August McLaughlin is a nationally recognized health and sexuality writer, and host and creator of Girl Boner and Girl Boner Radio. She’s also the author of the recently released "Girl Boner: A Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment," which is a must-read for any "good girl" who grew up believing she wasn’t supposed to touch herself “down there” or talk about pretty much everything McLaughlin covers in her book out loud.

McLaughlin recently answered a few questions about her new book, the orgasm that changed her life, and her mission to take shame out of the equation when discussing the beauty of female sexual empowerment.

Pauline Campos: I know you aren’t new at this. But I have to say that I am in awe of you. I found myself thinking again and again as I read your book that as much as it’s absolutely necessary, that I’d have published it under a pseudonym if I wrote it. You put it all out there! But that’s the point, isn’t it?

August McLaughlin: You’re so sweet. Thanks for the kind words, Pauline! I’m a bit of a blurter by nature and have a seemingly innate need to speak up. Sharing about my own life has been cathartic for me along the way, even when it’s challenging. It’s also seemed like an effective way to do some good. But not everyone has the will or privilege to safely do so.

PC: You describe in detail in your book your struggle with anorexia and your collapse while jogging in Paris where you were modeling at the time. When you draw the line connecting your eating disorder and all it entailed to a lack of sexual empowerment, it’s an eye-opening moment.

AM: Nothing bolstered my recovery as powerfully as embracing my sexuality, something I hadn’t realized I hadn’t done. It helped me see my body as capable and beautiful and worthy of pleasure. I wanted, and still want, that for everyone.

PC: Do you think American society will ever Netflix and Chill enough to move beyond the abstinence-only agenda that has been the norm for sex education in schools for so long?

AM: Lots of research and anecdotal evidence show how harmful fear-based and abstinence-only sex ed programs are, fueling everything from low self-esteem and depression to teen pregnancy and a high risk for STIs. Honestly, I thought we were making strides toward comprehensive programming before our current administration stepped in. We’ve taken steps back in this area, but we’re also seeing powerful grassroots efforts, such as educators and activists stepping up to provide solid resources and stand up against damaging legislation. (We could learn a lot from the Dutch.)

PC: Talk to me about your own journey to discovering masturbation and that life-changing orgasm. What’s up with the Leader of Girl Boner Revolution making it to her 30s without ever having touched herself ‘down there’?

AM: That was a game changer for me and bee-lined me to all-things-Girl-Boner. I thought I’d fully embraced my sexuality by then. I loved sex and it was very pleasurable for me. But damaging messages we’ve internalized can be insidious and go unnoticed for years. Finally embracing solo play helped me view sexuality as our own first and foremost, and then something we can share with another/others, as desired.

PC: Let’s discuss your thoughtful and sensitive use of inclusive language welcoming trans and non-binary people into the mainstream conversation about sexual empowerment. Have you had any feedback from LGBTQIA+ members?

AM: Sex education needs to be accessible to everyone, not merely straight people who fit gender binaries. People in the LGBTQIA+ community are often the most marginalized and omitted from sex education, which sets up a very risky dynamic. It’s one reason that trans women of color are the most likely to be victimized by sexual violence and hate crimes. Inclusivity helps everyone. And we are all worthy of education, empowerment and pleasure. And yes, I hear from LGBTQIA+ folks frequently, which I love. They share with me just as much as others do and add so much to the whole Girl Boner community.

PC: How important would you say sexually empowering terms for the "good girls" reading "Girl Boner" are to guiding your growing audience to their own life-changing “O”? ‘Jilling off’ comes to mind...

AM: Sexually empowering terms are so important. When I first applied to trademark Girl Boner, there were zero terms in my hefty slang dictionary related to female sexual pleasure and many for male equivalents. Words reflect our culture, but they also have the power to shape and improve it.

PC: Any thoughts to share on starting the next generation off right? How can we shed the rest of the shame-filled baggage our well-meaning elders saddled us with so we can raise our cisgendered and trans daughters to grow into and fully celebrate their sexuality?

AM: Learning about sexuality and gaining empowerment ourselves can go far. We can also address kids’ curiosities with positive and encouraging responses. If a girl asks where babies come from or a question about genitals, for example, we can answer with basic facts rather than shun or try to silence her...

PC: Please tell me you’re going to write a Jr. Girl Boner book for tweens and teens, but with a way better title. Publisher? Make this happen, please?

AM: I love that you asked this! I can’t say anything for certain just yet, but there have been discussions. Girl Boner is definitely intended to be a series.

PC: Last question: Favorite or most meaningful reader feedback so far...and GO!

AM: Reviews have just started to roll in and I’m so grateful for them. One of the first readers to reach out to me said she felt I’d written "Girl Boner" to her specifically… I wanted to leap through the computer and say, “YES. I absolutely did write it to you.”

Wand to read "Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment?" Get it here.