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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to sex educator Haddi Ceesay about the horrors of abstinence-only education, Islam and finding your calling.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Kenrya: Today we're talking to Haddi Ceesay, pronouns she and her. Haddi is a doctoral student at City University of London, whose research is centered on young people's sexual and reproductive health education in low- and middle-income countries. She also works as a sex educator and public health consultant. Haddi has experience working with survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in both the U.S. and abroad, including female genital mutilation and early child marriage survivors. As a Black Muslim woman, her work centers the importance of culturally competent conversations about bodies and sex without fear or stigma and using sources that teach, instead of shame.
Kenrya: Thanks so much for joining us today, Haddi.
Haddi: Thank y'all for having me.
Erica: Last week we read a book that featured some Muslim characters, but it really didn't delve into how religion can impact sexual experiences and agency. We know that your work with vulnerable populations is informed by your identity as a Muslim woman. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how it brought you here to this work?
Haddi: All right. I'm originally from the Gambia, which is like a really tiny country in West Africa. It's about a, I believe, 92 percent Muslim population. I grew up in a community where talking about anything sex or sex-related was really hush-hush. There's very little education even around periods and just anything that has to do with the body in general. When I had my period, I thought that I was dying.
Haddi: Yeah. Yeah. It's really, really hush-hush. Even when it comes to sex, you don't really know much until you get married. Or, they think that you don't know much until you get married. Nobody wants to talk about anything. I was always really curious, especially just about bodies and what bodies do. For me, a lot of my work just came from reading. I was a very voracious reader as a kid, and then you grow up and life happens. I still like to read.
Haddi: Just growing up, I was really interested in that which led me to public health. When I started college, I started taking classes on women's health, sexual reproductive health. It was like, "Oh my God, this is so cool." I would be the one in the front of the class just asking the teacher just all these questions because I was like, "This is really, really awesome." I just kind of knew that that's something I saw myself doing. All right, all right.
Erica: That's fine. Did you find that you became kind of the sex expert, the sexpert among your friends?
Haddi: Yes. Easily, too. For me, it's like, when I learn something I want to talk about it all the time. Being that I'm not really someone that shies away from certain topics, it was very easy for me to be like, "Oh, look, I learned this. I learned that." I guess talking about certain things helps cuts the stigma down quite a lot. I remember, honestly, it was like my first Intro to Public Health class and one of the sessions had given out condoms. I brought the condoms home and I was telling my friends, "Oh, I have condoms. This and that." For me, it was just so fun to talk about.
Erica: They were like, "Haddi on that shit again."
Haddi: I just became the sex lady among my friends and it's fun. Even when they have questions around periods, if something is irregular about their cycle, it's always they come and ask me questions. If I don't know it, I'll go and do some research and then come back to it. A lot of my sexual reproductive health work actually started around FGM. If the listeners don't know what FGM is, it's female genital mutilation. It's basically if any parts of the female reproductive organ, the outer parts, so the labia, clitoris is cut out for non-medical purposes. That's the easiest way to put it.
Haddi: In Gambia, there's like a 75 percent chance of undergoing it if you're a woman. Well, the FGMs rate is 75 percent. But, I come from the one tribe that doesn't practice FGM. For me, it was crazy that I was doing a lot of sexual reproductive health work and FGM was something I didn't even know about. When I was introduced to it, I was like, "Wow."
Erica: "Mama, can you believe these people?" "Yes, actually I can."
Haddi: It was like, "Oh my God. I'm here advocating for safe sex practices and all of that when people don't even own their bodies to begin with." They're already having a lot of their agency taken away at such young ages.
Kenrya: It showed you your privilege in that moment, right?
Haddi: Huge. Huge time. I was like, "Wow. I don't know nothing."
Haddi: Just coming from where I'm from and just being very inquisitive is really what brought me to this work. And, just not seeing a lot of people that look like me that were doing that.
Kenrya: I mean, it sounds like you really took to this very naturally. Was there ever a time where you wrestled with the idea of discussing sex and having a healthy sex life, wrestle with whether or not that was at odds with Islam?
Haddi: No. Actually, no. I think for me, I guess because I have that public health background, starting off, I just knew that, at the end of the day, my job is not to be judgmental or to act like I'm holier than thou or anything. My job is simply to give the facts and to make sure that people are doing stuff that is not harmful to them. That's really how I looked at it from the get-go. My stepdad is an Imam, and I remember I had a small discussion with him around that. I'm like, "For me, I'm always going to tell people about using condoms and practicing safe sex. That doesn't necessarily translate to me doing anything, it's just making sure that other people are safe and healthy whenever they're doing something."
Haddi: He's like, "Yeah, I get it. It's a part of your job. You can't really be telling people, "Don't have sex. Don't do this, don't do that," when you know that that's something that's gon happen regardless." Yeah.
Haddi: Also, I took it upon myself to actually learn what Islam says about a lot of things. For me, a lot of how I interpret my religion is that I believe in a very merciful God and I believe that quote, unquote, whatever sins that we commit, it's between that person and the God. It's up to them to interpret anything how they want to interpret it. My job is just to give you the facts and the information. I'm not a religious scholar. I'm not perfect, so it's not really on me to tell you, "Oh, you're going to hell for doing this. You're going to hell for doing that."
Erica: In your bio, you talk about the importance of cultural competency and sexual education. Why is that crucial for Black people?
Haddi: Even with the term cultural competency, culturally sensitive, a lot of them are just buzz words that we like to throw around to make us sound like we inclusive. We do that when really none of the stuff we are doing is rooted in anti-racism at all. We're just saying that so that we can sound like, "Okay, we doing something." But are we really? Are we really?
Kenrya: Come through with the word.
Haddi: It's definitely crucial because I think, first of all, even starting with the fact that there are a lot of power dynamics at play that continue to marginalize Black women and contribute to our ill health. Understanding that even though it can be a lot of information out, "You need to do this, you need to do that," but having that information doesn't really grant you access to a lot of resources. You can know something, but that doesn't mean that you can do anything about it. It's just as simple as, "Okay. Yeah. Don't get raped." But are you telling the rapist that? What can I do?
Haddi: Also, even just basic stuff like knowing that you're understood. If you see somebody that looks like you, I feel like you'll be less inclined to shy away from what you're really going through and how you're really feeling about certain things. You're most likely to open up and just know that someone understands what your background is. Because, at the end of the day, I can have all the education in the world. Or, actually, not even that.
Haddi: If I see a white woman, for example, coming to me to tell me stuff, I'm like, "Okay, yeah. But you don't know what I'm going through." There's class dynamics, there's the race dynamics, there's a lot of privilege and other things at play that don't really give me the openness that I would like to talk about certain things. I just like making sure that as, still as a young Black woman because I'm only 25, but I just like making sure that people like me see that there's someone that you can talk to and look up to and someone that understands. I'm still at that age where I'm still doing dumb stuff.
Kenrya: Girl, we still at that age.
Erica: I'm almost 40 and I'm still doing dumb shit. That's the fun shit sometimes, though. It's okay.
Kenrya: You got to have balance.
Haddi: Honestly, honestly. Even with that, it's just knowing that you have someone that's advocating for you. Because, you can tell somebody, "Okay, go to the doctor." But, first of all, do you live in a community that you can easily access a doctor and easily access birth control and other contraceptives? And, even if you go there, do you have health workers that are taking you seriously? Do you know what questions to ask your health workers? We already know how Black women are disproportionately affected in the healthcare system, in general. Well, everywhere, but especially in the healthcare system.
