Episode 34: My Sexual Liberation Is Not For Male Consumption
[ HEAL YOUR SEXUALITY PROMO ]
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Give your vagina something beautiful and may your orgasms be plentiful.
[ INTRODUCTION FROM EV’YAN ]
Hey, everyone! I’m Ev’Yan Whitney and this is The Sexually Liberated Woman.
It has been a crazy couple of weeks for me—with the Sensual Selfie Challenge, the opening of my course Sexting Myself which I’m currently teaching, then it was my birthday which I was honestly a little too exhausted to fully enjoy, and now I’m feeling my body sluggishly trying to calibrate to this strange thing that is Autumn weather which I am resisting with every fiber of my being.
In the midst of all the busyness, I haven’t gotten a chance to talk about some of the cool things that have been happening lately. So before I get into today’s episode—which is a good one, I might add—I thought I’d take a moment to give you some news. And if you might want to see me IRL sometime soon, maybe don’t tune this out.
The first thing I wanna share is that I was featured on Buzzfeed last week about my work as a sexuality doula which was a pleasant surprise, especially because the company I was amongst was killer. Like, to be featured alongside people like Ericka Hart and Afrosexology and Shan Boodram and Lizzo—it was too much. So thanks to Patrice Peck and BuzzFeed for giving me that honor.
Something else that I’m excited about—I’m going to be speaking on a panel at a woman-centered event happening in Portland called Resistance Rises. Resistance Rises is being put on by the folks over at Create & Cultivate in collaboration with Amazon and features some rad local change-makers in the community. There will be cocktails, mingling, and a really interesting discussion with me and some other cool women about breaking boundaries and dismantling systems of oppression—which you know I’m all for. Oh, and the event is totally free so gather all your faves and come say hi!
Resistance Rises is happening on Oct. 11th at 6:30 at Jacobsen Salt Co in SE Portland and even though it’s free, you’ll still need to RSVP to get your name on the list. And you can do that at evyanwhitney.com/events. Just click the RSVP link, put in your information and you’re all set.
OK, another cool thing that I’m thrilled to be a part of—I’m going to be teaching at a retreat in a couple weeks. It’s called Camp Fireheart and it’s being put on by one of my favorite people, Kate Marolt, who was actually featured in episode one of this very podcast. This’ll be my first time teaching at a retreat and I’m really excited to hold space and talk sex with everyone.
There’s actually still a couple spots left if you’d like to join us. Just go to campfireheart.com to reserve your spot. I would love to see you IRL. It’s gonna be transformational.
OK, there’s just one more thing I’ve been dying to gush to you about and then we can get into the show. This one I’m really excited about—The Sexually Liberated Woman is now on Spotify! This means that you’ll be able to log into Spotify and listen to every single episode of The Sexually Liberated Woman—even the first ones I did before I was ready to admit to myself that I was indeed the host of a podcast—you’ll be able to go on Spotify and listen to them all.
I am beyond jazzed to have this little old podcast on such a notable platform as Spotify. Please go on Spotify, subscribe to the podcast and tell all your friends about it.
. . .
So I’m still coming down from the high of the Sensual Selfie Challenge. It was an experience—more than 4,000 people joined and took body-positive, sensually-inspired selfies on Instagram for five days, which you can still see on the hashtag #sensualselfiechallenge. There was so much beauty, so much vulnerability, so much community.
But one annoying thing that happened to a lot of us who did the challenge was that we were getting some random, unsolicited messages from men who saw our photos and decided to invite themselves into our sexual narrative with creepy comments and sexual innuendo.
Now, I’m used to this. I’ve been taking and posting nude and sexual photos on the internet for close to three years and these comments are a strange kind of normal for me. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t phase me, because it does. But I’m definitely much more equipped to handle this when it happens because it happens so often that I’m a bit desensitized to it.
However, I will admit that the one regret I have in creating the Sensual Selfie Challenge is that I didn’t give you guys more of a warning that doing this kind of space-taking will attract the weirdos and that you should probably proceed with caution. I got so many messages and emails that week from people who were like, “Yo, I got this creepy message in my inbox today—what do I do?” And while a lot of us are able to shrug it off and keep going, this deeply affected the way some of us continued on in the challenge. And not just in the challenge—it’s created a new kind of fear and anxiety about taking up space in a sexual, sensual way.
A lot of you were so jazzed to finally unhide and unshame yourself and to post photos of your sensual body publicly and then you received these stupid messages and even dick pics from men and it made you go right back into hiding—which is completely understandable and justified.
