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This page contains transcripts of recorded sessions from KinkForAllProvidence. See the full session listing at the KinkForAllProvidenceSchedule page.


Sensuality: Within and Beyond Sexuality by Emma


Sensuality: Within and Beyond Sexuality - KinkForAll Providence from Emma Gross on Vimeo.





"Joy is what's most important in my life," Emma says in this KinkForAll Providence presentation. "I live in the pursuit not really of happiness but of joy, and those little moments of wonder. And I think you can regain your sense of wonder by focusing on your senses and seeing, and feeling, and hearing, and smelling, and tasting everything that is glorious in the world around you." Describing her love of food, sunshine, and blankets, Emma argues that slowing down to enjoy the sensuality of life is as important as anything else, and is the key to spreading joy through the world.




EMMA: Hi. My name is Emma and I wanted to talk to you not about what I often talk to you about, which is some political thing that I think is really a big deal, but actually something that is a lot more core to who I am and always has been. And that is not sexuality but sensuality. The words that I chose for this are “sensual-“, actually, “sensuous,” “sexual,” “pleasure,” and “joy.” Which is to say, if you are sensuous while you are sexual, it will bring you pleasure and that will bring you joy. [AUDIENCE GIGGLES] That’s my talk. You can leave. [LAUGHTER] No. So the, ah-. I like words a lot and I like definitions and so I have a couple of definitions. The definition of the word “sensuous” that I pulled from Miriam-Webster online, ah, a) “Of or relating to the senses” and b) “Producing or characterized by gratification of the senses. Having strong sensory appeal.” I also have a definition for “sexual” that is: “Of or relating to sex or the sexes.” So, I like words. That’s why I gave you those definitions. I also like words like metonymy, Schenectady, languor, triumph, and remoulade. Not because those words mean anything in this context, but because I like hearing them and I like saying them. That is, um, an aspect of my own sensuousness. My sensuality, if you will. I love words because I like the sounds that they make! I like saying them. I like writing complicated words. I like using long streams of ‘ands’ because I think they sound good. And I like to take the time to focus on the words and on the sounds of the words. I also like to take the time to indulge my other senses. I really-, I have been known as one of the few women in the world with a male gaze. [LAUGHTER] I also have a female gaze. By and large, I like to gaze! I like to gaze at ladies ‘cause they’re pretty. I like to gaze at fellas ‘cause they’re pretty. I like to gaze at stunning vistas ‘cause they’re pretty. I like to feast my eyes. This is not necessary an aspect of my sexuality. Looking at people who I find beautiful is another aspect of my sensuality.


Here’s another thing that a lot of people probably don’t know about me: I am a FOODIE! I love to cook. I love to eat. I am a ridiculous food snob and once a restaurant gets over a certain level of quality, I become unacc-, like, you can’t go with me ‘cause I’m such a snob and I start grading and grading on, like, the service and the atmosphere and how cold it is and how loud the music is and the food. Because I love the food. I love oysters because they taste of the sea. I love peaches because they taste of summertime. I love plums. I love strong cheeses. Manchego is probably my favorite cheese. I love cheese. I love wine. I love to feast my taste. And also I like to cook and the reason I cook is partly because I love the smells it creates. I cook gingerbread a lot. Partly because I love gingerbread; partly because I love that my entire apartment smells of gingerbread for the next several days! It’s amazing! Doesn’t work so well with fried chicken. Fried-chicken-the-next-morning smell? Very bad. [LAUGHTER]


And then there’s other ones. Um. Touch. I like to sit and focus on touch. I like to stroke and be stroked. I like to have my head petted. I hate getting out of bed in the morning since I got a down comforter, because it’s just like my little cave of awesome – and, because I’m thrifty, I turn my heat off at night – so I really can’t, like-. I’m late to work pretty much every day. Um. Sorry. But I guess the thing that’s different is that I think all of you can say, “Yeah. Food is great. Words are great. Music: Great. Pretty things: Great. Being cuddled: Great!” What I think few people do is take the time to slow down and really pay attention to that. Just sit in the sunshine and do nothing but sitting in the sunshine because sitting in the sunshine is SO great.


A lot of times, especially when I’m eating, people will look at me. If I’m eating something good, I close my eyes. Every time. Can’t do it. I close my eyes; I start twirling my fork in my hand, it’s an unconscious thing. What I’m doing is trying to focus on that one sense, just my taste, and close out everything around me. And because vision is, on humans, one of the most overwhelming senses, ‘cause we navigate through the world primarily by our sight, unless we don’t have that one; we can navigate through other things. When I get rid of my vision, I can focus on what I’m listening to; I can focus on what I’m tasting. I think it’s why we close our eyes when we kiss. That, or it looks really weird to have somebody’s face right there.  [LAUGHTER] Could be either! Hard to say. So, sensuality’s really important to me and it always has been. I was called a very “physical” child when I was little. Uh, but I just love touching, and I love all of my senses. I love indulging them. They’re really important to me and that is a big part of who I consider myself to be.


Now, how does sensuality interact with sexuality? Normally, when I talk about sexuality, I’m doing like Sex 401. It’s defining kink! It’s big words! It’s things we need to think about! This is Sex 101. Everyone can do this. Take a second and just enjoy it. A lot of people think sex mostly has to do with orgasm. I am being educated out of this concept. Turns out that there’s a lot of sex that doesn’t have to do with orgasm. There’s a lot of leading up to orgasm and, in fact, you can keep that leading up to orgasm going on for months. [LAUGHTER] And that’s great! Man, can you focus on your senses! In fact, you can’t focus on anything else. [LAUGHTER]


PARTICIPANT: And sometimes you even do it by choice!