Haddi: You're already going through that and then you already know that Black women have higher rates of violence and are still hyper-sexualized and still fetishized and just so many different things. It's like, how do you really advocate for yourself? How do you talk to... Who do you even talk to? Is there someone that you can talk to? I feel like having Black women... Sorry. Just being culturally competent, but having curriculums and having people that really know that these things are at play really helps out a lot in terms of just young, Black people, young Black women, queer women, trans women. All of us have some kind of knowledge and access to our sexual reproductive healthcare.
Kenrya: I mean, that actually leads to the next question I want to ask. You just talked about how there's a lot of talk about cultural competency. Putting on your public health consultant hat, what I know is that there's a lot of bias that is just built into the system when it comes to every part of the healthcare system. What are some ways that me, trying to get care for myself, that I can kind of push back against that anti-Blackness to make sure I'm getting the care that I need?
Haddi: That's interesting. I saw this thing on Twitter one time where it's like, "If you're asking your doctor for some kind of testing or anything and they're not listening to you, make sure it's documented." Make sure that any kind of healthcare that you're asking for that you're not receiving is documented. Again, know what questions to ask. Be very specific about all of your symptoms.
Kenrya: In our first season, we read Song of Solomon from the Bible and we had a conversation with a minister about the ways that anti-Blackness creeps into the way that people interpret Christianity. And, yes, we know that you are not a scholar of Islam, but I am wondering, are there ways that people interpret Islam in terms of anti-Blackness that make your job harder? Like, when you're dealing with populations that are directly tied to the religion?
Haddi: I mean, honestly, I will start with the fact that in a lot of religious spaces, there's this idea that you have to divorce yourself from your Blackness. They try to tell you, "Oh, Islam is colorblind." Instead of recognizing what our differences are and that bring us to together and recognizing that our different backgrounds have an impact, it's more of just, "Okay. Yeah, just don't come here trying to make it a Black thing." When, at the end of the day, as a person who is Black, who is Muslim, who is a woman, who also has an immigrant background, I can't really divorce myself from any of those identities. They are very integral as part of who I am. Sorry y'all. Being in the UK and the U.S. at the same time, sometimes my accent be a little...
Kenrya: There was a word you said earlier, I was like, "Oh, listen to that accent coming out."
Haddi: It be coming out at the wrong moments.
Kenrya: There's no wrong moment.
Haddi: The thing is, for me, as an African and as an immigrant, I didn't really have to, I guess, deal with a lot of anti-Blackness that comes in the religious spaces until I came to the U.S. because I'm from a country that's over 90 something percent Muslim. Yeah. I know Black Muslims. That's all I know. Then you come here and it's like, all of a sudden, it's not even that we're minorities, but if you see a Black Muslim, it's like, "Oh, they must have been a convert. They probably don't know what they talking about. This, this, and that." Yeah. I guess it's something that I'm still understanding and dealing with. I think maybe people that are Black-American and Muslim might have a better or fuller answer or understanding of that.
Kenrya: I don't think they have a fuller one, they just have a different one, right? Different experiences.
Haddi: Yeah. Definitely. Yeah. You right. A different one, yeah.
Erica: Thank you for that. I'm currently training to become a sex educator.
Kenrya: Y'all can't see, but they doing a little shoulder shimmy. It's like a little sisterhood of the sex educator shimmy.
Kenrya: Black sex educator shimmies.
Erica: One of the things that I'm struck by is how white it is. The program I'm in is has a really intentional social justice background and is very inclusive, and that's why I like it. But, I'm still struck about how I am usually the only Black chick in my class or in the program. I've been lucky enough to meet really dope Black sex educators through this podcast. What do you think and how do you think anti-Blackness plays in the field of sex education and how do you think we can go about eradicating it? I know it's a big question.
Haddi: It's a big one, but it's a necessary one. For example, with my research, I read this really interesting article that I can actually share with you, a research article. It talks about how even teachers that are teaching sex education in schools have this concept that Black and Latina girls are the fast ones or they don't have access to sex education at home. Even before you're teaching or you're imparting knowledge, you already have this misconception that these are the ones that are already suffering, so these are the ones that I got to pay more attention... not even pay more attention to, but just assume that they're long gone.
Haddi: Racism, obviously, continues to be systemic. Regardless, Black women are the ones that bare the brunt of a lot of BS. It's automatic assumption that these Black women are hypersexual, that they're already having sex or they're doing stuff that they're not supposed to be doing. You're already discounting their experiences because you think you know what their experience is. It's quite heavy. It's definitely something that's heavy. Especially even with like queer women and trans women and women that are already so marginalized to not have anybody that's teaching them sex ed that actually recognizes their experiences. It's quite a lot.
Haddi: Even in with a lot of anti-Blackness in sex ed, it just starts with looking at Black bodies as less, as bodies that are dispensable. We need to, I guess, start even with just teaching the Black girls that they're recognized and their bodies are beautiful and they're not just somebody's fetish. Just get rid of the shame of enjoying your body and not allowing anybody to shame you for your body either, because, for someone that's Muslim and also raised in the south, the sex education that I was taught was just... I don't even think I'm going to call it sex ed, because-
Kenrya: It's just abstinence and that?
Haddi: Yeah. Abstinence-only is not sex ed. It's really not because you're in a classroom where you're teaching kids, "Don't have sex. You have sex you die," but half the class is already having some kind of sex.
Erica: Don't make me laugh. You're like, "Uh."
Haddi: So, what are you teaching? Yeah. What exactly are you teaching? It's not realistic.
Kenrya: Yeah, I have... Oh, sorry. I have a question because I don't know. Is there like a Black sex educator's organization or something?
Haddi: No, not that I know of.
Erica: Not that I know of. Not that I know of. Opportunity.
Kenrya: Sounds like a thing to start.
Erica: There's this really great organization I learned about very recently and their mission is to overhaul, change the way sex education is taught in schools and they're doing some really cool work. One of the things that I really appreciated in my program, the first class that we took, the woman teaching it was like, "I try to be intentional about the pictures that I post, just in the examples. We're going to look at different types of labias and different types of penises. They're going to be Black and brown and white." Now, with that being the first class, I pay attention to it so much more. I did a class yesterday online and the guy that taught it had nothing but white people in it. It stood out that much, it was like, "Oh my goodness." It was about seniors and sex. It's like, "Okay, so only the old white people have sex. Great. That's good to hear."
Haddi: Yup. Literally, that's it. Those are the images that permeate all our textbooks and all the research and reading. It's a lot of just white people. You don't even see your body. Also, that's why I think it's hard for a lot of Black... not just Black people, but I guess where I'm from, too, it's very hard to assume that sex ed is for you when you're not seeing bodies that are like you. It ends up being like a whiteness thing or something that's like telling you don't need to have sex.
Kenrya: Yeah, because that's for white people. Right?
Haddi: Yeah. It's for white people. Yeah.
Erica: That's weird white people shit.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Haddi: Exactly. Exactly. These are a lot of things that really need to be deconstructed continuously, so I think we need Black educators, Black researches, just more people listening to Black women about their bodies and reading things from Black women. That's one of the few ways that we can really dismantle anti-Blackness in a lot of sex education spaces within our communities. At the end of the day, I think, honestly, with anything in life, the one advice that I have always is just listen to Black women.
