“Let’s talk about sex” should be Asheville native Kelley Wolfe‘s motto. As far back as high school, Wolfe was the girl all her friends used to come to with sex questions, and in her all-girl freshman dorm in college, it was more of the same.
Wolfe went on to earn a clinical-nutrition degree and a master’s in public health education. Concern about HIV and AIDS was coming to the fore, and she felt comfortable helping educate people.
Returning to Asheville in 1993, Wolfe taught sex education in the city schools. For the past 11 years, she’s taught courses in sexuality and women’s health at UNCA. In her private practice, Mountain Sexology, Wolfe works with clients on everything from new ideas for hot sex to helping their kids become sexually healthy.
Mountain Xpress: What’s the difference between a sexologist and a sex therapist?
Kelley Wolfe: A sex therapist is going to come from a counseling or a therapy or a psychology background. I come from an education background. I am not a licensed therapist. A sex therapist would be a licensed therapist with yet another degree in sexology or sexuality.
So you’re a teacher.
I am all about education. I’m all about helping people understand their own sexuality, where their messages come from, how their messages have impacted them and sort of restructuring their attitudes. If you want to let go of a negative attitude, we can work on how to let go and how to adopt a new, healthier attitude.
What’s the pressing question when it comes to sex on the college campus?
It’s the same questions we all have: How can we be better lovers? How can we receive more pleasure? How can we give more pleasure? Some of it’s technique. A lot of it’s communication and openness and comfort with your own sexuality and just being honest about what you like, what turns you on—and then being able to communicate that to your partner.
What changes have you seen with your students’ attitudes toward sex?
The abstinence-only sex-education program a lot of people have been exposed to in high school has led to misinformation, guilt and shame. We weren’t exposed to that in high school. I didn’t have high-school sex education, so maybe no sex education is better than bad sex education.
You’re seeing some lack of information?
Certainly. It’s criminal that we’re doing such a poor job of educating our middle-school and high-school students.
In European countries especially, they see sexual maturation as a normal part of the life cycle. When a child becomes prepubescent, they realize they’re becoming sexual beings in a more obvious way than when they were children. It’s just part of the life cycle; it’s OK and it’s celebrated, and they teach their children how to respect their sexuality, how to express it. …
In our country, we promote this idea that you shouldn’t be sexual until you’re married, and that brings about a lot of shame and denial of a beautiful part of our body—our sexuality, or ability to express ourselves in a loving, pleasurable way. It’s just really negative.
As a result, we have sex at the same age as these European countries, but we have a pregnancy rate that’s sometimes three, four times higher … because we don’t educate children about … how you prevent pregnancy or transmission of disease. We just say don’t have sex.
How do you help people spark desire?
It is raising your sexual energy within your body. … We need to take responsibility for ourselves and if we have low sexual desire, we [need to] say OK, how can I bring sexuality into my life more? How can I think about it more? And that may be asking your partner, hey, could you call me three times today and whisper a sweet nothing in my ear and hang up? Will you send me an erotic e-mail?
You can begin to read erotic material, look at erotic media, be it art, video, photography. There’s a whole range of things that you can do to just bring some erotic [charge] back into your life. Identify what it is that gets you stimulated and then go down that path and use that, but take responsibility.
Are there common sexual hang-ups that people bring to you?
Oh yeah. A real common one is that touching your genitals is dirty or shameful. When children play with themselves, many parents smack their hands or tell them it’s wrong, instead of saying, oh, that’s your penis or that’s your vulva—you know, using that as an opportunity to educate. … People who masturbate tend to have orgasms, and when they can have orgasms on their own, it increases the likelihood that they can have [them] with other people. It feels good; it’s healthy. It causes endorphins to be released from the body. It’s just a great expression of pleasure and intimacy.
OK, help me with some myths. Does masturbation cause blindness?
No. … It causes a healthy prostate. It can cause healthier erections and a better sexual awareness.
Is there such a thing as the G spot?
Yes, there is. It’s a cluster of nerves …
How do I find it?
You go up the vagina about a third of the way up and point to the belly and then massage it with your finger. It can be very erotic for women to have G-spot stimulation, because most women [achieve] orgasm from clitoral stimulation, so this is a different sensation. It can be very powerful.
Do you have a formula for a good sex life?
Practicing. Talking about it. Keeping sexuality on the front burner. Touching—a lot; as frequently as you can throughout the day, to create the intimacy, not [just] to signal that I want to have sex. Having time alone; as a parent, [that] is crucial.
Good communication seems to be one of the hardest things for people to deal with.
It’s important to take responsibility for your behavior and your ideas. You want to use “I” statements, like, “I really like it when you [do this].” “I would like you to call me more frequently during the day to tell me that … I turn you on.” Try to put things in the positive instead of the negative.
Be comfortable trying new things, and give it some time. The first time we try something new, it might be awkward and funny. But [in time], we can figure out how to incorporate it a little better, and that adds variety. And have a relationship where there’s the trust that you can be honest about what you want—and feel safe doing that.