Multiamory made some new friends at RelateCon! We sit down with Cosmo Meens and Melissa Mango to discuss their work in consent, pleasure-based touching, and how objectifying your partner can actually be really, really sexy. You can find more of their work at sexlovesoul.com and at happytouch.ca
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Jase: On this episode of the Multiamory Podcast, we're talking to Cosmo Meens and Melissa Mango about their work regarding pleasure-based touch and consent. This is going to come out the day before our final show of our North American tour.
Emily: LA show.
Jase: LA show, the final one, so we hope to see you all there. We're recording this right after RelateCon, which we just attended and presented along with Cosmo and Mango at RelateCon over the weekend here in Boise, Idaho.
Dedeker: Beautiful Boise, Idaho.
Emily: It is beautiful. You can't see it, dear listeners, but we have a beautiful scene outside. It's lovely.
Jase: Let's just get right into it. We attended a workshop that Cosmo and Mango did that was connected to the company Happy Touch. Is that correct?
Cosmo: Yes. Absolutely. A snippet.
Melissa: That was just the tiniest little appetizer.
Jake: We all got to participate in it and it was fantastic and we've been talking about it for like a day since then.
Dedeker: Yes, it was fun.
Emily: For sure. Just to start the scene can you tell us a little about yourselves, and what you do, why you were here, et cetera? You're about to actually do a couple of classes after RelateCon as well. Can you dive into that a little bit?
Melissa: Cosmo, you want to go first.
Cosmo: Yes, absolutely. I came down from Canada and I'm a Somatic Sex Educator in Canada. I also come from a history of being a chef. I've opened a number of restaurants all health-related and pleasure-based as well. I'm visiting Boise, Idaho for the first time. Came by invite from beautiful Melissa Mango, and we've collaborated. We did two workshops together at RelateCon. One was based on relating games that Mango's been practicing and doing in workshops for quite some time.
Melissa: A couple of years, yes.
Cosmo: The other one is, like we said, a little snippet of some work that we do with Happy Touch. Happy Touch is a company that I have in Canada with my wife Caitlin K. Roberts and we're launching an app with that company connecting sex educators with clients.
Cosmo: We also are a platform that basically brings anything around pleasure, and consent, and sexuality to the forefront making it really accessible. We're here. We're loving it. We're having fun. We're about to do a two-day workshop, a full intensive, kind of a two-day version of the snippet we did at RelateCon.
Melissa: A lot more elements.
Cosmo: Yes, to go into it a little bit further to give people more opportunities to explore and more time for processing. As you see, you've been talking about it for the last day.
Melissa: We've been doing a lot processing.
Cosmo: There's a lot that comes out with very simple stuff that we're working on.
Emily: That was only an hour and a half that we got to spend with you.
Cosmo: That's a little snippet of me. If there's anything I missed, let me know, but Mango maybe--
Jase: I'm sure we'll get to it.
Melissa: I'm Melissa Mango. I started to get my voice back. I'm originally from Boise. I actually moved here right out of high school and then ended up going. Actually, I was a private chef as well. I've had a restaurant in LA, Redondo Beach. That's how I met Cosmo. We worked as a team in that whole pleasure-based raw food scene. That's a huge story.
Emily: Everybody against that.
Cosmo: That's a fun story.
Melissa: That's a really fun story.
Cosmo: Not for today.
Melissa: Not today. Out of chuffing and the raw food scene, I became a clinical hypnotherapist because I was really helping people shift patterns in their life around diet, and exercise, and how they want to take care of their bodies and stuff. That turned into something different. Clients started visiting me around issues of their sexuality, hang-ups. I don't know if it's just something I kind of draw and people feel really comfortable with me. When I started helping people really explore their sensuality, and open up, and shift things on that level, I thought, "This is way more exciting to talk about than kale and protein content."
Emily: That is pretty exciting stuff.
Melissa: That is really exciting.
Emily: I'd do it just as.
Melissa: Yes, it's really exciting, but something else was inside of me of like, "This is something I actually want to study beyond my own training for myself or exploitation." I went to San Francisco Sex Information School and got some basic things because I didn't know how I was going to use the education or where I was going to go. Was I going to become a sex therapist?
I didn't really know. I started there and then realized combining the sex education, which was pretty basic, and then combining the hypnosis, there is another element I was exploring and just seeing naturally. That's where the somatic sex education came in. That's a body-based erotic pleasure-based practice. Cosmo and I were kind of met up at another point reconvened again and thought, "Let's continue."
Cosmo: We did the intimacy training program, which is a week-long mini version the snippet we did at RelateCon. This is a mini version of intimacy training that we did with a mentor of ours, Catherine Jesse and we just both went, "This is our work. This is what we're supposed to be doing," and just collectively and individually decided to dive deeper and take the full Somatic Sex Educator Training program, which is hosted in Canada. The American version is Sex Logical Bodywork Training.
Melissa: Which is based in San Francisco. I really wanted to study with Cosmo and Catherine, specifically and so I ended up going to Canada for that training. I have a private practice in Nevada City, California, and I also travel a bit, RelateCon, and go to different places and bring what I do to little communities. I also do central society, which is a community that I started of people that want to explore their sensuality.
We get together and have events. We learn things like how to do rope, how to make it safe and exciting. We explore all kinds of things, really. How to take care of your cycle and really make the choice if you want to become a parent, for example. I bring in other experts because it's all things that I'm interested in and I would really like to mix it up and have other people present to the community.
Emily: That's amazing.
Dedeker: Pretty cool.
Jase: You were mentioning something when we were talking before about that and I thought this was really cool. A lot of people out there might be interested in trying some sort of kink BDSM something, Some rope play like you mentioned, or spanking, or some kind of power exchange. When you Google that, you get these really extreme things, or you go to like an open house type thing at a dungeon or something. It's people performing these really intense scenes. It's like I'm terrified. I don't know what to do.
Dedeker: Or you watch Fifty Shades of Grey and it's just a whole other idea of what's it's all about.
