The benefits of imagination and sex with Gina Gutierrez
You may be aware, that many women experience “responsive” vs. “spontaneous” desire, in which desire emerges only in a safe, comfortable, highly erotic context.
If you’re looking for more ways to bring your desire online, and enjoy more sexual confidence- you’re in the right place.
Today I’m super thrilled to be talking with Gina Gutierrez, the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Dipsea, a people-powered story studio that publishes a wide range of erotic, female-focused audio content.
Gina's passionate about demonstrating why sexual wellness is essential, and how storytelling and imagination are powerful tools that can help women unlock liberating connections with their bodies.
Armed with a psychology degree from Duke and a desire to break the stigma that fantasy should be stifled, she’s ready to help women everywhere tap into their sexual powers.
Listen in to discover:
* Understanding "mental framing" and how to use it for better sex.
* Why she and her co-founder started Dipsea, and how using audio stories can expand your sexual confidence.
* How to get rid of the shame around fantasy.
* Simple ways to invite in more pleasure in your routine.
*The benefits of Dipsea's audio app that allows you to access an ever-growing collection of sexy audio stories, wellness sessions, and dreamy sleep scenes.
And much more!
Complete transcript below.
JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION ON THIS EPISODE AND MORE IN MY FREE FACEBOOK GROUP, FIND YOUR FEMININE FIRE HERE.
Gina Gutierrez is an empathy-driven entrepreneur with her sights set on reimagining and prioritizing female pleasure. As the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Dipsea, a people-powered story studio that publishes a wide range of erotic, female-focused audio content, she’s passionate about demonstrating why sexual wellness is essential, and how storytelling and imagination are powerful tools that can help women unlock liberating connections with their bodies. Armed with a psychology degree from Duke and a desire to break the stigma that fantasy should be stifled, she’s ready to help women everywhere tap into their sexual powers.
Check out Dipsea for 30 days free at https://www.dipseastories.com/fyff/
Check out her Ted Talk on Sex and Imagination HERE.
Want more support from Amanda? Schedule a confidential 1-1 call with Amanda here.
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Permission to reach out even if it feels scary. Permission to reach out even if you aren’t even sure you want to do this work. Permission to reach out to explore if this is right for you, no strings or pushy sales tactics here.
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EPISODE 265:Gina Gutierrez
[Fun, Empowering Music]
Amanda Testa: Hello, and welcome to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast. I am your host, Amanda Testa. I am a sex, love, and relationship coach, and in this podcast, my guests and I talk sex, love, and relationships, and everything that lights you up from the inside out. Welcome!
You and I, we’ve shared a lot together from discussions about how to have amazing sex and deeply connected relationships to sharing powerful strategies to amplify pleasure and connection in our lives, but there’s something I treasure above all, and that is supporting you, the amazing person behind all the stories, the one embarking on this fantastic journey towards building an epic connection with yourself, your sexuality, and your relationships. It’s my primary mission to ensure that you have the resources and support that you need so you can never feel alone in this journey, and I want you to know I am right here with you.
But I want to do even more. I want to make it super easy for you to invest in yourself and your growth and your pleasure.
So, here’s the big news. For a limited time, I’m offering our transformative Pleasure Foundation Membership for 50% off, and this is a big discount because your journey towards more pleasure and connection matters that much to me. I want it to be like a no-brainer to drop in and learn the tools you need to feel more stronger, more confident. I believe this can be the gentle nudge you need to invest in your pleasure and to do the practices to support you receiving the deep connection and nourishment that you want.
So, if you've been thinking about joining The Pleasure Foundation, consider this your sign. To grab this offer, please visit www.amandatesta.com/tpf, and I am beyond excited to welcome you on the inside.
So, if you have been listening to the podcast, you may be aware that many women experience responsive versus spontaneous desire in which desire only emerges when you have a really comfortable, stable, safe, highly-erotic context. So, if you are looking for more ways to bring your desire online and enjoy more sexual confidence, you are in the right place!
Today’s episode is gonna be so good. I’m so excited because I’ll be talking with Gina Gutierrez, the founder and Chief Creative Officer at Dipsea. Dipsea is a people-powered story studio that publishes a wide range of erotic, female-focused audio content, and it is so good. She’s passionate about demonstrating why sexual wellness is essential and how storytelling and imagination are powerful tools that can really help women in unlocking and liberating their connection with their bodies. So, yay! I’m so, so happy you're here. Thank you, Gina, for being here.
Gina Gutierrez: Oh, I’m so happy to be here! Thank you for that intro.
Amanda Testa: Yes, and I am curious as we dive in. I always love to get a little bit of the back story a bit about why you feel so passionate about this work and what led you to do this.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: You can give the CliffsNotes version, of course, because it’s a journey.
Gina Gutierrez: [Laughs] Yeah, do you want to just hear five years condensed into an hour? We can do it. I think that first of all, I’m just delighted to be among my people, which are disciples of Dr. Emily Nagoski, so I’m just happy to be here. [Laughs]
But I think that the journey for me with Dipsea started pretty early even though Dipsea wasn't an idea that early. I was in college, and I was talking to my female friends about their sex lives, and it felt like they weren't thinking about sex as about them. They were thinking about sex as, at best, the unit between them and a heterosexual partner or, at worst, only about the partner. I was talking to this friend who was really into this guy, and she was saying, “The sex, yeah, it’s good. I just -- I don't know. I kind of expected it would be amazing because I really like him,” and I asked her what she was thinking about when she was having sex, and she looked at me with this blank stare and said, “You know, I really don't know.”
