maybe try something like, Oh, that was great. I really loved it when you did X, Y, and Z to my, you know, what that, you know, adding something so that you’re, you’re getting some more specificity in there that I think then if you’re like, Oh, I really love what, when you do this to my this, then you might feel more comfortable later saying like, actually, when you do this, I don’t like that. But maybe you could try this. And I think what we don’t realize, and what I would love to talk about is most people who are worth having sex with the time and the energy and the safety and all those things should want to have that communication with you should be welcoming your feedback and stuff like that. So I think if we can internalize that more, and it’s not a bad thing to talk about sex, I think that helps a lot to just being more verbal. Or if if things have been quiet because the kids are in the bedroom next door isn’t an issue. But like if you can make noises during sex, again, instead of just like, Oh, Jesus, or whatever you say, like Yes, right there. Oh, a little bit lower. Oh, you know, let’s try this instead. Or something like that. Just like getting used to verbalizing what’s happening in the moment, too, I think can help you feel more comfortable talking about it later. And I think overall leads to better sex because you’re communicating with your partner once feeling good, as opposed to just being like, this is over zoom or something like that, which I think a lot of people sometimes do. I wish it was a little bit more to the left, but I don’t want to tell them because they’ll be insulted. But you know, hopefully, people will welcome that feedback.
JOE KORT 13:56
I know. And I usually suggest to people that maybe you don’t give the feedback when it’s happening, give it later at a time when you’re not being sexual, right?
Searah Deysach 14:03
Oh, sure. Like, you know, the snuggling, maybe even snuggling afterwards or a completely different time. You know, like, hey, remember, last week, we did this. I either really liked that, or I didn’t like that. But I had this other idea. You know, I think like, we are all sensitive creatures. And I think we are very vulnerable when we’re having sex. And feedback can be hard to take in the moment and you know, someone could hear a little to the left and think, you know, you’re doing everything wrong. And so you know, when shame is a lot of tied into this, I think you know your partner better when you need to be gentle and when you don’t, but I think you could always talk about sex outside the bedroom or get like a little there’s so many like, you know, card sets and dice sets and ways that you can facilitate conversations with your partner that seemed goofy, but can be really helpful because that card is telling you what to say or giving you a prompt or that that goofy game you’re playing is helping you to Try something new and then talk about it. So I think there’s a lot of ways to facilitate these these conversations. But I also think just like, tapping into being honest, and and just practicing is the best way to start.
JOE KORT 15:13
Now, what if people verbal, verbal is too much? You know, there’s some people that like, I just can’t do it verbally. And maybe they’re even on the autism spectrum, and verbal is just too, too much to direct. What other ways could people communicate to each other?
Searah Deysach 15:27
Well, I think when you’re having sex, there’s a lot of nonverbal ways to communicate, you know, moving someone’s face or hand or whatever it is a little bit to the right or the left or, or if you need to, you know, like removing them from part of your body or adding them to part of your body, you know, all this under the guise of everyone’s consented to being together, do what you’re doing. I also also think after the fact, I’m a big fan of like, little notes like little a little what would be a love note, but like, boy, I really liked it when you did this? Or would you want to try this and putting in a little card and, you know, leaving it somewhere or handing it to them? Things like yes, no, maybe lists, if you’ve ever, you know, talked about those like, actually sitting down and writing lists of what you are into what you’re not into. And what you might want to try can be really helpful, too. It’s a little more work and a little more intense. But there’s a lot of sort of nonverbal ways that you can tell someone what you’re feeling or how you want to go about things.
JOE KORT 16:26
Yeah, sometimes I’ll even tell my couples maybe get online and read some erotica, or look up. There’s a lot of websites that just have an I think they’re called lit erotica or whatever. Or just even just watching porn together, if they want to do some erotic movies, and then being able to say, Hey, I like that, or what do you think of that? Or what? What turns you on about that story? That kind of a thing, too.
Searah Deysach 16:48
Yeah, no, I totally agree. And I think there’s also a lot of like, How To books, you know, you know, with one of us reading a man and you, you find a chapter that really speaks to how you want to what you want to do or what want to communicate, you can like, put a bookmark in there, leave that book out for them and ask them to read it. Like you can ask them, hey, when you read that chapter, and then we can talk about it or not talk about it, but you read it to you know, I think there’s a lot of ways Yeah, you can share media together in a way that feels safe.
JOE KORT 17:12
And can you talk about helping partners feel more comfortable in bed? How can people help their partner feel more comfortable?
