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After Sex Shame Led To A Porn Addiction, This Latina Is Encouraging All Women To Unlearn Ideas That Sexuality Is Dirty

Like most Latina girls growing up in the United States, Erica Garza learned young that sex was dirty, something to fear and feel guilty for desiring. Her shame would ultimately lead to years of porn addiction, one she speaks about frankly in her memoir, “Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction.”

In the book, the Mexican-American author takes readers on a candid journey of a condition that people relate more to the dark corners of the Internet than a Catholic Latina school girl growing up in a middle-class suburb of Los Angeles. It begins with Garza, then a pre-teen, discovering her sexual impulses while watching pornography. She tries masturbating, orgasming alone in the bathtub, and at once feels intense pleasure and shame.

“Nobody had ever talked to me about masturbation or sex and I figured something was wrong with me,” Garza, 35, writes. “Every time I had an orgasm after that, tangled up in the pleasure was an overwhelming sense of shame. I began to rely on this combination.”

Her sexual curiosity eventually leads to late-night Cinemax movies, online chat rooms and unsafe spaces, like empty parking lots giving blow jobs in a drunken stupor with people she could hardly remember and choosing to stay home with “busty nurses, incestous cheerleaders and Thai hookers” rather than deal with real relationships.

?WINNER CHOSEN!? #Repost @girlpoweryouareenough BOOK GIVEAWAY + Self-Care Package! Do you remember when you first learned shame? A moment sticks out for me: twelve years old in a bathtub. I had just discovered what an orgasm was and the discovery was both thrilling and terrifying. Nobody had ever talked to me about masturbation or sex and I figured something was wrong with me. Every time I had an orgasm after that, tangled up in the pleasure was an overwhelming sense of shame. I began to rely on this combination. GETTING OFF chronicles my two-decade addiction to sex, porn, and ultimately shame. As my habits intensify in my insecure teenage years and early adulthood, I attempt to escape growing feelings of self-hatred and loneliness every way I can—my journey taking me from East L.A. to Southeast Asia, through the brothels of Bangkok and the yoga studios of Bali to disappointing stabs at therapy and twelve-steps back home. Sex and porn addiction are still considered highly taboo topics and are rarely discussed openly—especially from a woman’s perspective—but this book aims to break that silence. To win a signed copy of GETTING OFF, (a New York Times Editor’s Choice!) please do the following: 1. Follow @girlpoweryouareenough 2. Like this post and the post at @girlpoweryouareenough 3. Comment on this post and the post at @girlpoweryouareenough “No more shame” 4. Extra entry (optional): tag a friend 5. Yet another extra entry: Repost this on your page and tag @ericadgarza (must have public page for this step) 6. Giveaway ends at 11:59p.m. (PST) March 19! #bookgiveaway #bookstagram #ericagarza #gettingoff #sexaddiction #pornaddiction #sexpositive

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Through her teenage years and early 20s, Garza has a string of failed relationships and difficulties with intimacy that plunges her further into addiction and binge-drinking. While she was a successful student, completing a Master of Fine Arts at an Ivy League university, she realizes that she must deal with her addiction if she wants to lead a fulfilling, peaceful life.

During her recovery, Garza discovers that at the core of her porn and sex addictions are fear and mortification. As a child, she became obsessed with the shame she felt watching X-rated movies and that led her to additional self-loathing and eventually self-destructive behaviors.

Confronting the problem allowed her to let go of stigma, and in her memoir, writing that she says helped free her, she encourages readers to also let go of cultural lessons about sex being sully and contemptible.

Here, crucial takeaways from Garza’s memoir about unlearning sex shame that can benefit all Latinas.

1. Girls Are Taught To Feel Shame From A Young Age And We Have To Unlearn Programming.

When kids are taught that sex is a secret, it will only fuel their curiosity, Garza says. When sex talks only involve lessons like saying to girls, “Don’t ever get pregnant,” it gives way to ideas that women are not supposed to be sexual, which only prevents them from having a healthy relationship with sex.

2. Young People Need To Learn Natural Exploration, Rather Than Performing Sex.

A lot of the sexual content that is available is often presented for the “male gaze” and puts women in a position of doing things for the pleasure of men. Garza encourages young women to “explore their own desires,” which can often be complex. She believes that “if we acknowledge our desires, they won’t become obsessions” that take over our lives.