Because of all of this, I’ve been thinking a lot about a piece I wrote three years ago which about this very thing—about receiving unsolicited dick pics or creepy messages from men and processing the anger and fear that comes up during and afterward. And because this is a thing that is still happening, even outside of the Sensual Selfie Challenge, and because I sense that a lot of you are still processing it, I wanted to share it here and then give you some tips about what it looks like to express your sexuality out in the public world and still feel safe and protected while doing so.
I originally wrote this piece from a place of rage and frustration, so just a warning to any men who are listening (and I know I have a few)—the following is going to be pretty fiery. And I say that not to apologize about that but to give a little disclaimer to those who aren’t used to hearing a woman unapologetically rebuke the unauthorized objectification of her body and the gross sexual entitlement of men.
And even if you’re not receiving creepy messages from men, you have likely felt this type of rage before. In a society that still shames us for our fiery, rude, unlady-like emotions, being openly mad is a huge statement; it’s a radical act. And as my good sis Solange said, We’ve got a lot to be mad about.
So, let’s be mad. And then, let’s use that anger to empower ourselves to keep taking up space with our sexual liberation anyway. Because those creepy messages are meant to make us feel afraid, they’re meant to get us to go back into hiding. And personally, I refuse to let them steal my shine.
[ MAIN EPISODE BY EV’YAN ]
The other day, I got my first unsolicited dick pic and of all the places it could’ve been received, it was in a place I didn’t expect—my work inbox. The place where I check in with and send heartfelt letters to my clients. The place I go to schedule all of my appointments. The place where my people get ahold of me.
I’d say about 98% of the emails and messages I receive in a given week come from people who identify as women and it’s usually very, very rare that I receive an email from a dude that isn’t spam. And that’s not surprising—men aren’t my target audience. The work that I do is for and centered around women and femmes. But on that particular morning a few weeks back, rarity paid me a little visit.
And there it was: A random photograph of some random guy’s erect penis. No explanation. No context. No clear reason why.
My first reaction to this was shock—like, is this really happening right now?; then quiet amusement—like, really?!; and then my feelings about it began to unfurl into a surprising, unabashed guffaw. I started laughing hysterically. Like, did this guy really think I’d get aroused by seeing that thing? I laughed at the ridiculousness of it, at this guy’s complete and utter disregard of my feelings and eyeballs, at his delusion in thinking that I would actually appreciate this unwelcome message.
But as minutes ticked by, violation began to creep up from underneath the humor. I started to feel angry, disturbed, disgusted. And then I started to get scared—Is this someone I know? How did he find me? He found my email address, what if this guy knows where I live?
The unsolicited dick pic went from hilarious to frightening in less than five minutes.
I’m not going to pretend that this incident was specific to me. Men do this, indiscriminately, all the time to unsuspecting women, and if it’s not a dick pic, then it’s a honk of a horn on a passing car, or a leer while walking the dog, or a suggestive tone in a ripe “How you doin’?”. It’s alarming, it’s gross, and. . . it happens.
But I do recognize that the work I do seems to give men even more of an incentive to send me sexually explicit messages and images. Because when I unashamedly declare my love for sex and orgasm and pleasure, they use it as a focal point for their own pleasure.
When I choose to express and flaunt myself as a sexually liberated woman, they see that as an invitation to take up space in my sexual expression.
Men are taught to feel a sense of entitlement to my sexuality. They’ve been encouraged to view and treat my breasts, my thighs, the curve of my ass, the sway of my hips as the root of their sexuality, as the birthplace of their erotic desires, so that without my control, without my consent, who I am becomes a tool for their pleasure.
Men like the guy who sent me that unsolicited dick pic think it’s OK for them to force their own sexuality onto an erotically empowered woman because she was asking for it, waiting for it, wanting it.
And to those men I’d like to say—
My sexual liberation is not for male consumption. I’m not doing this for you. I’m not doing this for your gaze or for your pleasure. I’m not doing this for your attention or approval. This is not for you.
You are not authorized to claim any of the space I take up in my sexual expression. You are not invited to use my erotic empowerment as a headquarters for your arousal. You are not allowed anywhere within my sexual liberation—you are not the basis for it, you are not the inspiration for it, and you can have no part of it.
Just because I speak about enjoying orgasm does not mean I want you to give me one. Just because I show desire for sex does not mean I want you to fuck me. Just because I take and post sensual selfies does not mean I am inviting you to position yourself in the center of my sexual celebration.
This is not for you.
I want you to know the kind of damage you do when you take up space in women’s sexuality, the kind of derailment that takes place inside of us when you foist yourself into places, experiences, bodies, that are not yours.
