Sex Ed with Megwyn White of Satisfyer and Laura Rubin
Whalebone contributing editor Laura Rubin is pulling up her camp chair to engage with a series of disruptive change-makers for good, those good people igniting the sparks, to talk about some stuff you probably won’t find on Google.
Haven’t you always wanted an opportunity to ask a sexologist anything and everything—or maybe that’s just me? Well, I got my chance when I met up with Megwyn White of Satisfyer around the virtual campfire to talk about the upside of orgasms, “O-face,” edging, porn, and pleasure-tech among other juicy topics.
It turns out that unlike The Stones, you can get satisfaction. A lot of it. These days you can not only purchase air-pulse satisfaction online, you can even map it with an app.
Laura Rubin: When you meet someone and they ask, “So, what do you do?” how do people generally respond when you say you’re a sexologist? You must instantly become the most interesting person in the room.
Megwyn White: They definitely want to talk about sexuality, relationships, or intimacy. It always engenders conversation and causes people to open up and share. There’s something about when you’re focused in this type of field, people feel comfortable talking about all the things that they wouldn’t discuss even with their closest friends. I’m not much for small talk so I don’t mind.
Laura: “Sexologist” is not an option at most career fairs. How did you come to this work?
Megwyn: Personally there was an underlying desire to heal myself, to get more into the root of where I had felt disconnected from my own sexuality and confidence. I don’t consider myself solely a sexologist. I bridge a lot of different worlds under the umbrella of sexuality.
In terms of my relationship with Satisfyer, I was given a Satisfyer Pro 2 and it completely blew me away. I had never experienced that type of orgasm from a product. The technology utilizes indirect pressure waves to stimulate the clitoral glands which are typically very sensitive but not easily aroused. Using that product, I could connect to my breath, down-regulate my nervous system, and really open up a whole new dimension of pleasure without having to fantasize.
So much stigma still exists around sexuality because of how we’ve been culturally trained to think about it as being dirty, especially for women. But this product is not only for pleasure, it resets the energy within the body in an incredibly effective and efficient way.
Laura: No fantasy required, it gets the job done. Impressive.
Speaking of fantasies, I fear my whole generation got semi-ruined by the unrealistic sex in streaming video porn that became widely accessible during our adolescence. Now with the rise of sex positivity and body positivity movements, are you seeing a shift? Are the younger generations more aware and connected to themselves and each other, or am I being hopelessly optimistic?
Megwyn: There is a shift. There’s more openness to talk about these things and a tendency to look at sexuality as more multidimensional. We still have a long way to go because accessibility to male-centered porn is still so prevalent. It impacts our conception of pleasure and how we should be sensually interacting with others.
Because sex-ed is so lacking, pornography became a resource for people to learn about sexuality. But unfortunately and obviously porn is not really education, it’s an entertainment resource. It wires people for a quick response and release rather than sustainable, true satisfaction—which generally requires more introspection and actually feeling your own body.
Culturally we still have this kind of narrative that someone is giving us the orgasm and generally it’s men giving women the orgasm, but that’s not really the way it works.
Laura: Sex-ed at my high school was mostly about preventing unwanted pregnancies and STD shock-and-awe tactics to scare us into abstinence. That’s about it. If you could rescript sex education, what would you want to emphasize?
Megwyn: It would certainly be more pleasure-based. The fear is if we teach kids that this is a pleasurable experience, that will motivate them to have sex—which is where the conversation around consent comes in. If you don’t provide real education around sexuality and all of a sudden hormones are raging and a young person is thrust into an experience where it feels good on one level, but they’re not really sure whether that’s what they want on another level, it can be very, very overwhelming. The more educated younger generations are around these topics, the more confident they’re going to be to say “yes” or “no” when it comes to exploring.
And if they know how to also self-satisfy, they may also not need to have someone fulfill that desire. We could really empower younger generations around understanding their bodies, and that pleasure can be a beneficial experience especially via self-exploration. It can improve confidence and instill a stronger sense of self.
Overall, there is a kind of cultural change occurring as it relates to sensuality – tuning into the true primal energies of the body as they relate to touch and intimacy, and our creativity in play. That’s what I’m always thinking about in my work: how can we contextualize pleasure in such a way where we can really encourage people to start exploring this as a lifestyle practice and a resource? Sometimes it takes highlighting benefits that are more superficial, like the beauty benefits to orgasmic response.
Laura: Orgasm upsides! Not to be basic, but that’s pretty interesting. Tell me more.
