My Sex Positive Story Part II: Emily Sauer

My Sex Positive Story Part II: Emily Sauer

The second part of our interview with Ohnut founder, Emily Sauer. You’ll find the first part here.

Emily Sauer is founder and CEO of Ohnut – a playful wearable that allows couples to customise penetration depth during sex. She describes herself as an inventor by necessity. Carol Battle talked to her about her idea of putting a pink frosted donut on a penis and how it changed everything.

(Interview continued)

CB: In our mindset, the majority of people are on this continuum of trying to find where they fit in the sex positive journey. What does being sex positive mean to you?

ES: I guess we’re all kind of conditioned to either not talk about sex or just talk about the intense pleasure, orgasm-seeking side of sex. I think sex is just so misunderstood nowadays, like, what is sex? What is the purpose of sex? Why do we have it? How do we want to feel fulfilled from it?

Sex positive means that you’re willing to try new physical things? Obviously, it comes with internal exploration, interpersonal exploration. I would choose not to focus on that term.

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CB: So, for me it’s more about attitudes, societal evolution. 

ES: In those terms then, in the landscape of Ohnut, sex positivity is really a shift in the mental and the medical landscape.

Less than 40% of gyns ask about sexual complications. Most of them are disdainful of their patients’ sexual habits.

So, in the medical space, it’s moving towards a much more mental, mind-body holistic practice that’s interdisciplinary.

I mean, think about it. Sex is informed by a biological, psychological social model. Doctors alone can’t deal with that. I’m showing up to all different kinds of medical conferences now with Ohnut being the only product that actively talks about sex.

CB: There’s a lot of research about people’s upbringing and how that affects their attitudes to sex. What was that like for you? 

My parents were quite open about sex as a physical thing, but we didn’t actually have direct conversations. For instance, I saw the movie American Pie with my mom, right. Also, she made me go to a gynaecologist at 18, whether or not I was having sex, just so I could at least start learning about myself.

The Ohnut.

The Ohnut.

I will say what’s interesting about that is growing up without sexual guilt or sexual shame. I didn’t grow up with any sexual shame or guilt, and I chose to have sex later because I didn’t feel like I needed to. I didn’t have anything to prove. I was like, cool. I’ll just like, hang out and be friends with my friends and not need to have sex.

TGB: Were you sporty? I ask because the research shows that young women who engage in sport through those teenage years are more likely to have sex later. 

Well, yes and it’s so interesting because as adults we’re so sexually focused. Like, we don’t have sports anymore. We don’t have hobbies anymore. We just focus 100% on our relationship and it’s this insular bubble that we live in, needing pleasure all the time. It’s like, go get a hobby, you know?

Even though I grew up with a sexually competent or just sexually open-minded family, the cultural context didn’t provide the support that I needed to actually advocate for my own health.

CB: So, if it’s not pleasure it’s pain? 

ES: The binary of pleasure and pain doesn’t leave enough room for other emotional or physical or connective spaces within sex.

Also, where is fulfilment in that word scape? I don’t just want pleasurable sex. I want to feel good about myself. How often do we have fulfilling sex? How do we even know how to have fulfilling sex?

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With pleasure and pain we forget that space of vulnerability, that place where we don’t have the answers. When we start with questions where we come from a place of curiosity and maybe a little bit of insecurity, because we all have sexual insecurities, often that falls in the camp that you’re describing as pain. But that is one of the most valuable aspects of it.

It’s interesting because a lot of times the obstacles create constraints that actually liberate us more, so that if we didn’t have those strengths to begin with, we can build them.

CB: What does utopia look like?

ES: Utopia looks like an open dialogue. I wouldn’t want to change human tendencies because our fears and boundaries, the things that hold us back, are important. It’s important to go through the process of breaking down those walls and making new ones and working through that for yourself and with another person, because that’s what enriches human connection.

The challenges that we experience in the bedroom are a great equalizer across humanity.

It’s something that we all identify with and to get rid of that is actually not a utopian perspective. I think what would be wonderful is if we could find confidence within ourselves to face those fears, to face those hurdles for our systems – for our education system, for our medical systems – to also embed that education for insurance companies to fairly offer insurance coverage equally to different people in different places so that people have fair access to healthcare.

If sex isn’t about literal human connection, then what is it?  I like having an open dialogue where we can connect as humans. What other conversations become possible when we can be naked and vulnerable?