Erica: Listen to Black women.
Haddi: That's it. That's it.
Erica: We told y'all. We told y'all.
Kenrya: We tell them repeatedly, they just don't like to listen.
Haddi: Listen to Black women, that's it.
Kenrya: What's your favorite thing about what you do?
Haddi: So much.
Kenrya: I love that.
Erica: She has this big ass smile on her face, she just lit up.
Kenrya: No, but there's so many people hate what they do.
Haddi: Oh my God, I love it.
Kenrya: I'm so excited to see you smile.
Haddi: I love it. That's the one thing that always puts a smile on my face, whenever I'm talking about the work that I'm doing because it's an experience to learn and teach at the same time. I love learning. My friends be clowning on me all the time. They're like, "I'm sure when you're done with your PHD, you're going to go ahead and get another degree."
Haddi: I'm like, "I just might."
Erica: Get you some graduation dollars again.
Haddi: I just enjoy having people come and ask questions because a lot of the time people don't know where to start. As a researcher, I do a lot of qualitative research so it's a lot of focus group discussions, a lot of interviews and stuff like that. When I'm doing focus group discussions around sex and sex ed, it kills the whole myth that young people don't care about sex ed and that young people don't care about what's going on. They do, but they just generally don't know where to start. They want a lot of reform around sex education and what's being taught, just making sure that it's relevant to them.
Haddi: I really just enjoy learning about other things and knowing what other people are learning too, I think because, again, learning is a continual process. So, just knowing how to make things better at the end of the day, I really love that. Also, working with HEART, one of the organizations that I work for right now is really, really fun because it's a non-profit but it's run literally only by women of color.
Kenrya: That's dope.
Haddi: Yeah. Just having a space that ensures that all Muslims have resources and language and just the choice to nurture their sexual health and confront sexual violence, it's just amazing. It's one of those things where I wish I had more of growing up. Because of that, I just want to make sure that everyone else has access to that and we don't continue to repeat cycles of mental drought, where people really get the opportunity to learn and not be judged. I feel like, sometimes, a lot of faith-based organizations are also very abstinence-only. If you do this, you're going to hell. You're dying. You're doomed. This and that. You don't got to do all that. It's not necessary.
Kenrya: We can hold a couple of things at the same time.
Erica: At the same time.
Haddi: Yeah. We can hold a lot. Just having that space to learn and to push people to learn, for people to feel like they can come and learn without being judged. I think that's so important. I think doing that, for me, it just makes me really happy.
Erica: That's great.
Kenrya: I'm having such an Auntie moment.
Haddi: I'm going to add to that, because with the work that we're doing with HEART, right now we actually have a survey that we're doing and it's on sexual violence in the Muslim communities. Again, just trying to learn exactly how pervasive sexual violence is and what sexual dysfunction looks like in the Muslim community just so that we could learn more and then be able to provide better services.
Kenrya: And where can people find that survey?
Haddi: It's on the HEART pages, but I can also share the link to the survey with you. We also working on a book that I've been editing, which is also so fun.
Erica: Okay, we'll make sure we put it in our show notes.
Haddi: It's on sex ed, too. Yes. The book also is on sex ed. It's called "Sex Talk." There's a reproductive aspect and it also tells you what to expect on your first time having sex, the health of a relationship. There's a whole chapter on keeping up with your sexual health, too. Just the stuff we're talking about, what to ask if you're seeing a doctor, how to really advocate for yourself and other stuff like that. That's really interesting. It's actually been one of the things I've been most excited about for a really long time. Working on it has been so fun.
Kenrya: So dope.
Erica: That's really great. I like the idea of a book because, as a soon to be sex educator... Well, actually, I'm a sex educator.
Haddi: As a sex educator.
Erica: Well, as a sex educator, I think it's great. Part of the reason that I want to do this is, like you, I want to educate young people. And, I was like you, one of those young people looking at all the books like, "Oh, this what a penis look like. These are the glands." Not everyone lives in an environment where they can have these people and a book that they can get from the library or sneak from they older cousin or whatever sounds really great. That can at least give you a basic foundation, so you're not out there just running wild.
Kenrya: That's literally what I did. I used to take those books out of the library whenever my daddy wasn't there and I would read them.
Kenrya: Yo. Okay, Erica, you probably had this, but I wonder if you, very young person, had this. Remember when we would watch the videos and the companies that made the sanitary napkins would come in and show you the books? I had all the books and then I ordered the little kits from the back of the books. I ordered like twice, then I had a whole bunch of pads for my first cycle so I had a month before I had to tell anybody and get help. That was how I learned. We had sex ed at school but it was what it was. I didn't get it at home. Those books were really super duper instrumental for me learning anything about my body.
Haddi: Yeah, we didn't have that.
Erica: Back in the old days, that's what we had.
Haddi: But, also, though, maybe they did. For me, I grew up in Gambia until I was 13. That's when I moved here. I didn't really have that.
Kenrya: I think we got the books in my school in Cleveland in fourth grade and then we had sex ed in fifth grade. So, what's that, 10?
Erica: 10. 11.
Haddi: 11. Yeah, we ain't have all that. Sadly.
Kenrya: Now you're creating a resource that folks can use.
Erica: That really makes me excited. That's pretty dope.
Haddi: It's necessary. I mean, I know quite a few Black sex educators but it's not enough. I think, as Black people, there's nothing that we have that's enough anywhere. The more of us in different fields, the more of us doing different things, the better because we need to be out there. We need to just do what we want to do, be who we want to be without any fear. We got to do what we got to do and feel good about it.
Erica: What do you wish more Black people knew about sex and sexuality, at the top line?
Haddi: More Black people. I think, honestly, what's most important is just feel comfortable with your body. I think, at the end of the day, there should be no shame in being who you are and who you want to be. I think we need to just stay away from imposing certain values and restrictions upon ourselves, especially as Black women. Because there's constantly, "You need to look like this, you need to be like this, you need to have sex but not too much. And then there's also the idea of the Madonna Virgin complex. You still have to be sensual enough but how dare you be around having sex and doing all these things?
Haddi: Just do you. Be happy. Be safe. That's really, I think, what's important. Even, especially, I guess, too, for Black Muslim women and Black Muslim people, I think we often forget that Islam is actually quite a sex-positive religion in terms of the prophet encouraged questions around sex, orgasm, around birth control. Fun fact, if a woman wants to get a divorce from her husband... Obviously anybody can get a divorce, but there's been cases in history where she can get a divorce if she's not being sexually fulfilled. That's a valid reason to get a divorce.
Kenrya: In the eyes of Islam?
Haddi: Yeah. Having all of that and knowing that and still have this assumption that Islam is not sex-positive is kind of wild. What's important is you learn for yourself. Don't be afraid to learn for yourself because we're in such a patriarchal system that it's always men interpreting things for you. You know if they interpret it, they're going to sprinkle little things in there that'll make sure that they keep you subjugated.
Erica: Sprinkle the patriarchy.
Haddi: Mm-hmm (affirmative). All over. We're in communities where there is still remnants of colonialism. Obviously, there is still white supremacy everywhere. Yeah. There's these patriarchal and capitalist structures that need to be dismantled and a lot of the dismantling starts from education. It's not even formal, you don't got to go to school and have all these degrees, really you just got to be willing to learn. There's so many resources out there that if you just take a second and read for yourself... This is also just thinking about J. Cole. Stupid ass.