Melissa: I like bringing in teachers that really teach you how to do the knots and then how to be connected with your partner, which looks very different than the scenes that you see in a dungeon. How to get in your body and actually build intimacy using this object like a rope, or a switch, or a slog, or something like that. That way you can choose the experience you want to have. You can have something very light and sensual and just play with that or you can make it really extreme. The point is to have the full buffet to pick from.
Cosmo: Starting out small by offering people an opportunity to explore these things, it's all fairly new territory for me as well, and which is why I like the accessibility because I had images of what I thought kink and BDSM and rope-play was about prior. Then when I was exposed to it, I was like, "This is a completely different thing." There's tons of intimacy, tons of connection, tons of opportunity to slow down and feel into your body, which is a lot of what we practice personally and teach about. The first time I ever played with ropes was actually with Mango after our training and you hosted something with Max from Seattle.
Melissa: Right. I had a specialist come in and teach. Then I was really excited.
Cosmo: She brought these ropes and the stuff and she's like, "Here. Let me show you."
Melissa: It was nothing elaborate.
Cosmo: No. It's all decorative. I just fell in love. I was like, "Those ropes look really beautiful on your body." It was very decorative. Interestingly enough, I just was very excited about that. I shared that and it showed me the stigma around that because what I got back was people unfriended me on Facebook saying, "You shouldn't be posting that kind of stuff." This was just a picture of Mango's back with decorative rope on it.
I found that very interesting. I had to then again reflect on how I present in social media in regards to various things just to be aware of the stigmas that are attached to some of this stuff and start to slowly hopefully break down. That's where the accessibility piece comes in as well.
Dedeker: I know for myself that for so long, when I was younger when I was trying to figure out, "What am I into? What kind of sexual being am I? What kind of kinks do I have?" I definitely have this perception with kink or any kind of BDSM or bondage or anything. I think this is probably very much led by mainstream pornography. My perception was it has to be extreme.
If you're going to enjoy this, you have to enjoy a lot of pain, a lot of intense sensation, a lot of extreme subjugation, and that's what it is to enjoy this. For a number of years in the early 20s, I was like,"Okay, I guess I'll try to do it and try to find the parts that I like, and kind of endure the rest," without realizing that something that the both of you mentioned in your workshop that the idea of there being a pallet of sensation within any kind of touch.
Cosmo: The pleasure pallet.
Dedeker: Exactly. Whether it is rope play or bondage or not. Just any kind of sensual touch that there's this huge spectrum that, again, I think that a lot of people don't realize that it's okay to find this more nuanced, more complex experience and sensation within these experiences.
Melissa: Right. People have a choice to really decide where they want to take the sensation. What really works for them? Yes, that's beautiful.
Dedeker: I really quickly want to take a little bit of a side step because I want to talk about the name of your company, Happy Touch. I'll be honest, when I first read the name of your workshop was Happy Touching: Exploring Taking for your Pleasure, or something like that. When I read Happy Touching, I was like, "This sounds like a kid's workshop maybe but it involves touching," and so I'm like, "I don't know about that." Then when I gave it another look and I was like, "Okay, no. Happy Touch, something that's positive and pleasurable and not necessarily sexual." Tell me a little bit behind your decision to name your company that way.
Cosmo: That's a really, really fantastic question. I was taking Like a Pro which is Betty Martin's training for educators to learn about the wheel of consent which is a type of language and chart really that Betty developed and teaches. The work that we do is based as a foundation in the wheel of consent. You can put links up to Betty's work and there's tons of footage on there.
I was doing the training and I was in my body exploring and being like, "What are we really practicing here? What is this that we're doing?" Even though we're exploring sexuality, the reality is that sexuality is a gateway to having more life force and thriving in the rest of your life. As I was feeling into that I'm like, "How is this accessible to people? What is this really about?"
It's about just feeling good about touch. So much of our lives, we maybe are touched non-consensually. Maybe we haven't even created the idea of consent within our body and created this idea that we are autonomous beings that we also have to have trust with ourselves. By creating some boundaries for ourselves, our bodies trust us. Once we are within our boundaries of consent, then we can explore this happy touch.
It doesn't necessarily have to be sexual. I'm glad that you brought up about children. I have young children and I teach them these principles to just in regards to brother and sister touching in a gentle way. Don't touch people when you're angry, tough people when you're happy and ask them if they're allowed. I love the saying, "Everything we needed to learn, we learned in kindergarten," and not separating ourselves as adults. Sure, we as adults, have different types of touch exploration, but that it also should be playful. We should embrace our inner child.
Emily: Don't take yourself so seriously.
Cosmo: Yes, our bodies are playgrounds. Let's have happy touch in our playgrounds. Let's find language to be able to explore that type of touch. That's where it came from. The name was really accessible . Eventually, maybe there will be modules for teenagers and children in different levels that it won't just be connected to sexuality.
Dedeker: I feel like that could be so needed.
Emily: Yes, sure.
Dedeker: Get them while they're young.
Cosmo: We got to start with breaking the stigma with adults before we could ever approach- obviously, adults then have the opportunity to take that and teach their own children. Eventually, potentially, they'll be that opening to bring that into schools. There's a lot of opportunity there.
Dedeker: Yes, definitely.
Melissa: There's a lot around consent. You and I were talking about this morning is that it's not just about accessing and finding a yes, it's really about really feeling what am I actually wanting? Is it a yes. Is that a maybe? Is it a no? Consent isn't about searching for the yes.
Cosmo: Or permission. It's about mutuality.
Melissa: It's a conversation together. You're accessing truth, really.
Jase: Yes, beautiful.
Jase: That's fantastic. The thing about children made me think of there was a consent workshop that I went to that was related to a cuddle party group. They did a consent training for educators. One of the things that they talked about was how, from a very early age, we're taught that we don't have autonomy because there's the like, "Go hug your aunt, Susan," and it's like, "I don't want to." It's like, "You don't get a choice. Go hug her anyway, or go give her a kiss," or whatever it is.
