Why am I so squeamish watching a vagina puppet?, I ask myself as Emily Morse lifts its clitoral hood and discusses the right way to go down on an enormous plushy. But she is not coy or trying to be cute; she is refreshingly matter-of-fact.

I was taking Morse’s MasterClass on sex because I decided that, after earlyish widowhood followed by a period of fruitless dating, perhaps my technique needed a refresh.

O.K., that’s not quite true. I joined MasterClass because I wanted to learn some new cooking skills. But then I got distracted and started looking around the site—I can learn to cook like Gordon Ramsay, to science like Neil deGrasse Tyson, to detective like John Douglas, to—oh, hello, Helen Mirren!—and …

Hold up. Here’s Morse going on for two hours about “Sex and Communication.” I’d already spent an hour listening to Naomi Campbell teach me about the fundamentals of modeling. This couldn’t be more irrelevant than that.

I had heard of Morse, because right now she’s unavoidable: more than half a million followers on Instagram; a long-running, 4.5-star-rated sex-and-relationship podcast, Sex with Emily; and a book coming out in June, Smart Sex: How to Boost Your Sex IQ and Own Your Pleasure.

“Is Emily Morse the Dr. Ruth of a new generation?,” The New York Times asked in 2021. Well, no, because while Dr. Ruth Westheimer is certainly adorable and informative, she is also slightly creepy, like your Elf on the Shelf woke up and started nattering away about orgasms.

Morse is an upgrade: a down-to-earth, perfectly groomed, willowy, hot-but-not-intimidating 52-year-old who—well, I don’t really know how she identifies. She begins by telling us that at one point in her life, she did not know how to ask for her sexual pleasure. She even implied that she was not able to orgasm from masturbating.

“I used to think my penis partners were shipped off to some secret school where they learned about vulvas and what we needed. Because I had no idea how to please myself. But then when I discovered masturbation … no one else knows my body as well as I do.”

Seriously? Like, you didn’t know this until you were an adult? I was irked. Well, guess what? In my entirely unscientific study of a group of women talking about sex in a private Facebook chat room, there was a ridiculous amount of variation on this matter. Women who grew up in sex-positive homes never had orgasms, women in repressive homes had them and never felt guilty … and everything in between.

“I didn’t know [about orgasms] until I started having sex,” one woman said. It was kind of like going down this nice hiking trail, and it’s fine, but you get bored and stop before seeing the waterfall. Then this man starts doing the same thing, and the road is sooo much more interesting, and then you come to the clearing on the mountain with the view, and you think, Holy hell! Then you buy a vibrator.

I’d already spent an hour listening to Naomi Campbell teach me about the fundamentals of modeling. This couldn’t be more irrelevant than that.

Morse’s course is divided into bite-size classes—quickies—with titles such as Asking for What You Want, Take Control of Your Orgasm, and The Power of Mindful Masturbation. Since no one has ever accused me of being shy about what I want, and I never thought of my orgasm as a man’s responsibility (like fixing the remote, or getting a spider out of the shower), I figured I’d try that third lesson.

“Mindfulness,” i.e., being in the moment, is not a concept that comes easily to me. But I do like the idea of giving the whole thing a little time, being aware of the sensation of air on my skin, where my hand was going, the lighting—“having a date with yourself,” as Morse put it.

The first thing that is required is setting the mood. O.K. Open the window. Close the curtains. Cue up The Weeknd. Get the votives. Wait. Wheres my lighter? Oh, here. Hmm, I dont love this fragrance. Wheres that other one? I know its here somewhere …

And that’s how I ended up on Amazon, ordering $46 Nest candles. Maybe I’m more of a “hit it and quit it” girl.

Emily Morse, in the throes of ecstasy.

I was somewhat more successful with a different lesson, though. I sent the man I’ve been seeing for a while Morse’s list of questions you should ask your partner:

What part of your body do you find sexiest?
What part of your body do you want sexual compliments for?
Which celebrities turn you on?
What are your top sexual turn-ons?
What are your sexual taboos?
What do you value most in a sexual relationship?
When do you feel most sexually confident?

I won’t tell you his answers, except to say that, first of all, Siobhan Roy had better stay away from my man. And second, I’m checking out wedding venues since his answer to what he values most in a sexual relationship is “intimacy with the person I love.”

Vulva puppet aside, if you are hoping to learn detailed sexual technique, this is not the class for you. Nor is it heavy on the science, although I appreciated her little charts, like the one on the different “Stages of Arousal: Excitement, Plateau, Orgasm, and Resolution.” (I call that last one the “Now, What Do We Order from Uber Eats?” stage.)

Morse is all about the communication, because, she contends, there is no great sex without being able to talk about it. She wants to demystify and legitimize all sorts of tough conversations so that they are as normal as talking about the weather—as she puts it, “overcast with a chance of orgasms.”

She gives instruction on serving up a “compliment sandwich.” The filling is a request—essentially, I love the sex weve been having. Wouldnt it be great if we could x? You would be so fantastic at that.

She talks about setting boundaries if you’ve experienced trauma, making consent hot, taking the embarrassment out of kink. (To which I say: I’d rather keep it filthy. But hey, we don’t have to agree about everything.)

Morse likes lube, she likes sex toys, and she likes porn as a source of ideas, although not as a way to study what real sex with real bodies should be like. “Learning about sex through porn,” she notes, “is like learning to drive by watching The Fast and the Furious.

And certainly there is some talk of technique—by showing illustrations of sex toys (who knew you could buy ones that you can control with your phone, like window blinds?), and sexual positions with fun names like the Golden Spoon, the Floating Rider, and the I Am So Sorry, I Didn’t Mean to Crush You. (At least that’s the name in my head.)

I particularly enjoyed her impatience with men who wouldn’t countenance the idea of any anal play because they feared it would make them gay. “It’s like a prostate is wasted on these people,” she says with a sigh.

I was happy to have spent two hours with Morse. Perhaps her most valuable lesson was the most basic: Sex begets sex. The more you have it, the more you will want it. And sex in any form, single or partnered, is vital to feeling connected to our humanity.

You know what? She’s right. There’s no room in life for sexual shame. Time for some porn that will really get me going. On that note, Gordon Ramsay has a new MasterClass series on restaurant cooking at home. Pomme purée. Grilled baby leeks. Jesus … rack of lamb with thumbelina carrots.

Pick up that knife, darling, and come to Mama.

Judith Newman is a New York–based writer and the author of To Siri with Love