Modern humans are demanding creatures. Hardwired to seek out speed and efficiency, we like our online purchases to be delivered within three hours (time > money), our dinners couriered directly to our doorsteps and our gratification, across all aspects of life, to be instant.
Thanks also to the pervasiveness of social media, talking critically about the things we like, love and hate can feel as natural as placing our coffee order each day. We want it all, we want it now, and should we be dissatisfied – well, you’ll be hearing from us.
Curiously, however, for many people the bedroom (and activities that occur within) still remains a notoriously taboo subject of discussion. Where the last few decades have been transformative for fuelling conversations surrounding sexual violence, safety and issues of consent, our rights to sexual pleasure and the importance of personal physical satisfaction still often fight to be heard outside the confines of close friendship circles and body positive health publications.
Deep dive into the rolodex of anyone’s sexual history and you’re likely to find numerous sub-par romantic trysts, a faked orgasm or two (or twenty) or occasions where A, B or C could have been better but they felt too uncomfortable to instruct. It’s a narrative that Melbourne-based psycho-sexologist and member of the Society of Australian Sexologists, Chantelle Otten, knows all too well. “I see so many people in my private practice, and those who share intimate stories with me through my social media channel who are seeking sexual satisfaction, but don’t necessarily have the confidence within themselves to know how to transgress into the erotic realm, or even have a base foundation of self-esteem when it comes to sexuality,” she explains.
The most common culprit for loss of sexual confidence? “Fear,” Otten explains. “I think that many people view the unknown as scary, and do their best to avoid the feelings of fear because it induces a negative response in them, rather than a motivating response.”
To combat these negative responses that sometimes ensue when addressing sexuality or physical pleasure, Otten has developed an online learning platform: the Sexual Self-Esteem Guide. “My philosophy is that lovers are not born, they are made. When we want something, we have to put things in place to reach that goal – this course will guide you to sexual self-esteem in easy stages.”
“Many don’t feel like they are able or have permission to be confident with their sexual needs, their body and their communication.”
The course contains seven modules, available for purchase (in a payment plan if desired) via Otten’s website, and is designed to be worked through at your own individual pace. Accessible on both desktop and mobile, once you have bought the workshop you are eligible for lifetime access. The seven modules include a mix of audio recordings, information, food-for-thought, conversation guides, and homeplay work to do in your own time. “You will be challenged, but comfortably and safely,” Otten assures. “There is also a 30-day challenge, that ranges from body acceptance, mindfulness, to tracking your own story about sexuality, desire, confidence.”
Otten believes that understanding our past, and the impact it has on the way we view our body and our body’s capacity for pleasure, is crucial for alleviating sexual self-consciousness. “I hope that the modules allow [participants] to see themselves in a beautiful, empowered light. That they can see the story that led them to the course, and how they can design their future when it comes to sexual self-esteem.”
“We cannot change others, we can only change ourselves, and others will follow.”
Yes, there is much to be said for innate chemistry, and those instances where partners knew instinctually and wordlessly how to please us must also be celebrated. But more often than not great sex comes down to open and receptive communication. “Conversations about sexuality need to be frank and honest because it’s not easy, it’s something that requires information, guidance and trust,” says Otten. “The road to better sex and happier relationships means challenging our deeply held beliefs and finding confidence in what we enjoy, not what is dictated by stereotypes or gender roles and fear-induced education … I firmly believe and hope that people come out with the confidence that they can challenge themselves, that they can now have a positive internal dialogue about their sexual capacity and have a basic foundation of confidence to open up conversations about it with friends, lovers, partners.”
“People are amazing in their capacity to be creative, and this course will give permission to explore themselves.”
PHOTOGRAPHY Victoria Zschommler
FASHION Natalie Petrevski
MODEL Dillon @ Work Agency
HAIR & MAKEUP Danielle Butcher using NARS, M.A.C, Charlotte Tilbury and SACHAJUAN