That blew my mind. It was such a simple little answer, but it blew my mind that we’re not aware of what’s happening in our minds as we’re having physical experiences, and why would we? Because sex is framed as such a purely carnal, physical experience, and it is, but it’s also a mental and emotional experience.
It became clearer and clearer to me once I had that insight that women were really getting jipped especially because they were more likely to want to focus on the story of us, the chemistry of us, the uniqueness of us, who I am, who you are, that matters, and stories are actually a really, really powerful unlock for a lot of that because you get the narrative wrapper around the chemistry and connection between people that is so fun to hear about.
So, Dipsea was me saying, okay, if Headspace and Calm can change how people feel with audio, wouldn't erotic stories change how people felt not just in those 15 minutes of listening, but throughout the day? Would they walk down the street feeling like they had a little bit more swagger, feeling like, “More people are looking at me”? Would they be more excited to go on a date or more excited to initiate or accept an initiation from a partner? My hunch was yes, and I’m really proud to say that five years later that’s true. They really do help people in those ways.
Amanda Testa: I love it. I think it’s interesting because we do so often -- I feel like a lot of, especially women-identifying humans are very conditioned to please a partner or just to please in general. And so, taking the time to come back to your own self and be like, “What do I even like, and what are the things I’m thinking about, and what do I want to be thinking about, and what are the things that turn me on to think about, and what are the things that turn me off to think about.” And I also think one of the things I know you talked about, too, is just how the storytelling is a way to kind of shift your mind, right, from the overwhelm and the busy-ness of your day and just all the other things that we constantly are going in there. It’s like intentional imagination.
So, I wonder if you would share a little more about that, about the power of our imagination when it comes to sex?
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, I think you just brought up a couple of really interesting points. The first is we are probably all conditioned in some way to think that it is selfish to put ourselves and our pleasure and what we like into focus, that that actually should be secondary to what other people want.
That’s like a true, deep cultural value that isn't necessarily all wrong or all bad but does have bad consequences and certainly has bad consequences in the bedroom, and I see that over and over and over. I see that with how people react to the word pleasure. I see that in how people react to the concept of masturbating. There’s a lot of stuff loaded into culture that we’re all learning and unlearning every day.
And then I think with imagination, yeah, it’s obvious that all of us have imaginations. But it’s not obvious that all of us are using them to have better sex lives. And I think that some of the ways that we are great at imagining is creating Pinterest boards in our brains of what we want our future house to look like or apartment to look like. We are so good at that, and we have tools that help us with that actually. Pinterest is a great tool for that, and we love to future-fantasize about what might something be or look like, how should a party feel, how should something happen, but we’re not really doing that for our sex lives, and Dipsea in some ways is the Pinterest for that, right? Like, how can I start to bank the things that feel sexy to me and create more of a scaffold for my fantasy so it’s just more plug and play when I want to use my imagination to get turned on.
And so, ideally with Dipsea, you’re listening and you're having fun and it’s amazing, and also then Dipsea is something that you use kind of in the back of your mind because you're doing it yourself, and it helps to cultivate that imagination. But among the many ways that we are conditioned, it’s also clear to me that imagination is a little scary for people. “Is what I fantasize about a slippery slope for what I really want? Am I being bad inside my monogamous relationship because I fantasize about someone else? Is this bad?” There’s some layer of is this bad that we really want to help people break free from. Your fantasy is a safe space. It lets you explore and unravel things that you wouldn't do in real life. It lets you yell at your boss in your head in a way that you would never behaviorally do because it wouldn't be good for you or for them. But it’s really important to get it out in your head, right? Like, get that life force moving and unblocked in your body.
Amanda Testa: Yes, yes!
Gina Gutierrez: Fantasy’s like that too. It just doesn't have to be a scary, slippery-slope kind of concept. But that I’m just discovering in this journey of Dipsea is a hot topic.
Amanda Testa: I love that so much because I think it’s true, because oftentimes people judge themselves by what they fantasize about or the things that they desire, and I think it’s so important to kind of remove that lens of judgment, right?
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: And I love how you share it is true. When you think about the things that you think in your head, you're not gonna do those things in real life
necessarily, but it’s fun to be able to play in that realm.
Gina Gutierrez: Yes.
Amanda Testa: It’s like a very safe way to play, right?
Gina Gutierrez: And we actually just did this amazing survey with over 7,000 Dipsea listeners and people in our community about sex and dating and relationships and how it’s changed, and we heard from a lot of people that they like to fantasize about things that they don't want to happen in reality. The overwhelming majority of people said, “I like to fantasize about things I don't wish for in my real life,” and the reasons for that actually aren't like fear that someone would judge them or fear of stigma or fear of hurting someone or any sort of external causes. The reason that they don't want to is, one, because it might be fun to. So, it’s just fun. Two, they might not feel safe doing it in real life because fantasy is innately a safe space.
Amanda Testa: Yeah.
