Dr. Alison Ash
I grew up without learning much about how to form healthy relationships or create deep intimacy so I’ve devoted much of my adult life to acquiring the knowledge and skills I need to feel explored, expressed, and connected. I know how frustrating it is to feel like you don’t know how to have the kinds of sexual experiences and romantic relationships you desire, and that’s why I’ve made it my life's work to help people feel empowered to explore their sexuality.
Like too many women, I am a survivor of sexual assault. When I was 16, I got drunk for the first time and was raped by two 23 year old men. Gossip spread quickly around my small high school and I was intensely slut-shamed for the next year and a half. Learning how to overcome shame and step into my own power became a central drive in my life.
I became interested in examining the way our social world influences gender and sexuality and decided to pursue a PhD in Sociology at Stanford University in order to more deeply grasp and ultimately positively impact the way we relate to ourselves as sexual beings. I began working on an extensive national research project examining college heterosexual hookup culture.
Through my research, I discovered how often folks feel sexually disempowered, how little they know about their own sexuality, and how afraid they are to ask for what they want and need. I found that while women have more freedom to be sexual than in previous generations, they still face challenges in getting the pleasure and intimacy they want. I also realized how often gender socialization creates disempowering experiences for men by culturally valuing performance over pleasure and connection.
As a queer person and trans ally, it was important to me to conduct research on queer identities and experiences and focus my dissertation on trans and genderqueer discrimination in the workplace. I also created a course called Destroying Dichotomies for students to explore the experiences of folks who defy the socially constructed categories of male/female, man/woman, and gay/straight. After seeing the ways that course had a profound impact in my students’ lives outside the classroom, it was clear to me that I found my purpose—to help others find empowerment through self-exploration and self-expression.
In my course Sex and Love in Modern Society, invited students to take a sex-positive approach to examining complex issues related to gender and sexuality. I discovered how woefully inadequate the sex education my Stanford undergraduate students had received. I also saw how access to information and the encouragement to engage in self-inquiry radically transformed my students’ perspectives and created a pathway towards empowered exploration.
Looking for ways to take my work outside the world of academia, I decided to offer workshops to help folks gain the tools they need to find the kinds of experiences and connections they're seeking. In 2014, I created How to Be a Feminist in the Bedroom to encourage folks to feel entitled to say no, to discover their wants and needs, and to feel confident to ask for them. I was surprised and continue to be inspired by the many men who come to explore how to authentically express themselves and empower their partners around their sexuality.
Next, I co-created How to Eat Pussy like a Champ to teach folks that champ-quality pussy eating is more about intimacy and communication than anything else (while also giving a healthy serving of technical support, of course). We reframe oral sex as a co-exploration, educating receivers how to be active participants and teaching givers how to help their partners get out of their heads and into their bodies.
Since then, I’ve created many more workshops all geared towards addressing the ways in which all genders experience difficulty getting out of their heads and into their bodies, overcoming shame and insecurities, and developing trust and intimacy. For a complete list of what I’m currently offering, check out my upcoming workshops.
I’ve shared with you the path I’ve taken to become empowered in my sexuality and the ways in which I am devoted to helping others feel empowered to explore and express themselves. If you’re feeling inspired to take the next steps in your journey of self-discovery and sexual exploration, attend a workshop or reach out to me to discuss my coaching practice. I invite you to TurnON pleasure, intimacy and...love!
List of Alison’s publications (Dr. Alison Ash is published as A.C.K. Fogarty):
A. Ash and Lily Zheng. Ambiguity in the Workplace: Trans and Genderqueer Discrimination. Submitted to ABC-Clio for publication.
A. C. K. Fogarty. 2015. Ambiguity in the Workplace: Trans and Genderqueer Discrimination. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Sociology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
L. Rupp, V. Taylor, S. Regev-Messalem, A. C. K. Fogarty, and P. England. 2014. “Queer Women in the Hookup Scene: Beyond the Closet?” Gender and Society, 28(2):212-235.
E. Armstrong, P. England, and A. C. K. Fogarty. 2012. “Sexual Practices, Learning, and Love: Accounting for Women’s Orgasm and Sexual Enjoyment in College Hookups and Relationships.” American Sociological Review, 77(3):435-462.
E. Armstrong, P. England, and A. C. K. Fogarty. 2010. “Orgasm in College Hookups and Relationships.” Pp. 362-77 in Families as They Really Are, edited by B. Risman. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.
- England, P., E. F. Shafer, and A. C. K. Fogarty. 2008. “Hooking Up and Forming Romantic Relationships on Today’s College Campuses.” Pp. 531-47 in The Gendered Society Reader, 3rd ed., edited by M. Kimmel and A. Aronson. New York: Oxford University Press.
Send Alison a message for a copy of any of the above publications.