Sex Gets Real Episode 114: JoEllen Notte on sex positivity vs sex performativity

JoEllen Notte is a sex educator powerhouse – she is revolutionizing the discussion about sex and depression, and also has a beautiful blog all about sex positivity, sex toys, and introversion.

She recently reached out to me and asked if she could come on the show to talk about sex positivity versus sex performativity. Or, as we discuss in this episode, the way sex positive folks often exclude people by their actions and behaviors in a way that makes spaces feel unsafe.

Sex positivity has been an incredible response to our sex negative culture, but it’s also just that – a response to the existing paradigm. Not everyone wants to have all the orgies or flirt all of the time, and that gets overlooked a lot.

So in this episode, JoEllen and I have a really frank discussion about some of the ways sex positive communities are failing us, and then we field two listener questions about using inclusive language and not being a creep at sex toy stores when you have questions about sex.

Don’t forget: I just revamped my one-on-one coaching packages and spots are filling up. If you need some help around sex, your relationship, and connecting with a loved one, you can check out the new options over on

In this episode, JoEllen Notte and Dawn:

  • Have a very personal chat about the ways the sex positive community is failing to be inclusive of folks who are asexual, introverted, survivors, etc.
  • Confess why they sometimes feel like failures at sex conferences.
  • Explore a juicy idea from Conner Habib that sex positivity is actually still part of the sex negative culture, and how we need a whole new paradigm if we want real change.
  • Get worked up about how much more fun it is when someone fully consents to doing something sexy instead of getting a lukewarm response because they were just being nice.
  • Field a question from Anubis on inclusive language. When does inclusive language become censorship?
  • Help a listener who is worried about being a creep since he wants to go to some sex shops and ask about BDSM classes but is nervous and doesn’t want to look like a jerk.

Resources discussed in this episode

JoEllen’s Superhero Sex Shop tour

New York City/Brooklyn based shops: Babeland, Shag, Pleasure Chest, Eve’s Garden, and Please

About JoEllen Notte

JoEllen Notte joins this week's episode of Sex Gets Real to talk about sex positivity and being an introvert. JoEllen Notte is a writer, speaker, and mental health advocate who has spent the last 2 years exploring the impact of depression on sex and relationships. Since 2012 she has written about sex, vibrators, mental health, and how none of us are broken on the award-winning as well as for xoJane, Bitch Media, Daily Dot, AlterNet and Kinkly. She has travelled North America touring the best sex shops in the US and Canada, led workshops on sexual communication, navigating consent, having casual sex kindly, and online dating, and has spoken at length on sex toys but she is happiest and most effective when writing and speaking on behalf of quiet people who have sex– check out her video series on attending conferences as an introvert and extensive work on sex and depression. JoEllen is certified as a sex educator through Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts Sexuality Education Certification Series and has spoken at Clark College, University of Chicago, Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit and the Playground Conference.

You can stay in touch with JoEllen over on Facebook and on Twitter @JoEllenNotte.

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On this week's episode of the Sex Gets Real podcast, Dawn Serra chats with JoEllen Notte about sex positive communities and how it's failing so many people. We dig into consent, orgies at conferences, asexuality and trauma, and field a few listener questions on inclusive language and how not to be a creep in a sex shop.

  • Dawn
  • June 19, 2016

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