Our newest Sexuality Superhero is Dr. Hernando Chaves. Dr. Chaves is a licensed marriage and family therapist, based in Los Angeles. Dr. Chaves' focus is based on empathetic, sex-positive support with an emphasis on enhancing pleasure. Check out his feature below and learn more!
1. How did you find yourself working in sexuality?
I started off as a child therapist and started experiencing burnout. I looked for another niche and sex therapy stood out. I went back to school for a doctorate in human sexuality, changed my focus to sex therapy, started teaching human sexuality, and found where I belong. They say do what you love and find your passion and I did.
2. What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is helping people reduce sexual anxiety and bring pleasure into their world. Whether it's a student learning eye opening and life-changing aspects of their own sexuality or therapy clients experiencing changing growth with their sexual functioning, it's an honor being a part of their journey and witnessing them find their authentic sexual self.
3. What is the most challenging part of the job?
It can be challenging to hear about people's pain. A lot of people have had experiences that have left deep scars and wounds and you feel it. It can stir up a lot inside within your empathy but it's also incredibly rewarding to see people process their pain and find their voice, strength and empowerment.
4. What big ideas do you want to contribute to the field of human sexuality?
A big focus of my work is reducing our anxiety and fear around sexuality and promoting pleasure. I encourage being authentic with our sexual expression and who we are as sexual beings. It could be expressed a number of different ways including promoting sexual health with pleasure, sex education, sex toys, masturbation, alternative sexual desires, sexual freedom, and accountability through consent, respect, and boundaries.
5. If you could conduct any sex research project, what topic would you choose and why?
I'm very interested in the gap between what is in our sexual psyche that is discreet or hidden and what we express with partners and in society. I'd love to be a part of research on sexual fantasies and hidden desires to help highlight the difference between what we are doing and what we are thinking. Research like this can help normalize our desires and fantasies and hopefully provide some relief with self-judgment, criticism, and anxiety.
6. How has sex changed since you were a kid? How do you hope it changes for future generations?
Sex has changed a lot since I was a kid. Back in my day, you were lucky to come across a Playboy magazine or a porn video. You would turn on the TV and try to see through the blurred picture and fuzzy lines to catch a glimpse of a sex scene. These days with technological advancements and the internet, there's a lot more opportunity to access sexual media. There are also a lot of changes with pleasure products, specifically lube and sex toys. Not that I knew much about those things as a kid, but I do remember '80s porn using Vaseline which I now know is oil-based and terrible for condoms and vaginas. Today we have options for sex toys that are high-tech with high-grade body safe materials and a variety of lubes. Unfortunately some things haven't changed like crappy sex education focusing on abstinence. Today they're rebranding abstinence-only sex education as "sexual risk avoidance programs." Different name, same curriculums that are often faith-based, fear-based, not focusing on empirical research, and trying to control sexual behavior rather than empower sexual decisions. The change I'd love to see for the future is comprehensive sex education be the universal norm starting in childhood through our high school years. For example, we have some wonderful sex ed curriculums in Holland, Sweden, etc. that provide age-appropriate accurate sex education throughout childhood and teenage years which would positively impact people's sexual comfort, knowledge, and feeling empowered with their sexual choices.
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