Melissa: Those messages land in the body and then they play out in your life. If someone else makes the decision for me on some level, you kind of follow that.
Emily: Yes. You have to do it.
Melissa: Then you see how that plays out. Right?
Cosmo: It really goes back to this concept. Something that I really love to-- Well, first of all, it really means something in my body, but it's around caring. It's like, "Do I care what this body that I'm coming into contact with feels?" That's what consent is so that we're talking about that mutuality. Why as adults would we want to hug a child that wasn't feeling like they wanted to hug us?
Cosmo: What is that about? Do we want to allow space for people to come to us, not for us to force ourselves on people and just find that mutuality of coming together? What a beautiful thing when a child runs to you and hug you because they want to.
Dedeker: Because they want to.
Emily: There's a big difference between that.
Dedeker: In fact it's a good segue.
Jase: During the workshop that we did yesterday- Was that yesterday, was that two days ago?
Emily: It was two days ago.
Jase: Getting all runs together. I can't even .
Cosmo: Yesterday was a bit of a blur.
Emily: The other day.
Melissa: Yes. It was a bit of a blur.
Jase: One of the things that we talked about was when addressing consent and when you're asking someone else that you want to do something with them, is first getting clear on the question of who is this for? That was something that I'd actually heard before when someone was talking about with kink stuff. If someone asked, "Would you like to do this type of thing together?" The question they respond with is, "Well, who is this for? Is this for me or for you?"
Based on that answer, it might affect how they would answer and how they'd proceed. I was like, "That makes sense, I guess, but it's a little bit confusing and seems very inorganic or something." During your workshop, you presented it in a way that to me at least felt much more conversational, much more organic, and just working that understanding into the way you're talking about stuff. I was wondering if you could give us that sort of quick rundown on the "may I" versus "would you like."
Cosmo: Do I really take that?
Melissa: Go for it, yes.
Cosmo: I love this one. The most simple description of this is when one person offers to give someone a massage.
Melissa: This could happen in a club, dance club.
Cosmo: At a cuddle party, just at a dinner party, even with a partner just sitting watching a movie. One person's idea of what the massage looks like might be very different from what the other person's idea of what the massage looks like. Someone says, "Would you like a massage?" A really natural question could be, "Who is this for?" Whereas we don't often ask that, instead the person that's receiving the massage might say, "Sure."
Maybe they don't actually want a massage. If you ask the question, who is it for? Then maybe the person that's receiving the massage might say, "Well, if this is for me, I want you to massage my feet for 10 minutes." The person giving the massage would say, "Is that a gift that I want to give? Was that my intention in offering the massage?"
If the person that's offering the massage actually wants to touch your body for their pleasure, then the question should be, "May I give you a massage for my pleasure?" In that case, you are then giving them a gift. You're giving them the gift of your body for them to touch however they want within reason, within your boundaries. You could say then, "Yes, I will give you that gift, but please avoid my breasts and my throat," or something specific.
You would give them some parameters in which that gift can take place rather than getting into this position where you say, "Sure," and they're giving you a shoulder massage which is turning into a upper breast massage and their fingers are dancing closer to your nipples, but you didn't really say that. The next thing you know, they're trying to have sex with you. Even if this is your partner, you might be like, "I want to watch the movie. Fuck off."
Emily: When this was happening in the workshop when you were discussing this, I was like, "Yes, this happens too often to me, and then all of a sudden, there's a dick in my ass."
Cosmo: That's where when we really get down to it, we talk about that "yes," without clarifying who's it's for, there's murkiness around even with entrusting your own body. You said, "Yes," and then you're like, "I don't want the dick in my ass right now, but somehow I ended up here." Then you get into a place of potentially even with partners being in a victim-victimizer position.
That is really muddy and it can create a lot of stuff that just by asking those simple questions with maybe it doesn't seem organic at first. Maybe it's a little clunky and language at first, but it's way clunkier to then feel like you've somehow either victimized yourself or been victimized by a partner, new friend, lover, or whatever. That little bit of clunkiness, in the beginning, to clarify who it's for can create so much fun too.
Because when you give yourself as a gift to someone and you know that you're giving your body as a gift to them for their pleasure, what I found is that all of the sudden there's this beautiful purpose, this effortless purpose that just being is enough.
Emily: That's so profound.
Cosmo: Being is giving a gift of pleasure to someone. Unless you've clarified that, you may not even in your own body really understand what you're doing.
Dedeker: I feel that leads into something that I want to talk about, which is that, specifically, this workshop that you facilitated was specifically about the act of taking for your own pleasure. Even that phrase I think could be so activating to so many people; the idea of taking something from someone.
Cosmo: That's why I chose it.
Dedeker: It's provocative for sure. I think, again, like in the massage example, the idea of, are you giving me a gift of you truly want to massage my shoulders, and get rid of my tension, and make me feel good, or do you want to feel my body? I think it's really interesting that something that I think I uncovered in the workshop is that that's not necessarily a bad thing as long as it's communicated about.
Again, if a partner's at least clear with me, I want to give you like, "May I give you a massage because I love your body, and I really want to touch it, and feel it, and it's really arousing to me." Again, giving me the opportunity to be like,"Can I give that gift right now? Can I let you take right now or not?" If I can, then it's like, "Yes, that's great." Again, it doesn't create that sense of like, "This person tried to take advantage of me in this situation."
You've referenced it's Betty Martin in the work of consent and that taking is part of the wheel of consent. Do you mind just giving a really quick and dirty sense of how taking fits into the other ecosystem of this particular modality?
Melissa: I'm really a visual person.
Cosmo: We've your chat with you here.
Melissa: We've got the wheels consent and there's four quadrants just like a pie. There's four slices. They're serve, take, allow, and accept. In service, that's always going to benefit others. You're always going to be saying, "Yes, I will. This is what I'm giving the gift."
Cosmo: You're saying, "Yes, I will," if you can give that.
Melissa: If you can give it. If you're in the taking quadrant, the action is for yourself. Often times, we'll be taking but really we're trying to serve. Does that make sense?
