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TitleCome as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life
TagsCome As You Are Make Your Bed
File Size4.7 MB
Total Pages310
Table of Contents
Introduction: Yes, You Are Normal
	The True Story of Sex
	The Organization of This Book
	A Couple of Caveats
	If You Feel Broken, or Know Someone Who Does
Part 1: The (Not-So-Basic) Basics
	1. Anatomy: No Two Alike
		The Beginning
		The Clit, the Whole Clit, and Nothing but the Clit
		Meet Your Clitoris
		Lips, Both Great and Small
		Hymen Truths
		A Word on Words
		The Sticky Bits
		Intersex Parts
		Why It Matters
		Change How You See
		A Better Metaphor
		What It Is, Not What It Means
	2. The Dual Control Model: Your Sexual Personality
		Turn On the Ons, Turn Off the Offs
		What “Medium” Means
		Different for Girls . . . but Not Necessarily
		What Turns You On?
		All the Same Parts, Organized in Different Ways
		Can You Change Your SIS or SES?
	3. Context: And the “One Ring” (to Rule Them All) in Your Emotional Brain
		Sensation in Context
		Sex, Rats, and Rock ’n’ Roll
		Your Emotional One Ring
		You Can’t Make Them
		“Is Something Wrong with Me?” (Answer: Nope)
Part 2: Sex in Context
	4. Emotional Context: Sex in a Monkey Brain
		The Stress Response Cycle: Fight, Flight, and Freeze
		Stress and Sex
		Broken Culture Broken Stress Response Cycles
		Complete the Cycle!
		When Sex Becomes the Lion
		Sex and the Survivor
		Origin of Love
		The Science of Falling in Love
		Attachment and Sex: The Dark Side
		Attachment and Sex: Sex That Advances the Plot
		Attachment Style
		Managing Attachment: Your Feels as a Sleepy Hedgehog
		Survival of the Social
		The Water of Life
	5. Cultural Context: A Sex-Positive Life in a Sex-Negative World
		Three Messages
		You Are Beautiful
		Criticizing Yourself = Stress = Reduced Sexual Pleasure
		Health at Every Size
		When Somebody “Yucks” Your “Yum”
		Maximizing Yum . . . with Science! Part 1: Self-Compassion
		Maximizing Yum . . . with Science! Part 2: Cognitive Dissonance
		Maximizing Yum . . . with Science! Part 3: Media Nutrition
		You Do You
Part 3: Sex in Action
	6. Arousal: Lubrication Is Not Causation
		Measuring and Defining Nonconcordance
		All the Same Parts, Organized in Different Ways: “This Is a Restaurant”
		Nonconcordance in Other Emotions
		Lubrication Error #1: Genital Response = “Turned On”
		Lubrication Error #2: Genital Response Is Enjoying
		Lubrication Error #3: Nonconcordance Is a Problem
		Medicating Away the Brakes
		“Honey . . . I’m Nonconcordant!”
		Ripe Fruit
	7. Desire: Actually, It’s Not a Drive
		Desire = Arousal in Context
		Not a Drive. For Real.
		Why It Matters That It’s Not a Drive
		“But Emily, Sometimes It Feels Like a Drive!”
		Impatient Little Monitors
		Good News! It’s Probably Not Your Hormones
		More Good News! It’s Not Monogamy, Either
		“Isn’t It Just Culture?”
		It Might Be the Chasing Dynamic
		Maximizing Desire . . . with Science! Part 1: Arousing the One Ring
		Maximizing Desire . . . with Science! Part 2: Turning Off the Offs
		Maximizing Desire . . . with Science! Part 3: Desperate Measures
		Sharing Your Garden
Part 4: Ecstasy For Everybody
	8. Orgasm: The Fantastic Bonus
		Nonconcordance—Now with Orgasms!
		No Two Alike
		All the Same Parts . . .
		Your Vagina’s Okay, Either Way
		The Evolution of the Fantastic Bonus
		Difficulty with Orgasm
		Ecstatic Orgasm: You’re a Flock!
		How Do You Medicate a Flock?
		Flying Toward Ecstasy
	9. Meta-Emotions: The Ultimate Sex-Positive Context
		Can’t Get No . . .
		The Map and the Terrain
		Positive Meta-Emotions Step 1: Trust the Terrain
		Positive Meta-Emotions Step 2: Let Go of the Map (the Hard Part)
		How to Let Go: Nonjudging
		Nonjudging = “Emotion Coaching”
		Nonjudging: Tips for Beginners
		“No Good Reason”
		Healing Trauma with Nonjudging
		When Partners Dismiss!
		Influencing the Little Monitor Part 1: Changing Your Criterion Velocity
		Influencing the Little Monitor Part 2: Changing the Kind of Effort
		Influencing the Little Monitor Part 3: Changing the Goal
		“To Feel Normal”
		“This Is It”
Conclusion: You Are the Secret Ingredient
	Why I Wrote This Book
	Where to Look for More Answers
Appendix 1: Therapeutic Masturbation
Appendix 2: Extended Orgasm
About the Author
Document Text Contents
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Page 155

For a long time, I thought the standard narrative was right—of course I did, I
believed what I was taught. We all do. So I had no idea what to think when, in college
back in the ’90s, a friend told me about her first experiences with power play in a sexual

“I let him tie my wrists above my head while I was standing up, and he positioned me so that I was straddling
this bar that pressed against my vulva, you know, like a broomstick. And then he went away! He just left, and it
was totally boring, and when he came back I was like, ‘I’m not into this.’ He looked at the bar and he looked at
me and he said, ‘Then why are you wet?’ And I was so confused because I definitely wasn’t into it, but my body
was definitely responding.”

