What Is 'Erotic Self-Focus' & Why You Should Definitely Try It

If you want to take your sex life to another level, start by turning your own self on.


How many of y'all remember the beginning scene in the movie Obsessed where Sharon (played by Beyoncé) and her husband Charles (played by Idris Elba) walked into their new home and saw a mirror on the ceiling of their bedroom? Sharon wanted it to come down because it was tacky, but, as you're about to see in just a sec, she probably should've left it up there and then added a few more throughout the house.

Erotic self-focus. I already know that some of y'all read the title and thought, "Shellie, where do you get some of this stuff from?" Here's the thing—while this is not something that is a daily topic of conversation, believe it or not, it's actually been the center of several scientific research studies (like this one, this one and this one). Men's Health once even did a feature entitled, "Erotic Self-Focus | Why She Wants You to Watch"—so yeah, it's a bigger deal than you might think.

It also might be a practice that can take your sex life to new heights. Here's why I say that.

Poor Body Image Issues: A Main Cause of Sexual Dissatisfaction


When you've been a marriage life coach for as long as I have, it's kind of a trip what you tend to hear over and over again. On the sex tip, a lot of wives say they wish their husbands were more spontaneous. As far as husbands go, guess what I hear more than just about anything? That they want to have sex with the lights on more often. It makes sense when you think about the fact that men are stimulated visually. And since reportedly, 56 percent of women aren't satisfied with their overall appearance, I also get why this can be so much of a challenge.

The solution? First, I would recommend having very open and honest communication with your partner. Real talk ladies, we tend to be FAR MORE (I'm capitalizing that on purpose) critical of our bodies than men are. I know guys who find bellies, stretch marks (remember when Kendrick Lamar shouted them out?) and even cellulite to be mad sexy. Why? A big reason is because they're real. Real men like real women (imagine that!). It really is a reality check to admit that, a lot of us are hard on ourselves, not because of what men think but because of what the media crams down our throats and because we put ourselves in competition with other women. But goodness, that's another conversation for another time. My bottom line is this—don't project your own insecurities onto your man, just because. You might be floored by hearing what he loves about your body, if you'd just ask them.

That said, yes, if you do happen to struggle with loving your body, just as it is, I know that getting to a place where you are able to celebrate it may not happen overnight. Well, that is where the second "remedy" comes in.

Erotic self-focus is all about getting you to a point and place where you are excited about looking at your own damn self and absolutely loving what you see. And yes, sis, that is indeed very possible. And in order to have a consistently fulfilling sex life, very necessary.

What Exactly Is Erotic Self-Focus and Why It Can Help with Sexual Pleasure


With articles out here is cyberspace like "Women Want To Be Desired" (and them saying things like, "If a woman's desire significantly decreases 2 or 3 years into a relationship, it's quite likely because she is no longer being courted in the same way where she feels the heat and passion of being desired. She may become somewhat bored with the same old partner if their sexual intimacy has become routine and uninspired.") and "Men Need to Feel Desired by Their Partners, Too" (with them saying things like, "Men who wanted a more egalitarian pattern of sexual initiation indicated that they found initiating regularly was too demanding and that they wanted to be seen as an "object of desire" by their partners.), it's clear that desire plays a very relevant and essential role in sexual pleasure and fulfillment. As it relates to this particular topic, two definitions of desire are "a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment" and "sexual appetite or a sexual urge".

Y'all, even as I'm typing this, Tweet's old-school jam "Oops (Oh My)" is playing softly in the back of my mind. Although I'm pretty sure that it's 100 percent about masturbation, there are a few lines in it— "I looked over to the left/A reflection of myself/That's why I couldn't catch my breath"—that definitely can apply to erotic self-focus. The reason why I say that is because, in a nutshell, erotic self-focus is the practice of desiring yourself, just as much as you want your partner to (and probably does).

So, how do you go about putting erotic self-focus into actual action? Because the true practice of it isn't just about "liking what you see", but tapping into all of your senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) as much as possible, here are a few suggestions:

SIGHT: Put that mirror up! Even if you don't want your bedroom to feel like a 70s hotel room by putting a mirror up on the ceiling, at least make sure that there's an adjustable mirror nearby. Position it to where you can get a good view of yourself during foreplay and the act itself. While it might seem awkward at first, you might be surprised by how sexy you find your reflection to be during certain acts and positions. As a bonus, you'll definitely enjoy paying attention to how your partner looks when he's turned on by you.

HEARING: In the article, "We've Got Some All-Natural Ways To Increase Stamina & Sensitivity", something that I shout out is the powerful relevance of dirty talk in the bedroom. In fact, there's a science to it in the sense that it stimulates the biggest sex organ that we have—our brain. I know a lot of people who use "dirty words" in order to turn on their partner, but next time you're gettin' it on and in, pay attention to what you're saying—and how you're saying it. Chile, there have been many times when I've taken my sexual experiences to another level, just by listening to my tone, my breathing and my words. (If you need some inspiration, check out Kinky Quotes. They've got "nasty" one-liners for days!)

TOUCH: One of my male friends tells me often that nothing turns him on more than watching his partner touch herself. I get it. Women are beautiful and to witness a lady enjoying her own company can be a very sensual experience. The ladies here at xoNecole ain't even a little bit shy about talking about masturbation, but even if that's not personally your thing, do make it a point to pay attention to the parts of your body that are stimulated the most by your own touch. It can help you to learn how much pressure you want or don't want in certain areas. Plus, as they say, the best one to teach what turns you on is you.

SMELL: A lot of times, women put on a perfume, cologne or essential oil that they think will turn on their partner. But I'm here to tell you that if you are turned on, your partner is going to be regardless. So, the next time that you're out shopping for a fragrance, look for something that not only smells good to you but makes your mind…wander. I don't know about you, but to me, there's something about being in a room that has a luxurious scent that makes me want to swing from the chandeliers a whole lot quicker.

TASTE: Epicurean—"fond of or adapted to luxury or indulgence in sensual pleasures, especially with eating and drinking". That's the word that comes to mind when I think of this last point. If you were to bring a condiment into the bedroom, which one would you enjoy most? Chocolate syrup? Whipped cream? Honey? Incorporating a flavor that you like can also be a major turn-on. It can also make it easier to do some additional, umm, exploring (check out "Are You Ready To Amp Up Your Oral Sex Game? Try This." and "Oral Fixation: 6 Ladies Share Their Best Oral Sex Tips and Tricks").

Remember, erotic self-focus isn't vain or arrogant. It's simply a practice that gets you used to embracing how sexy you are which ultimately builds your confidence. And a confident woman in the bedroom? She's a beast. In the best way possible. Ask any man that you know—he can totally co-sign on that.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

What GROWN Women Consider Great Sex To Be

10 Secrets To Feeling Super Sexy (When You Don't)

Reclaim Your Sexy Just In Time To Shut Down Uncuffing Season

15 Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Your Own Vagina

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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