Melissa: You're always going to say, "May I," because you're asking for permission, you're asking for access in allowing. Did you have something about that?
Cosmo: Yes. Just to clarify that the muddiness sometimes when you're giving an action. The action, when you're in service, is going to someone that's accepting that service. When you're taking, it's going to someone that's allowing you to take. The action is going in one way. With service, you're giving the gift to the person that's accepting. With taking, actually, the gift is going from the allower to you. The murkiness comes in when people go towards an action with the guys, let's say, of service when they're actually taking.
Jase: Like the massage example that just feeling your body.
Cosmo: They say, "I'm presenting this option as though it's a service to you, but it's not a service. I'm taking from you for my pleasure." That's where it gets muddy and you get outside of consent.
Dedeker: The example that comes to my mind to think of something that's maybe more directly sexual than a massage is I think about if a partner asks me, "May I go down on you," for instance. It's definitely gotten some murkiness there where sometimes I've had a partner approach me and it truly is like service like, "I want to pleasure you. I want to give you an orgasm, or 10," or whatever.
There's sometimes where it has been like, "I want to go down on you, but I want that to be the warm-up to me fucking you," or whatever. Which again maybe I'm feeling like, "Yes, great," or maybe I'm not. I don't know, have you ever experienced that where--?
Emily: Sure. It's difficult to say no sometimes and we got into that obviously too. When it is under this like, "Well, I'm about to do you a service. I'm about to go down on you, which feels good," but maybe you're in a space where you don't want that. Yet, I don't know.
Dedeker: For me, usually it's someone is in a space where it's like, "Yes, I'll take you going down but I don't know how we can have sex."
Emily: Sure, but I don't want to have sex with you. I love those ones.
Dedeker: Again, that murkiness there of like, "I want to say yes to this, but maybe the actual request I should be saying no to-."
Emily: Something that I feel so often is that if somebody is doing me a service, I have to service them as well. I have to automatically give them a blow job then later on let them fuck me.
Dedeker: There's a score there.
Emily: Exactly, because it has to be equal in that way and I can't just simply be a being who allows themselves to just be given pleasure with nothing in return to the other person.
Cosmo: When someone is saying, "May I go down on you?" You can clarify and say, "Who is this for? Is it for you?" Then you might set a time container and you say, "Yes, you can go down on me for your pleasure for 10 minutes. I actually have a business meeting" or "I have something going on."
Emily: Sure, we’re about to record an episode.
Melissa: Or I only wanted to give this. I only want what I want.
Cosmo: I'm not consenting to sex after and I'm not agreeing to necessarily pleasure you as well, but if you want to pleasure me for 15 minutes, great. Have that. If it is for you, then you'll know it's for you if you can give them direction.
Cosmo: I would like you to go faster, slower, please. If their feelings get hurt, then it really was it for you. Then you'll know if you give direction and they say thank you, then you know it's really for you. That's something that you can negotiate, too, and build that language with your partner. Not everyone's going to have this language.
Melissa: It can be sexy too, it doesn't have to be like, "Okay, we're going to follow this and I'm going to ashame you for not following this." It can be like, "I want to try this really hot thing with you. I want to really get into our dynamics." You can make it playful.
Cosmo: Consent can be sexy.
Dedeker: Of course. We always try to bring that back.
Melissa: The training each other too with your partners and even friends too. Training each other around this is really beautiful. It's really great.
Emily: I wanted to get into- This is potentially challenging just because it's men and women that I'm about to talk about. I know as a female-bodied person, I have felt objectified by men all of my life. Yet, I have had a lot of partners who asked me the question or just say like, "I want to feel objectified by you in sex," and how often I say to myself like, "I have no idea how to do that."
Dedeker: We had a lot of conversations about this. If I shared would you want?
Emily: Yes, go for it. Basically, I wanted to ask the question, how the fuck do I do that? Are there tools? Are there good ways to go about approaching that in a way that will be great for my partner?
Cosmo: I call it taking as a service.
Melissa: If you can really drop into not touching them how you think they're going to love it, but really, really drop into, what turns you on about their body and how can you really take it? It's hot when they know that they can give you the gift of that and vice versa. Once you really get into taking, then you can be objectified and actually feel good. Because you are going, "Yes, take pleasure in my body, and my pussy, and my ass," whatever the thing is.
Cosmo: It's such a beautiful thing because it is so very common to hear that from women that is like, "I've been objectified my whole life and it doesn't feel good. The reason it doesn't feel good is because you didn't agree to it."
Cosmo: When you do agree to it, it feels fucking amazing. Also, you may have partners men or women that yearn for that. They yearn to feel taken from and sexy and desired. When your body is being used as a tool for someone else's desire, that's a beautiful thing. It's like one of the most nourishing and healing things as a man to feel taken from in that way.
Melissa: There's something also that in your nervous system that can become healed and nourish on a deep level. If you have had things in the past that have been felt really wrong, there's a way to bring it back into actually feel really about it. There's a lot of deep healing there.
Jase: It's funny, you mentioned that because I had an experience on the opposite side, from what Emily was talking about at the workshop, where we were doing the exercise where you would partner up and ask to do something to the other person for your own pleasure like we're talking about.
Cosmo: May I do this to you for my pleasure?
Cosmo: Right. My partner asked, she's like, "Could I sit behind you and just touch or squeeze your shoulders and your muscles, or your arms, or your chest or whatever?"
I was like, "Sure, yes." They had this weird thing of, at first feeling like, "I'm getting a massage or something," and then being like, "Wait, this is for her." I just had like this doesn't compute. I'm just sitting here and she's getting something out of it. As a man, I feel for the most part, my body has been valued for what it can do and not just what it is. That was this--
Emily: You feel like women, it's very much been the opposite. I thought about the fact that when it was that part of the workshop, and I was trying to think of like, what I want to take from a male partner for my own pleasure, and I'm like, "I don't know. I think I've been so conditioned to like he's the observer I'm the observed. I'm the consumed thing, he's the thing that does the consuming. .