Gina Gutierrez: And three, it might not feel pleasurable in real life, but in fantasy it could, and that is just so cool to me. We get to jump on clouds and rainbows in our fantasies and we get to have whatever sex we want.
Amanda Testa: I love that so much because I think it’s true. Oftentimes when we think about things, it is such a fun way to just -- because our body doesn't often really know the difference if we’re imagining it or if it’s real, but we know. But when you have those experiences, when you think about bringing it, some things you might be like, “Oh, you know what? That is kind of fun. Maybe I do want to try that,” and other ones you're like, “No, I don't want to, because I’m sure in real life it’s not gonna be near as good as in my mind,” or there are too many complex tendrils that I don't even want to go down those roads, or whatever it might be, right? So, I love that you can just have fun with your mind.
I love, too -- I think one of the things that’s interesting, because obviously I talk a lot about embodiment, and that’s a lot of the work I do with my clients, but also I do know the importance of using your brain, right? It’s our largest sex organ, and I would love if you would share a little bit more about kind of the statistics on mental framing, why this is a way that’s easier, a lot of times, to help women get aroused, especially if you have trouble finding your desire. I wonder if you could share a little bit more about that if you don't mind.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, I think you also brought something up before you even asked the question that’s so important which is fantasy definitely can help you in real life, too. It’s not just a fun fantasy play space. It can also be, “Oh, I might use those words to initiate with my partner in a way that’s sexy,” or, “Oh, I might give or get consent in these ways without it feeling awkward or sticky, and I might ask the person to grab a condom in a way that doesn't feel like it totally kills the vibe.” So, I think listening to stuff that feels like real, aspirational fantasy is really, really cool for making your IRL sex life better. So, I’m really happy that you brought that up.
I think when Faye, my cofounder and I, were first starting to talk about Dipsea we realized that first of all, the research around sex today is very, very limited. It’s clear that there are big institutions that believe that it’s a secondary thing and that there’s a lot more primary stuff that they should focus on. And so, we were kind of finding these disparate pieces of studies and were like, “Oh, that’s an interesting statistic,” and, “How does that pair with this one?” We kind of put our arms around a lot of stuff.
One of the big sources of stress was OMGYES, which is an amazing platform to kind of help you more anatomically understand what might work from a touch perspective, etcetera. They did some research alongside the Kinsey Institute that found that 90% of women used mental framing, or what they call scenario conjuring, to get aroused.
So, the story that I love to tell around this is someone might say, “Well, I love fantasizing about this famous actor, but I only like fantasizing about them when I know that they don't have a partner because I don't want to get in the way of that, if they have a good thing going.” And so, I think that that’s such an amazing reality where we construct these elaborate scenarios in our mind that help us get in the mood. And you, you know, in doing your embodiment work, the brain and the body are a totally connected ecosystem, and so, maybe you’re thinking body up and I’m thinking brain down, but the goal is that they actually become connected, and fantasy is a path to that greater embodiment, and embodiment is a path to being able to pay attention to your imagination and use that tool that we all have built in.
It’s not something we don't even need to really learn. It’s in there if you start listening.
Amanda Testa: We already have access to it.
Gina Gutierrez: Right.
Amanda Testa: I think that’s so key, just the ease of entry, right?
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, exactly. A lot of the things holding us back are things that are hard, objectively. Shame, guilt, these are hard things to navigate, but if we’re able to put them aside -- and I often talk about a fantasy exercise where when you are fantasizing about something and something pops in that really doesn't feel good, you actually get to think, “Okay, that’s here, and I’m gonna move it to the side. It’s off screen.” It’s okay that it was there, and it’s okay that you’re putting it off screen and that there’s actually some power in that to say the problem isn't what is here. The problem is just being able to focus on what you want to focus on, and you actually get to do that. I think that that’s a pretty empowering exercise when you actually get to swipe on your own fantasies. [Laughs]
Amanda Testa: I love that visual, too, of just moving it offscreen.
Gina Gutierrez: Right?
Amanda Testa: That’s such a great way to phrase it because I just like that because it is easy to think, “Oh, gosh, well, there’s this pile of laundry over there,” and, “Oh, my god, I forgot to send that email,” and all the things that pop into our brains --
Gina Gutierrez: Yep, totally.
Amanda Testa: -- at the times we don't want them to.
Gina Gutierrez: Laundry will interrupt sometimes. [Laughs] It’s true. It will.
Amanda Testa: But it’s good to know that you can bring your awareness back to what you want to be thinking about.
Gina Gutierrez: Right.
Amanda Testa: I’m curious if you could share -- I would love if you would just talk a little bit more -- one of the things I love that people might not be aware of about Dipsea is just some of the cool features about it, and can you just share a little bit more in general because I think one of the things that I find so fun is the immense amount of choice and incentives displayed in there, and also just all that you can create such a fun experience for yourself in numerous different ways. So, I would love if you would just share a little bit more about what it is for people that are like, “Well, tell me more about what this even is.”
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, I would love to. So, Dipsea is an app, and it’s a treasure trove of all sorts of stories for all sorts of people. And so, it became really clear to us really early on that people’s sexual preferences are super diverse, and I don't just mean whether you're interested in stories that are queer or whether you're interested in stories that are straight.
