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5 things I learned about Sexual Empowerment by going to a Sex Party

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Picture the scene, it’s around 11pm on a Wednesday evening at a swanky Caberet club in London, the show comes to a close and the Killing Kittens MC announces that phase 2 of the evenings activities will commence; “The playroom can be found to the left of the bar and everybody please enjoy your evening, and each other”, or something to that effect.

This isn’t my first Sex Club experience.

My first was in San Francisco in the Spring of 2016 when I impulsively followed through on an invitation from coach-surfing host I was staying with to accompany him, as a friend and wing woman, to an underground club in the city where the swingers hung out. He’d been before and had had a great time and he needed a woman on his arm to get in the door. He was happy to foot the entrance fee.

I was excited, and terrified. I felt like a rebel adventurer, braving new territories and leading myself forward into deeper sexual liberation. As a single, sexually unsatisfied woman, the idea of meeting a handsome stranger and having a “no strings attached” rendezvous felt empowering and enticing. I had visions of 3 men all showering me with sexual attention at the same time, a hot kiss with a beautiful woman, perhaps my first threesome with another couple.

After making my chaperone swear in front the entire household that he wouldn’t hit on me and that we could leave if I felt uncomfortable, even after being there just 5 mins, I put on my black dress and red lipstick, popped some condoms in my purse and stepped out into the unknown.

The evening was an utter disaster. I was fresh meat in a sausage factory. Hit on left, right and centre by unattractive, overly forward men who seemed quite disinterested in getting to know me or who I was as a person. I started to become quite scared. I needed more time and space to take things in and feel into my body. I initially took solace with a couple of older, motherly-looking women who took me under their wings to calm me, before promptly propositioning me for 4-way sex with their mutual playmate, who was apparently quite the star of the swingers scene locally, well endowed and in his 60’s. They even invited me to come and stay with them and attend the sex parties they held for the local swingers community. I felt scared, confused and objectivised.

Once I regained composure, and said a polite “no” I went to find my Chaperone to ask to leave. Instead of taking me home, having not had much success with the ladies, he hit on me relentlessly, and eventually almost forced me to accompany him into the sex room so he could masturbate watching others have sex before he would allow me leave.

I walked into the sex room, in my underwear (as was the maximum allowable clothing in that space) felt the eyes of 100 sexually hungry men and women on me, panicked, then promptly regained my self-respect and left.

I hid at the bar with a couple of nice and new-to-sex-parties, equally confused psychologists for the rest of the evening, watching a human caterpillar of people having sex and performing BDSM acts on each other in the bar, suppressing my terror by overeating the free snacks and desperately pleeing internally and externally that this couple wouldn’t also suddenly hit on me before my Chaperone finished his self-pleasure/voyeurism and felt ready to take me home. They didn’t. Phew.

You might be surprised that I attempted another sex party in London last month after this experience, and somewhat so was I. However I was calmed and soothed by the “women lead” policy at Killing Kittens* that ensures that only women could do the propositioning. That felt inherently safer. The clientele were vetted, and above all, this was an organisation I’d been invited to teach for (in their sex educational arm) and so it felt appropriate to better understand my audience.

*Killing Kittens is a Sex Positive Organisation set-up to support emerging women’s sexual empowerment through managed experiential events, adult education (for men and women) and social forums for making friends and connections.

Here began Sex Party take 2!

Rather than narrate my experience, I’ll get straight to the point of what I learned from this much safer, classier experience in adult play space.

1. Sex Parties aren’t really about sex: they are about play, development and personal expression.

There are few spaces these days where you can go and play as a grow up. Gone are the days of throwing off our shoes and dancing in the mud for all but the most liberated of us. Most avenues for personal development are confined to reading materials, therapy sessions, workshops or courses and, although we can take our partners to tango on a Wednesday night, there are few spaces where one can go to explore how it feels to make love in public, to feel into the complexities of sharing ones partner with another, or simply to explore, as a single women, what it’s like to boldly own one’s sexuality in a room of friends and strangers.

For me, there was nothing arousing about being in a space of couples, triplets and strangers enjoying each other’s genitals as a post dinner snack or place to grind against for light relief. I wasn’t overcome by the same desire for exhibitionism or the merging of energies with a mysterious hot older man or pin-up couple. However I was touched and moved at the child-like wonder in the eyes of the adults in the space, by the supportive and nurturing connections occurring between the women in the ladies toilets and the looks of delight, lust and genuine care between exploring partners.

