Pluck a clever, peripherally observant, and beautiful woman from the world. Literally any part of the world—far or near, rich or rare, physical or internet. A skyward follower count is not a determinant for selection. Ask her a set of questions that invite a discussion of sexuality, sensuality, modern feminism, career, and creativity, explored through her very personal lens. Have her answer them. And there you have it: that’s In Touch, a Par Femme segment, assembled, for you, with pleasure.
30-year-old Euphemia Russell lives in Oakland, California and spends her days educating a wide-spanning audience on pleasure—be that in the form of private consultations, workshops, training healthcare professionals, or through her educational platform, I Wish You Knew (which we’re obviously obsessed with). We love her self-proclaimed ‘dorkiness’ for all things sex and self, so our pal Tammi from BARE Sexology sat down with her to discuss bodies, sex laws and culture, and pleasure education around the world.
What made you want to pursue a career in sex?
I own a pleasure education business,I Wish You Knew, sharing practical pleasure information for all genders. I also do private consultations, workshops, and training for healthcare professionals.
I slowly shifted into this space—from personal interest, to self-directed nerdery, to studying in Australia, and then crowdfunding to study in California. Now I live in California, teaching in schools and making pleasure information more accessible with online workshops.
A pivotal moment for me in the process of becoming a pleasure educator was reading the graphic novelOh Joy Sex Toy, which opened my eyes to accurate, non-judgemental, pleasure education with some dorkiness thrown in! That’s totally my style: deeply feeling, but disarmingly dorky.
Why is sex education so important today?
Gosh, huge question with a huge answer. But in short, I believe sex education will always be important. I wish my work was redundant, but we will probably always need to know to some extent how to explore our pleasure and have fun, undo or dance with shame, be embodied, learn how to communicate, understand gender, and be sex-positive in the whole spectrum of experiences, and identities, and gender.
Yet right now I think we’re moving into dark times again, with the new SESTA-FOSTA laws around limiting conversations around sex work online, which is devastating as I think people are more than ever ready to learn. Also shifting from a rape culture to a consent culture takes education, tools for communication, and healthy relationships with our own and others people’s bodies.
Is that what inspires you?
I am in constant awe of bodies and nature, they inspire me daily.
We’ve gone through such a historical time of revering the transcendental, with a lionising of the mind, the holy, and what’s beyond this planet. Yet we still have a Victorian Era mindset that bodies are dirty, with a medicalised approach to them. But I believe bodies are deeply fascinating and equally as transcendental—we are in them all the time yet know so little about their complexity, and capacity for pleasure, and sensation. Bodies are the best.
I know my friends and I often find it difficult to balance acting and feeling sensual with today’s male gaze culture (still rampant!) – how can we lean into our femininity while also avoiding unwanted attention?
That is such a good but confronting question that so many people struggle with. We are in the process of a big change towards a consent culture, but there’s still a long way to go. I believe that feeling safe and expressive in your body in a world that isn’t built for you to thrive in, and is based on entitled consumption of femme bodies, is deeply challenging. But taking up space in this world and also lifting up other underrepresented identities to do the same is incredibly important.
So if you feel safe, enjoy your body and take up space with your sexuality. Find people and communities and spaces that support and celebrate this. You don’t have to be modest to be respected by anyone.
Own your sexuality and enjoy your body. That doesn’t have to look a particular way, or be performative, outward, or supposedly slutty or kinky to be progressive and accepted. The most radical thing you can do is what you need and want.
At Par Femme, we’re passionate about empowering people to own their sexuality in whatever shape feels right for them, especially women. What can we do to maximise our pleasure during solo or coupled sex?
1. Masturbate! And keep masturbating in relationships. Take ownership of your pleasure, don’t expect others to provide and serve you pleasure and fulfilment. With self-exploration you will know what feels good and what you like, then can tell others what you want.
2. Breathe, move, and make sound when you have sex.
3. Find mirrors to investigate your fantasies and desires. Feed your own fantasies instead of hoping mainstream media will.
4. Ask for what you want! Talking about pleasure is radical in itself. Reflect on andarticulate your wants and needs. Communicate your fantasies, desires, wants and needs. Practice being more comfortable with being uncomfortable as you articulate yourself.
5. Practicing saying no and know your boundaries. Your pleasure is not fulfilled by other people’s pleasure only.
6. Remember that sex is more than penetration. Explore pleasure in your body beyond orgasms, genitals, and “sex”.
What are your hopes for 2019?
Every few months I reflect on words and phrases of things I want to cultivate. At the moment, as I’ve just moved to California three months ago, mine are:
1. To do less, better. Contribute thoughtfully.
2. Centre pleasure in my life and business.
3. Take nourishing care of my body and self.
Photographed by Laura Vude.