I’m talking about the tenor of the voices of the characters that you're listening to, themes of the stories of what you're listening to, whether you like the characters and what they’re doing. We want to make a world in Dipsea that is as diverse of a reflection of the real world around us as possible.
And so, one of the ways that we do that is we make sure that our voice actors are a diverse representation of the world around us. So, we work with voice actors who come from all different countries, have all different accents. Over 50% of our voice actors identify as people of color, so we’re really hearing the richness of the world, which is really important because, partly, that’s just how we should be representative in media period, and partly because we like to hear ourselves in our stories, and that’s important. And so, we hope that as many people as possible across age or across race and ethnicity, across where you live, what country you live, feel like they find something on Dipsea that hits for them, and that’s a lot of work for our team, but we love to do it.
We really want to make sure that we have content that feels delightful to you. We have feature sets that allow you to avoid what you don't feel as comfortable with. The expectation setting is really clear in our narrative stories, so if you're like, “Hey, I want to hear a story about a romantic meet cute,” amazing, let’s get you there fast. If you’re like, “Hey, I actually think that affairs and infidelity is really sexy. I love how off-limits it is,” again, regardless of what that means in your real life, right, fantasy’s a safe space. Great, we want to help you find those pieces of content. If that’s really triggering content for you for good reason, you should be able to avoid it. And so, this is what it means to have an app built by female-identifying people, and we’re a diverse team of people, but by people who are really thinking about these things. We want to create a safe space.
So, most of our content are these short, erotic audio stories. They're episodic so you can follow your favorite characters and really get immersed in the world. We have stories where the characters talk directly to you, which is really sexy, right? They're whispering in your ear. And we also have sleep content, and what’s really fun about the sleep content is we take the characters that you love, and we put them in the sleep stories so they are there. They sit on the edge of your bed. They tuck you in. Maybe they're cleaning up dinner in the room next door, and you're just hearing the tinkling of glasses.
Maybe they're playing the guitar on the porch. It’s very comforting and easeful sleep content. And then we also offer wellness content, so kind of more practical, how might I uplevel my self-touch practice, how much I do some breath work to get myself feeling more embodied, stuff like that.
Amanda Testa: I love that because it really is, it’s like taking the best of meditation and apps that people are used to using, but also adding in more of a sexy vibe, and also just inviting in the choice of what you want and what you need. I love how that’s one of the things I think is so beautiful about it is I think oftentimes when we think about erotic, we have a narrow view of what that can mean, right? Or maybe it’s just sex. That’s just part of a huge spectrum, and so, I love that you have that spectrum available there.
Gina Gutierrez: Is that what you hear most is how people frame erotic is -- tell me what you hear about --
Amanda Testa: Well, I think what I feel it to mean is just like it’s your aliveness, it’s your life force. It’s like enjoying all that makes you alive.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: But oftentimes when it comes to sex or people hear that word and they think more of just like that’s like a sex-only content. It’s something graphic or it’s something that involves bodies and all of those things, which it can.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: But it also can involve feeling the comfort of maybe you're feeling lonely, and you can put on the sound of someone washing dishes, and that makes you feel connected, or it can bring back a memory that feels good, right? So, there are numerous ways to connect to what brings you alive.
Gina Gutierrez: That’s exactly how we like to define it, too. The erotic is just a little bit of an energetic footprint in your own body of what good feels like. And so, you get to feel that in the context of listening to a Dipsea story. You might feel that in the context of self-pleasure, you might feel that in the context of partnered sex, and you also might feel that in a really great conversation with a stranger out at a coffee shop. It’s not even flirtatious, but it just makes you feel good, alive, here, happy. Those sorts of feelings, when they’re fresher, they help you be aware of what you want more of in your life and move towards more of those, and when those memories are father, you forget how good they are, and so, you're not prioritizing them as much.
It’s like me a year ago with yoga. I was like, “I need to go do yoga. I have to.” There was an obligation. “I must go. I should go.” And then I go, and it feels good, and I like it. Then I go again, and it feels even better, and I like it more. And then I go again, and I’m like, “Oh, my god. I feel amazing!” But you have to get yourself in the muscle memory of, “Feeling good is good. Feeling good is good for me.”
Amanda Testa: Yeah.
Gina Gutierrez: “I like this.” [Laughs]
Amanda Testa: I love that so much. I’m such a huge fan of pleasure in all the ways that you can receive it. And so, I’m curious though, too, because I know you mentioned this earlier, and I kind of want to circle back to when you were talking about shame, like people might have shame around listening to content like this or downloading an app like this, hear all the things that come up. I’m curious what you might be able to share around that.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, shame is so personal, just like what you like in sex is so personal. So, the reasons why shame might be very present in your life come from all different sources. You know, we talk to people all the time, our customers and people in our community, and we hear they might have come from shame-based education. It might have come from lack of conversations around sex with parents and then, therefore, kind of inserting stories into the silence.
