How I Banished my Inner Judge and Become my Own Voyeur to Overcome Spectatoring

The other morning my partner made a bold move. The kids were at daycare/out, we both had some time before work. He took my hand, slid me into the bedroom, and with “do I have permission eyes” proceeded to start doing yummy things to my body. I gave him a yes with my voice and my hands and we proceeded to have what I like to call naked sexy fun times for probably the first time in a month (have I mentioned my infant has taken over my bedroom).

And while I wanted the things that were happening to feel yummy and relaxing I was having a problem. Instead of being in my body and in the moment. Instead of losing myself to the sensations I was feeling. Instead of letting go and melting into it all - I was across the room watching myself with a scorecard and a stern look.

I was - at the same time - judging myself and feeling judged. 

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That scorecard was reviewing things like the roundness of my belly, the rolls of flesh on my back, the cellulite on my butt, the unkempt state of my hair down there, my long toe nails, my unshaved legs, and all the ways that I am not measuring up post baby. My judgy me is screaming” you are a fat, hairy, frumpy, mom which is soo so far from sexy”

It was totally distracting. I’m sure you’ve been there. There’s actually a term for it it happens so often. I cam across this term while reading Sex Drive: In Pursuit of Female Desire by Dr. Bella Ellwood - Clayton. Here is what she says about it: 

“The sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnston argued that sexual consciousness - which they termed- spectatoring - undermines men’s and women’s sexual responsiveness and satisfaction. Inspecting, monitoring and evaluating oneself from a third person perspective while getting it on, rather than focusing on one’s sensations or sexual partner can increase performance fears and hinder sexual performance.”

In short “ Preoccupation with our appearance makes it hard to relax, hard to focus on being aroused, and ultimately hard to experience sexual pleasure.”

Why does this happen? Well I could probably write a whole book about it but some key highlights would be the standards we have around ….

  • Which bodies are beautiful

  • Which bodies are sexy

  • Which personal hair care regimes are most “desirable” 

  • Which body movements and poses are most sexy or most communicate to our partner that we are having fun

  • Which noises we “should” make during sex to communicate our pleasure

  • What is “supposed” to feel good during sex 

  • What we “should” be doing with our hands, legs, feet, lips.. Etc during sex

  • And many many outdated ideas about motherhood and sexuality - namely that moms aren’t sexy and shouldn’t be sexual 

Whoa, as usual, that’s a lot of societal bullshit to push up against just to have a good time in my own damned body!

I’ve been here lots before. And because I have sex so infrequently at the moment, and because I wanted to have fun. I did a little experiment. Instead of wishing the spectator away I tried to reclaim her. Instead of playing the role of the judge, I played the role of voyeur. I had that person in the corner telling me I was goddess, that I was so sexy, that my body was amazing. TOTAL SIDE NOTE -If you grew up in the 90s you might remember the film The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp when he was actually kinda hot. I haven't seen it in forever but I have this image etched in my memory of some hot lady riding the wave with a castle burning in the background or some craziness and I just channeled that shit. 

And it actually worked. It was hard. And I was still in my head and not quite in my body. But it got me going. And it built the momentum and it changed the energy and then all of a sudden my spectator disappeared and I was able to surrender to what was happening and to the sensations I was feeling and to the connection I wanted with my partner. 

So three hot tips for banishing your little spectator. 

  1. Watch your social media and newsfeed diet - what kinds of bodies and sexualized messages are popping up - can you add more body and sexy diversity? (PS I’ll be doing a post next week on folks to follow for just this goal). As Dr Ellwood puts it “ [Be] conscious of what beauty pornography [you] bring into your home  can give [you] more control over the images [you] compare yourself too.”

  2. Bring sensuality and pleasure into your everyday in small ways. Flex that muscle - more about this in the coming weeks. 

  3. Reclaim your spectatoring! If you can’t turn off that third person brain, see if you can change what it’s doing. Instead of playing judge, play the voyeur and watch yourself in all your sexy sassiness as you make love. 

Lots of love. 

The Happy V 

PS - if you are struggling to tame what I call the brain gremlins during your intimate encounters there is a way out. Book a Discovery Call and we can talk about how to get you out of your head and into your body. 

Sofia Fortin1 Comment