Cosmo: Interesting language there.
Emily: I think that a lot of us have been conditioned to learn how to take pleasure in that one way or another.
Melissa: Even slip into enduring.
Emily: Or slip into just enduring because this is just what the dynamic is. The thing is that it's like when I sat with it, and was like, "I know there's definitely a deep part of me that would love to take, especially from a male partner for my pleasure, but has never even seen the light of day really."
Cosmo: We can practice when we're done.
Melissa: That could be such a hot date night, even setting the tension of like, "Hey, there's something I really want to play with you, would you be willing to play?" They can go, "Yes." Then you can just lay out the ground though the parameters and try it even with simple touch, or massage, or kissing, or whatever.
Cosmo: You have to remind your partner too. As men, the doing is hard to break. Your partner will reach up to participate and you have to smack their hand. When she's taking for me, she'll just like, "I'll reach up." I'll be like, "Oh." I just smacks my hand down and I'm like, "Yes, right. I'm the fuck toy right now."
Melissa: And loving it.
Cosmo: Yes, and loving it. Then when you can really drop into that space, I honestly have never felt anything more nourishing sexually than being in a totally non-doing pleasurable state. Actually, it took quite not a long time, but a fair amount of time to rewire my arousal. Laying on my back, I couldn't even really access an erection or arousal for a bit in there. I just had to really drop in and relax.
That's something that often I will present to male clients when they're having issues with erection where sometimes you don't want to be doing. Your body's not in a space of doing. Actually, blood flow to your penis, or your cock or whatever, is about relaxation.
If you can get out of your mind and into your body and relax, and all the sudden there's this access to arousal, that's a different one than we're used to. Than we're used to consuming. I like that you use that, the consumed and the consumer. That we're not always in that space. Because it's real gentleness and tenderness that comes from dropping into that relaxing space.
Emily: Well, I'm going to give us the equivalent of a cold shower for a second to take a break.
Cosmo: We're going to take a quick break to talk about some ways that you can support this show and help this keep going. The first of those is to join our community on Patreon. Patreon, we've talked about this a lot during our tour in meeting our patrons live is that in addition to the just financially, that Patreon and the support we get from our listeners, is what allows us to do this at all and to go, and continue doing this podcast, and to keep growing it, and to travel more places and do these live events.
Literally, that would not be possible without that support. In addition to that, it's also really provided us with this amazing community that we didn't expect. We didn't set out with the intention of making a community but it's formed around that. A big part of that is our private invite-only Facebook group that patrons can get access to, as well as our monthly video discussion groups that we have for more direct one on one processing.
Just not only for them to be in a community where they can talk about these things and not instantly be judged for their relationships, but also what we get from that, learning how we can be better, how we can improve this podcast. Our patrons are the people who get that most immediate feedback and stuff with us, has just been really incredible.
If you want to support this show and become part of that Patreon community, you can go to patreon.com/multiamory and you can choose an amount that's comfortable to you to donate every month to us to help keep this going. We would love to have you as part of that community.
Dedeker: Another thing you can do especially if it's just not accessible to you right now to be able to donate via Patreon is you can just leave us a review on iTunes, or Apple podcasts, or Stitcher, or wherever fine podcasts are sold. The reviews really do help us. It takes less than two minutes of your time to leave us a rating or just write us a couple quick sentences as a review.
It helps people to find our podcast, it helps us to throw up higher in search results, it helps people to know what to expect from the podcast. It's really great if you share what you've gotten out of the podcast, or if there's any particular episodes you recommend people start with, it really does help us. Again, just go to iTunes, Apple podcasts, wherever you listen to this podcast and leave us a quick review.
Emily: Also we have merch. If you go to multiamory.com/store, you can find T-shirts, hoodies, you can find yoga pants, or things like that, and it's really awesome. A lot of people actually will buy the merch that we have that doesn't say multiamory on it, but just has our logo. We thought of that as our secret bat signal. If you don't want to be totally out, don't want the word multiamory flash everywhere, you can actually just have the logo on and then see maybe at the gym someone else with the logo and go like, "Is that what I think it is?" Then you've made a new best friend.
Melissa: It's happened, it's confirmed. This happens, this works.
Emily: Yes, it's definitely has happened. Yes, absolutely. We really appreciate all the patrons of ours on the tour who wore our merch to our shows. We love seeing that, that was really cool. Again, if you want to get any of our merch, go to multiamory.co/store.
Jase: I got some nice compliments during the tour on how comfy the shirts are.
Emily: They are. They are so comfy.
Jase: They were like, "I was expecting this to be as stiff-like banner T-shirts." They're like, "No, this is actually really comfy."
Emily: Yes, they're really soft and nice. We love them.
Jase: The last thing is that our sponsor for this episode is Audible. If you like listening to audiobooks in addition to podcasts, I feel like we have some overlapping audiences there with audiobooks, you can go to audibletrial.com/multiamory and there you can get a free 30-day trial that comes with a free audiobook. You too had some recommendations of have some books that our listeners could look up.
Melissa: Yes, there's definitely a quite a few. There is some that we've taken in our psychological bodywork training or Somatic Sex Educator Training. There's, let's see, Women's Anatomy of Arousal by Sheri Winston. Anything by Peter Levine is really special for people that are really interested in learning about the nervous system, learning about how trauma gets into your body and how to unwind it.
Jase: I see you have a long list on you phone there.
Cosmo: What was that one that we came in the beginning?
Melissa: The Body Keeps the Score.
Cosmo: The Ethical Slut is amazing gateway book for sure.
Dedeker: For all people?
Melissa: For everything.
Cosmo: The Body Keeps the Score, right, that's one. Just a note about the Women's Anatomy of Arousal was a beautiful book, and there's some gender stereotypes in that book. Just be aware that things evolve a new language comes out, it's great information though. When it says, "Tips for men," that could be tips for everyone, let's just do that. .
Emily: Thank you.