The experience opened my mind to the possibilities of Sex parties, held in safe environments, as spaces to rediscover some of the adolescent curiosity lost in a world where social and financial survival requires us to grow up and get serious really fast.

2. In our culture, we’ve split off and kept hidden our sexuality from other aspects of our social lives and this perpetuates a culture of shame around our sexuality.

It was fascinating to me to see how strangely normal and un-triggering it was for me to see couples and strangers connecting sexually over a dining table. Looking around the space some people were drinking, some were dancing, some were chatting and laughing and some were fucking.

There was a way in which it felt quite integrative to have sexual acts occurring in the same space as normal adult activities without it being made a big deal or making anyone uncomfortable. It reminded me somewhat or a scene from a 13th Century pub with men drinking, musicians playing and buxom working girls entertaining their clients at the table to earn a few pence to buy bread for their children and having a rather good time in the process. Not that the women at Killing Kittens were prostitutes, they 20, 30, 40, 50 some-things dressed to impress and having an adventurous and growthful night out with their girlfriends, partners or fuck buddies.

I’d like to make clear at this point that I’m not advocating going down on your partner at the next dinner party you go to, or even bringing up the topic of going to a sex party with your friends, I’m not even advocating going to a sex party and I’m not sure I’d go again simply as there are other ways I prefer to spend my time, however I can’t help but open myself to some sadness that such a thing as simply as social sexual play has been made so very wrong and is kept so very secret and behind closed doors.

It’s no wonder sex has gone so far off the rails for many men and women, with everyone trying to work out what to do, on their own, inspired only by pornography and a few dirty stories they got told when then were 15, or that first lover who “showed them the ropes” and potentially trapped them forever after into thinking that defined sex.

Sex is normal. Healthy adults do it, healthy kids explore feelings of pleasure and sensations in their bodies and the world might be a better place if we weren’t all so scared of that fact.

3. You can be beautiful and still be very insecure. Sexual confidence comes from the inside

One thing I had been concerned about was the attractiveness vetting at Killing Kittens Parties. It felt both reassuring to one part of me and judgemental and unkind to another. However, what I found on the day was a good mixture of normal people, slim, attractive, toned, overweight, curvy, tall, short, exotic, unattractive, they were all there. They were also all kind and respectful of everyone else’s boundaries. In fact the only time I had a small freeze response and chose to move away from someone was after I sat a bit too close to an outgoing and vibrant women who perhaps mistook my proximity for a come-on (rather than lack of table space) and got a little vocally and touch friendlier that I was ready for at the start of the evening. I sat a little further away and she immediately respected my distancing and left me alone.

Sat watching the Cabaret show I couldn’t help but ogle the men and women passing to use the toilets or go to the bar. It was like Tinder live and a hook for that part of me that likes to people-watch and play “who do I actually find attractive and why”. Interesting, I found the women much more attractive than the men and was very impressed at the outfits they had pulled together and the ways they were presenting themselves.

What was then fascinating to me, later in the ladies toilets, was to see how many of these beautiful, vibrant women, despite their brave facades and adventurous natures, were actually a ball of insecurity about their appearances once they left the limelight of the club lights and got into the safety of other women looking in mirrors and also wondering if their fishnet tights left a roll of unwanted hip fat on display.

It was something that has been very apparent to me in various stages of my own development that at my most insecure I was the most traditionally and outwardly perfect, and that my most stunningly perfect and beautiful friends were the ones who liked themselves the least. Back in the days when you wouldn’t find me without my make-up, hair extensions, false eyelashes and high heels, within me swirled a vortex of self-disgust. Nowadays you’ll be lucky if I’ve brushed my hair and I’m carrying around 1 stone more than I’d ever had thought was socially acceptable and yet I’ve never before been able to hold and work with so much sexual charge in my body with such self confidence and pleasure.

The biggest step for me from moving to average sex to really good sex has been about coming back into my body and into love with myself

It was somehow reassuring to me to be with these brave and beautiful women, and to know they still carried the same insecurities about their appearance that I had, and that they, and I, looked fabulous, even with (especially with) a roll of soft and juicy feminine hip fat.

4. Sexually Empowered women don’t need to express their sexuality through the sexual act.

The most inspiring moments for me of the whole evening had nothing to do with the sex party. No sexual acts witnessed left me moved to tears, no overheard moans of pleasure left me longing for connection, even watching the guy having the threesome take really good care of his and his partners’ sexual health with the most rapid condom changes and partner swapping I’ve ever witnessed, didn’t send me into a frenzy of applause (although seriously! Good job that guy!)