It might have come from traumatic experiences. It might have come from watching media and seeing what bodies you saw and the interactions you saw were not you, and therefore you must be wrong. There are all sorts of ways that it comes to us, and so, I think doing some exploration around what your version of that baggage is, because everyone has got it, is really, really helpful, and also just taking into account that the society we live in and the power structure that we live in is a huge contributor to that, too. So, the society that we live in unfortunately is still priming the world for white men. That’s true. And so, if you’re not a white man, you know, we love white men, too. We want them to be happy, too. But we want everyone to be able to feel that their version of “I cum first” actually is okay because if we have a lot of people thinking about “I cum first,” not in the sense that I’m willing to steamroll other people, but if I put my priorities first and I identity what my wants and needs are and I’m good at that, then I actually get to bring more of myself to other interactions. I get to be better for my kids. I get to be better for my partner. I get to be better for my students, whatever interactions you have with the people around you.
And I think that is the ultimate unlock to removing all those feelings like, “Listening to sexy stories is wrong or bad for me,” or, “Too much pleasure is too much of a good thing.” You get to start seeing the benefits, feeling the benefits, not just for yourself but for the people around you, and then you're like, “Oh, okay, okay. This isn't selfishness. This is just putting my oxygen mask on first.” But that takes a while. It’s a journey. We have to be gentle with ourselves. It takes a while.
Amanda Testa: It’s so true, and I love that, just giving compassion to yourself.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, always. It’s a journey. That's a journey I’ve personally been on through Dipsea. It's been so interesting being a founder of a company talking about these things and coming back home and being like, “Am I living that out loud right now? Is that true? Am I being compassionate to myself? Am I putting my own pleasure first?” And it’s a helpful lens for me, you know, being close to it all the time. I just ask myself the question.
Amanda Testa: Yeah. I’m curious, too, from your own experience, maybe if you could tell a story about an example of how you bring more pleasure to your own life.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: Like when you ask yourself that question, what are some things that you do?
Gina Gutierrez: I brought up yoga earlier because it’s been such a journey for me over the last year. Yoga to me started as an obligation. “I should do it. I probably should exercise. I am told I should exercise,” right? [Laughs] And then I go and I feel the endorphins that are natural results of sex and exercise, and then I keep going back and I start to watch my body be more under my control and also watch the ways that it hurts more in certain ways and I respect that it hurts more and I don't push it, and I’m just paying more attention to what’s happening in my body, and I’m more aware of what’s happening in my body and what that really is is coming home into my own body.
Now my mantra at the beginning at every yoga class is, “I’m home. Come home to yourself,” and that’s so deeply pleasurable for me to have a moment where I’m inside it, like the body is me and I am the body, which doesn't always happen when you're like tip-tapping at your desk or, I don't know, rushing to get in there and done before they close at 5:30 or whatever’s happening. But that’s a huge part of my pleasure practice.
Another thing is friendship. I want to be laughing with friends as much as I humanly can. A year ago I moved into a cohousing group. I live in Oakland in California, and so, there’s more of that probably here than there is in other places, but I felt very lucky to move into a place where I get to see friends every day and I eat dinner with people at least five times a week and I’m laughing a lot, and that is medicine for my soul, and that feels like my version of pleasure that is not erotic, that is literally the fire of my life and makes me want to be more erotic, too, because I feel more like I’m here with myself. It’s all connected.
Amanda Testa: I love that so much because I feel like at the end of the day the end result is connection.
Gina Gutierrez: Yes, yes.
Amanda Testa: I truly believe it’s the end result.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah! Yeah, which makes me think a lot about flirting. You know, another thing I think we feel afraid of in the world besides imagination, one, pleasure, two, is flirtation. Flirtation to me is just like energy exchange between people. It doesn't have to mean, “I’m interested in you. I think that we should have sex one day,” at all. It could literally be like, “Hey,” to the person bringing your mail and just being friendly and exchanging the spark of, “You're alive and I’m alive and isn't that awesome?”
That flirtatious energy, I think, is a huge part of why laughing with friends actually matters. It’s just a broader scope of what flirtation is just like we were talking about. A broader scope of eroticism brings up a whole new set of stuff that you might not have previously considered. So, I’m very pro-flirting, but I use a different definition than most people. [Laughs]
Amanda Testa: Yeah, I’m with you there! I feel the same. It’s around that energetic exchange and connection. Even this morning I was noting -- I went for a mammogram, and I think there are little touches. This makes me feel like there’s definitely a women-identifying person behind this office because you go in -- and I think this is how, when it comes to pleasure, these are the kinds of things I think about. What can I do to make this experience a little more pleasurable?
Gina Gutierrez: Mm-hmm.
Amanda Testa: And I love when you think about that in different contexts, like even asking yourself, “Am I living this?” For example, today, you know, they have low lights. The robes are warmed before you put them on.
Gina Gutierrez: Wow.
Amanda Testa: They have soft music playing in the background. You know, they are super communicative and kind. There are healthy snacks and water in the waiting room. All those little touches, that, to me, makes something that can feel really stressful a lot more pleasurable.
Gina Gutierrez: That’s amazing.
Amanda Testa: Right?
Gina Gutierrez: Can you tell us who your provider is?
Amanda Testa: They're Health Images. I know that there are a lot of them. I’m not sure if they're all over the US, but I know they're regional in Colorado, Health Images. Each office is different even, but I love that. I think it’s so beautiful that they think about that because we can do that too! When we’re dealing with stressful situations in our lives or life feels hard or at the end of the day, what can I do to make my experience a little more pleasurable? Maybe I want to listen to a story --
Gina Gutierrez: Right.