Like everyone who has ever read a sexy romance novel, I was sure that wet equaled
aroused. Desirous. Wanting it. “Ready” for sex. So what could it mean that my friend’s
genitals were responding, when she really didn’t feel turned on or desirous at all?

What was going on?
Nonconcordance is what was going on.
In this chapter, I’ll describe the research on nonconcordance, including answering

questions like, Who experiences nonconcordance? (Everyone, actually.) How do you
know your partner is turned on, if you can’t use their genitals as a gauge? (Pay better
attention!) And how can you help your partner understand your nonconcordance? I’ll
also address three wrong but beguiling myths about nonconcordance—and these myths
aren’t just wrong, they’re dangerously wrong.

I want everyone who reads this chapter to go on a spree of telling the whole world
about nonconcordance—that it’s normal, that everyone experiences it, and that you must
pay attention to your partner’s words, rather than their genitals.

measuring and defining nonconcordance

Put on your sex researcher hat again and imagine conducting an experiment like this:1
A guy comes to the lab. You lead him into a quiet room, sit him down in a

comfortable chair, and leave him alone in front of a television. He straps a “strain gauge”
(which is exactly what it sounds like) to his penis, puts a tray over his lap, and takes hold
of a dial that he can tune up and down to register his arousal (“I feel a little aroused,” “I
feel a lot aroused,” etc.). Then he starts watching a variety of porn segments. Some of it
is romantic, some is violent, some features two men, some features two women, and
some features a man and a woman. He rates his level of arousal on the dial as he watches,
and the device on his penis measures his erection. Then you look at the data to see how
much of a match there is between how aroused he felt—his “subjective arousal”—and
how erect he got—his “genital response.”

Page 156

Result: There will be about a 50 percent overlap between his genital response and his
subjective arousal. It’s far from a perfect one-to-one correlation, but in behavioral
science it’s exciting to find a relationship that strong. It’s highly statistically significant.

For the most part, both our research subject and his penis will respond most to the
porn that matches his sexual orientation: a gay man’s genitals respond most to porn
featuring two men, and he’ll report the highest levels of arousal in response to it; a
straight man’s genitals respond most to porn featuring a man and a woman or else two
women, and he’ll report the highest level of arousal in response to it, etc.

Now let’s run the same experiment with a woman. Put her in that quiet room, in that
comfortable chair, and let her insert a vaginal photoplethysmograph (essentially a tiny
flashlight that measures genital blood flow), and give her the tray and the dial and the
variety of porn.

Result: There will be about a 10 percent overlap between what her genitals are doing
and what she dials in as her arousal.

10 percent.
It turns out that there is no predictive relationship between how aroused she feels and

how much her genitals respond—statistically insignificant. Her genital response will be
about the same no matter what kind of porn she’s shown, and her genital response might
match her sexual orientation . . . or it might not.2

It’s called “arousal nonconcordance” and it’s totally a thing.3
This research has been in the media a lot. For example, Meredith Chivers’s

nonconcordance research was described in the New York Times and in a number of
popular books recently.4 Chivers’s work builds on the research of, among others, Ellen
Laan, whose nonconcordance studies were also covered in the New York Times a decade
earlier.5 Chivers replicated Laan’s finding of greater arousal nonconcordance in women
compared to men, with the innovation of showing research participants not only a
variety of porn and nonsexual videos but also videos of nonhuman primates—bonobos,
to be specific—copulating. It turns out women’s genitals respond to bonobo sex, too,
though not as much as to porn.

Page 309

Vagal brake, 352n6

defined, 29
orgasm through penetration of, 2–3, 16, 272, 274–76, 292, 322
position of clitoris relative to, 21
during sex, 44

Vaginal containment, 253
Vaginal opening, 22, 27
Vaginal orifice, 19
Vaginal photoplethysmography. See Photoplethysmography, vaginal
Vaginismus, 45, 321. See also Pain, during sex Van de Velde, T. H., 157–58
Ventral pallidum, 84
Vestibule, 21
Viagra, 46, 213, 239. See also Erectile dysfunction medication Vibrators, 59, 287, 288, 362n12
Violence. See Abusive relationships; Sexual assault/rape; Trauma
Virginity, 28, 159
Visual/proximity cues, 72
Vulva, 21

anatomy of, 26–27, 27
defined, 29
photographic depictions of, 32–34
visual exploration of, 37–38

Washington University, 43
“Water of Life, The” (Rumi), 148
Weight and health, 167–70, 187
Wetness. See Lubrication
What Do Women Want? Adventures in the Science of Female Desire (Bergner), 75, 134, 206–7
What Makes Love Last? How to Build Trust and Avoid Betrayal (Gottman and Silver), 319–20
What’s this? behaviors, 80–81, 86, 88
What the hell is this? behaviors, 80–81, 86, 88, 252
When Sex Hurts: A Woman’s Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain (Pukall and Goldstein), 320
Williams, Mark, 130
Women’s Health (magazine), 161
“Women’s Sexuality” (author’s class), 23

context, 95–108
Sexual Temperament Questionnaire, 54–58
stress coping strategies, 151–52
turning off the offs, 258–61

WuDunn, Sheryl, 232

XX (genetic females), 18
XY (genetic males), 18

Yoga, 122

Page 310

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Illustrated by Erika Moen
Interior design by Ruth Lee-Mui Cover design by Gail Anderson and Joe Newton Cover photograph by Isabella Selby

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication
Data Nagoski, Emily.

Come as you are : the surprising new science that will transform your sex life / Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.
pages cm

Includes bibliographical references.
1. Sex instruction for women. 2. Sexual health. 3. Women—Sexual behavior. 4. Women—Health and hygiene.

I. Title.
HQ46.N32 2015

ISBN 978-1-4767-6209-8
ISBN 978-1-47676211-1 (ebook)
mailto:[email protected]

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