What was most moving to me were the Cabaret entertainers. Aerial dancers, performance artists and Jazz singers, the stage was lit up with powerful women, deeply in their bodies and personal sexual expression. They were strong, muscular, agile, flexible, bold and self-assured. Nothing showy, just raw self connection and expression of their natural and hard earned talents. I was in awe. I want to be THOSE women.

For me attending a sex party didn’t inspire me to have more sex, it inspired me to want to own my existing sexual/creative power (Eros) and express myself more.

I wondered if, to be a sexuality teacher and professional, I ought to be open to Sex Club Sex, Kink, Polyamory, or having eyebrow orgasms every time I brush my fringe out my eyes. Instead I realised I’m precisely on the right path by being more and more my true self. I’m happier cheerleading on the women in the bathrooms and explaining women’s sexual empowerment to the bouncer on the door of the playroom than I m having a quickly with a hot guy in a suit jacket and no pants.

May I one day be that women who loves my body enough to let it sing and dance freely, on a stage (physical or metaphorical) in a way that inspires other people to let their light really shine.

5. Running around in lingerie is a great way to remember yourself as a sexual being.

I am not one for underwear. In fact having spent several years on a deeply spiritual path trying not to become a full time hippie or naked woodland elf and to keep my feet on the ground, underwear has rather become a thing of the past. As has trying to look nice for other people, fashion, or any kind of hair styling other than my infamous “straight off the beach” look.

That said, donning my friends sexy black lingerie, thigh high boots, a kimono and too much make up (ok forget the latter part that didn’t work for my sense of feeling like myself, although did provide a good protective mask), I felt really bloody sexy. And the sexiness was all mine.

Going to the sex party, looking this hot, and knowing I didn’t need to give it away to anyone but myself, I got to really enjoy myself that evening. I was stroking the softness of my own skin and fabrics, running around without my Kimono and enjoy the looks and appreciation from men and women watching me strutting past in my sexual confidence. I think at one point I even danced around topless for a bit and pole danced against a structural pillar in pure enjoyment of being freely in my own body in a public place.

The only time I normally get this sensation is with a lover or partner, or in the baths at Esalen, California, the moonlight or sunlight bathing my naked skin in the warm waters. It’s liberating to be sexually alive in public.

It’s even inspired me to go and buy some lingerie of my own, for myself, to enjoy myself in on a special romantic “me-time” evening.

Sexuality, after all, isn’t about sex. It’s about the erotic charge that pulses through our body, transforming every cell of our being with pleasure and purpose. It’s easy to experience through good partner sex and that’s just one of a myriad of ways we get to explore who we really are.

So would I recommend you to go to a Sex Party?

I am now a teacher for Killing Kittens and I am a pioneer in women’s sexual empowerment. I am not an advocate for Sex Parties. Attending one needs to be taken seriously

As a single or partnered woman it could be fun to go with a friend with clear boundaries for yourselves and a moderation of alcohol consumption for personal safety and integrity.

For a couple, go if you feel up for it, really solid together, are good communicators and able to discuss all potential eventualities; agreeing boundaries and ways to self-regulate in advance of stepping into the highly charged environment. Having an intention for the experience is also always helpful, as is sobriety.

For single men, if you want to go with a friend, great, just make sure you honour her boundaries and safety, and your own, use protection if you find yourself engaging and please go with an intention of exploration and with a curious nature; without any agenda or expectations that might lead you to lead with your penis, rather than your heart, and accidently scare any women with a past history of trauma, like me.

Would I go again? Who knows. I think I’d be happier just lounging or dancing around at home in my new lingerie.

If you are a women interested in developing your sexual expression and allowing your sexuality in as a healthy, integrated part of your life, please find me at www.emmakharper.com for Psychosexual Somatics Therapy

Join my mailing list here for details of upcoming events and programmes such as my Killing Kittens workshop: Sex with strangers, navigating sex and dating

or please sign up for my 6 Month Women’s Sexual Expression Programme.

With Love

Emma

Emma K Harper

Psychosexual Somatics® Therapist, Speaker, Teacher, Writer, Dancer, Musician.

Discover Your Sexuality, Integrity, Freedom @ www.emmakharper.com

"Working with Emma was a wonderfully nurturing and empowering experience. I'm really grateful for what she taught me about my body and sexuality. I was amazed by the variety of techniques that Emma used to help me understand my body and mind. I've learnt things about myself that have helped me in all areas of my life, not just the bedroom!” 


Miranda Bloodworth