Series by Sheri Winston
Wednesday-Sunday, Feb. 10-14
Florida School of Holistic
Living Educational Annex
1109 E. Concord St.
Author of Women's Anatomy of Arousal Sheri Winston begins our interview with much the same words she uses to introduce students to her adult sexuality workshops.
"First, I'd like to be clear that I teach for everyone — men and women," Winston says. "While the focus of the book … is about women's sexuality, that book is also for men who love women, women who love women, and for women who love themselves."
Winston wants everyone to have better sex, and her timing is right on the spot for the eager-to-learn in Orlando. Beginning Feb. 10, she's booked for five days and nights of workshops that'll climax with Sunday's Valentine special: "Fountain of the Goddess — The Learnable Art of Female Ejaculation."
No one takes their clothes off or touches each other at Winston's instructional affairs. The boundaries are made clear, and it's safe ground. Her overall tone and message, no matter what she is talking about, is inclusive, so men and women, alone or in couples, won't be targeted for their ignorance nor left out in the cold feeling like an idiot.
"I repeat this throughout all the education: There is no one right way to better sex," says Winston. "There are lots of paths and what I'm offering is kind of like a smorgasbord, and you can pick what appeals to you and try different things. There might be things you love and you go right toward those things — get a taste and see if it works for you."
And don't be offended by her progressive offerings. For instance, even though Winston cites female ejaculation ("squirting") as the No. 1 fetish in the Internet porn world, she can demystify the biological quandary and explain how to make it happen on demand. Winston bemoans the fact that most people have learned too much information about sex from watching porn and have become estranged from real-time experiences.
"In order to have great sex, we need great maps," she says. "One map we don't have is an understanding of female genitalia, and this is a sad thing and it's one of the big, big things my book talks about … a re-visioning of the female genitalia, understanding this equipment. Our understanding of female anatomy is incomplete."
She offers as an example the remedial level of common knowledge about the physiology of sex. Winston firmly states, "Erectile tissue is what a penis is mostly made up of and that's what gives it the ability to give pleasure. Women have just as much erectile tissue — pound for pound, inch for inch — except for us it is not in an obvious place. Ours is arranged in a network of inner structures.
"Women and medical professionals don't know where those structures are. Many are not even included in our textbooks or sexuality books. And when we don't know what's there, we can't make the best use of it," she concludes.
How does Winston know? Years of education, observation and interaction. She started as a licensed massage therapist in the early 1980s and went on to receive her nursing degree and become a certified nurse-midwife and gynecology nurse-practitioner. She feels "blessed" to have attended more than 500 births and has seen, up close and in person, a lot of goings-on with sexuality and the female body and mind.
Throughout Winston's experiences, she's been an educator as well and eventually dropped the clinical work to develop what she calls her "Wholistic Sexuality Curriculum" and a mission to shed light on hidden or taboo topics, including how our parts work together. "We can have a lot more pleasure," she says, "if we understand the relationship of our body and our mental map."
Winston now lives in Kingston, N.Y., which is headquarters for her virtual Center of the Intimate Arts (www.intimateartscenter.com). She travels a lot these days, teaching a variety of workshops, which she would prefer to call "playshops" but doesn't because it sets the wrong expectation.
Speaking of unrealistic expectations, learning lovemaking skills by watching pornography earns a sigh from Winston. "If that is the only place you're learning it from, you're in trouble," she warns. "It does not work — it's like learning how to parent from watching sitcoms. Yes, they are entertaining, but that is not where you are supposed to be learning."
There's a lot going on behind sex scenes that isn't apparent, she adds. "Here is another piece of that: Even in pornography, when they are actually filming, most of the female actresses take between 30 and 45 minutes to get warmed up before they have a sex scene. You see how women are when they are already highly aroused, but `you` are not seeing those 30 to 45 minutes of arousal process. And men think that's how women are going to be … but that doesn't work for real women in particular. Porn is geared at a masculine model of arousal."
And what are most women thinking while they have sex? This may or may not come as a shock, but according to a recent study, she says, 80 to 90 percent of them are worrying about how they look — just another riff on the "does my ass look too big?" conundrum.
So even if you don't want face-to-face continuing education on healthy, happy sex, at least understand the power of foreplay geared toward acceptance and assurance about the state of very human bodies and very fragile egos. And get a copy of the book.
Winston offers a sliding scale for her class tuition. She'll be teaching "Wholistic Sexuality Introduction" 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, $15-$25; "Vaginal Ecology" 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, $25-$50; "Women's Anatomy of Arousal" 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, $25-$50; "Firebreath Orgasm Intensive" 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, $45-$95; and finishing with the aforementioned "Fountain of the Goddess" 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, $25-$50.
Winston offers a sliding scale for her class tuition. She'll be teaching "Wholistic Sexuality Introduction" 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, $15-$25; "Vaginal Ecology" 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, $25-$50; "Women's Anatomy of Arousal" 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12, $25-$50; "Firebreath Orgasm Intensive" 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, $45-$95; and finishing with the aforementioned "Fountain of the Goddess" 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, $firstname.lastname@example.org