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Come as You Are

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

What is "Come as You Are" by Emily Nagoski all about and is it worth reading?


"Come as You Are" is a book by Emily Nagoski, a respected sex educator and researcher. It talks about the science behind human sexuality, it aims to enlighten and empower readers to enhance their sexual well-being.and might just transform your sex life.


The book was first published in 2015 and was updated in 2021. I was first introduced to the book in 2019 and a number of people have said they found it useful since, most recently a couple of weeks ago which is what prompted me to read the updated version and write a post about it.

Woman reading Come as You Are

The book is built on solid scientific research, offering a comprehensive exploration of desire, arousal, and orgasm from both physiological and psychological perspectives. By dissecting complex scientific concepts, it makes the information accessible to a wide audience, regardless of their background in the subject matter.


Throughout the book, prevalent myths and misconceptions surrounding sex and female sexuality systematically debunked. It promotes a sex-positive approach, encouraging individuals to embrace their unique desires without judgment, while emphasising that there is no singular "normal" or "right" way to experience sexuality.


The role of hormones, stress, emotions, and past experiences in shaping sexual response is given significant attention, providing readers with a deeper understanding of the multifaceted nature of human sexuality. This knowledge helps readers gain insights into their own sexual experiences and those of their partners.


Who is Come as You Are for?

"Come as Your are " focuses on female sexual pleasure and empowerment. Emily challenges societal stereotypes and pressures, encouraging women to celebrate their sexual selves without conforming to external expectations.


While the main focus is female sexual pleasure, it does touch on male pleasure too, and many of the themes are equally applicable to both. It could also be invaluable if you have a female partner, to expand your understanding and to be better informed to support her.


Lastly, if you work with female sexuality in any form, I would suggest this is an invaluable resource. Many of the themes may already be known to a lessor of greater extent , but understanding the science behind it can only enhance what you offer and it provides an expanded vocabulary to better communicate what you want to say.


Key Learning

Some of the main takeaways from "Come a You Are" include:

  1. Sexual Individuality: One of the central themes of the book is that each individual's sexuality is unique. There is no "normal" or "right" way to experience desire, arousal, or pleasure. Understanding and accepting this diversity can help individuals feel more confident and empowered in their sexual experiences.

  2. Dual Control Model: Emily introduces the dual control model of sexual response, which explains how sexual desire and arousal are influenced by two systems – the sexual excitation system (SES) or 'Accelerator', and the sexual inhibition system (SIS) or 'Brakes'.. Recognising the interplay between these systems can help individuals manage and navigate their sexual responses effectively.

  3. Context Matters: Sexual experiences are heavily influenced by the context in which they occur. Factors such as stress, emotions, and past experiences play a significant role in shaping sexual responses. Being aware of these influences can lead to more satisfying and positive sexual encounters.

  4. Importance of Communication: Open and honest communication between partners is crucial for a fulfilling sexual relationship. Sharing desires, boundaries, and preferences can lead to increased intimacy and understanding, enhancing the overall quality of the sexual connection.

  5. Mind-Body Connection: Emily explores the intricate connection between the mind and body in sexual experiences. Understanding how the brain and body interact during sex can lead to better self-awareness and improved sexual well-being.

  6. Female Sexual Empowerment: The book places special emphasis on women's sexual empowerment, challenging traditional stereotypes and societal expectations. Encouraging women to prioritise their pleasure and embrace their sexuality can lead to more satisfying and fulfilling sexual experiences.

  7. Letting Go of Sexual Myths: Emily debunks common myths and misconceptions surrounding female sexuality, providing evidence-based insights into sexual experiences. By dispelling these myths, it helps readers build a more accurate and positive understanding of human sexuality.

  8. Sexual Wellness: Emily advocates for a holistic approach to sexual wellness, considering physical, emotional, and mental aspects. Taking care of overall well-being positively impacts one's sexual health and satisfaction.

  9. Self-Compassion: The book promotes self-compassion, emphasising that individuals should be kind to themselves when it comes to their sexual experiences. Recognizing and accepting one's imperfections can lead to a healthier and more positive approach to sex.

About Emily Nagasaki

Emily Nagoski's career has been dedicated to promoting sex education, sexual health, and empowerment. She has served as a faculty member and the Director of Wellness Education at Smith College, a prestigious liberal arts women's college in Massachusetts. During her time at Smith College, Emily was actively involved in educating and supporting students in areas such as sexual health, consent, and healthy relationships.

Emily Nagoski

Emily's work has extended beyond the classroom, as she is a sought-after speaker and educator on human sexuality. She has delivered numerous talks and workshops on various aspects of sexual well-being, helping to dispel myths, challenge stereotypes, and promote a more positive and accurate understanding of human sexuality. I've added one of Emily's talks to my blog post TEDx Talks on Sex, Relationships & Marriage.


Come As You Are Podcast

There is a "Come as You Are Podcast" is hosted by Emily and her sister, Amelia. The podcast builds upon the themes and concepts explored in the book.


It delves deeper into various topics related to human sexuality, providing listeners with valuable insights, expert advice, and evidence-based information. Emily and Amelia use their expertise and experiences to address common questions and challenges people face when it comes to sex, relationships, and sexual well-being.


You can listen to the "Come a You Are" Podcast here, it's also available on Spotify.


In Conclusion

"Come as You Are" is a comprehensive and informative guide that encourages individuals to embrace their uniqueness, prioritise open communication, and dispel myths surrounding sexuality. By understanding the science behind desire, arousal, and pleasure, readers can transform their sex lives and achieve greater sexual well-being and fulfillment.


While "Come as You Are" offers valuable insights and practical advice, one should remember that sexual experiences and perspectives are always individualistic. Therefore, not every reader may resonate with all aspects of the book. I found some of the analogies, especially comparing our sexuality to a garden didn't really work for me, and some points were a little drawn out, saying the same thing in different ways.


"Come as You Are" does mention so called non-traditional relationships and kink, but it really skated over them focusing instead on how to maintain a good sex life in the context of a more 'traditional' monogamous and loving relationship involving more vanilla sex. This will be of great interest to many but I felt it was missing significant areas of human sexual condition in terms of different relationship styles, kink and sexual services, and ultimately was a missed opportunity for some.


Those caveats aside, I found "Come as You Are" a very worthwhile read and I would recommend to any women who has questions about her sexuality. It will also help me in my work with Sensual Bodyworks and I would certainly recommend to anyone working with women in the field of sexuality in any discipline.


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