let sex coach suzannah weiss help you get what you desire

Feminist writer, certified sex educator and sex/love coach Suzannah Weiss' new book "Subjectified" is a powerful, moving call to action for any woman looking to take back power over her mind, body, heart, feelings and sexual desires. With more than 8,000 articles published in every top publication (New York TimesWashington PostNew York Magazine), Weiss has more than the expertise to write this book, which is being celebrated by the many of the other leading voices in the sexual wellness industry from Gigi Engle, Erika Lust and MLNP's Cindy Gallop to sex columnist Jessica Stoya, author Dr. Laurie Mintz and more. But perhaps the most poignant and moving aspects of the book stem from the vulnerability it takes to share so much of yourself and your personal journey on each page. If you're looking for ways to recapture your own voice, desires or pleasure in and out of the bedroom, let Suzannah's bravery in sharing her story be your inspiration and muse.


suzannah weiss feminist writer

Please explain the concept of subjectified (vs objectified) and its relationship to women taking back power of their bodies.

Suzannah Weiss: 

Women have been objectified in the sense that they are seen as being there for men's pleasure especially in sex, but in life generally, and subjectification is my idea of literally putting women in the subject role of sentences because one way women are objectified is by being put in the object role. Man fucks woman. Man looks at woman. Man desires woman, etc. Woman is the object, so subjectification just means making women the subject. Woman looks… woman desires… woman wants… woman feels… woman “any verb whatsoever” is a good verb for women to be the subject of.

When we can make women the subject of sentences and actions, the easier time that women will have taking back power over their bodies because when you have a say, when you get to start your sentences, you get to decide what's in it. And if you get to speak for yourself more than you get to determine where your body belongs, what it is doing, etc.

What are the main 2 or 3 concepts and/or actions you’d like people to take from reading this?

Suzannah Weiss:

The one big concept slash action is consent, not just consent, but desire. I think we need to go beyond teaching people that no means no or even yes means yes and teach women to be the one asking, again, the subject of the verb ask. It's not just about responding to men's desires or being the gatekeeper for a partner's desires, it's about feeling your own desires, tuning into your body, feeling what emotions or sensations that a possibility — sexual or otherwise — brings up... and for women's partners to allow them that opportunity and not to jump in with your own desires but actually give her the space to come up with hers and communicate hers independently of you.

Another concept is the way language shapes how we view people. I talk about a lot of different examples of this. One obvious one is the way we talk about sex. We talk about it as men penetrates women or man fucks woman. They're many problems with this idea of sex is 1) it is heteronormative and 2) it is one type of sex, not the only type of sex and 3) it makes the man the subject. What woman engulfs man or woman envelopes man or woman touches man or woman or non-binary person, making women the subject. And even the way we describe intercourse as vaginal sex. It's very interesting because it's like we're assuming other types of sex don't involve the vagina, as if oral sex is always performed on a penis or manual sex is always performed on a penis. No, many types of sex are vaginal. We just have this male-centric idea that makes us think this one type of sex aka intercourse is the only vaginal type of sex.

And yet another example is the way we talk about women's worth or women's value. You're worth more than that. This isn't always problematic. I'm not saying we should abolish this word, but I think you know we talk about this with regard to sex in terms of “you’re worth more than a one-night stand” or “you’re worth marriage” or “you’re worth a man who will offer you commitment.” It's this idea of a woman trading her body for a relationship basically that we need to break out of.

"Man fucks woman. Man looks at woman. Man desires woman, etc. Woman is the object, so subjectification just means making women the subject. Woman looks… woman desires… woman wants… woman feels… woman “any verb whatsoever” is a good verb for women to be the subject of. "

— Suzannah Weiss

You mention the power in being the subject (vs object) of love/beauty by acting loving and beautiful… please explain that idea and what are ways we can shine our light and take control in a positive way?