Amanda Testa: -- while I’m washing the dishes. That’s what I love about Dipsea as well is because, you know, it’s audio, so you can listen to it when you're doing other things. You could be walking the dog. You’ll definitely probably be a little more smiley to the people walking by.
Gina Gutierrez: Watch your step. [Laughs]
Amanda Testa: Right? But just how you can weave in pleasure and make it easy and doable. I love that about it.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, I think about that with rest a lot, too. I think there’s a lot of resurgence of we should rest more post-COVID, which is awesome, and everyone’s kind of calibrating what that actually means to them, but I think when you're really, really productive for a couple of solid hours and then you need 15 minutes to just absolutely veg, great. Take those 15 minutes. That is pleasure. That’s exactly what you need, and yeah, those little details like you described in that office where you got your mammogram, those details actually make a huge difference, and they're not hard to implement.
This is actually a great one. This is so silly but so cute. There’s a team member, they and I are always cold. We just run cold. Sometimes I’ll come on and I’ll just kind of have my shoulders up around my ears on Zoom, and they’ll be like, “Are you cold?” and I’m like, “Yes,” and they're like, “Go put some socks on right now,” and just putting socks on is such a silly little thing, but it is actually taking care of yourself, and it actually feels better, and then you actually are having less of a bad time just putting socks on.
Amanda Testa: Right.
Gina Gutierrez: And that I just think is so cute. It’s as simple as socks? Amazing.
Amanda Testa: I love it, and I think isn't there some study around women orgasm more when they have socks on when they studied MRIs?
Gina Gutierrez: There is!
Amanda Testa: Probably because they're comfortable and they're warm!
Gina Gutierrez: I learned about that from Alexandra Fine at Dame. I love that information. Yeah, exactly. Temperature is a factor. Great, take care of it. I love that.
Amanda Testa: I actually have a blanket in my lap right now because I’m like --
Gina Gutierrez: Amazing. I love that.
Amanda Testa: I’m doing the same!
Gina Gutierrez: I love having a blanket underneath the Zoom zone. That’s my favorite.
Amanda Testa: [Laughs]
Gina Gutierrez: [Laughs] And guess what? I’m wearing socks.
Amanda Testa: Oh, my gosh. I love it. Yay! On that note, I think it’s funny because we live in Colorado. It’s often cold here, and it is hard sometimes to feel relaxed and want to open and enjoy sensual experience when you're freezing because it does. You're tight, you're cold.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: So, this is a helpful tip for anyone out there is we got a mattress warmer. It’s like an electric thing that you stick on your mattress, and it preheats the bed. We call it preheating the bed.
Gina Gutierrez: Amazing.
Amanda Testa: So, we’re like, “Preheat the bed!”
Gina Gutierrez: I feel like that has to have an impact on your sex lives.
Amanda Testa: Totally. Oh, yes. It’s amazing.
Gina Gutierrez: That’s amazing.
Amanda Testa: So, I'm just like for any cold people that run cold out there, you might want to check that out.
Gina Gutierrez: It’s true. Cuddling is nice for getting close, but it’s a different sort of avenue. Cuddling is like a desperate, “Please come here! I’m so clenched. Help me be warm,” which is different. [Laughs]
Amanda Testa: Oh, yes, and we always laugh about that because it is so cold. We’re like, “Ah! It’s the best.” So, anyways.
I think, too, you know, speaking of fun things you can do with a partner is, again, I think inviting in these erotic stories is a really good way to play with fantasy with your partner, too. Obviously first you want to know what you like, yourself.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: And then you can invite your partner into the party if you so choose.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah. So, if you're like, “Is Dipsea for me,” if that’s a question in your mind right now, which Dipsea is such a new thing in so many ways, so I totally understand that question. We have listeners between the ages of 18 and 65+. We have a huge range of listeners that are happy here. Most of our listeners are millennials, but we have a huge range of listeners, which we feel extremely proud of. We have listeners in every country in the world, which is just absolutely incredible, and we have 50% split between people that are in relationships and people that are single, so this is not a product for single people or for people in relationships.
It really does serve both those groups of people, which we also think is really exciting. If you're like, “I’m queer, is there enough content for me,” there definitely is. We’ve made a huge effort to make sure that we’re constantly balancing the output. We have stories that are about threesomes and stories that are about queer people and stories about Black love and stories about all sorts of things. If you might feel like, “This is what I’m really looking for,” you’ll find it on Dipsea. So, just letting you know if you have a modicum of curiosity, I’m sure we have something that you’d be really excited by.
But with partners I think, yeah, what we hear most from people is Dipsea’s a solo listening activity, but it gets people really excited for sex. So, it’ll be something that people do in the car driving home before they see their partner, or they’ll listen to it in the bathtub before they are with their partner, things like that, or they’ll send their partner a story and use it almost as a communication tool. It can be a little awkward to be like, “Would you want to try this?”
It’s way easier to be like, “This story was really sexy to me,” and let them connect their own dots as the beginning of a conversation, which I think is pretty exciting. And then if you're like 401/801 level, if you're ready to move out of the intro class, listening together is really fun too, but I think it does help to have some baseline of what do you like and what do I like and what might the middle be.
