Updated: Feb 22
By: Ruby Rose Moscone
Art by Sadie Paczosa
Interview with Clarke Rose, full-time Sex and Pleasure Coach with expertise in women's pleasure and erotic potential.
Sexual happiness. This is what you can expect to learn from sex coach Clarke Rose, and a term she holds closely to heart: “I just really like that, it sounds light and fun and I think sexuality and sex should should be a little more playful.” As I began to dig deeper in my conversation with Clarke, however, a clear distinction was made between the achievement of sexual happiness and the process it takes to get there. “While it speaks to a getting to a place in your life where sex doesn’t cause you anxiety, pain, shame, or trauma it is a journey. The process of sexual liberation is definitely a journey.” She goes on to explain that this became clear to her through listening to podcast Sexually Liberated Woman, hosted by sexuality doula and educator Ev’yan Whitney. The journey they speak of, I learn, can get complicated when media platforms like Instagram get involved.
While much of our conversation speaks towards the opportunities for greater pleasure and enjoyment during sex, Clarke highlights the almost impermeable lens in which sex and femininity are viewed through today. As a sex coach who often offers free educational content via Instagram, Clarke knows just how threatening women advocating for control over their sexual health and sex lives can be. “There’s a lot of reasons this feels intimidating to others, but I’m going to say white capitalist patriarchy honestly. They make a lot of money when women hate themselves and don’t own their sexuality.” Her acknowledgment of sex being goal focused or penetration focused—in other words male focused— helped me understand why pages like hers dedicated to female empowerment are often censored or targeted on Instagram’s platform. “White men in San Francisco run Instagram, they’re benefitting from us hating ourselves.” Sadly, this comment feels unwaveringly true.
We discuss ads promoting beauty enhancements such as lip fillers and eyebrow laminations, pages dedicated to plastic surgery before and afters, or Instagram’s trendy filters that make face altering a norm. “As long as we have body positivity and women supporting women on Instagram we also have that and we have nineteen-year-old influencers getting work done because they now adopt these insecurities.” But Instagram and media in general allow for much more than a harsh critique on female sexuality. With her platform, Clarke finds connections that are beautiful: “Messages from women who leave toxic relationships and love their body are a beautiful part of my platform and if I can provide a sex education to people that never got it, that feels special.” She discusses the ways in which Instagram has deepened her sex education on topics like kink and polyamory, and the voices that can be heard on platforms all over social media. “We wouldn’t have this access to sex education if it weren’t for women and people of color and LGTBQ and trans folk being willing to speak up and use their platforms. So many marginalized groups have been given platforms through Instagram, groups that were previously voiceless like bigger bodied women and trans folk.”
Back in December of 2020, however, the platforms of many sex educators were silenced due to an updated terms of conditions. The edits made to Instagram’s policies targeted pages based on “trigger words,” such as vulva, penis, orgasm. When Clarke found herself going back to previous posts and changing the spelling of words to avoid censorship, she understood just how important her work really is. “The truth is, Instagram is a very sexual platform and has sexualized women and normalized images of women in thongs and made women feel like they need to perform in that way. So then to have the blatant targeting of sex education and of anatomical words that are no more than body parts..it didn’t make sense to me why we can’t we talk about that.” While she worried about the future of her page—a channel that brings her many clients and helps support her financially—Clarke recognized the privilege she has a white, thin, cis-gendered woman. Most of the pages she saw that were heavily targeted were platforms for black sex workers, bigger bodied sex educators, and trans folk. “You have to actively choose to like yourself everyday when you’re active on Instagram, sometimes I need a break because of that. But I do know that I have the privilege to, for the most part, post whatever I want my followers to see.”
Our conversation eventually led us back to the idea of sexual happiness. Is any one culture distinctly more sexually happy than another? Clarke’s answer surprised me. As an ex-pat to the US, and someone who has now lived in Paris and Melbourne, I was curious to know how women across the globe view sex differently. “I think this is going to be surprising answer, but universally we are all damaged in the same way. If I didn’t ask, I still wouldn’t know where a client was from just based on their toxic images surrounding sex. My clients are just women wanting to explore their sexuality. Everyone I have talked to has body image issues, sexual trauma, sexual shame, a shitty sex education, trouble orgasming with a partner, discomfort masturbating…It really doesn’t matter where you’re from. I can’t think of any client I’ve ever had that is super comfortable with sex and pleasure.” Clarke points out that there is some distinction between clients whose sexual oppression is more domineering than others—women in Abu Dhabi, for example, who must use code words during sessions in fear of backlash, or women who can’t safely access abortion or admit sexual engagement without fearing their lives.
There is, however, an overwhelming sentiment of sexual shame within women, an aspect of our conversation I can’t shake. It feels as though we all need a Clarke Rose, a coach to help start the journey of sexual healing and sexual happiness. I ask her selfishly to share any advice she may have for the women who don’t. She answers by thinking back to her teen years, prior to having the proper sex education to feel the empowerment she does today. “First thing that comes to my mind is to tell my younger self 'you are more than an object of their pleasure.' I was getting off on getting men off for the first few years of my sexual experiences. I was performing, I wasn’t advocating for my pleasure or even my health. This speaks to such a big problem in our society and I would make sure to tell others that they don’t need to say yes to everyone to be sexually liberated.” She expands on the way her early personal experiences with sex left her unsatisfied, though at the time she knew no alternative option. Her lasting and adamant advice to anyone reading comes with a laugh, “Yeah also—I would tell my younger self to stop looking for a vaginal orgasm and just make my partner go down on me for 40 minutes. We can get there later.”
To book a session with Clarke Rose find her information at ClarkeRose.com or follow her Instagram, @ClarkeRoseTheSexCoach