Suzannah Weiss:

This is a very dear chapter to me. It’s about my own experience in eating disorder treatment and we had to lie on a piece of paper and trace our bodies. First, we had to draw what we thought our bodies looked like, then lie on the paper and trace our bodies so we could see that, yay, we're thinner than we think. And 17-year-old me was like wait a second, is that really the point? To see that you’re thinner than you thought? Is that really the source of our self-esteem? Realizing you're thinner than you thought? Can't we go a little deeper? And it mirrored all of the body-positive advertising happening at the time. It was about 2008, so that was just starting with all these Dove ads saying look you’re more beautiful than you think. Or that women of all sizes can be sexy and look good in lingerie. Can we go a little deeper because that didn't you know it does something it's better than just having stick-thin models but can we go a little deeper and look at what actually helps women. Does it help women to keep evaluating their bodies and just evaluate them a little more nicely or can we get out of that evaluation together?

And for me that meant going deep into my heart and being in my body, not looking at it from the outside. but thinking, again, making myself the subject. It’s not about being looked at, it's about acting, it's about doing, it's about feeling, it's about being. So for me the way out of that, not that I'm completely out of that, I don't know if any woman is, but what helped was to focus on beautiful actions whatever that means. I'm not saying you have to be selfless all the time, but being nice to people, doing volunteer work, calling your family, all the things that are just nice. That is what helped get me out of it… beautiful actions. Or, not even service necessarily, but sharing from your heart. I mean writing this book for me was a beautiful act. When I look at this book and I read this book, in a way I've never seen myself as so beautiful. When I look at that book, I see myself. I see myself in those pages and on that cover more than I do in the mirror because that is true to my heart and soul. It's my heart and soul on the paper and that helps me to see myself as beautiful. It comes from inside.

suzannah weiss sex writer

You explain the distinction that we try to make women feel desired but not how to desire — how can we shift this both collectively and individually?

Suzannah Weiss: 

Well, I am sending you this voice memo from a hotel room in Barcelona where I have gone to hang out with Erica Lust, the feminist porn director, so that's what's on my mind right now is literally making film and porn and art that is from a woman's perspective. This is a way to teach women how to desire. I mean, women don’t really need to be taught how to desire. That's something we feel organically, but to encourage women to value their desires. Making art and media that represents women's desires is one way to do that and helping women tune into their bodies where they may have previously been numb. And that comes back to the consent piece, allowing women the chance to actually be the initiator and for women's partners to back off a little bit if they are frequently initiating and say, what is coming from you? What would you like to do independently of what I want from you? That's a good place to start.

"I think we need to go beyond teaching people that no means no or even yes means yes and teach women to be the one asking, again, the subject of the verb ask."

— Suzannah Weiss

Our brand DNA is that you’re sexy when you’re authentically you and you’re sexy for yourself above all, first, etc. so each person can tap into and express their own desires… what are some other ways we can do this for ourselves?

Suzannah Weiss: 

Self-pleasure is a good way to do that for yourself. It really starts from the inside and then you can play around with exhibitionist fantasies and enjoying looking sexy, but I think it starts with mindfulness and tuning into your body. Like when you masturbate, pay close attention to where you are touching, where you enjoy touch the best, what type of touch you enjoy the best. Figure out what fantasies turn you on the most maybe by watching porn or reading erotica or just thinking back on previous experiences. And then playing with that and thinking, what fantasies might I want to act out? What might I want to share with a partner? It starts by yourself and then you can share it with others.


How can we normalize a view of sex where there is more than one enthusiastic participant — a man — to include women’s desires? And how can we make women feel safe owning that part of themselves?

Suzannah Weiss: 

I think safety comes from having good boundaries and trusting yourself that if you feel uneasy about a situation, you can absolutely say let's pause or no or go slower or hold on I'm feeling a little uncomfortable. It comes down to self-trust and not feeling pressure from anyone else to go with their pace or do what they want to do. I'm still learning this in my own life, and if you're a trauma survivor, say, “Hey I'm a trauma survivor,” right up front and, “it is sometimes hard for me to express when I feel uncomfortable so can we go really slowly.” I've been learning to say things like that in my own life. It is so much more connective when you can talk long before you engage in sexual activity and say this is what I need, this is how I feel, this is what doesn't feel good, and really getting comfort with a person.This can exist within “casual encounters.” This can be something that you say to someone at a sex party or after meeting on a dating app.