Jase: Thank you so much. If you do sign up for the free trial, you don't even have to keep doing it, and audible will contribute so money to our podcast to help it to keep going.
Emily: You still get a free audiobook.
Jase: You still get the free audiobook. It's really a win-win for everybody. If you're like me or Dedeker, we end up keeping our subscriptions because it's great. I love listening to audio books.
Emily: It's awesome.
Jase: All right. Let's get back into this.
Dedeker: I would love to take us back in. As we've mentioned, all three of us had is really interesting, profound, different experiences as a result of the workshop. One of the exercises that you did was an exercise of kind of help people to figure out what yes or no feels like in the body. We partnered up-- Emily and I partnered up. We had to ask each other this different questions of, "May I do this" or, "Will you do this" but the answer from the other person had to be a no every single time.
We also switched to where the answer had to be a yes but you didn't do the action, you just had to answer yes to the question. That was so interesting to me because for me her asking me a bunch of questions of things that would have been a yes answer to things that I would have liked to have done but have to say no. Again, for me, as a woman, I don't have a lot of that experience of saying no when it is a yes.
It's more of saying yes or giving an implicit yes when it's really a no inside my body. That was a really, really fascinating brand new experience for me of saying no when it is a yes. I know that there were some men in the workshop having the new experience of saying yes when it is a deep, disgusted no .
Emily: He seemed very disgusted.
Dedeker: It seems my impression of like, "They never had that experience before." Is that something that people uncover frequently in your workshops?
Melissa: Yes, absolutely. Just getting in touch with the different answers and how they feel in the body because sometimes we don't really even notice that. Something happens and people are like, "Wow, I said something and that wasn't true inside. How do I get these two things to match?" Which is the big aha. How about you Cosmo?
Cosmo: Yes. Two things. One, I was so curious to ask the men specifically what was causing that reaction but I wanted to respect their individual space between them.
Jase: I definitely tried to push my partner because I was paired with a male partner for that. I definitely was like, "I'm going to push him on the things that I'll ask to do that I know that he has to say yes to. Not that we're going to do it but just so that he could have that experience.
Dedeker: It's nice.
Jase: He was one of the men who made that comment of like, "Wow, this was--"
Cosmo: "That felt disgusting in my body." That exercise is specifically for that. It's about imprinting the recognition of what something feels like that's opposite to what you're saying and then being able to take that out into your everyday life. Not specifically, again, I like to keep saying that we work within the realm of sexuality but these tools are about accessing this to better your life in genera, not just your sex life.
Melissa: Like someone wants to borrow your car, "Sure," when inside you're like, "Ugh."
Cosmo: You can feel that.
Melissa: We really wanted it to match. it's really beautiful when you're really in integrity and someone can receive your yes, they can also receive your no and your maybe. This is the whole culture that we're--
Emily: Trying to focus on.
Cosmo: Maybe even celebrate it.
Melissa: Celebrating all the answers for ourselves.
Cosmo: One of the women in the workshop said, "Wow. I just realized that I thought that was a baseline of how I was supposed to feel, I just thought that's how I felt." Then she said, "Oh, I don't have to feel that way, I don't just have to say yes." When she had the opportunity to say no, she said that there was a resolution. There was something that shifted in her body that felt at ease, that felt different. That's like, "Wow." Again, sure, it applies to sexuality but that goes so much deeper than sexuality.
That's at the grocery store, that's letting someone budge in line in front of you. That's something that your doctor says to you, "Take this medication," "Yes, no problem." Being able to feel the truth of what that feels like and then have the recognition of how to start implementing that into your life so that then you feel it.
Melissa: Otherwise you're just overriding that natural system, which always feels like shit.
Cosmo: Our bodies are so finely tuned. They're such beautiful instruments. When we get into the habit, the pattern-- You said something, Dedeker, earlier about slipping into enduring and disassociating. Maybe you have the opportunity with a lover where it's a beautiful experience but you're so used to slipping there that you're not even really fully present with it. It's about being present with life by not putting our bodies into a constant state of trauma or distrust with our choices.
Emily: Just constantly saying yes all the time because I'm so bad at saying no. That means like, "I had three restaurant jobs at one time because I couldn't say no to two of them."
Cosmo: To the shift, or--
Emily: Yes. Somebody was like, "I want you to work with me." I said, "Sure, I'll do it." Then I never had a life, for example. Just things like that and really being able to say no and mean it and be okay with that and not just constantly say yes, it's so profound and it needs to happen, especially for those of us who are shitty at it.
Cosmo: Dedeker, you said something earlier too about that you may not have really specific large traumas in your life. I call that micro-traumas. We all are carrying a certain level of trauma in our body. Even if we don't have something major to reflect upon, "Oh, it's this and we have to get over that." It's actually this tiny, little traumas along the way that build up into this, "Uh, fuck no." Hopefully, you can come out with that and then start to celebrate your no and celebrate your yes.
Jase: The example from the workshop of men having that experience of saying yes when they mean no for the first time, I feel like that's super powerful, and that's something that I wish there was a way to get that out there more. I found that for me, the first time I experienced that in a workshop setting was a different consent workshop, which is a similar thing of asking for something and you have to say no or then asking for something and you have to say yes.
What I found was, for me, in my life the first time I really experienced that with myself was when I first opened myself up to having sexual relationships with men. All of a sudden I started experiencing some of these things, not right away but just those little things and then some slightly more major ones where it was like, "Wow, I've hated everything about what just happened and I'm really traumatized and upset about it but I never said no to it."
It's that thing that I had never understood before when I was only the male in a heterosexual relationship with women because it was following these gender roles that we don't even question. For me, that was a shocking. I had a lot to deal with and process in coming to terms with that, and it put my own interactions from the past in a different light. I was just like, "Fuck me, I'd suck," because I just didn't know.
Melissa: You get to feel it.
Cosmo: If more of us, men, especially heterosexual men, but I think really everybody could have that experience of seeing what those are like. My hope is that those men from the workshop are able to go back and go, "Geez, I didn't quite realize what my female partners were getting at if they ever said like, "Oh, I felt pressured into this thing or I couldn't say no," or something like that to go, "Oh God." I have a taste of what that feels like."