Amanda Testa: I think that’s true. I think it’s a fun way to do something new, and especially if you're in a long-term relationship it’s a fun way to invite in some different play.
I remember the first time (I feel like years ago before I even started doing this work, so this was, I don't know, 12+ years ago) my husband and I have been together for a long time, but we got a tip from a book around listening to erotic stories with a blindfold and just kind of inviting in, and I think it’s such an interesting way to play with sensation, too, right? Because our audio, just that aspect of just focusing on just the sense of your ears, I think it’s a powerful thing.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, what we like to say is audio is the most intimate, immersive, and imaginative medium there is, so if you want to imagine them in a certain bedroom, you get to do that. If you want to imagine their body types a certain way, you get to do that.
It’s so intimate because it almost sounds like the voice in your own head. It’s almost happening as if it’s in sync, you know, the headphones are in your head and it’s all happening with you, you're a part of it in a pretty special way that is really, really incredible and I think an unlock for people that are used to erotic media being something that you kind of consume at face value on a screen and often feel like an arms-length from for many different reasons.
Amanda Testa: And I think that’s so important, too, because also just the ethical way it’s produced is important to a lot of people like me.
Gina Gutierrez: Very much. Very much. Yeah, all Dipsea content is recorded by trained voice actors recording from booths and studios all over the country, all over the world, really, and they're getting really gentle, attentive direction from our team in their headphones, and those voice actors actually aren't even being recorded in the same room.
So, people are having an individual opportunity to tap in, tune in, and be the amazing actors that they are, and then in post-production we stitched them together to sound so amazing together. You know, sometimes the Dipsea team is like, “Wow, we really want Jack and Gia to meet one day,” because the chemistry that we’ve created between them is incredible. [Laughs]
Amanda Testa: [Laughs] Oh, I love that. So, I’m curious, too, if you might be willing to share maybe a couple other tips that you have around what specifically -- a lot of the listeners here in my podcast are women-identifying people -- so specifically for vulva owners, what are some other tips to maybe help them feel a little more sexy in their skin?
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, I think a lot of it is creating up front structure around how you want to do that, and that sounds so deeply unsexy. So, let me just say that to start. Planning time to be sexy sounds unsexy. I get it, and I was there for a long time where I was like to plan sex with a partner or to plan time with myself is like an anachronism: “aren't I already doing it wrong?”
And I think I would say to that, “Absolutely not.” So, if you're like, “Okay, I have a Saturday where my kids are away, and I want to use that Saturday to focus on my own pleasure,” that is a huge, huge step in your own journey to feeling more embodied. Then you get to start trial and erroring. What makes you feel more in your body, and what didn't really work even though it should, right? There are going to be plenty of shoulds. Yoga might work for me, and it might really not work for you, and you don't need to do it 15 times to decide that. Just listen. [Laughs] Is it working or is it not? It’s a trial and error I think is another thing. Very unsexy, but if you allow yourself to try and say, “That’s not it. Something else is it,” the authenticity of how you feel is what matters. That’s the guide, not the set of rules that a blog said, “You should try XYZ,” right? That blog might be 30% right for you, that might be 90% right for you, but it’s up to you.
So, I think planning is a huge part of it. Planning sex, I think, with a partner is a huge part of it. Having a consistent date night if you're in a long-term relationship is really great.
Thinking about the ways that you can find sexual partners to feel close to and feel safe with, if that’s what your current lifestyle is, amazing. Figure out what that path is. Strategize a little bit so that when you're in the moment, you just get to enjoy.
So, I think the up-front work, the trial and error, those are huge. And then a lot of it is just being comfortable with how you like and want to be touched and talked to. And so, I think listening to stories like Dipsea is a really, really great way to do that. Logging that in your own mind when you really like what someone says or does in bed so you can ask for it again is amazing, or paying attention to what you like to feel when you're touching yourself is also really important because our memory’s not great, right? It’s not so automatic that we know exactly what we want at every given moment. We have to start being more aware and thoughtful and intentional about what it is so we can communicate it back out.
Yeah, I mean, I think a lot about what good sex is and how people perceive what good sex is, and I think we give way too much of the credit to partners and partnered sex, even when we’ve been with someone for a long time, and they ostensibly should know us very well and probably do.
But really, we’re the owners of our own universe, and it actually kind of is our job to be like, “Hey, that’s kind of changed.” [Laughs] “I know I used to really like that, but something about it has changed for me.” Getting comfortable saying that gives the other person the feeling that they might say that too. You're just tossing back and forth this openness and this bid of how it could be, and that’s really powerful too. You know, we get to change. We get to update.
Amanda Testa: Yeah, and it always is changing, right? Especially as we go through different seasons of our lives, different cycles of the month, different cycles of the year, whatever it is.
Gina Gutierrez: Yep.
Amanda Testa: So, I love that. It’s like being empowered to speak your needs and know what they are, which comes through time and trial and error and making that space.
Gina Gutierrez: And Dipsea.
Amanda Testa: Yeah, Dipsea.
Gina Gutierrez: [Laughs]
Amanda Testa: So, is there any, perhaps, question that you wished that I would have asked that I didn't ask or any last things you want to share with the listeners?
