Sex Expo New York 2018: An exhibition on sex and self-worth

sex expo

Let’s imagine a world where sexuality is built upon respect for others and for ourselves. A world where we can learn through trial and error without shame. A world where we no longer focus on performance values. A world where we can speak openly about our preferences.

After visiting Sex Expo New York, I feel inspired to bring greater play and mindfulness into my world. It’s been an unusual press (or better, learning) trip. Beate Uhse invited me to the Brooklyn exhibition devoted entirely to the topic of “sexual health”. Around 20 leading sexologists from across the US spoke at the event, offering workshops and answering questions. Meanwhile, in the next room, brands including Womanizer presented their products under the theme of self-love-revolution, encouraging an enlightened, respectful and empowered sexuality.

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A new sex life quality through more self-love

For me, self-love was the main takeaway from the event. “There’s just one no-go in bed: body-shaming. Stop hating your bodies, and your sex life will improve in quality,” said Jess O’Reilly (or Dr. Jess) during her talk ‘Drive Your Lover Wild With Pleasure’. The sex and relationship expert captivated the audiences with her humor and tangible sexual tips. At one point, I found myself raising my hand to practice the perfect hand job position in synchrony with 50 other attendees. Another time, we were each asked to form a ‘W’ with our fingers to demonstrate how the vulva should be stimulated. It may sound absurd, but at no point in time did the talk feel offensive or unpleasant. On the contrary, visitors exchanged views with their partners and walked away with a healthy dose of self-confidence.

“Consent” was a standout term, and frequently mentioned. Indeed, the speakers made it clear that good sex requires consent. No one should force themselves or others to engage in sexual activity. “It’s completely normal to go through phases when one just doesn’t want to have sex. The important thing is to remain mindful and honest with yourself and your partner. Talk about what turns you on and off, and your physical and mental health. Be mindful, because those who allow mindfulness into their lives will have more fun,” Dr. Jess advised.

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Sex Expo New York: The courage to ask questions

All of the talks at Sex Expo New York were sex-positive, which encouraged the audience to ask questions. “I’ve put on lots of weight during my pregnancy and now I’m scared that my body is a turn-off for my husband. What should I do?” a young mother wondered. “I don’t know what to do with my teeth during a blow job,” another 30-year-old woman asked. Others enquired about tips for better orgasms. But importantly, every single audience member was taken seriously. It quickly became clear that there was so much left to discuss if we are to live in a world where we are free from our doubts.

We can only put aside the shame, power games and outdated role models if we openly talk about them. In the first instance, we have to talk to ourselves. How do I feel in my own skin? Why do I feel this way? Why am I stricter with myself than with my fellow human beings? What’s fun to me and what is not? Those who begin to answer these questions are working on their self-esteem and sex lives at the same time.

In conclusion, we don’t have to travel all the way to New York to receive tips on self-love and sex – we just have to listen to ourselves.

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When I was a child I never understood why my friends’ parents would tear out the sexual education pages of BRAVO, the German teen magazine. Why didn’t we just talk about it? After all, sex concerns us all. That’s why I embarked on a career as a journalist 12 years ago. Here, I got to work closely with the Dr. Sommer team – a group of journalists answering questions about puberty and teenagers’ sexual concerns. Since then, I’ve been publishing content across a wide variety of German media. Having overseen the launch of media company Refinery29 in Germany as editor in chief, I now work as a freelance journalist and author, focusing on pieces about strong women, sexuality and body positivity. Through my work, I aim to challenge obsolete and outdated gender stereotypes and the discrimination of women.