Emily: That's a really big thing to know right now in this very volatile time when I think, "Yes, things like that have been questioned and so few people actually know what that experience is like."
Cosmo: Then caring. Instead of being defensive, "Oh, you said yes." Instead of caring, there's two things, both caring so that you want to know and you're like, "Thank you for sharing." That's a vulnerable thing to share to a partner, "Actually, I felt like what we were doing was not- my body wasn't totally consenting to it." From the other side, is also being solution oriented. Not blaming when maybe you did consent to something and then you slipped out of consent within your body but did not vocalize that to your partner.
From where they're coming from, they're in a place of consent. They're in a mindset that the person they're engaging with- it's a consensual act if you don't communicate that. That's why we have to be in this solution-based space around educating with language and experience so that we don't start pointing fingers and creating this divide between the masculine and the feminine and start claiming toxic masculinity when really it's a lack of education. Not in all cases. This is void of very specific abuse scenarios.
When we're just dealing with individuals interacting on a regular basis, there are lots of traumas that are happening just because of not having the education around language.
Dedeker: That reminds me of a story I want to share with a partner of mine that-- I forget how we even came to this realization. There's a particular sex act that both of us would do to each other
and, for me, it was always like enduring. It was always just enduring. It was like, "He enjoys this, this is good for him. I'm going to endure this." Until it somehow came out that he felt the same exact thing. That he was enduring it too because he assumed like, "She enjoys this. I'm going to do it. I'll just deal with it."
Cosmo: Who is this for?
Emily: Oh, I've had this talk too with people.
Dedeker: We were both mind blown. We're like, "Let's not fucking do that anymore." It kind of was the same thing where it was instead of even saying, "Hey, this doesn't feel good," or, "Hey, can I try doing it in a different way?" I automatically was just like, "I'm just going to endure it," and then the fact that he did too. We talked about just how much we need that communication or even just one person to finally speak up and be like, "Actually, let's change this."
Cosmo: "Is this working for you?"
Cosmo: If somebody is in their pleasure and you're allowing. Maybe you're not enduring. Maybe you are enduring and you can find a place of allowing but because you know it's for their pleasure. If nobody's in their pleasure, "Why are we doing this? Who is it for?"
Dedeker: It was there where it was like, "No one's in their pleasure."
Emily: "Let's not do this. Oh, my god" When you have a new partner or when you just meet someone even at the grocery store or anyone in general who doesn't have a language for what we're talking about here, what do you do? How can you sort of introduce like a new partner to something like this, kind of right off the bat?
Cosmo: I have a quick one and then go. I laugh because my wife, Caitlin, on every first date walks the people through the wheel of consent. I just laugh.
Melissa: Does she do it on a little cocktail napkin?
Cosmo: She just draws it out. She's like, "Just so you know in our interactions this is the language that I would like to know you understand if we're engaging in."
Jase: That's great.
Emily: How amazing.
Cosmo: She's a sex educator and so it comes very comfortable.
Dedeker: Of course.
Cosmo: There are tools to begin that.
Melissa: Sometimes it's not always appropriate to bust out the wheel even on a napkin. "Okay, before we make out, we're gonna do this thing."
Emily: "We're going to talk about this," yeah.
Melissa: There's a time and a place for it. This is someone that you're really wanting to maybe be a partnership or date or something like that, then you'll be like- you turn it into a game. That's what I do anyway.
Jase: Okay, "What's that like?"
Melissa: "Do you want to practice?" Actually, what I will do is ask the person, "How do you like to be touched?" They like, "What?" It's pretty public what I do so there's curiosity around, "What do you teach? What are your workshops like?" It could be a conversation at dinner around the concepts of the wheel of consent just to get to know each other and then that could turn into like, "Do you want to see how this plays out in a sexy game or something like?"
Once you learn the concepts of the wheel consent, you're going to find ways how it goes through your body and how it comes out in your interactions. If I'm at a play party, for example, I will just use certain languaging but I'm not going to turn into an educational thing because it's not really the time or the place for that. You're in a loud place, there's bodies everywhere.
There's small ways that you can do it inside your body and then also see what their response is. Then you can turn the conversation to, "What would you like for your pleasure," and really check in. You're actually giving them the experience of the wheel without drawing it out. Later you can follow it up or maybe it comes in a different way.
Cosmo: There's Betty Martin, again, on her website has this three-minute game that anyone can download and play with their partners.
Melissa: We've done it at play parties too. A lot of play parties will have an educational piece in the beginning or a speaker or something like that, and so what we'll present the three-minute game and bring out tools and fun toys and little things. We'll get people into their bodies and play the game. The three-minute game, it's a contained time to actually experience what do I want with this person and how do I ask for it?
That turns into play party, which everyone has a basic- baseline of the language.
Cosmo: Anytime you can lengthen play, that's fun. Even with a new partner without the whole explanation, if you just say, "I really like this. I like to be asked where you touch me, and how you want to touch me," and then all of a sudden, it's like, "Whow, where’s this charge?" "I would like to touch your shoulders." "Can I kiss your neck?" It becomes this really fun, supercharged and actually really, really sexy engagement.
Melissa: Super hot.
Cosmo: That really stretches out the pleasure too. Whilst sometimes we rush in and that's where before everyone's genitals are ready and before your bodies are integrated. It gives an opportunity for energies to align before moving into these more intense expressions of pleasure.
Emily: I think just the idea that a new partner and you would have this from the beginning sounds so awesome. Obviously people are learning those and they can learn it even an established relationship but coming at a new relationship with this and just having that be the way in which you interact with each other from the beginning sounds wonderful.
Melissa: It's such a powerful tool to bring in, even in established relationships of like, "Wow, this change is how I'm going to communicate and treat you now."
