U: First off, we love to ask people to introduce themselves for our readers who might not know who you are…. So who is Gigi Engle?
I’m a certified sex educator, coach, journalist, therapist in training, and author of All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life.
My specialties are consent education, empowered sexuality for one and all, kink, and alternative relationship styles. I work mostly with the queer community and women, but am open to people from all walks of life. When I write, I cover absolutely everything under the umbrella of sexuality and sexual health.
U: So you’re all about pleasure-based sex education, do you want to tell us what that means exactly?
Pleasure based education is something we desperately need, but very few people get it. It’s what drives everything from slut-shaming, to STI stigma. In what little sex ed we have, there is so much focus on the pregnancy aspect of sexuality that everything else is left out, ie. the real reasons people even have sex: to get off. To feel good. To feel closer to their partner. To feel good about themselves. To feel desire and to be desired. To feel alive. And on and on. Procreation is the reason we have sex about 1% in our lives – and if you’re queer, maybe it’s 0%. We have sex because it feels good.
When we don’t include pleasure as part of sex education and only focusing on the fact that it is the main way to procreate it leaves out the fact that we’re just one of the many animals that have sex just for pleasure. Pigs, bonobos, dolphins – these are just a few of the creatures who bang for pleasure. It is all natural!
U: You also teach about masturbation and safer sex practices – which coming from a Catholic school upbringing I certainly didn’t get at school, do you go into high schools to teach this? Or is it for all ages?
It’s a mixed bag. I mostly teach adults, but my content is available for anyone. I’ve spoken at many colleges, in many classrooms, but I teach through mostly online platforms like Zoom or O.School. For me, it’s about making the content accessible.
It’s extremely important to me that all people (especially young people) are equipped with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their partners. When we don’t talk about sexuality and safer sex practices, we wind up with skyrocketing STI states and unwanted pregnancy. Studies consistently show that the more information we give kids, the less likely they are to have sex before they’re ready. Knowledge is power.
U: Preach! I am 100% behind that.
So with that, how do you think we can improve our sex education system (aside from watching the fab Netflix series – which taught me more than I ever learnt as a teenager…)?
We need to level the conversations about sex and discuss sex as a normal part of being a human being. It’s as natural as eating or sleeping. The only reason sex is so “embarassing” or shameful is because human beings decided it was this way. It’s not inherently this way. So, be willing to be a sexual health radical. Don’t pretend sex doesn’t exist. Be someone your kids can come to with questions and no judgement. Creating an open dialogue around sex is the key to building a sex-positive, shame-free society. It all begins with our willingness to change the narrative.
U: We also spied you have a book out called ‘All the F*cking Mistakes’ – aside from the title giving a little insight, what’s it all about?
It’s a big book of advice on all things sex and life from me, your agony aunt. There is a lot of swearing – on purpose – in an attempt to subvert the narrative around what it means to be a woman in this world. It has a lot of hilarious (I think) stories from when I was a gal in my teens and twenties trying to figure life and love out – all while embracing my slutty self. It is a very raunchy, very fun, inclusive book that I (having written it) recommend to anyone looking to embrace their power as a sexual being.
U: That sounds jam packed. I will be adding it to my reading list!
U: What’s the most common preconceptions about sex and pleasure that you hear when teaching your classes?
I hear a lot of astounding misconceptions so I’ll share some of those. It’s astounding the lack of information people have and the questions I receive as a result. It only makes me feel more intensely about continuing my work.
- The pull out method is a good idea: Coitus interruptus is when your partner pulls out of the vagina before ejaculation. Planned Parenthood reports that about 27 out of 100 women who use this method get pregnant each year, meaning it’s about 73 percent effective at preventing pregnancy in real life. That’s not as effective as condoms, which are about 82 percent effective IRL, or birth control pills, which are about 91 percent effective. Use the pull-out method in combination with another birth control method, folks. Human error happens.
- Anal doesn’t count as “sex.”
I once had a friend in high school tell me that she only had anal with her boyfriend because she was saving herself for marriage. Um, what?
There are all different kinds of sex — vaginal, manual, oral, anal — and ranking them according to how “impure” they make you is a misguided and toxic way to approach sexuality. There is nothing wrong with having sex of any kind, as long as it’s consensual and safe. Perhaps if we stopped hammering in the “value of purity” into young women we’d stop perpetuating this kind of nonsense.
- If you have a lot of sex, your vagina will get “loose.”
This is completely untrue. An article from Psychology Today describes female anatomy in an excellent visual way that I cite on the reg. Think of it as “a hand towel stuffed inside a thick sock squeezed by two hands,” where the sock is the vagina, the towel is “the folded muscle tissue of the vaginal wall,” and the hands are the pelvic floor muscles surrounding the vagina. Vaginal muscle tissue is very elastic, and no penis is going to make it “looser,” as some slut-shamers like to claim.
U: And what would you say is your most dished out, and used, sex education/advice for the bi community?
Being bisexual is completely valid and it is most certainly not just a phase. This question is rude and pejorative. Even when a bisexual person declares their identity loud and proud, many of us still feel uncomfortable. This stigma exists in both the queer and straight communities. I’ve yet to encounter a bisexual client who has not been questioned, put down, or had a partner have almost constant doubts about whether or not they’re “actually queer.” Treating a person’s identity as a phase is not only damaging to the person you’re questioning, but also to your relationship with them.
Bisexuality means that you have the potential to be attracted to men, women, non-binary folk, trans people of either gender, etc. It’s not your job to show someone how queer you are. You’re queer enough just the way you are.
U: You’re literally a Sexpert then? And now you’re working with Feeld as one, how’s that going?
I suppose I am an expert, yes. It still feels strange accepting a label like that – but hey, I worked hard for it so I’m not going to say no. It’s been really amazing working with Feeld. I’m working to create inclusive content with the coolest people in the business. It’s lovely to work with knowledgeble humans who are as sex positive as I am, and who trust me to take the reins as an expert in this field. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and I’m excited for what the future holds. Stay tuned for more amazing sex positive content in the near future!
U: And finally, what are your top tips for nailing, excuse the pun, the pleasure part of sex?
It’s important to understand that being good at sex is not something we’re born into – you aren’t given the skills as a tiny human. Being good at sex is a learned behavior. Learned behavior comes from doing something, making mistakes, and picking yourself to move forward.
It also means being willing to openly communicate your needs, a willingness to be vulnerable, and figuring out what you like in order to have your own needs met. This takes a lot of dedication and time in order to learn. I’d suggest starting with watching videos and taking workshops on anatomy and then skill. Be aware that you’re not going to be amazing at sex without practice. Fine-tuning your skills takes on the ground research.
Finally, remember that we are all out here trying to learn. None of us really know what we’re doing and so you are not alone. Everyone pretends they’re good at sex when we honestly have no idea what we’re doing.
U: Hear hear! How refreshing to actually hear someone say that. Thanks so much for chatting with us Gigi. If you want to check out one of Gigi’s workshops, or getting reading All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life, head over to Gigi’s website here for more info.
Award-Winning Author, Certified Sex Coach, Sexologist & Educator