Every Wednesday The CSPH highlights a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Molly Adler!
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
I am a Sexuality Educator and the co-owner of Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center in Albuquerque, NM.
2. Where are you based out of?
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
About six years ago, along with my business partner Matie Fricker, I opened Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center, the Southwest’s first safe, sex-positive, healthy space for adults to learn about sexuality. The center has established a much-needed community center for women, LGBT folks, kinksters, polyamorous families, new parents, and all adults in Albuquerque. We have a brick & mortar shop where adults can find all things pleasure related, from gourmet chocolate to gourmet sex toys. We answer questions, help people find resources and offer sex and relationship classes throughout the year.
We also run an online store at www.selfservetoys.com
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
I am passionate about helping people have a stronger, healthier body image, better communication in their relationships, and for folks to find new ways to experience pleasure. I truly believe a sex positive approach to relationships and one’s sexuality will lead to a happier life.
I am currently pursuing my MSW, and hope to do more one-on-one counseling in the future. I also offer trainings for health professionals on sexual cultural competency.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
Sex is everywhere, and yet access to accurate and honest information, and products for promoting healthy sexuality is limited. At Self Serve, we offer a healthy alternative to the way we “consume” sexuality information in our culture. This sex-positive approach was, and still is in many ways, radical: It posits that sex is healthy, and pleasure is good for you. Sex-positive spaces like Self Serve encourage each person to find accurate sexual health information, define his or her own sexual identity, and choose relationships without judgment. Like the sign at the front of our space says, Self Serve is for everyone.
I am passionate about spaces like Self Serve existing, someday I hope in most cities and towns. People deserve a space to ask questions, find resources and find toys and treats that help them feel more joy and pleasure. In our society, most people only find sex information (in a very limited way) through peers, medical professionals and the internet. Folks have few resources they can trust, and I’m proud Self Serve offers that safe space.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
I graduated with a BA cum laude from George Washington University in Washington, DC. I majored in Psychology and Women’s Studies. The human mind, gender and identities are all tied to sexuality and our everyday experience.
I learned many valuable lessons working for Grand Opening in Boston, MA from 2003-2005. I discovered how much I loved working in a women-run sex shop. Much of my formative learning was passed down from other sex educators I worked with. During my time there I was lucky to learn on the job as well as attend trainings in safer sex and public health.
I am currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work. I plan to pursue more sexuality training, as well.
7. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
8. What would you recommend to future professionals attempting to get into the field?
Figure out in what context you get excited about the work. Do you love counseling individuals? Do you like talking to a big group? Work with different populations (older women, gay men, leather folk, transgender people, survivors of sexual assault, etc) and see who you’re most interested in working with. You can definitely talk to everyone about sex, but sometimes we feel most excited about a certain group or experience, or benefit from working in the communities we’re part of.
Consider whether an institution like a University or Non-Profit is right for you, or if you’d rather carve your own path. I am personally inspired by how many great Sex Educators, Performers and Writers are starting their own business, website, movement or educational forum.
9. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
One of the toughest challenges can be the most liberating: there aren’t a wide range of ready-to-wear jobs in sexuality. One reason so many Sexuality Educators are entrepreneurs is because they have to be in order to realize their dreams. It is still challenging to fight for the importance and legitimacy of Self Serve and sex ed with a predominantly sex negative public.
One defining moment I recall with pride is when Matie and I won the Tough Cookie Awards in 2008 from NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners, Northern New Mexico).
The Tough Cookie Award was recognition of all we’ve accomplished in starting and growing our business, despite the obstacles. We told the awards committee of the discrimination against our business: in funding, finding retail space and zoning regulations. We live in a society that writes off all sex-related businesses as prurient, harmful and unsafe. We were told SBA funding is off-limits to us, we learned how zoning would limit how we merchandise every square foot of our store, and landlords rejected us when we sought retail space. I see myself as a culture-shifter, hoping our world will relax and become more positive in attitudes around sex, relationships and body image. The process in which we help make that shift involves a lot of uphill battles. I am very proud of the moment we won the Tough Cookie awards, and I’m proud of the business organization NAWBO for publicly valuing the work we do.
10. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
My favorite sex book varies day to day, but lately I find myself recommending Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel a lot. I love how she breaks down the unhealthy way we typically view long term relationships in our culture, and introduces a more playful, creative, erotic view. The subtitle is ‘unlocking erotic intelligence’ which I think is aptly titled. Many women, men and couples in American society lack a critical understanding of co-dependence and interpersonal relationships. Perel’s book provides a new outlook that is freeing and positive.