EMMA: Sometimes, some people do it by choice. Some people do it by my choice. [LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE] So I just, a lot of it, y’know-, I’m not against sexuality without sensuality. I have had quickies on desks that were great! They were GREAT! But they were about five minutes of great. And you can do, like, a lot longer and you can just take time and slow down and explore your partner’s body. Explore your own body. Sensuality, when it comes to sexuality, does not have to be something that happens with somebody else. By all means. Now, I am not practicing what I preach. I will be the first to admit that I am very bad at masturbation. I got a vibrator; it all went down hill from there. I just expect the machine to do the work for me and it doesn’t. But! You can really take time with your own body, and I have friends who tell me about this who really learned about their own body, and how to make it work for them, and how to do what they wanted with it. And having that knowledge is such good power! Partley because: Awesome. Fun. Eventual orgasm, probably. Maybe more than one! Partly because, if you know about your own body, then you can tell other people about your own body and that’s really useful if you want to have good sex with a partner! So, yeah. I think sensual sex is good. I also think non-sexual [sic] sex is good. I don’t think that a non-sensual life is good. A lot of people eat to get to get nutrition. I think they move in and out of sunlight because they’re moving. I think they have blankets on them because they’re cold, and not because blankets are great. Blankets are great! Y’know. They don’t sit and focus on things like smell. Which is, y’know, I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled something-. Smell is the strongest trigger for memory. I often have to change hair-care products and then I can never go back because it smells like a previous time in my life and it gets too confusing and sad and I’m crying in the shower and it’s terrible! Too much water!


So that’s a lot of what I wanted to talk about. This is not 401. This is 101. And it’s really, really, really, really, really key to me that I take joy in all of my senses. Because joy is what’s most important in my life. I live in the pursuit not really of happiness, but of joy, of those little moments of wonder. And I think you can regain your sense of wonder by focusing on your senses, and seeing, and feeling, and hearing, and smelling, and tasting everything that is glorious in the world around you. It’s a wonderful world.


PARTICIPANT 2: Including your partners.


EMMA: Including your partners! Who are probably very pretty.


PARTICIPANT 2: And tasty.


EMMA: And tasty. [LAUGHTER] But that’s one thing. Yeah! Sex! That’s a great point that I might’ve missed making. One of the great reasons to include sensuality in your sexuality is that sex is a really good activity to indulge all of your senses at the same time. If you are having good sex, you are hearing your partner; you are smelling your partner; you should be tasting; and you are definitely feeling your partner; and, unless you’ve closed your eyes, you’re probably seeing them. If you closed your eyes, I hope you’re seeing stars. Which are pretty! ‘Cause those are pretty. So that’s a really good reason. Sex is a great place to feel your sensuality, think about sensuality, ‘cause it’s all there! All laid out for you in one gorgeous hunk of humanity. And that’s about it. I’d love to hear your feelings on sensuality. But the short of it is, again: Be sensual when you’re sexual, and when you’re not, because taking note of your senses brings you pleasure, and pleasure brings you joy.


[VIDEO PAUSES: Emma – FollowsTheSun.com]


EMMA: None of you have any sensual experiences? I’m so glad I gave this talk! Oh, no, there’s one!


PARTICIPANT 3: I was just gonna say that I consider myself a sensation slut in the sense of, “No, it’s not just about pain; it’s about sensation. And I do the same thing. I close my eyes a lot. During a lot of different things. Maybe not when I’m topping, ‘cause-.


EMMA: Fair.


PARTICIPANT 3: Some people are like, “Why are you closing your eyes right now?” Because it feels good. Because I want to feel it more. And me seeing you is going to distract me from this feeling.


EMMA: Saw one way at the back?


PARTICIPANT 4: I agree with both of you. I tend to be-, but I’m only on one side of the spectrum in certain things, but beyond that, I think that all senses should be indulged at any time and as often as you can. And one of the things that I often see lost in the hurry-up world that we live in, between people, just on a day-to-day basis, is those tiny little subtle moments of intimacy that can be gained through subtle sensation. You know, when you walk by your partner and you run your fingers gently down their arm, or you touch their neck, or you kiss their neck, or you smell them. Y’know, even though it’s one of the oldest, most common things that you can often do with another person from, this goes across species lines, is grooming. Taking those moments to brush someone’s hair, or bathe them, doing these warm, kind, sensation-based activities that tend to reaffirm your relationships.


EMMA: Absolutely. I, whether I’m in a bottom space or a top space, I am always in a caretaking space. And, when I had a partner with very long hair, I used to brush his hair and all of the time, when I take showers with partners, I take particular joy in washing my partners’ hair. Someone right here? We don’t have very much time, but-.


PARTICIPANT 5: Would you share your gingerbread recipe with us? [LAUGHTER]


EMMA: Alright! You can find me online at www.followsthesun.com. You will note that all of the recent entries have been about food and yes, I will share my gingerbread recipe with you. It’s delicious! Right here?


PARTICIPANT 6: Part of it is just, culturally, as Americans, we get taught that we should always be doing things and working on things and there’s this really huge drive to do work. In Italian culture, for example, people who do nothing are revered. People who do nothing really well are thought of as these great people who are really doing life right. So, I think we should be trying not to limit ourselves so much in this sort of feeling guilt when we’re relaxing.


PARTICIPANT 7: There’s actually a book called “Speed” that talks a lot about that.


EMMA: Very cool.


PARTICIPANT 6: It’s called “Speed”?


EMMA: It’s called “Speed”. And, perhaps, how we need less of it. Any other comments before we close down? Because we’re near that time. No. Well, thank you for listening to me. I think that sensuality is really cool and a really, really good thing to get to practice and enjoy. And I hope you all take a little bit more time to focus on happiness, and all of the ways your body and the world give you to be happy.


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