Gina Gutierrez: I mean, I would love to hear you describe your experience of Dipsea as someone who focuses on embodiment. What did it bring up for you? What made you feel more curious? What happened when you listened?
Amanda Testa: Yeah, I mean, I enjoy it because I am always looking for -- I have some tried and true pleasure practices that I always go to. I love working with different tools, but I like to play with different opportunities depending on my mood and what do I want. I really love that about Dipsea as well because there are so many options about what am I in the mood for, what would feel fun. Or if I’m just feeling tired and I don't want to think or do anything, I’m just like I just want to listen and enjoy, you know? I don't have to think, and that feels good.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: I can just choose to enjoy. I don't really watch TV. I’m probably unique in that way. I don't watch TV. I very rarely watch TV, so I love to just find other ways to entertain myself, things like this. Some people are like, “Ah, I just want to relax and watch TV.” I’m like, well, I would just prefer to relax and self-pleasure or do something that feels good. I don't have a lot of alone time, but when I do, that’s what I prioritize, and it makes a huge difference in my life, in my relationship, because that's why I think we need to prioritize our pleasure, and we don't do that enough.
And so, that’s what my experience has been. It's been a really beautiful way to add into a practice of pleasure.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah.
Amanda Testa: And it’s been really fun to do with my partner too. We love to listen to stories. Maybe in real life we don't want to have a bunch of people in the bedroom with us, but we can pretend, or we can fantasize about it or listen or whatever bites our fancy. That’s what’s so fun about it.
Gina Gutierrez: So, you have listened with your partner.
Amanda Testa: Mm-hmm.
Gina Gutierrez: That’s amazing! I love to hear those stories. Yeah, you know, I am a TV watcher, I think partly because media is media and I want to see what people are into, what’s happening.
Amanda Testa: Yeah, totally.
Gina Gutierrez: And also partly because I love TV. But I think that these shows are so sexy these days that are really becoming more like you can feel that they are written by people who have more of a sense of this isn't just about male pleasure. Even with the silliness and over-the-topness of Bridgerton, you can see how the thematics, the fact that women are getting oral sex, it’s just like we’re moving. Things are happening, and that’s awesome.
Amanda Testa: Yes, yes.
Gina Gutierrez: But there is still this removal between me and it, and it can feel a little bit conceptive in a way that sometimes just makes me feel like I hit the button to turn it off, and I’m like [Gasp] whoa, where have I been?
One of the things that I really like about audio is that it’s a little bit more participative of you. It demands a little bit more of your imagination, enough so that you’re not calling the shots, that they’re actors doing their thing. You get to relax, but your brain is moving. You're thinking. You're engaged. And that, to me, is something that I never could have predicted to be true of Dipsea. I’m not some sort of audio expert and have that understanding innately, but it’s such a delight to have discovered that it doesn't necessarily feel like you just sucked an hour away, right? It feels like you are a part of this, and you are more connected to yourself, and man, cool, the fact that audio gets to do that is just like a really magical unlock.
Amanda Testa: Yes, I love that. So, and yes, not to say anything bad about TV watching. If you enjoy it, all means, do what you need for yourself. But that’s just my personal thing. So, I just want to name that too. And I’d love, too, if you can just share where people can find more about you, more about Dipsea, where they can sign up and all of that good stuff.
Gina Gutierrez: Yeah, totally! So, Dipsea is spelled D-I-P-S-E-A. If you go to www.dipseastories.com you can learn more about the product. If you go in the App Store if you have an iPhone or go in the Play Store if you have an Android, you can download the app. You can listen to some free stories to decide, “Is this the product for me,” before you decide to subscribe, and we have annual plans, and then for commitment-phobes we have monthly plans. So we have all sorts of options for you to find what you need, but I’d also love to share that if you go to www.dipseastories.com/fyff you’ll see an automatic 30 days free applied so you can explore to your heart’s desire for 30 days before you decide if you want to subscribe, so check it out!
Amanda Testa: Yes and thank you so much for offering that. I highly encourage you to check it out. It’s so much fun. Enjoy. Enjoy!
Gina Gutierrez: If you want to learn more about my perspective on sex and imagination, I did a TED Talk last year that you could definitely listen to.
It’s called Sex and Imagination. Google my name. Which is the classic me on a red circle talking in the TED-ish way about these topics. It was really, really fun to write and conceive, so if you're interested, definitely check that out, and yeah, I hope that you listen, I hope that you enjoy, and I hope that there’s more pleasure for you out there than you ever imagined.
Amanda Testa: Ah, thank you so much, Gina. Thank you so much, too, for all who are listening. I will make sure to put all of this in the show notes, as well as your TED Talk, Gina, which I watched, and it was so good. So, I love that practice, too, you took everyone through, so I’ll encourage you to go check out her TED Talk as well. Yeah, and thank you so much for being here.
Gina Gutierrez: Thanks for having me. It was a treat!
Amanda Testa: Yes! We will see you all next week!
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Thank you for listening to the Find Your Feminine Fire podcast! If you loved this episode, please go ahead and forward it right now to someone who you know would love it, and if you’ve not yet had a chance to leave us a rave review on Apple Podcasts, please make sure you rate and review if you enjoyed the podcast as well as make sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week!
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