Searah Deysach 17:20
I mean, it’s hard. I will say it’s hard to, you know, change the way someone feels about themselves. But I do believe that, you know, being a cheerleader is a great way to start giving them that competence, giving them positive feedback, telling them they’re gorgeous, you know, telling them how sexy they look, when they’re on top of you or underneath you are having an orgasm, I think that you know, we tell often tell our lovers or partners, how great they look when they’re dressed up to go out or you know, something like that. But I think we should remember that, that positive feedback. It’s really helpful, especially when someone’s really vulnerable and naked and maybe feeling awkward about their bodies, maybe you don’t need to say like, I really love the shape of your belly, that might draw attention somewhere that someone’s feeling uncomfortable, but you know, your partner better. And maybe that would be really great for someone to hear, because that’s the part of their body they’re feeling really weird about. And I think that, you know, you have to kind of figure out what your partner needs to hear. But I think that’s a great way to, you know, help someone feel more comfortable. And I think, again, just like, you know, giving a piece of positive feedback. I really liked that. That was really awesome. You know, it’s a journey for lots of people. But it can be really, no, and we can’t solve it overnight, or when someone’s self esteem isn’t going to change, because you told them four times that they have a hot ass, but it can work to help build up people’s self esteem if you give them positive reinforcement.
JOE KORT 18:53
Yep. And really push yourself like I remember, I’ve always had been kind of kinky myself, and I my fetishes. And I remember, therapists tell and I had a lot of shame about it in my early years. And I remember him pushing me really to tell my husband, and I didn’t want to be some of it was I didn’t really want to do it with him. I liked it in my own head. I had my own fantasies around it, but it was the probably the best thing I ever did just getting rid of the shame. And and now I would tell anybody, you know, it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t. Yeah. Have you ever had to help people be able to talk about that and give them some confidence?
Searah Deysach 19:29
Oh, yes, for sure. I mean, you know, I like to, I guess, restate the fact that you know, I went to art school. I own a retail store. I’m not a therapist, you know, but we do get people in the store all the time who they’ve never talked to anybody about their sex life before. They had never talked to their partner, their doctor, their therapist, whatever it is. And sometimes when you ask someone a simple question, whoa, next thing you know, you’re hearing all these stories that they have never told anybody before. And so we do do a lot of talking to people about, you know, a lot of it is normalizing things sort of back to the kinky thing. Like, I think a lot of people think that they’re holding something that is super weird. No one’s ever done this before felt this before liked this before. And you know, I think 99% of time, it’s something that you’re not alone in thinking or feeling. And so a lot of what we do is normalize stuff for people like, Oh, my God, that’s not the first time we’ve heard that question. Here’s, you know, what we recommend to people or stuff like that. And it’s really rewarding, because it’s like, people have no nowhere else to turn for information. You know, there’s the internet, and the internet’s great. But it’s not necessarily easy to search SEC stuff without finding things you don’t want to find. You don’t know who to trust. And I think that having a place where people can come in and trust that the people who are there are going to take them seriously. I think that’s a lot of what’s been really great about having the store. But I think we do spend a lot of time helping people feel better about how they feel. And also walking into a store. A lot of people have never been to a sex toy store before. And you walk in and you see these devices that you’ve had an interest in, that you thought was maybe a little bit like, out there, and then you’re like, oh, there’s a whole wall of them. Great. This is obviously that that weird? So I think that can be really helpful to people.
JOE KORT 21:26
Yes, um, can you talk a little bit because I think people that are listening are going to want to know, because your work is Early to bed and trans essentials, what is trans essentials.
Searah Deysach 21:36
So trans Essentials is a, it’s a separate website that we have. It’s a lot of the same stuff we carry in the store, but it’s none of its sex, like for sexual stimulation. It’s all gender expression gear, so things to help people just feel more embodied in their bodies, and for the most part, trans and non binary bodies. So things like chest, binders that compress someone’s chest, or packers, which helped give somebody a bulge if they’re trans masculine underwear for tucking stuff like that. So basically, clothing and accessories for people who are trans and non binary. And I started as a separate website, because it’s, you know, it’s, it’s sort of different, it’s different than a dildo, it’s, you know, it’s different than about toys, it’s a whole different thing. And I wanted to create a space where, you know, people could look at it with their parents or their, you know, social worker or something like that, and not have to be like, oh, there’s Bob plugs over here. Like, it’s all just gender expression here, which is like an all ages kind of thing. So it’s sort of a way to separate that stuff out even though when you go to our store or too early to build our website, all that stuff is there to it just as a separate little
JOE KORT 22:51
thing. Like you’re making the distinction, right? One is for sexual pleasure, and one is for gender for gender, get taken away gender dysphoria, and helping people find stuff. Yes, I just, oh, sorry. No, good.
