Sex, love, liberation—the power of being a vina. It takes some courage to own those three areas. Many taboos surround the power of a vina owning her sexuality.
With regard to sex, society has led us to believe that looking or feeling sexy is our way of saying, “I’m asking for it,” while performing the act and being overly sexual labels us as a “slut.”
Then comes love—the fairytales, the vulnerability, the settling, the co-dependency. Women are thought to swoon over these thoughts, while men are known to take advantage of those desires.
Finally, we have liberation—the moment where we look ourselves, our desires, our needs in the eye and say, “Screw it. I deserve to feel, do, say, get loud, howl, orgasm as I please without being judged or ridiculed by it.” Liberation is knowing that society is the one that’s broken, not us. And while those belief patterns have brought us down in the past, we are now awakened with the passion, divine femininity and the remembering that we should tend to our roots and allow our power to rise.
Okay, okay. Maybe I am getting a little riled up here, but how can I not after so many courageous women took their voices to the public this past year and made a difference? Whether they spoke about their traumas, their healing, their journeys, their women-owned businesses, their success and their failures, they created a domino effect that empowered women to liberate themselves.
One of those women who did that for me was Ev’Yan Whitney, a writer, sensualist, sexuality doula—creator of the viral #sensualselfiechallenge & host of The Sexually Liberated Woman podcast. I had the pleasure to interview her on tips for our empowered and liberated vinas!
Hi, Ev’Yan! Thank you so much for taking out the time to speak with VINAZINE. I know a lot of our vinas can or will relate to your unique work. I would love to ask what inspired your path to sexual freedom and with that, your desire to help other women in doing the same?
I started this work because, at the time, I wasn’t in a place of sexual freedom. I carried a lot of shame and fear about sex, and the relationship I had with my sexuality was disconnected and repressed. It really came to a head when I realized that my then-boyfriend and I were hardly having sex, and when we did have sex, I would kind of go through the motions with it. I wouldn’t be in my body, I wouldn’t even be able to access any pleasure. I was just numbed out.
So it was from that place that I decided to write about my sexual dysfunction and the process I was undergoing to heal myself. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go or what I was going to find, but I made a practice of using journaling to peel back the layers of my weirdness about sex and made them public. As I was doing that peeling and putting it all out there, I started to receive comments and emails from other women, telling me that they were exactly where I was—feeling sexually inhibited and desperately wanting to get free—and were grateful for my vulnerability and transparency about my process. They told me it made them feel less alone. I was floored hearing this because I literally thought I was the only person who was struggling in this way, so getting those messages made something click inside me.
From there, I began seeing the work I was doing around healing and reclaiming my sexuality not being just for me, but for other women like me. So I kept writing, I kept taking up space, I kept showing up to my own sexual liberation journey, and, since then, my work has deepened into a service I offer to other women and femmes who are wanting to un-shame their sexuality and be sexually-free.
Mind you, this whole journey of me having panic attacks after having sex to being a sexuality doula and having a successful practice where I educate and facilitate other women and femmes on their sexual liberation journeys took close to a decade. I mention that because I think it’s important for folks to know that this has taken a lot of growth, a lot of commitment to healing, a lot of studying, and a lot of therapy. I don’t want anyone thinking that sexual liberation is a one and done kind of thing; it’s an ongoing process that continues for the rest of your life. And even today, there’s still things to be healed and reclaimed and learned within my own sexuality.
What is the most common thing you witness women struggle with in their sexuality?
The thing I see my clients struggling with the most is having a sexual expression that belongs completely to them, one that doesn’t appease the male gaze or cater to the “should’s” society puts on us regarding what women’s sexuality is “supposed” to look like. That’s actually been the most liberating thing for me in my journey—releasing myself from those beliefs and giving myself permission to claim and embody a sexuality that is my own and not based on patriarchal norms or sexist standards. In a lot of ways, I’ve demystified my sexuality, my body, my pleasure, and orgasm because of choosing to divest from old beliefs and systems that were not in service of or advocating for those things.
I can truly say I was one of those who found it hard to break from the patriarchal belief system and even find myself clinging to them while trying to reclaim myself. It can be hard rewiring that part of ourselves that has such a long female lineage of belief patterns.
Your #sensualselfiechallenge came at the perfect time in 2018, the Year of the Woman. It seems as though most women resonated with the need for baring it all and sharing it all, and took confidence in being vulnerable. What has it meant for you to see such a huge feedback from women across the globe and what do you hope comes from this challenge?
The response of the #sensualselfiechallenge has thrilled me, delighted me, and shaken me to my core. When I created it, I had no idea that people would resonate so much with it. Actually, when I was in my kitchen dreaming it up last winter, I was fighting with this inner voice that was saying, “No one’s going to be into this; selfies aren’t revolutionary, they’re vain and vapid, which speaks to the way our culture has made me by into the belief that women need to be modest and other forms of respectability politics. So, to see the response people gave to it and to witness their own shifts through this practice was awe-inspiring.
As for what I hope comes from this challenge—I hope that the folks who do it are able to give themselves (and their bodies) space to be soft so that they can see it in a sensual, sexual light. I hope it helps them challenge some of the narratives they’ve been given about modesty, about keeping quiet and staying small. I also hope I’m able to do this again, because with the FOSTA/SESTA and the new sexual solicitation policy that Facebook (who owns Instagram) rolled out, it’s censoring the kind of space-taking and sensual celebration we all took part in with the challenge.
Self love. Many women, especially coming from very traumatic situations, struggle with the concept needing to work through, self heal and break the cycles that seem to creep up again and again, mostly in our relationships. What advice would you give to the women who are settling for less than they are worth?
Get help. Having a professional help you heal through the traumatic experiences you’ve been through is major and helps self-love as a practice have more staying power for you. Affirmations and pep talks from your chosen family are awesome, but nothing’s going to help more than addressing the source of the problem. And I say this as someone who has been and is currently in therapy for her own issues with self-love and worth. It’s OK to ask for help, and your asking for that help in the form of therapy is one great gesture of self-love.
What can we can we expect from you in 2019?! The Year of the Woman Part 2 🙂
More space-taking as an act of resistance, more healing and decolonizing of sexuality, more unapologetic displays of sexual celebration, and more invitations from me to you so that you can do the same.
Allow yourself the space to remember your inner-fire, your power and inspire your favorite vinas in doing same! The more we empower one another, the stronger we become. Start swiping to find your liberating tribe on Hey! Vina.