UNDER THE COVERS
Dive ‘Under The Covers’ with Yinn and friends in our new series dedicated to exploring, honouring, and celebrating our intimate individualism. Together we discuss sexuality, self-love, culture, pleasure essentials, and so much more juicy goodness!
An interview with dancer, model and poet Jenna Anne Nathan
Q) What was the main message about sex and sexuality that you received growing up?
School gave facts: “This is why you have a period” (The cliff notes version- No hormonal or inter-related body systems information), “this is what sexual intercourse is “(pleasure who? oral what? foreplay when? anal? non heteronormative?), “this is how you prevent getting pregnant” (prioritize this over your entire well-being and ladies this is mostly your problem), “this is how pregnancy occurs” (hi sperm!), “here is a list of STI’s” (conclusion; probably best you don’t have sex with lots of different people). There was no education or conversation about relationships or looking after our sexual well-being which is connected to our mental and emotional well-being.
The friends and peers I grew up around were a wonderful variety of people who had different sexual preferences and identities. So, I experienced a beautiful normalcy around people being sexually open, curious, and evolving their identity in accordance with who they knew they were on the inside, which sometimes wasn’t reflected by their outward appearance.
While this is quite positive, being young with little information I was aware there was a grey area of confusion. I didn’t get much male attention in my teen years so had the opportunity to observe and learn through my friends’ experiences. Which now I am very grateful for. I saw friends begin to have relationships and be sexually active from around 13-14 years old, but I never heard reports of meaningful conversations about sexual health and exploring your own and each-others pleasure.
I think the internet and subliminal messages through advertisements I received about sex, were the most convoluting. ‘Sexy’ was the prescribed objective, but sexy already had a face, a body, and an attitude. None of them are my version of sexy and therefore I grew to feel sexually unworthy. I didn’t have sex until I was 23, but I was aware I had sexual desire and curiosity. I watched a little bit of porn infrequently and even though I found a certain amount of pleasure from this (and still do) I have learnt it harmed my perception of sexual acts, how they happen, how women experience and express sexual pleasure, as well as hindered my sexual confidence and personal ability to connect with my body. Porn is a pleasure tool, but with very limited places to see and study this mysterious act of sex for young people porn becomes an educational tool.
Q) How did you begin to explore and establish your own beliefs around sex and sexuality?
For me, my relationship with my body dominated my relationship with sex. This year I started working with a Gestalt psychotherapist to evolve some beliefs I hold about my own body. I realised, I was never going to fully enjoy myself, or fully enjoy being with another, until I believed “I am worthy of pleasure” and had some boundaries around the quality of the emotional and sexual exchange I am willing to accept. I always knew for me emotions and sex were intertwined. Being intimate with and loving myself is the emotional foundation on which my sexual experiences sit so having a mostly positive and definitely accepting attitude towards myself needed to be established first.
Another key catalyst for me was meeting my current partner. He challenged my perpetuated belief that I should be more concerned about my partner’s pleasure than my own. You absolutely do not need a partner to have this epiphany but for me it was beautiful that he illuminated that I needed to be invested in my own pleasure. I had never asked myself: ‘What turns me on?’ ‘What intrigues and excites me?’ ‘What makes me feel safe?’ ‘How do I bring myself to orgasm and how do I share that information?’ ‘How long do I want/need foreplay to last?’ ‘How do I enjoy giving pleasure?’ ‘Where is the edge of my comfort zone?’ ‘What would I like to try?’ ‘What do I not want to do?’ ‘What are the acts of intimacy more than just physical touch like dirty talk, sending nudes, sexting, etc that I find pleasure in?’ We share a very open and non-judgmental space for any insecurities to be worked through as well as deep desires and fantasies to be expressed.
I’ve learnt impeccable communication, vulnerability, investment in my own and (to varying degrees) whomever I’m engaged with is vital for a healthy sexual existence. This sounds obvious, but this is the information which the internet and my friends didn’t teach me.
These are some of my top resources and influences on establishing my own sexual beliefs:
- CONVERSATIONS, CONVERSATIONS, CONVERSATIONS, CONVERSATIONS
- Podcasts: Guys we Fucked, F***ks Given by Come Curious and Hormonal
- Online Resources: OMGYES (website), Leeza Mangaldas (Instagram), The Vulva Gallery (Instagram) and Kate Moyle Therapy (Instagram)
- Books: Eve Ensler ‘The Vagina Monologues’, Yrsa Daley-Ward ‘The How’, Brené Brown ‘Daring Greatly’ and Lisa Lister ‘WITCH.’
Q) If you had the chance, what would you tell your younger self about sex now?
Q) How important do you believe it is to embrace our sexuality?
Q) What do self-care and self-love look like for you?
Q) What do you love about your body?
Q) What are your top 3 pleasure essentials (tools, toys, resources etc)?
Q) What’s an unexpected moment that brought you pleasure this week?
Q) Favourite song to get you in the mood?
Q) Favourite ritual related to sex?
Getting each other undressed. It feels like a non-verbal conversation of consent. It also sets up the vibe for the kind of sex we might have. I.e. if clothes are coming off fast, we’re going to get sweaty and there will be biting. If we undress each-other more sensually and delicately, it creates a more calm and intimate space for more emotional sex. Laying together, breathing after we have concluded, allowing the whirlwind of emotions and sensations to calm. I love the silence, our breaths dancing, it sounds like music in that moment to me.
Q) Do you have any particular people in your life who inspire you to be a sexually empowered person?
My partner, The Bad Ass Brown Bitches (my 4 beautiful South Asian girl-friends), all my friends and my sister.