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Nearly a decade ago, Dr. Alison Ash was a Stanford University doctoral student researching why hetero college-age women were orgasming less often than their male peers. Ash found that many women didn't feel entitled to pleasure -- especially in casual sexual encounters -- and they felt uncomfortable receiving oral sex because they worried about how they looked, smelled, and tasted. Women were also more concerned about their partner's enjoyment than their own. Fueled by her research's findings, she made it her mission to help others find sexual empowerment, saving the world one orgasm at a time.
Three years later, Ash created the workshop "How to Be a Feminist in the Bedroom," which teaches participants how to say no and to ask for their needs to be met. The project was so successful it led her to launch "How to Eat Pussy Like a Champ," which teaches that prize-winning oral is more about intimacy and communication than anything else.
To add another perspective on proper cunnilingus, Ash teamed up with dominatrix Mina McQueen. McQueen admits she didn't know how to ask for what she wanted in bed until she started sleeping with women. She was surprised to learn that what she desired was often quite different from what other women wanted.
"I think the things you can learn as a queer woman are really applicable to your own body and experiencing more pleasure," McQueen says.
After a sold-out workshop at Burning Man, this queer duo brought it to the real world, where it continues to draw people from all walks of life -- lesbian and gay couples, triads, single men and women, gender nonbinary people -- even couples on a first date.
"We just make pleasure fun again!" Ash explains. "People get so serious about it; we infuse humor in a lot of different ways. When we talk about pussies, we talk about it in a way that's very open, and I think that's what makes our message sink in."
Thankfully, Ash and McQueen's how-to workshop offers a shared vocabulary for talking about desires, while presenting a juicy menu of options. One tool, which helps people figure out what it is they crave, is a game called "This or That." You give your partner two options (with various speeds, intensity, and pace) and ask them "Do you like this?" or "Do you like that?" The game helps you dial in on what your partner likes.
"For a woman to reach deep climax, it takes a long time," Ash adds. "And women start to feel they don't deserve that much time. So if you're down to make it a champ-quality pussy-eating session, you can relax and don't feel like you're fighting the clock."
McQueen agrees. "I think a lot of people have cultural baggage -- reasons stemming from the patriarchy -- that don't give them permission to feel pleasure. It's also true for people who might not think of themselves as sexual beings. We find a lot of people receive what's being done to them without a lot of feedback ... of course, that can also come from [emulating] porn."
One of the workshop's goals is to open up the pleasure dialogue. The two queer sex educators reframe oral sex as a "co-exploration." They educate receivers on how to become active participants and teach givers how to get their partners out of their heads and into their bodies.
Ash and McQueen's booklet 5 Central Tenets of Champ-Quality Pussy Eating engages a mad-lib style, while Guide to My Pussy offers fun muff diving games to try at home.
Here are three of their top tips to help get you started:
* All vaginas are different, and hers might like different things at different times. Communication and exploration is essential.
* Champ-quality oral is about so much more than just tongue. The first organ you need to engage is the brain.
* Grounding, connecting, affirming, teasing, and dirty talk can all get her engorged and ready to orgasm before contact.
"Don't stop!" means just that and no more. It does not mean speed up. It does not mean go harder. Don't fix what's not broken or try to race to the finish line.
For more information on Alison and Mina's course, visit www.howtoeatpussylikeachamp.com.
ALISON ASH is a sex educator who developed the workshops "How to Be a Feminist in the Bedroom" and "How to Eat Pussy Like a Champ." Learn more at www.turnon.love.
MINA MCQUEEN is a professional dominatrix well-versed in the art of communicating and negotiating desires. www.MinaMcqueen.com