3. Understand That Pleasure Is Healthy And Normal.

Garza recalls that around the time she first discovered masturbation, a teacher talked about the subject at school with palpable discomfort and shame, describing it as a “dangerous” practice. This made her feel that she was a “bad girl” for wanting to stimulate herself. The more shame she felt about it, the more she watched porn to escape the feelings of self-hatred she was experiencing. Because pleasure and sex always felt taboo, she started associating it with something that was wrong, sinful even, and that she, too, was those things because she wanted it. Garza reminds readers that “they are worthy of pleasure,” something that needs to be said more often.

4. Shame Over Sex Can Be Tied To Other Feelings Of Worthlessness.

During Sex Love and Addicts meetings, Garza learns that at the core of her shame was fear. As a child, she never felt “Latina enough,” a feeling that started when she was teased in school and grew as she never saw people she could relate to on television. Being isolated made her feel worthless and unlovable. This sentiment was something she carried with her throughout her life. Garza writes that many addicts “had all learned at some point to believe a lie about ourselves — that we were bad, or ugly, or broken, or unloveable.” For her, unlearning the stories we tell ourselves about who we are in the world is one of the first steps to recovery.

5. Addiction And Shame Aren’t Things That Only Happen To People Who Were Abused Or Experienced Intense Trauma.

According to Garza, her idyllic childhood left her feeling even more guilty about her addiction to sex and porn since she felt that she had no “reason” to be a sexual deviant. She adds that people often believe that women who are hypersexual must have suffered intense trauma because there is an idea that women are not as sexual as men and therefore cannot experience addiction to sex. She reminds us that even people like her, who grew up in happy families, can suffer minor trauma that can affect them through life. In her case, wearing a back brace due to scoliosis in middle school and changes in her family fueled a sense of isolation that led her to escape into a world of chat rooms and pornography.

6. Talking About Sexual Desires With Partners Fuels Intimacy And Helps To Work Through Shame.

There’s a difference between having sex and having intimacy with someone. In her memoir, Garza illustrates those distinctions. She discovered that the more she was able to talk about sex and her desires to partners, the more she felt truly connected to them and the less she was consumed by secrecy and shame.

7. The #MeToo Movement Is A Way Of Lifting The Veil Of Shame.

Garza believes that the more women share their stories, especially those that involve shame, the more others will feel empowered to speak about their experiences. If we lift the veil of sex in all its complexities, we can raise children who have healthier attitudes about sex and pleasures.

“Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction” is available for purchase everywhere books are sold.

Read: My Latina Mom Talked About Sex Candidly And Shame-Free — And I’m Better Because Of It

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This Puerto Rican Illustrator Uses Art To Explore Her Sexuality

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This Puerto Rican Illustrator Uses Art To Explore Her Sexuality

Art has the power to shift culture, and in Puerto Rico, a young illustrator is using it to help demystify female sexuality in a society where it’s largely still seen as taboo.

For the last four years, Guanina Cotto has used art as a way to explore her own sexuality, drawing erotic moments she has experienced to better understand what she likes and doesn’t like.

“It’s a tool to get to know myself,” Cotto, 25, told FIERCE. “It’s like writing for some people. For me, it’s like having a visual journal, where I draw ideas, what I’m feeling, new things I’ve explored and using it to learn about myself.”

Using Instagram as her visual diary, Cotto’s illustrations, which depict her lounging naked on a hammock, masturbating in bed, kissing other women or engaging in sexual practices with men, caught attention beyond her eyes. With more than 5 thousand followers, it’s become a site to challenge machista standards of female sexuality, gender expectations and heteronormativity on an island where public education teaches students sex is to be engaged in after marriage and where women are shamed, sometimes attacked, for daring to display their bare or scantily-dressed bodies.

The Isabela-based artist welcomes the attention her self-described “biographic soft erotic” illustrations have received, believing her portrayals could make people more comfortable seeing sexually liberated women in real life.

“My art is a way of normalizing sexuality,” she said. “Art exposes and stimulates people in many ways. I think the more people see the naked body, the more normal it will become.”

The process of normalizing an aspect of humanity that remains hush-hush, particularly in rural western municipalities like the one she lives in, comes with strains, however. In 2015, for instance, Collectivo Moriviví, a young women’s art collective based in the island’s metropolitan area, painted an anti-domestic violence mural that showed full-figured nude Black women with their faces covered. Months later, the piece, displayed in San Juan’s art district of Santurce, was defaced, with vandals drawing undergarments on the women’s bodies. For Cotto, whose work lives online, backlash to her art exists in reports to Instagram for explicit sexual content, a reprisal she says has become less frequent over the years.