Kenrya: Oh my God, girl.
Erica: I woke up like, "What is happening?"
Haddi: Oh my God. I just thought about that and I got so angry.
Erica: They cost you nothing to read. Shut the fuck up.
Haddi: Oh my God. Just read. Read a book.
Erica: Or, if you don't want to read, don't say shit about it.
Haddi: Exactly. Like shut up. Shut up. You ain't got to do all that. Just don't. Yeah.
Erica: Sorry about that.
Haddi: No, it got me heated a little. I'm not even going to lie. I just thought about it. I was like, "Oh, damn. What is wrong with niggas?"
Kenrya: A whole lot. Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). What you just said, you were talking about how there are resources and folks need to tap into them. What books or other resources would you recommend for our listeners who want to delve into their own sexuality, who want to teach their children about sex, or who want to expand their minds around the concepts of sexuality and religion?
Haddi: HEART, for example, has resources on their website. They have upload on the website called resource center. They have a lot of publications even around talking to your kids about sex from a general perspective, from a Muslim perspective. A lot of videos, a lot of publications and research on the website that is always quite detailed. That is always a good starting point. There's this lady that I just really love. She's a Black Muslim woman sex educator and on social media she goes by The Village Auntie. She is somebody that everybody needs to listen to. She is amazing. It's somebody that I look up and she has also a lot of great resources.
Haddi: There's this book on sexuality by this lady called Emily Nagoski, it's called “Come as You Are.” If you're looking for a specific Muslim example, too, there's this guy called Habeeb Akande and he has this book called “A Taste of Honey.” It talks about sexuality and erotology in Islam. Really, again, apart from the HEART website, the one person that I recommend that everybody reads and listens to is the Village Auntie. She's really dope.
Erica: Great. I literally just found her and followed her. Yeah.
Kenrya: What are you reading right now?
Haddi: I am reading “The Will to Change” by bell hooks. It's on men, masculinity and love. It's different for me. Basically, she talks about a lot of masculine concepts and, I guess, why men are the way they are. For me, a lot of my reading is just very women focused, just all women, again, to be inclusive, queer women, trans women, all the womens. I have a very hard time thinking past the notion that just men are trash and ain't it half the time. So, this is a book that's really opening me up to not just a different perspective, but really taking the time to understand and see what bell hooks is talking about. At the end of the day for me, I believe the revolution and just everything in life needs to be rooted in love.
Haddi: A lot of what she talks about is very, very ingrained and deeply rooted in love. At the end of the day, even if I decide that I don't want to date, I don't want to be with nobody, I still have men in my life. They're friends, brothers, fathers, uncles. It's really good to still try to understand and love men but still in a way that obviously is not harmful and detrimental to you. Don't put these niggas above yourself.
Kenrya: Spoken like a true saint. [crosstalk 00:37:39].
Erica: I'm with this. I knew that. If I paid attention to that at 25, I would be... yeah. But, anyway.
Kenrya: That'd be a whole new world.
Erica: But, you know what, it's okay. It's okay. I learned.
Kenrya: We get the lessons we need to get when we get them.
Erica: Okay. So, speaking of reading. Question for you. Would you rather only read one book for the rest of your life? Or be unable to repeat any book you've read no matter how much you love it?
Haddi: Oh. That's a good one.
Kenrya: I don't know.
Haddi: That's a really good one. Huh. I'm a go with the one book because sometimes it's quality over quantity.
Erica: Okay. Do you have a book in mind?
Haddi: Okay, I'm all about bell hooks.
Erica: See, it's going to take 10 years to figure out which book.
Haddi: No, it's not actually. I am all about bell hooks. Completely. My favorite book, and it's the one book I tell everybody to read at all times is “All About Love.” Again, my whole philosophy is that the revolution is rooted in love. It's such an amazing book and it be slapping you in the face, though, half the time, because she really be coming for you.
Kenrya: Oh, my neck.
Haddi: I'm going to take a break from this.
Erica: I did not plan on getting cussed out if I read a book.
Haddi: And she be doing it so nicely. It's like, dang. For me, that's really the one book that I always go back to.
Kenrya: Wow. I would just read a different book. Yeah. I'm a nerd. You can never read too many books.
Haddi: They really can't, though.
Kenrya: Yeah. I be like, "Oh, I love this book. I can look at the cover and remember and read another book." What about you, E?
Erica: I think I'd have to do a different book every time.
Erica: Yeah. I love variety and even though I have favorite books, but I don't even have them. I've bought The Bluest Eye-
Kenrya: How many times?
Erica: Easily like 10 to 15 times, because I love it so much and then someone comes over, I'm like, "Oh my God, this is my favorite book. You have to read it." Bam. Then I buy another one.
Kenrya: You also got a lot of my books down there.
Erica: You know what, ain't nobody ask you about that. I think you just talking to you.
Kenrya: And it be shit that I be looking for and I can't find it because you was the last person to use it.
Erica: Anyway. Haddi, so next question.
Haddi: It's true, though.
Erica: Can we get back to what we talking about?
Kenrya: Sure. That's our last question.
Haddi: Is it? I was having such a good time, y'all.
Kenrya: So are we. I'm so glad that you were able to join us today.
Haddi: Well, thank you for having me. When y'all sent the email, I was like, "Oh, a new podcast," because I hadn't heard of y'all before. Then I just went down a rabbit hole of listening to so many episodes and the more I listened, the more excited I got. I was like, "Oh my God, I can't believe that they thought I was cool enough to be on here."
Kenrya: Oh my gosh, that makes me feel great. Of course you are.
Erica: Every time an interview guest confirms, I'm like, "Oh. It was not no. They must not have figured us out yet."
Haddi: Yeah. Y'all have a new fan. I don't know if you know that. Just letting it out there.
Kenrya: Yay. Thank you.
Haddi: I really enjoyed it.
Kenrya: We're also fans of yours, and we know that everybody listening is now a fan, too. Where can I find you online?
Haddi: I do most of my talking on Twitter @haddi_cee, H-A-D-D-I C-E-E with an underscore, I believe. I be on Instagram, but it's just mainly trying to look cute.
Erica: Ain't no trying.
Haddi: Yeah. So, I be on Instagram looking a little cute and baking and stuff like that.
Kenrya: Yes. What are the accounts for HEART?
Haddi: HEART is @hearttogrow, so H-E-A-R-T-T-O-G-R-O-W on Instagram.
Kenrya: And that's on Twitter?
Haddi: And Twitter and Facebook.
Kenrya: Dope. And what's the website?
Haddi: Our website is HeartWomenAndGirls.org. It has just so many resources and so many publications, it's a really, really good resource. We also have a YouTube, which I believe is Heart to Grow, but if you search Heart Women and Girls, it'll come up. We have this series called Heart to Heart, it just delves into different aspects. It's basically a sex ed tool, so there's stuff about periods, STIs, FGM, maternal health, maternal nutrition and just so many, so many different things. On the website, you have an opportunity to ask health educators questions. There's three of us right now and you can just look at the person who you think will have more knowledge about what you're looking for and send us a question and we will answer it to the best of our ability.
Kenrya: That's dope.
Erica: That's really great.
Kenrya: It's like having a little sex educator in your pocket.
Haddi: Yes. And everything is anonymous, so you don't got to worry about nobody.