It is a violence that causes us to close ourselves up to our erotic nature. It is an assault that causes us to question whether we should take up space with our sexual energy. It is a violation that causes us to dampen our desires because you make us feel unsafe to express them.
We stand smaller, we move rigidly, we constrict ourselves, all while feeling a dangerous combination inside of our bodies, a numbing fear and a white-hot rage, because we are not free to be without your gaze or commentary.
Our sexual liberation has nothing to do with you.
I will not allow you to shrink me or my sexual expression because of your sexual dominance. I will not choose flowery words or euphemisms so that my proclamations won’t flag your interest. I will not talk quieter or take up less space. I will not second-guess myself.
I will speak openly and freely about my sexual expression, my desires, what brings me pleasure, and I will do it to spite you because men like you hate knowing that you’re not the center of a woman’s erotic impulses, that she can conjure up sexual energy without the help of you.
But I’ll do it especially for the thousands of women and femmes out there who are afraid to fully let themselves go as sexual beings because they see it as a danger to their lives (and in many ways, it is). I’ll do it for them, to give them courage, to give them strength, and to give them fuel for the erotic fires that they will use to singe shame and your oppressive gazes.
Think twice before sending me any pictures of any part of your body. Trust me, the last thing on the planet that I am thinking of when I am taking up space with my sexuality is some strange man’s erect penis. So please don’t assault my eyes with your nonsense. The next time you do, I will put a curse on you.
OK, let’s take a quick break.
[ AD BREAK ]
The Sexually Liberated Woman celebrates sexual liberation. And since you’re listening to this podcast, I think it’s pretty safe for me to assume that you’re already about that life.
Maybe you’re already on your sexual liberation journey and you’re in this process of fully exploring your erotic self. Or maybe you’re one of the many, many people out there who isn’t at all at comfortable with their sexuality.
If so, I have some things that might help. When I’m not doing this podcast, I teach classes and facilitate healing that helps women and femmes liberate and connect to their sexuality. And I’ve created some awesome resources to help them on their journey.
Like, there’s a sensuality course I created that guides you into reconnecting with your sensual body one day at a time. There’s a digital workshop I lead that teaches you how to use sensual selfies as a way to heal and celebrate your sexuality.
There’s also my sexual liberation and healing practice where I help you step out of shame and into erotic empowerment via one-on-one mentoring, space holding, and fierce accountability.
So if you want to be sexually free, go evyanwhitney.com/shop and start your sexual liberation journey.
I absolutely can’t wait to witness your blossoming. I’ll see you there.
[ MAIN EPISODE CONTINUES ]
OK, so after I wrote that piece I had a thought that continued to gnaw on me for the rest of the week which was: If I don’t want to shrink myself, how can I go about making myself feel safe within my sexual expression?
Because the reality is that we live in an unsafe world, filled with people who can easily misconstrue the energies we give off as we’re stepping into and owning our erotic power.
I actually get messages from women pretty often about this, about how they want to embody sexual energy and practice being fully present in that, but they’re afraid that if they do, they’ll get unwanted attention—especially from men.
This is a fear of mine too, and it’s really tricky to walk that line between full and open expression of my erotic self and closing myself off to outward embodiment to keep me safe.
I don’t want my sexual energy to be cut off because of fear, and I also don’t want to be so open that it leaves me vulnerable. So in my own work in unshaming and embodying my sexuality, I’ve had to find a kind of happy medium.
But before I get into that. . . First I’d like to just say how much it sucks that I have to arm myself against people that might harm me because of my sexual expression. It sucks that you have to do it, too.
I wish we didn’t have to. I wish that our society could cut straight to the source (rape culture! misogyny! racism! masculine supremacy!) rather than having it fall on our shoulders to be responsible for the sexual responses of others and keep ourselves away from dangerous situations.
It’s true that things are shifting; movements like Stop Telling Women To Smile are helping bring awareness to this issue. But we’ve still got a long way to go, and in the meantime, we ourselves have to find creative ways to guard ourselves against unwanted attention, while also trying to celebrate our sexualities. That’s really hard, really tricky, and it fucking sucks.
But I digress.
Here are just a few things I do to help make me feel safe as I’m embodying and celebrating my sexuality in the real world.
1. I wear things that make me feel like a warrior princess. Black, chunky heels. Black lipstick. Headphones in my ears that blast Beyoncé. A smoky quartz crystal hanging around my neck to ward off negative energy and my long nails painted a blood-like color. I’ve also got this long, slightly jagged silver ring that if I was in a jam, could potentially gouge the eyes of any man giving me inappropriate stares.