Megwyn: Well, we’re seeing a trend in makeup now, a kind of dewy glow as an ideal. That’s actually just trying to mimic the effects of orgasm. Rouge on your cheeks and your lips plumping up and getting that nice pink glow. Even eye shadow, all of it is basically what you look like after you’ve had an awesome orgasm.
With the increased circulation and the blood flow, you’ve got the potential for the increased oxygen to support collagen growth. Plus, for women, it’s going to help to support estrogen levels, which has actually been known to help retain moisture in the body. DHEA and human growth hormone are also released with orgasm, which supports youthful skin and tissue growth.
Laura: You get HGH, DHEA, and increased collagen all through orgasm? Canceling my facial and calling my boyfriend.
Megwyn: Yeah, you get all that and lymphatic massage, especially when you really unlock your true connection to orgasm. There have been some really interesting studies done by Barry Komisaruk and Beverly Whipple. They say that “O-face” actually looks like a pained response because it’s activating the same part of the brain, the insula, that helps manage our response to pain. When we open our mouths and vibrate to pleasurable sounds and move our bodies, we’re helping to stimulate internal tissue through micro-circulation and micro facial movements.
Laura: That sounds like it’s better than anything you can buy in a jar at Sephora. Come to think of it, there’s a line of hair products called “Bed Head” and makeup brand NARS has a blush called Orgasm. You’re right, it’s all about replicating the aroused face.
Megwyn: It’s our way of attracting a mate. Interesting studies have been done that show that women who have a keener sense of smell also tend to be more easily prone to orgasms, and can also detect immune factors in a mate.
Laura: All of what we’re talking about is very primal. Satisfyer also invokes the technological side. With this new movement combining sex and technology, what would you most like the public to know about empowering themselves through tech?
Megwyn: I think technology gives us a bit more of an advantage. A lot of our erogenous zones are hard to reach, so these kinds of products help access areas that we might not be able to get to with our hands.
Pleasure products are also an intermediary between ourselves and our own touch. This is a little bit harder for me to explain, but for instance, if I’m touching myself, my body knows that my hand is touching me. If I want to explore a different aspect of my erotic imagination, using a pleasure product could potentially help me with that because then I don’t feel my own body touching myself. It gives me more of a sense of surprise.
Laura: Ah, so it’s less predictable which is more exciting. In preparing for our conversation one of the things that I came across is this shift towards genderless sex products and specifically the move away from pleasure products imitating a phallus. When I opened the box from Satisfyer that you were kind enough to send me (research!), there were a whole bunch of shapes and sizes. I literally didn’t know what most of them were meant to do, which is kind of the point, right?
Megwyn: Yes, that’s right. That sense of curiosity is part of the discovery process. “What does this do?” That already begins to leverage your creativity. I love the whole movement towards these gender-neutral products because it’s really starting to expand the lens of sexuality. It’s not just about the genitals. There are a lot more erogenous zones in the body and we can talk about the whole experience and how we can create pleasure at any moment of the day. Also, the practice around something like edging has been a really hot topic.
Laura: Ummm, what’s edging?
Megwyn: Edging is basically extending the time of arousal. Some people think of it as delaying the orgasm, but it also is just really about taking your time and being in the moment—exploring sustaining pleasure. Once you give people more of an opportunity to understand that pleasure doesn’t have to only be a quick fix they’re more inclined to want to experience that kind of thing.
Laura: As opposed to what I call “junk food sex” – might taste good in the moment but not exactly nourishing. Okay, last question. Because we are sitting around a virtual campfire here if you could choose people to talk about pleasure with around a fire, who would you invite?
Megwyn: I would invite Marilyn Monroe because—while she obviously exuded sexuality—according to her psychologist apparently she actually only had her first orgasm close to when she passed away. I’d be very curious to talk to her about pleasure.
Laura: Wow, to think she was the ultimate sex symbol for most of her adult life and yet hadn’t had an orgasm. The sad irony. Okay, guest 2?
Megwyn: In addition to having an inspiring life Helen Keller also had a very unique relationship to sensuality—to touch in particular. I would love to be able to speak to her about how that informed her consciousness.
Laura: From Marilyn to Helen Keller—that was a curveball! Okay, guest 3?
Megwyn: For sure David Bowie. He is the embodiment of owning your sensuality and really helped blur the lines around sexuality in a healthy way. And he was able to do it at a time when it was not acceptable at all. Somehow he managed to carve out this space. I’d be so curious to talk to him about what he sees happening in the future and how we can bridge art and sexuality, to help liberate human expression and human connection.