Erica: A big sister that know it all. I love it.
Haddi: And if she don't know it, she'll go and research it and come back to you.
Kenrya: Even better, because sometimes big sisters make things up.
Haddi: Yup. Everything is from a place of knowledge. Again, no shame, no nothing. Whatever you want to ask, we're here for you.
Kenrya: That's beautiful. Yay.
Kenrya: Well, thank you for coming on and thank you all for listening. That's it for this week's episode of The Turn On. We will see you next week.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme song is from Brazy. We want to hear from y'all. Send recommendations for books you want us to read on the show and all the questions that you want us to answer related to sex and all the other stuff. You can send those to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please take a moment to review the show, five stars only please, and subscribe to us in your favorite podcast app. Then, follow us on Twitter @theturnonpod and Instagram @theturnonpodcast and head over to theturnonpodcast.com to find links to the books that we feature, transcripts to our shows, and info on all the guests that we talk about. Bye.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya read Delaney Diamond's "Queen of Barrakesch" and talk about wedding night sex and what's turning them on right now.
The Turn On participates in affiliate programs, which provide a small commission when you purchase products via links on this site. This costs you nothing, but helps support the show. Click here for more information.
Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Erica: Welcome back to season three. Here we are. We made it to season three. Can you believe it?
Kenrya: We did. It's amazing.
Erica: Yeah, we're dope-
Kenrya: I can because we're dope.
Erica: ... and we knew this was going to happen. But really, dog, season three, we growing up. We're toddlers.
Kenrya: We here.
Erica: We're yanking shit down and-
Kenrya: Toddlers are terrible.
Erica: ... having fits on carpets and eating toilet paper, all the things that toddlers... Losing their bones.
Kenrya: All in non-public places.
Erica: That's what they do. They go... Yeah. That's us. That's us.
Kenrya: That's us.
Erica: Boneless toddlers.
Kenrya: Own this.
Erica: Okay. So, we are back for season three, and we are going to open the season by reading from “Queen of Barrakesch,” which was written in 2020 by the fabulous Delaney Diamond. So, sit back, relax, get your wine. I know y'all been waiting to hear this. Get your wine.
Kenrya: I know I was.
Erica: Get your weed. Get your whatever you need and enjoy.
Kenrya: “Queen of Barrakesch,” by Delaney Diamond. Imani faced her husband. “Came to claim your marital rights?” “If you think by talking to me like that you'll turn me away, you're mistaken.” “Can't blame me for trying.” “I'm not a monster, Imani.” “So, I imagined everything that took place over the past couple of months.” With deliberate slowness Wasim came toward her and stopped inches away. The earthy fragrance of his cologne and the underlying scent of oud drifted into her nostrils. As he dipped his head his lips grazed her air and his breath brushed her earlobe. “Do you remember that night in Estoria? You have no idea how difficult it was to stop kissing you. I've craved you for so long and tonight I won't stop. Tonight...” He kissed behind her ear and the textured softness of his beard added another dimension of sensation. “Tonight I will know every inch of you.” She turned away and tried to find a response to his closeness, his scent, his virility as he towered over her, but Wasim placed a hand at the back of her neck and pulled her into a crushing kiss. Her sense went into an uproar as threads of heat raced through her body. That night, that kiss, and all contacts since then have placed a constant strain on her willpower. Now she was free to give in and she needed more.
Kenrya: Imani wanted to press her aching nipples against his chest to ease the sexual irritation caused by his kisses, but Wasim refused. He held her at bay. In the midst of plundering her mouth he somehow managed to maintain control while she was on the verge of performing a lewd grind against his hips. When he tore his lips from hers Imani gasped in frustration. "Show me," he rasped taking one of her wrists and scouring the hidden designs. She knew immediately what he wanted to see. "Here," Imani said quietly pointing to her inner forearm where his name was hidden in the pattern, "And here." The other artist had hidden his name in the same spot on her left forearm. He whispered something she didn't understand and then kissed her again hard and long, and when he finally stopped he stripped out of his clothes and Imani's mouth went dry. For years she'd only had her imagination for an idea what Wasim must look like underneath his clothes, but her mind had fallen far short of the reality.
Kenrya: His classic male physique consisted of sculpted muscles that ran the length of his body from shoulders to calves. His athletic build made her want to reach out and stroke his firm chest, run her hands down his flat belly, or squeeze the muscles that bulged from his thighs. Wisps of dark hair trailed from his chest to his pelvis and made a path down his legs. He moved closer oozing sexual energy and masculine grace, "Your turn." Within seconds he removed her clothes and was on top of her on the bed. To think she'd plan to lie there on the mattress as an unwilling participant, but that thought had been quickly dismissed the moment he kissed her. Hunger battered her loins and she kissed Wasim with all the pent up desire that had banked over time. When his fingers slipped between her lower lips she twisted in shock. "Mm, you're already so wet. You burn for this as much as I do," he groaned against her collar bone. She succumbed to the battering ram of his seduction gripping his powerful shoulders and twisting her head to claim his mouth. She sucked on his bottom lip thrust her tongue between his lips.
Kenrya: He became almost brutal as he devoured her and matched her ardor. He stretched her hands above her hand and clamped her wrists together with one hand, then his tongue wisps over the tip of one breast while the other bore the brunt of his hands fondling. He squeezed and kneaded and dragged his thumb across the turgid nipple until she was arching her back and writhing in the sheets. Wasim went lower alternating between kisses and whispering erotic words against her skin. "Do you know how many times I've dreamed about this night? How many times I've imagined you naked?" He slid his hands beneath her and his fingers pressed into her bottom as he lifted her to his face. His mouth covered her wet feminine flesh and her head fell back. She grabbed the pillows as she lost her bearing, dizzy with pleasure as his lips and tongue devoured with relish like a man in the harsh lash of starvation.
Kenrya: With one heel propped against his shoulder and fingers gripping a handful of his hair, Imani gasped and whimpered leaving her legs open so he could take what he wanted from between her quivering thighs. She came only moments later and trembled through an earth shattering orgasm. Wasim cradled her body in his arms and waiting until her breathing was back to normal before he resumed his exploration. He truly did learn every inch of her, back, front, thighs, arms, breasts. Not one square inch remained untouched as they made love. He sank his fingers into her hair and brushed his hands over her curves, gathering her breasts in his hands and sucking her swollen nipples he made her desire heat up once again to boiling. She wanted him so bad the aching spot between her legs grew wetter every time his hair roughened thigh brushed against her tender flesh. She bit her lips to resist the urge to beg but didn't know how long that would last if he didn't take her soon. As if he heard her silent plea, Wasim shifted. Gripping his erection, he looked at her with darkened eyes, his face intent.
Kenrya: He settled over her on one arm and brought the broad head of his erection to kiss the entrance of her body. As he sank into her she shifted her hips up and absorbed the slide of his hard length. She almost wept shuttering her eyes as he took full possession of her body. Groaning, her mouth open, Imani shuddered. "You're so tight, so wet," Wasim let out a helpless groan. Then his hips were in motion, slowly at first as they got accustomed to each other, but then he increased his speed. The mattress groaned under the weight of his forceful thrust and her body arched higher. He whispered sensual words to her in Arabic telling her soft her skin was and how good it felt to be inside her. "You're mine now," he whispered. Her eyes flew open. He seized her mouth and she became filled in two places. Her arms went around his neck gripping him close while he sucked her ear and her neck, never once losing the in and out rhythm. Imani got the fingers of one hand into his thick hair and then she was airborne shuttering through another climax that rocked her with the force of an earthquake.