Through normalizing female sexual autonomy and pleasure, Cotto believes it could help generations unlearn messages they were taught about their bodies, consent and relationships in school, through church and in their families.

She knows firsthand how detrimental these lessons on female morality and respectability are for young women trying to make sense of their desires. Growing up, Cotto attended a religious school, where educational instruction, and home lessons from her grandmother, taught her that premarital sex and self-pleasure were sins. While the artist does have a mother, who she describes as a feminist, that told her that she is in control of her body, the mixed messages impacted her connection with her body and sexuality and, as a result, her future romantic relationships.

“I grew up scared, scared of my own feelings and wants,” she said. “We grow up not knowing our own bodies and that we are capable of experiencing pleasure, too. They teach us that sex is something done to us, not for us to enjoy. We become objects, as if being beautiful and desirable is the most important thing to be.”

That fear and unfamiliarity of what healthy, respectful relationships look like, she shares, previously kept her tied to former lovers who wanted to control the way she dressed and acted in public. She believes women are less likely to stay in situations where they aren’t valued and respected if they are taught earlier in their lives that they have autonomy over their bodies.

“When we learn sexuality isn’t shameful, we can establish healthy boundaries and be more in tune with what makes us our true selves. We become empowered,” she said.

While Cotto views her art as personal, she also believes it, and others like it, have the power to allow women to feel comfortable in their bodies, own their sexuality and demand pleasure and respect. Her illustrations, which, in addition to presenting women engaging in eroticism, also depict them participating in daily activities like lounging, drawing or breast-feeding their infants nude, is often the first time people see women represented through a female’s gaze.

“When I draw the naked body of a woman, it’s not always sexual. Oftentimes, it is, but not always. For me, it’s about normalizing the body, showing the beauty of women and what it looks like to be a free woman, through a female’s gaze,” she said.

Read: After Sex Shame Led To A Porn Addiction, This Latina Is Encouraging All Women To Unlearn Ideas That Sexuality Is Dirty

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20 Sexy Questions To Reignite Your Bond With Your Girlfriend

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20 Sexy Questions To Reignite Your Bond With Your Girlfriend

Falling in love with the right person and learning everything you can about her is easy and natural. But although you might think you know everything you can about your special lady, we bet that there are still questions that are left unanswered in your life. For one, do you know everything you can about her sexuality? Probably not. But don’t worry because learning about her in a more intimate setting is something that can help you two get closer and strengthen your relationship in the long run.

That’s where these 20 sexual questions come in. These sexy questions are all things that you can ask your girlfriend tonight, tomorrow and the next day. And they are all guaranteed to bring further intimacy and continue to build your bond. So, get to cuddling and share some details of your sexy past and even sexier future — and get ready to hear hers.

1. Have you ever skinny dipped?

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This kind of question is sexy in and of itself because it forces you to talk about two things that are very alluring: Nakedness and being daring. It’s a question that can definitely create a lot more conversation and you can talk about where you’ve skinny dipped or, even better, where you want to skinny dip in the future, together.

2. Where would you love to have sex?

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People can have a lot of different answers to this question, so it’s definitely one that you want to ask your girlfriend earlier on in the relationship or when you are feeling that things are getting a bit stale. It’s the kind of question that can lead to a lot of really interesting conversations, honestly. And plans. Don’t forget to make the plans.

3. What is the sexiest thing about women to you?

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Women are sexy, period. And you probably already knew that since you find your girlfriend pretty darn sexy, too, but have you ever stopped to think what exactly makes her sexy to you? Ask this question of her and you both might end up surprising each other with what the conversation brings.

4. Do you like to be dominant or passive?

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Every relationship is complicated and everyone’s sexual desires are complicated but you can really delve deep into your girlfriend’s desires by asking her this question. It might even spark a fuller conversation where you talk about your own preferences, too.

5. What’s the ultimate role play for you?

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Role-playing is something that can take your relationship to the next level or get you out of a rut. It’s also something that can simply inspire some interesting conversations, which is why this is definitely a question that you should ask your sweetie. Maybe just wait until you’re in a really intimate moment first, though.