Make it clear what you need and what your boundaries are and don't apologize for them.

What are some ways you can get to know yourself sexually and your desires so you can take that understanding to your partner? How and when can you involve your partner?

Suzannah Weiss: 

I think a creative way to do this is actually in writing to have a really hot masturbation session with yourself and tell your partner about it or sext your partner whatever you fantasized about or write an erotic story, a fantasy you have or even a past experience with that partner and share it. It can be really hot, clue them into what you like and start a conversation.

" I really am rubbed the wrong way by a lot of the divine masculine feminine teachers. It feels like this rigid gender policing and these boxes that you have to be in or else you're not a sensual divine being..."

— Suzannah Weiss

Within relationships what are some ways we can help each other own our desires?

Suzannah Weiss:

It starts with being honest with yourself about what you want versus what you are socialized to want. And the framework I introduce in chapter 5 “embodied consent” is useful for this. Think about an experience that you like, tune into your body, see what you're feeling in terms of physical sensations. Is your heart fluttering? Is your jaw clenching? Think about something you do like and it can be non-sexual. The thing you don't like could be a visit to the dentist, the thing you like could be ice cream. How do you feel when you think about the thing you do like or that you are a yes to? Does it make you smile? Does it make you stand up taller? Does it make you breathe deeper? And notice these physical signs and once you notice those things — and you can also invite your partner to tune into themselves — so when you think about these specific sexual acts, how do you feel? And you could talk to each other about that, like the thought of this makes me a little anxious, but I'm not sure why. 

You can also make a list of different sexual acts and mark whether each of you is a yes, a no or a maybe and then go through the list and compare your responses to each of the acts. It could be fingering, breast massage, hair pulling, vibrators, etc. and go through that list and talk about why you do and don't like each thing. And maybe try out some of the things that you're both a yes to or that one of you is a maybe to, but open to trying and explore what you like.

You posit the question, what if we sought out love for love’s sake and sex for sex’s sake, free from deception or ulterior motives…. What might that look like within relationship dynamics?

Suzannah Weiss:

What I'm talking about is there's a transactional view of sex often like men trade love for sex women trade sex for love and that's very depressing to me because then it's like saying that men aren't enjoying the love and women aren't enjoying the sex. And the love is just for the woman and the sex is just for the man. And also that there can’t be two people or more who are not a woman and a man. And so the way out of that is don’t do anything that you don’t want to do. That sounds very simple but only do what is enjoyable for you in of itself. I know there might be some exceptions, like sex work. Even sex work, though, I would argue that's going to be tough if you are not enjoying both the sex and the money. I mean, I'm not here to tell people what to do, but I think in any situation, even if it's transactional, it's going to feel best if it is for more than the transaction and if you are actually getting something out of it. And if you're not and if you're only pushing through sex with your partner because they're giving you a relationship or whatever, then man, tell them, just tell them the sex isn’t pleasing me. Women put up with too much sex that isn't pleasing them. 

suzannah weiss feminist writer

If we start to ask ourselves things like ‘how do I like to be kissed’ or even ‘how else do I like to be kissed’ and continue to peel the onion that is us, what is on the other side?

Suzannah Weiss:

So I think the onion is what sexologist Jack Morin calls your “core erotic theme.” The middle of the onion is your core erotic theme. It's the overall theme that turns you on the most. So for some people that is submission, for some people that is feeling wanted, for some people that is feeling in control, for some people that is feeling admired, for some people that's losing control. Usually if you analyze your sexual desires, even something as simple as the desire to be kissed, you start to notice a central theme to all of them. So if you keep peeling back the onion, I think you'll find an overarching theme that is not necessarily a specific physical act, but is a psychological, emotional or even spiritual itch that you want scratched. And that can give you a lot of information about what other things you might enjoy that also relate to that theme.