Kenrya: As Wasim's heated grunts beat against her throat her pulsing cries bounced off the walls. She never experienced this with any other man. It was surreal. She moved her hips in a frenzy of motion so she wouldn't miss a single note of his pleasure giving thrusts. In the middle of her orgasm, Imani achieves some clarity. She hate clarity and wished she could go back to not knowing. Not knowing that she loved him and all this time she'd been in deep denial. The truth was a terrible burden to carry in a marriage of convenience based solely on a promise and a political pact. She curled her fingers into tight fists at the back of his head and silently responded to what he said, "Yes, I'm yours."
Erica: And we are back, so that was a really great snippet from “Queen of Barrakesch” written by Delaney Diamond. So, I'm going to start by just giving us a general overview of the story without spoiling again.
Kenrya: Yes, no spoilers.
Erica: Kenrya, you know I'm horrible at selling a story, so-
Kenrya: No, you're not.
Erica: ... just interrupt when I am. But it's a fun romp, but you going to be like, "Bitch, what?" Okay, so two main characters Imani and Prince Wasim?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Okay. Midwestern tongue. So, Imani is the ambassador from Zambia to the Kingdom of Barrakesch, and in her job as ambassador she's worked closely with Prince Wasim who is the prince to the Kingdom of Barrakesch. So, Imani's family is like pressing her out like, "Girl, you need to get married," and they are trying to set up an arranged marriage. Prince Wasim's family looks at him as like next in line, like everyone looks at him like, oh, he'd be next in line for the throne but he's not married. He's a bachelor, this will be a problem. But it's not really a problem because the king is fine, he ain't going nowhere so they're like, "We'll jump that bridge, cross that monkey when we get to it." Jump that bridge, cross that monkey. So, in the story the king calls Wasim to his house and is like, "Hey bro, I'm sick. I'ma die very soon. I would make you king but you ain't married." So, the prince is like, "Oh, but dad, you don't know, I got a woman and I plan to propose to her so you can name me king." So-
Kenrya: Yeah, okay. Yes, that does happen eventually.
Erica: Okay. I mean, again I'm fucked up on this story telling especially when I can't tell the spoilers. So, Prince Wasim knows that Imani's family is pressing her out to get married so he's like, "Look, how about we just act like we're going to get engaged. We'll stay engaged until my dad dies, once he dies then, bam, we can break off the engagement. You can go back home, that gives you a little more time to get your family off your back and then that gets me the kingdom," so they agree to it. Then of course the king dies and they're like, "Let's make this a marriage," and so then they choose to marry, hijinks ensue, and this scene that we just read picks up on their wedding night. I got it?
Erica: Fill it in.
Kenrya: I only got two things.
Erica: Color it in, girl.
Kenrya: No. So, the country that she's from is called Zamibia.
Kenrya: Well, because it looks like Zambia but they made up... just like they made up Barrakesch or whatever.
Erica: Oh, I totally... I fucked that pooch.
Kenrya: It's fine. It does look like Zambia, and it was Imani's idea not his.
Erica: Oh, my bad. See, fucking it up. But anyway-
Kenrya: You got it.
Erica: Y'all got the gristle of the story.
Kenrya: Yes. The part that gives it structure.
Erica: Yes, y'all got the gristle. So, the scene that we read was their wedding night, and like good little doobies they decided... I mean, there has been sexual tension in their relationship. They had a fleeting kiss years ago but they've never done the do. They haven't... He ain't even finger popped her once or twice. They have been just good little doobies.
Erica: Chaste. So, this is wedding night sex. So, yeah, you know-
Kenrya: You miss sex, look at your face.
Erica: I do, I miss sex. I miss sex. I actually was going to be like, wedding night sex is not like... Everyone talks like wedding night sex is great and here's the thing, wedding night sex falls in two categories, either, one, you've never fucked a day in your life and then it's like losing your virginity on the main stage which sounds fucking horrible. I can't tell you about that.
Kenrya: Yeah, that's true. A lot of those people... I guess they probably are.
Erica: I mean, yeah. Or-
Kenrya: Especially if you're following the tenants of your religion, which lots of them-
Kenrya: ... including Wasim's-
Erica: Yes, say no fucking before marriage.
Kenrya: ... say that you should not have sex before marriage. So, he's Muslim and Imani is Christian, which we didn't say.
Erica: Or y'all been fucking all the time and it's just another night to fuck, right?
Erica: So, I think wedding night sex is overrated. I remember the night of my wedding I was just so fucking tired I don't even think we did it that night just because it was so much going on, and I didn't have a big wild wedding. We had a little afternoon joint and then we all went to a bar that evening. But it was just-
Kenrya: It was cute.
Erica: ... you know, you had been like-
Kenrya: You went to a bar?
Erica: Yeah, and some man-
Kenrya: I wonder why I didn't go.
Erica: Some man offered to... He like said something lewd to my mama. It was crazy.
Kenrya: Oh, shit.
Erica: We were like in St. Louis, it was like one of this big drunk, you know?
Kenrya: I had my kid, I don't think I made it out because I don't remember that.
Erica: You probably didn't. Yeah, it was like a... Anyway, so it was that but even... but I couldn't imagine having a whole day of stuff and then a big old wedding reception and all the.
Kenrya: And they had a massive wedding. They had more than 1,000 people at their wedding in this book.
Erica: Yeah, this was like a state wedding.
Erica: I could not imagine doing all that shit and then coming in busting out of this dress, titties probably been smashed in on the left side or right, or both, and then expecting to do the do. So, this is for Erica to go down in history of saying wedding night sex is overrated.
Kenrya: I don't even-
Erica: Bust it open the night before, a few days after.
Kenrya: But a lot of people don't like to see each other right before. I don't remember if I had sex on my wedding day.
Erica: You got a do a cute little glory hole situation the night before.
Kenrya: Oh my God. Dude, I legit don't remember. I remember going to city hall, I remember that we went to Red Lobster.
Erica: We went to Red Lobster. We took the train to Red Lobster because that's how we-
Kenrya: And that's probably where my day-
Erica: That's how we celebrate significant events because we're two hoes from the Midwest that are classy than a motherfucker.
Kenrya: But I don't remember anything else that day. Whatever.
Erica: Whatever, fuck it. That's your mind blocking out good-
Erica: That's your mind protecting yourself.
Kenrya: Thank you, mind.
Erica: But yeah, so wedding night sex is just so overrated, but I mean.
Kenrya: Not in this case.
Erica: In this case it actually was, and you know what? So, I can't remember in the book, but were they both virgins? I don't think they were virgins.
Kenrya: No, neither of them was a virgin.
Erica: Which, okay-
Kenrya: They just hadn't been together.
Erica: Which I guess that would be a cute little wedding night situation if it's like I know how this pussy works, I just haven't put this pussy on you, right?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: As opposed to...
Kenrya: I knew you-
Erica: Yeah, that's a whole different situation.
Kenrya: I'm fumbling in the dark, literally. Yeah, that sounds terrible.
Erica: It does.
Kenrya: Shit, it was terrible the first time it happened.