6. Who is your secret celebrity crush?

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Talking about your celebrity crushes is a sure-fire way to invite some fun conversation and intimacy into your relationship. Of course, the key here is to ask your girlfriend about her secret crush. You know, there’s always somebody that she may name that is unexpected and will solicit more sexy questions.

7. Are you more rough or passionate?

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Passion is an excelleny thing to have in a relationship but it’s definitely not the only thing. And when it comes to having sex, people tend to have a style. Some like it really rough and dirty while others like it passionate and sensual. Although neither is right or wrong, it’s good to know what your girlfriend prefers by asking her this question.

8. What kind of talk do you like, if any, in bed?

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Some people like sexy talk. Some people do not. Some people like it super dirty. Some do not. You may not know exactly what your girlfriend prefers just yet because it can be an awkward subject to just bring up out of the blue, so why not ask her? This way, you’ll have something new and totally sexy to talk about in bed.

9. What’s the sexiest thing someone has done to you?

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You can definitely make this a really interesting question if you ask what someone has done “to” her and “for” her. It will definitely mean two different responses, but I bet both of them will be surprising and interesting. Just don’t be afraid to share your own answer to this question, too.

10. What’s your favorite body type?

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One way to talk about the things that you each find sexy is to talk about the type of bodies that you find most attractive. This can be an interesting thing to bring up but definitely make sure to only bring it up if you are comfortable in your body and relationship, since you don’t want to get jealous over what she says.

11. What’s your view on “50 shades”?

50 Shades of Grey is a book and movie franchise that changed the world or, at least, the way women behave sexually. All of a sudden, it became okay (and even encouraged!) to be kinky. But how much do you know about your girlfriend’s opinion on the books and the sexy topic? Now’s the time to ask!

12. Have you ever had sex more than once in a day?

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No matter how good your sex life is, there is always room for improvement. When you are getting more intimate with your partner, you might want to know what their “record” is in terms of the most times they have ever had sex. And then, I suggest, you improve upon that number.

13. Where do you like being touched the most?

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Some of us fully admit that our breasts are the most sensitive place while others love gentle little kisses behind the ears. And some of us still find something else so erotic that it makes sex even better. This is a great question to ask earlier in your relationship so that you can make sure to touch that part more and more.

14. Have you ever had sex in a public place?

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Sex in public is still a taboo subject but it’s one that we should be discussing more because, for some people, it’s the pinnacle of sexuality. Whether or not you are turned on by it, it’s something that you should think about and consider with your partner. That’s why you should find out if she’s ever done it in a public place.

15. What is your favorite sexual position?

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Everyone has a favorite sex position and anyone who claims not to is clearly lying. This is definitely a daring question to ask your sweetie but it’s one that can lead to greater sexual satisfaction. If you know what they like (and know what you like), then you can do a lot more in the bedroom to bring pleasure to each other.

16. Have you ever been so horny that you couldn’t control yourself?

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This is definitely a sexy picture and an even sexier image to have of your girlfriend, though you’ll probably want to make sure that you’re fairly secure in your relationship before bringing this one up. It’s also best to talk about this when you are having a particularly intimate moment, perhaps laying in bed at the end of the day.

17. Have you ever been to a strip club? 

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Who says that men are the only ones that get to enjoy strip clubs? Us ladies can love them too, and perhaps you’re even the kind of couple who has ventured out to one together. But even if you’re not, this is a fun topic to bring up with your special lady and hear about her experience.

18. Have you ever gotten with someone you weren’t allowed to?

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One way to talk about taboo subjects in your relationship is to do it out in the open. That’s why you should definitely bring up whether your girlfriend has ever been with someone she wasn’t supposed to. Sure, it can lead to some interesting conversation… But it can also lead to some interesting revelations.

19. What kind of outfit would look best on me?

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This is the kind of question that you’ll want to ask your girlfriend when you are feeling particularly comfortable with her. But, when it comes right down to it, it would be a good idea to know what your partner likes for you to wear… and visa versa. That way, you can both always look great for each other.

20. Have you ever tried tantric sex?

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If you didn’t know this, tantric sex is about having a really intense, connected experience during sex (either by yourself or with a partner). It’s something really enjoyable that couples can enjoy together but, before you try that, you should definitely talk to your partner about whether or not she has tried it before… and what her experience was. And if not, perhaps it’s an experience you can have together.

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