All of these things have a very “Don’t fuck with me” vibe to them, yes, but it’s not just about that—it’s about how I feel while I’m wearing them. How, when I’m walking in my black heels, I stand taller and my steps are more swift and powerful. How, when I’m wearing black lipstick, I feel tough and strong and thus the energy I give off is as such.
These things might seem small but adorning myself like this packs a mighty punch. They help me to feel powerful, courageous, and in control, which helps me to stand stronger, taller, and take up space in a way that says, “I belong here” and “Don’t fuck with me.”
2. I take up as much space as possible and I walk like I mean it. I’ll admit that this used to feel counterintuitive to me. Like, if I want to keep myself safe, shouldn’t I take up as little space as possible to sort of blend into the background? Making myself more noticeable felt like I was putting a giant red target on my forehead that screamed “Look at me! I’m here! Come mess with me!”
But that’s just what I realized: I want to be seen. I want to be noticed. And particularly—I want to be perceived as someone who is alert and confident.
By taking up space, I own my body which gives the impression that I am self-possessed, consciously aware of my surroundings, deeply comfortable in my skin. By walking with purpose and strength, I show that I’m grounded, unshakable, and in control.
So I widen my stance. I spread my legs. I let my shoulders drop down and back and lead with my chest. I center myself and take deep breaths in my belly. And all of this, combined with the armor mentioned a moment ago, seems to add a double dose of “Think twice before fucking with me.”
But taking up space isn’t just about the physical space you take up. It’s also about the energetic space you take up.
One constant look + feel that I’m always trying to embody is to be a Boss Ass Bitch (shout out to Pretty Taking All Fades). A Boss Ass Bitch is someone who knows her power, embodies her truth, and is a force to be reckoned with. So I make sure that not only my physical stance shows this, but also the energy I emanate.
For me, this looks like thinking about that Boss Ass Bitch energy and imagining a force field of that energy being created around me with every breath or step I take. I use this visualization not only when I’m out in the world but when I’m in space with folks where boundaries need to be set and my own emotional energy needs to be protected.
The third thing I do is I remember that I know how to kick ass. A couple years ago, I took a self-defense class with a good friend of mine and within the first hour of the class, I began to understand that this wasn’t going to be just about techniques that would defend myself against unwanted physical attention.
These classes were going to be about finding my voice, about proving to myself how strong I was, about rebuilding my inner fortitude to help me feel like I could take up space again.
Apart from the sick moves that you can learn to protect yourself, I think every single person should take a self-defense class for just those things I mentioned above, especially women and femmes. What I gained helped me to fully own the volume of my own force and power, and walking around with the knowledge that I’ve taken these classes makes me feel confident and resilient—which adds on beautifully to everything else.
The last thing I do—I follow my intuition. As much as I’d love to always be comfortable in embodying sexual liberation wherever I am, no matter the situation; as much as it would be great to live wildly without inhibitions or fears. . . there are times when that just isn’t the case.
Maybe it’s because the element I’m in suddenly jostled me into feeling unsafe. Or maybe it’s because I’m not feeling particularly grounded in my body. Whatever the reason, if something inside of me closes up, if a part of me feels hesitance or resistance to open, if I get an impulse to take up less space, I pay attention to those nudges. I listen.
Sometimes that means hardening myself. Sometimes that means closing myself off to protect my energy. Sometimes that means not going braless because I know I don’t have the energy to make myself big or keep up that force field against unwanted attention.
Self-preservation is important. Even more important is my ability to choose.
To choose when and how I express my sexuality, as well as with who I allow to celebrate it, even if it means closing myself off or shrinking myself for a time, is an act of liberation, too.
My sexual energy doesn’t need to be on all the time. And my sexual liberation doesn’t look like me being completely open and expressive to every single person that comes my way. As a sexually liberated woman, it’s my job to be selective and protect my sexual energy from the creeps and trespassers.
And it’s yours, too.
I hope this helped you feel a little more safe and capable. And let me know how it goes. You can always send me an email at email@example.com. Let’s keep championing and supporting our sensual space-taking. We need each other.
[ CREDITS ]
The Sexually Liberated Woman is produced, edited, and designed by me, Ev’Yan Whitney. With editing help from Justine Mclellan.
If you love this podcast, I’d love it if you left me a review on Apple Podcasts.
And if you’d like to support this podcast, with just $5 a month, you can help The Sexually Liberated Woman thrive and continue instigating sexual empowerment. Just go to patreon.com/slwpodcast to donate and become a patron. Thank you so much. I literally couldn’t do this without you.
As for me, you can find me on my blog evyanwhitney.com and on Instagram @evyan.whitney.
Thanks so much for being here and I’ll see you in the next episode.