Erica: Yeah, yeah. So, okay, I guess that is a good... I guess that is good to-
Kenrya: Yeah, because they had built up... like I was ready for it to be hot because they had literally-
Erica: Girl, I was-
Kenrya: ... years of built up tension.
Erica: If you don't throw it on him, I am.
Erica: Because, oh, also, this man... There's something about a hairy man is just... Fix your face. He was written beautifully.
Erica: He sounds like he was a beautiful man and I'm thinking about-
Kenrya: She always talked about his skin being golden and-
Erica: Yeah, just some um and muscles and hair and just... masculineness. Yeah, I would've... So, it actually did seem like a good... Their wedding night sex was a good wedding night because it was more we've been holding out waiting for this and now I'm about to put this pussy on him, which some of... We have a few friends that were fucking in their relationship and then when they got engaged-
Kenrya: And then stopped.
Erica: ... they stopped.
Erica: Remember that convo- Were you with us?
Kenrya: I was like, "What the fuck are you doing?"
Erica: When our friend was like, "You don't let him pet it? Just let him pet it a little bit."
Kenrya: I do indeed remember that conversation. You know, one of our friends and her soon to be husband they legit just stopped doing it.
Erica: Fucking for like, I think it was three, four months?
Kenrya: In preparation for when they got married.
Erica: When they got married.
Kenrya: I'm like, he been fucking... Y'all been...
Erica: Y'all been doing the nasty all up and you just trying not to pregnant?
Kenrya: It's been years, but all right.
Erica: And so we were discussing this and another one of our girlfriend's was like, "But you don't let him pet it? Just pet it a little bit?" And this is actually one of our more tame, calm girlfriend's in the bed.
Kenrya: The one whose... Yeah.
Erica: But I mean, hell, she recognized that if you got in house supply at least let him pet it.
Kenrya: Yeah, but you know, that worked for them. I'm not strong enough.
Erica: Yeah, I was about to say, have you ever been in a relationship where you wanted to intentionally wait for sex, like, okay, we're not going to do it?
Kenrya: Not since high school.
Erica: Not since the store opened has it-
Kenrya: Since fucking been fucking.
Erica: Not since fucking been fucking.
Kenrya: Yeah, in college I definitely was still of the, oh, I got to wait a certain amount of time but I remember even then thinking that that certain amount of time kept getting shorter with every man.
Erica: Right. I had to wait three months, okay 60 days. All right, we going to give him a date over $75.
Kenrya: Exactly. It definitely got shorter and shorter, because I didn't have even my first one night stand until I was good and grown and living in New York.
Erica: My first one, ooh. Yeah, my first one night... like where I knew we just fucking and this is it, I ain't got to see you again, I was a lot older but it was fun.
Kenrya: Which one was my first one? Listen, I had... I've only had three but I feel like they were all within a little period of time when I-
Erica: It was a phase.
Kenrya: It definitely was. Ooh, I don't even remember which one of those was first but the one that I'm thinking of that might've been first was not great.
Erica: Was that the nigga that followed you back?
Kenrya: No, that was good.
Kenrya: It was with one of our college friends on a lost weekend.
Erica: Oh, shit. Boop, put a pin in that one, we'll get back to that later offline. But yeah, I definitely... It took a minute for me to get comfortable with the idea of a one night stand.
Erica: Like going into it being like, "Nigga, I ain't going to see you again."
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and being really clear about that and not just thinking it, but saying it and knowing it.
Erica: Yes, girl. Girl, now I'll be like, "Don't take off your shoes, just pull your pants down for a little bit."
Kenrya: Yeah, this will be quick, don't get comfortable.
Erica: Don't get comfortable. Don't get comfortable. That's always fun on vacation too,
Erica: Because you don't have to worry about that.
Kenrya: ... I want to say that was my... My first one actually was the one the one on vacation and, yeah, that nigga did follow me back.
Erica: He was in New York, he was like, "Hey, I'm coming to Harlem."
Kenrya: Yeah, literally. That shit was crazy.
Erica: That is no fucking fun.
Kenrya: It was good though.
Erica: But yeah, I think I did go through a period where I thought I like him so I'm going to wait to have sex with him and then I'll fuck somebody else. And yeah, I don't know what...
Kenrya: I haven't done that.
Erica: I think my... I mean, now that I think it through, my thinking was flawed because it's like...
Kenrya: Either you're going to click or you not.
Erica: Yeah, exactly. And sex-
Kenrya: It's going to work or it's not when you fuck.
Erica: Yeah, and I think that I felt like sex became a problem in relationships because I wasn't clear about what I wanted or clear about what I wanted from that person. So, it just made it muddy because I was afraid to be honest, but now that I'm like, "This is what I want," then it don't make shit difficult, you know?
Kenrya: Yeah, no. I mean, you know, I told me current partner on our second date that I wanted to fuck him.
Erica: To which he was like, "Well, waiter, check please."
Kenrya: No, we didn't do it that night because you were at my house watching my kid.
Erica: Oh, but you came back with your titty pulled out of your shirt.
Kenrya: Oh my God, I totally remember that. My titty... I didn't know it was out.
Erica: Kenrya came upstairs like, "Oh, my bad." I'm like, "Bitch..."
Kenrya: I didn't know it was out.
Erica: "Put your titty away." Damn, I think I fucked up the levels in recreating that. I was like, "Bitch, y'all did have a good date."
Kenrya: We did have a really nice date.
Erica: Yeah, and then y'all got freaky in the car.
Kenrya: We did.
Erica: Thankfully we have a wooded area over there.
Kenrya: Yeah, I mean, I don't care also.
Erica: So, damn, okay. Well, in this story, in the excerpt that you read, one thing that I thought was really beautiful was how she had henna all over her body. I guess that's one of the traditions and he was like, "Show me where my name is."
Kenrya: Yeah, before he would even touch her he was like, "Show me." And I was like, "What? Show you what?"
Erica: I think that is so sexy. I-
Kenrya: Yeah, his name was like hidden in the designs, like wow.
Erica: I was on Twitter the other day and this chick posted a picture of some hand with henna or something and she was like, "Oh, this henna is so beautiful," and this other-
Kenrya: I saw that shit.
Erica: This Indian chick was like, "It's nice but it's nothing-"
Kenrya: She's like, "There's nothing amazing about that."
Erica: "There's nothing amazing about it." She was like, "My sister's had to be done with needle point."
Erica: And I was like, "Yeah bitch, ya dead ass."
Kenrya: And then they started this whole thing of people posting their wedding-
Erica: Wedding henna?
Kenrya: Yeah. It was gorgeous.
Erica: Oh, it was so beautiful.
Kenrya: Because the original one, let's be clear, was done by a white woman. It was very, you know...
Erica: It was like...
Kenrya: [inaudible 00:27:34].
Erica: It was the equivalent of that... when they mentioned one of the clips from Honey and Save the Last Dance when white girl is doing-
Kenrya: Oh my God.
Erica: Doing a hip hop dance.
Kenrya: No, it was crazy.
Erica: It's very a sanitized version of that.
Kenrya: I mean, when I was a kid I don't remember watching it and thinking it was great but I also didn't watch and realize how terrible it was.
Erica: No, I... even to this day I get very... I get secondhand embarrassment when I see white people dancing to hip hop on movies, like step show scenes, like Greek scenes and stuff. Because it be like, dog, ain't nobody-
Kenrya: It's just not... No.