Searah Deysach 23:05
Oh, it’s just all weird that it all comes from the same industry, right? So like, the people who are making penises for sex are the people who started making penises for you know, just so that’s why it’s like it’s weird. Sometimes it’s in a sex toy store but it’s because it’s like the industry in the in the suppliers are all kind of the same anyways.
JOE KORT 23:21
No, I will show you when I do my LGBT presentations to therapists, I show them the bolger’s you know, the plaza dildos, the I think I’m saying that right flats and phalluses, I should say, or the Santa P up. And when I first did all this, I was like, well, first of all, I would never want to like be embarrassed, embarrassed, the LGBT, the trans community. And then I thought, is this sexual? It took me a few times of presenting of going no, this is therapist want to know, they hear about it from their clients, but they don’t know what these things look like. I didn’t know what they look like. So it helps people that pass it around, so people can get an idea of what actually is happening for a lot of the trans people.
Searah Deysach 24:03
Yeah, and I love that you do that we we’ve definitely we work with therapists and we work with extra with veterans, hospitals and provide prosthetics. And so it’s interesting this, this, but these products are becoming more and more commonplace and used by a wider, wider range of folks. And yeah, I feel really proud that we’re able to serve that community and that we have from the beginning, kind of because that’s my queer community where I came from. So
JOE KORT 24:30
I love it. What would you say that we haven’t talked about yet that you wanted to make sure when we’re on this podcast, that that’s something important you want the listeners to hear?
Searah Deysach 24:40
Well, I mean, the one thing that I like to talk about a lot is that I think we forget a lot that sex is a journey. And that’s our it’s gonna change so much in our life. You know, we talked to a lot of people who are going through a dry spell or having a thing that’s causing them concern right now or you know, and it disconnects with their partner or something like that. And I think that we think sometimes that this is where we are. This is where I always be. So I like to really remind people that like, wherever you are on your sexual journey is where you are right now. And there’s a lot of ways you can go. And there’s a lot of things that are gonna change in your life and just kind of be there for the ride and work. You know, sometimes it takes work to have the sex life that you want. And I think, again, we don’t talk enough about that being something we have to sometimes be really intentional about whether we have partners or not, you know, like sex doesn’t just magically happen for most people all the time, and that it’s okay to talk about it, we should talk about it. And we should realize that we all deserve a good healthy sex life. And sometimes that means we have to put a little bit more effort into it, whether that’s, you know, more communication, or more masturbation, whatever it is, that can help you have a more rich and satisfying sex life.
JOE KORT 26:02
That’s why I love actually there’s your business being called Early to bed, because it’s not going to bed, it’s going early to bed to make time for this people don’t understand you have to make time, it doesn’t just happen. Is that how you came up with it? Or how did you come up with the name?
Searah Deysach 26:17
You know, actually, a friend came up with the name, we were sitting around trying to think of something that was evocative, and but not like, too floral or too crass, you know, and somebody was just like, Early to bed, and it just was like, perfect, because yeah, we have the devices to encourage you to go to bed early. And more time in bed, or wherever it is. Thank you. Yeah, I like it. If people
JOE KORT 26:45
want to be able to find you, how can they do that on the internet? Where can they go?
Searah Deysach 26:49
So our website is early tibet.com. And it’s the number two so really, number two bed.com. Also trans essentials, which is trans essentials.com. And then we have a super cute Instagram that is Early To Bed dot shop, because our original Instagram was deactivated in the spring. So we’re building up our followers. So come check us out on Instagram. But yes, websites, the best way to find this.
JOE KORT 27:17
Yeah, that could be a whole podcast about how my, we’re all getting censored on the internet. And a lot of my colleagues, including you, it sounds like are getting deactivated for some of your posts. And I’m being super careful with my posts because I don’t want to be deactivated.
Searah Deysach 27:32
Oh, I know. And we were in I mean, I have somebody who’s a professional who does it. And she knows everything that we’re supposed to do and not do but you get enough people complaining or whatever it is like we don’t know what it was. They don’t tell you what it was they don’t give you it was just 15,000 flowers just gone in an instant. So we’re constantly trying to figure out other ways to make sure we stay in contact with our community because we love our community. I
JOE KORT 27:57
know I know. You want to add the psychoeducation sexually. All right. Well, Sarah, it was a pleasure having you as a guest that my show. Thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it.
Searah Deysach 28:09
Well, thank you for having me.
JOE KORT 28:10
Yeah, you’re You’re welcome. And if you want to hear more of my podcasts, you just go to smart sex smart love.com. But you can also follow me on Twitter Tiktok by the way, I just got 600 Almost 680,000 followers on Tiktok. I’m really excited. Instagram and Facebook. It’s Dr. Joe court DRJO e k o r t, or you can just go to Joe court.com and find it all there. So thanks for listening and be safe and healthy and I’ll see you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai