A Conversation with Amy Rose Spiegel about her book Action
Here is their conversation.
Carlyle: I really loved your statement in the introduction: “Be loving in a new way. Love like you did not know how to love before. “Tell me more about what that means to you.
Amy Rose: Loving in a way you have not before is tied to consent, regardless of how long been with a partner. When you approach sex with fixed set of ideas, it can be limiting in terms of what you enjoy and think of self- gratifying; what you are capable of and who you are capable of being. It is about waking up every day and not thinking “This is the way it is going to go”. It is about allowing yourself to have different experiences.
Carlyle: After being in non-monogamous relationships with folks of all genders, you stated in the book that you are now in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship. What do you enjoy about being in a monogamous committed relationship?
Amy Rose: It was an adjustment mentally. Rather than assuming that sex would get boring, it is about accepting that monogamous sex can be as deep and great. It takes more frankness. We have to really communicate deeply and do a lot of talking, which serves sex really well. We have to be honest and frank and be reciprocal, which has been really gratifying. The conversations been different than in poly relationships because of the different boundaries and other aspects to negotiate in poly connections. Monogamous boundaries are somewhat fixed- you don’t have to renegotiate always, so you can really apply the conversations to other areas of the relationship, such as more emphasis on the acts themselves.
Carlyle: What advice would you give to someone who might want to open up their relationship?
Amy Rose: Don’t come to it like it is a big earth shaking issue and that it is something that your partner is going to freak out about. Come to it as a suggestion casually. Explain your desires. Don’t frame it in terms of specific people you want to connect with. Express in a broad way. State that you want to open up for “xy” reason rather than want to date a specific person.
Don’t anticipate your partner’s reaction. It takes a lot of dialogue. And don’t rush it before you do it.
Carlyle: In the book you mention your distaste of the word “sex-positive”. Can you explain more about that?
Amy Rose: The term has been useful and positive for some communities . The problem with the term sex positive is that it is exclusionary to those who have not been a part of the dialogue. Implicit is that if you are having sex and it doesn’t have terminology, you are not doing it right and thus sex negative. But really if you are being respectful and kind then the sex is ok!
Carlyle: Your book does not follow a how-to format and is not really a memoir. How would you describe it?
Amy Rose: The book is a mishmash. It is a messy book because sex is a messy thing, I wanted to write about what my experience has been so that people can feel that they can trust me. There is so much we take for granted that we think that people know. I like to break things down to bare and simple concepts, so as to not leave anyone behind and not assume what people already know.
Don’t isolate sex from the rest of life at large.
Carlyle: Do you think that teenagers would benefit from reading your book?
Amy Rose: Teenagers are reason for the book. I worked with teens at Rookie. In general we don’t talk to teens outside of safety precautions. Many questions I heard were based on sexual anxiety. They were often coming from wellspring of internal kindness, such as “How do I know if I am doing it right for someone?” I hope that young readers are able to see that there is no such thing as doing it wrong as long as you are listening and being kind. There is no point in trying to live up to something. There is no such thing as being bad at something as long as you have a curious heart.
The book is suggestive. It says: “here are some things you could do, try them out if you like and add variations. Here are ways that some people have done it. “
Often teenagers ask: “ Is it ok if…”, looking for permission to like or desire or feel certain ways when asking for advice. I always say that whatever you like is ok and doesn’t have to mean anything about you. They often need reassurance. They are always brave to ask for it, which often means that it has been disallowed. But it gives them options to consider- even if they never do it.
Carlyle: You use the word “Kindness” a lot. Can you elaborate on what that means to you?
Amy Rose: I mean to be kind to self and others: not giving yourself a fixed way of being, allowing for the messy humanity of self and another’s body, not expecting to hit a certain bar or else it is necessarily bad sex, but rather allowing yourself to learn about another person and yourself. It is about not allowing yourself to try to fit into a weird cast.
Carlyle: How do you advise folks to not get caught up sex Olympics of what they can and cannot do (such as squirting or female ejaculation) and how that measure up?
Amy Rose: When you have a fixed goal of what a good lover is, you usually fail to reach it. Sex is not a goal to reach. And pressure is not useful to sex unless that is fun for you. If you pursue a goal you likely won’t reach it and you also won’t have fun along the way.
There are so many more options and so focusing on a specific goal means that you are cheating yourself and your partner from all those options. Squirting is fun to explore but should not be the singular focus. You’ll have a way better time if you experiment and decide that you will be ok whether squirting happens or not.
Carlyle: Tell me more about what consent means to you. For example when someone wants to stop the action to put on a condom.
Amy Rose: Consent means that you stay calm. If reaching for a condom feels like an interruption, treat it instead as a part of sex and an exciting part of the process. This way it becomes less intimidating. When you treat it that way- it becomes the norm- a sexy norm- which takes the stigma or fear out of it.
Putting on a condom is not the intermission- rather it is part of performance. It is as natural as any other part of arousal. It can be sexy. It thus becomes a natural part of communication, and even can be something great.
Carlyle: What would you suggest to someone who is afraid of rejection?
Amy Rose: If people don’t ask for consent because they are afraid of rejection, then they are not allowing their partner to have autonomous feelings. Rejection is not about you, it is about the other person. If a partner is not into it this time, it does not mean that what you are doing or requesting is untoward or shameful.
Carlyle: What do you advise women who are nervous to initiate asking?
Amy Rose: Assuming that the other person has to initiate every time is not really being fair. When we assume that a man has to ask, we are making assumptions. I have been with male partners who had experienced trauma. I had to learn by getting it wrong, which changed my experience. But it has improved my sex life vastly to talk with male partners about it. It can be a kind way to approach a partner and it has blown minds of my male straight partners.
Carlyle: Do you have any final thoughts to share?
Amy Rose: Be kind and you can’t go wrong- you won’t make a mistake- you will just learn more about yourself and about the world.
I also want to be clear that part of sexuality is also not wanting to have sex. You don’t have to be “practicing” to be a sexual person, just like you can be in a straight relationship and still be queer. Whatever you decide is a great thing.
Fucking up is how you go pro- you are going to make mistakes in all areas of life- it does not make it wrong- no one is going to come to sex with a perfect approach- we all still make mistakes- be respectful and kind– you are just a living breathing person having experiences.