Dedeker: You mentioned that you don't have to bust out the cocktail napkin. That you can change your language and how you actively ask someone how they like to be touched, or ask them, "Do you want this faster or slower?" "Is this pressure still working for you?" or, "Do you want it lighter?," or whatever. I found, for me, that recently it's also been not just about changing the way I talked to the other person, but like really trying to have integrity about speaking up if I am enduring something, or speaking up if something's not working for me.
That has been the hardest habit to break after so many years of taking it or settling for like, "This is kind of pleasurable, I'll take what I can get." That's really hard to do. I've never regretted it anytime that I have. Of course, anytime that I have actually spoken up and said, "Actually, could you do this? Could you touch me this way? Can you try this angle?"
That, of course, it feels better and then it's so much better but it's still so hard to break. That ingrained habit after so many years of doing it.
Jase: I loved in the workshop, when we were doing that. When it was the other way, where it's, "I'm doing something to you for you," that you said to be giving direction throughout. I was like, "Could you do that a little bit harder or little softer? Could you move on to my shoulder," or whatever it was. If it was a massage or something, was that the person receiving that should just say thank you rather than taking it personally about you. They're just telling you what their body likes.
I feel like I've gotten comments from both of you that you've had partners, especially male partners, who you'll say, "Can you do that a little bit differently?" and they kind of seem miffed about it, or just don't take the no.
Cosmo: Or say sorry.
Dedeker: It's either, yes, saying sorry or it's taking it personally, or the one that really baffles me is- they just don't take the no. Where I can say three times in the space with five minutes, "Can you go a little slower? A little slower."
Melissa: Have you tried saying like, "I would really like it if you would slow down." You can turn it into dirty talk too so it's not like, "I'm going to give these instructions," because it can also interrupt the intimacy.
Emily: That changes the dynamic.
Melissa: Maybe there's a different way that you could say it.
Dedeker: That's true. I could definitely try that.
Jase: That's interesting. I feel like I've done something like that sometimes, again, to kind of soften it so they don't feel like I'm saying, "You're doing it badly," or, "You're bad at this."
Dedeker: Get your inner coach out.
Jase: That's really interesting. I also want to mention that I love the idea of drawing this on the cocktail napkin and having the explanation. We've actually talked before about doing the same sort of thing with talking about sexual health and STIs, is to talk about it just as a conversation piece during a first date, for example.
Jase: Of just, "Oh, you know what, I was just listening--" We always love to give the excuse of, "I was just listening to this podcast--"
Emily: It's the easy excuse.
Jase: "They were talking about STIs. I just had my checkup a couple of months ago and these were my results. I learned these cool things from the podcast." It's not like, "I'm asking about your status because I want to have sex with you." It's before we're even there. People are always like, "I don't want to kill the mood there," or I don't want to ask about it early because then they're like "Why are you asking about this? We're not there yet."
It's to just bring it up conversationally. I feel like this could be sort of the exact same thing of just in that getting-to-know-you conversation. It's have that in your repertoire of like, "This is a thing I bring up on first dates to talk about." "This is a cool thing I learned about. I found this really fascinating."
Dedeker: Just like, "This is the thing I'm really interested in."
Cosmo: Then you're also promoting good practice, whether you're going to date this person or not. They learn about Betty Martin's wheel of consent, which is going to affect every other relationship in their life. They're learning about that you can go get tested regularly and how that impacts relating to partners.
Jase: I think that in part of having that conversation it gives you a chance early on before you're in a potentially more compromising situation to see how they react to those conversations.
Melissa: That's a big one. If I meet someone and I can just tell by their body language that they can't really access their yes and no, and maybe, I would just treat it differently and maybe I wouldn't engage. I would make the choice how far I want to engage. Same with STIs. Once you know the information, you can make an informed decision on how am I going to interact with this person now with this information.
Jase: Yes, with just even how they react.
Dedeker: If they're super comfortable.
Jase: Or even for some people, I know, if they talk about STI's and someone uses terms like, "Oh, well, I'm clean," To them it's an indication of, "You don't really know enough about this."
Melissa: Yes, absolutely.
Jase: "Let's maybe not until we can either have that conversation or maybe just not period." I could see what this is similar thing where if they immediately go to a defensive place or a legalistic place about it, it might be like, "Mm, I don't think we're ready to go here because you're not capable of having this conversation with me in a way that feels respectful to me."
Cosmo: I very much felt that where I've just maybe met someone, said, "Let's have a date," and not necessarily bringing up specifics around STI testing or the wheel of consent but just generally interacting with them and a lack of eye contact or confidence, and I can already sense some type of lack of clarity or power imbalance and it's just like, "Okay, well, maybe this isn't-- This relationship isn't going to move into this." They may be attractive and all of that but are they able to meet you where you're at?
Not to say that it's better or worse but just where you're energetically playing in.
Dedeker: Definitely. I feel we could talk about these things forever but we only have an hour long podcast or so. Can you please tell our listeners where they can find out more information about you and the work that you do?
Melissa: You can look up my website, which is sexlovesoul.com. With all the new hoopla around wording on the internet, I might need to change that. I'm Melissa Mango and you can look up sexlovesoul.com, and you can also find out more about me through Happy Touch, and, Cosmo, I'll let you drop the things on that.
Cosmo: You can find us at happytouch.ca. Another project that I'm working on is called the Apollo Project, which is sensual retreats for men. That's the-apollo-project.com. Another interesting one, just that I touched on it a little bit as there's a company I work for the does sensual retreats for women. This is all like intensive five, six day retreats where we get to go through this- all of this information in practice somewhere in a full immersion. That's a company called Back To The Body. The founder Pamela Madison is a mentor and just a beautiful, inspiring woman.
Also our training- where somatic sex educators so you can go to the SSCA website, which is somaticsexeducators.com or .ca, .com, I think.
Jase: We'll look it up.
Cosmo: People can explore what we actually do. If you're interested, eventually, probably in the next month or two months we're going to have an app launched around helping people find access to practitioners so that they can explore these types of things in a very safe container and learn how to then go and engage with partners in this way.
Jase: Fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time and letting us come into your lovely studio here to do this.