Love the idea of “if it’s not a hell yes it’s a no” — talk about how women can use that to get more in touch with who they are and what they like.

Suzannah Weiss: 

Absolutely, because we have this idea in society of women as people who would not say "hell yes" to sex, so it was really revolutionary for me to learn at a cuddle party that if something is not a "hell yes" to say "no" because if you're not really into it, it's not going to feel good. If you have any doubts or reservations or you’re feeling lukewarm, it's not going to feel balanced if your partner is really into it and you're like, "meh okay."

There's a lot more available to us and sometimes it takes pausing and brainstorming, like I'm not a hell yes to that but maybe there is something else in the same family that I am a hell yes too. For instance, I'm not yet a hell yes to kissing you on the lips, but why don't you start by kissing me on the head. That feels so much better if you're not compromising your boundaries at all and you're being honest about what you like because without honesty like relationships going to fall apart. If you're abandoning yourself at all and not being honest about what you're into or what you're not into, you're going to self abandon more and more to the point where you're like I'm not even I don't even like what I'm doing. And then you're going to feel taken advantage of when you kind of took advantage of yourself so that's why I think that is super important to be a hell yes.

And that's not just sex I mean look we don't always have choices about everything in our day-to-day life, but if your family wants to play a board game with you — this is a stupid example — but if your family wants to play Monopoly and you're like, not again that's going to take hours, but you're okay with it, speak up. Don’t put yourself in positions where you’re resentful when you can just as easily make another suggestion that other people will also be happy with.

suzannah weiss feminist writer piglet

 Touching on divine masculine and divine feminine — I agree that we should embody our authentic selves. That said, is there a way to use these concepts to help us tap into parts of ourselves we’re denying or could find pleasure exploring? 

Suzannah Weiss:

This is such an interesting question. I really am rubbed the wrong way by a lot of the divine masculine feminine teachers. It feels like this rigid gender policing and these boxes that you have to be in or else you're not a sensual divine being or whatever. If the boxes have doors that are open and you could easily walk in and out, I don't so much mind, but I think in that case, I prefer there are certain people who use terms other than masculine and feminine, like London Angel Winters and Justin Patrick Pierce. They use alpha and omega to describe two different forces that some people might think of as masculine and feminine but they're clear that it doesn't mean manly and womanly. It means consciousness versus creative life force. There are different ways of thinking about it. 

I also think masculinity and femininity are real. I believe they are biopsychosocial constructs, meaning there's a biological element, there is a psychological element, there is a social element. And these things exist and sometimes it is liberating to take back femininity because it is so scorned in society. I talk a little bit about that in the chapter about periods being like maybe I do like to connect with the moon or maybe sometimes I do like to be on my period and take a bath and take a few hours off work like what is so bad about that? Certain things get maligned because they're feminine so if we want to talk about femininity as a biopsychosocial construct and say you know what I am a stereotypically feminine person in many ways and that is okay, I’m okay with that. I do that a bit. 

I’ve been working with the archetype of Piglet. This will sound very silly. You know Piglet, this character that's very helpless and meek and emotional and sensitive and in a way, that's a stereotypical element of femininity even though Piglet’s a boy. I have a Piglet shirt. I’ve been leaning into the concept of being like Piglet, embracing my vulnerability and sensitivity and being like, I am so overwhelmed by the world, oh I feel such big feelings. Oh can you help me? That is a stereotypical element of femininity that I embrace. Call it what you want. What gets on my nerves the most is when people police others about it, but for yourself, call it what you want, be what you want, reclaim what you want. I support you in that.

How did Suzannah Weiss inspire you? What moved you in her book, "Subjectified"?

xxx, Lunatic Femme

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