Erica: ... consoled nobody. I was watching an episode of The Parkers where... You're not a Parkers connoisseur?
Kenrya: I haven't watched it since it was on the air in the first place.
Erica: Nigga, I watch it at least-
Kenrya: I know.
Erica: I don't even want to say daily, at least five times a week.
Erica: We watch “The Parkers” in this household, but anyway, but Professor Oglevee and the dude, I forgot his... Torio I don't know. But anyway, they were like in a fraternity and it like Chi Chi Chi or something like that and it was just hor... and I was just watching like, "Oh my God, wasn't nobody Greek on the scene."
Kenrya: Nobody, yeah.
Erica: So, yeah, as a kid I've always seen those and be like, "Ooh, honey, y'all."
Kenrya: You know who did it well? Oh, you haven't gotten that far.
Kenrya: There's an episode in “This Is Us” that you haven't seen yet. Yeah. Bitch, you need to catch up.
Erica: I need to catch up. I got left. I got tired of crying. It was like-
Kenrya: I mean, it was bad. so much has happened.
Erica: At first it was a good cry but then it was just like, girl.
Erica: Like, honey I'm... Ooh, put me on watch.
Kenrya: But it's still so good, but something happens. I can't even tell you what it is because I don't want you to be spoiled, but there was one key detail that I was like, "That ain't right. That's not the right color." You'll know what it is when you see it.
Erica: Okay. But yeah, so the henna was just so romantic and I thought was a great... it was a sexy and intimate and sensual way to get in and get to know one another like, "Mm, let me see where I'm written all over you." Also, I can someone nasty auntie like, "Yeah, we going to put this right here inside that thigh."
Kenrya: I honestly thought that that's what she was about to say.
Erica: I mean, yeah it probably was they probably just didn't get there. And yeah, I would love to do something to my head while it's free but I also don't want to be one of those white girl-
Erica: ... in Central Park appropriating. Yeah, exactly, so I'm not going to. But maybe I'll do some fancy cuts or something, not cuts but you know when I get hair... shaved lines or something not like... Okay.
Kenrya: I like it. I like it a lot.
Erica: Yeah, so you know, I got this little head. So, in the story, Prince Wasim we said is a Muslim, Imani is a Christian and they made it work. It didn't seem like their... They actually talked out the differences in their religions very early on. Have you ever dated a cross religion?
Kenrya: Does Hotep count?
Erica: The 5 percenter.
Kenrya: Sure. I've dated guys that identified as the 5 percenters and Hebrew Israelites. I know about the mathematics. I know what the-
Erica: What's that?
Kenrya: Oh, God. So, all the numbers stand for different things, so like two is wisdom which is woman. A woman is a man's... Have you ever... “I be your Noah, you be my Wiz.” He's saying, "You're my wisdom-
Kenrya: "You're my number two, my two."
Kenrya: Seven is a divine number, all the numbers mean different things. That's a conversation.
Erica: We can tell you done laid in bed listening to niggas talk about this shit.
Kenrya: Girl, I feel like it is a very specific New York experience when you date niggas that like from New York, from the Boroughs.
Erica: New York listeners, raise your hand if you've dated a 5 percenter. And you know what? Most of the time I will... Tell me if I'm right or wrong, most of the time you don't realize until you're in deep and y'all laying in bed after sex and he's like, "You my Wiz, girl."
Kenrya: Yeah. And I had never even heard of all of that before that nigga, so it was something new.
Erica: Because in Midwest.
Kenrya: Yeah, it was not a thing that I knew anything about, but then I started making associations and realized what the fuck was going on. Yeah, it got kind of deep. I mean, I was... A couple months ago my partner was watching this show on cults, that People show where they cover different cults.
Kenrya: And he was like, "Weren't you talking about this?" And it was Nuwaubian Nation.
Erica: They went down to like South Carolina and scared all them white people, right?
Kenrya: Georgia, yeah. They moved from Queens to Georgia and had a whole fucking compound with fake ass pyramids and all of this stuff. Yeah, I was in the process of being recruited, did not know that until I watched that documentary that it was a full on cult and all the things that went along with that. I had no fucking idea.
Erica: That's fucking crazy. I can laugh about it now, but scary at the same time because thank God you were of, you know, right sound mind to like push back.
Kenrya: Without even knowing the full scope of it being like, "No, that's not for me."
Erica: Yeah, I could totally see how some young girl or young person not really understanding, because again, some of this is alluring and it draws you to it.
Kenrya: It's different.
Erica: Because some of it makes sense. It makes sense to a certain level.
Kenrya: Especially because it's cloaked in this pro-Blackness that you don't realize until you get in is anti-woman.
Erica: Yes. Yeah, yeah. And they're like, "We will step on woman to attain the same privileges that white men have."
Kenrya: Yeah, because it's specifically anti-Black woman.
Kenrya: Which is fucking crazy, but all that to say that's nothing like being a Christian.
Erica: Now that we've... Yeah. I don't-
Kenrya: Yeah, have you?
Erica: You know, I don't think so. Most of the men that I have dated have been very, "I'm spiritual, I'm not into church." And then their spirituality may be like an amalgamation of things, of various things. Which I'm cool with because at the end of the day I feel like all religion is just a bunch of different stairs, like a bunch of different stairways to the same heaven. Like we going to get up there and be like, "Oh, shit."
Kenrya: Hey boo.
Erica: You made it here too? You know, so I'm whatever, however you choose to practice as long as you're generally a good person, ain't out here fucking killing or...
Kenrya: Yeah, you have some kind of a moral compass.
Erica: Yeah, exactly. So, I don't think that... I can't recall dating anyone seriously that I've had a religious difference, like we've come from different religions. Also, I wasn't raised in a point where it's like, where that type of thing would be forefront in my mind like, "Oh, he's from a different religion." But I do know that now I tend to... I'm not really into guys that are like, "Oh, I'm Atheist," just because I feel like you need to have some sort of a... like this shit is just too big and too vast and too expanse, and there is so much magic in this world that it's hard for me to take seriously someone that can look in the face of that stuff and be like, "But there's no divine power in this world." And that's one of those just fundamental... because I'm perfectly fine with not knowing some shit or not knowing how some shit works. Actually it's easier for... Oh, I ain't got to know this? Cool. At work they get mad at me because I am the woman that's like, "Don't include that. We going to give you just the information you need to know. If you want to know more, ask."
Erica: I'm not going to withhold it, but I'm not going to overload you with information. That's how I feel with religion, like we going to get to a point where you drill down to a certain... when I drill down to an atom, I don't know how the fuck that atom got here, what makes it quirk and do the atom things but I just know that there's a divine spark, and whatever you believe that divine spark to... you know?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: And so it's hard for me to reason with people because also to me that's what makes the world beautiful and magical and special and makes me feel special, you know, knowing that there's a divine power out here that's looking out for me. And sometimes I do get a shit end of the stick but it's going to all come around and things work in my favor, so it's really hard for me to be interested in men that flat out say, "I don't believe in God. I don't believe that there's any divine power."
Kenrya: Yeah, that's real. I'm thinking back to when I was dating and stuff, yeah I mean I guess I'm with you in that it would be ideal that they believe in something because I live so much of my life guided by faith that the idea that someone may perhaps poo poo that or try to make it... because I mean there are some, and definitely not all because I have friends who are Atheist, but some Atheists who I've come across who... There are some Atheists who I've come across who have not, you know, we talk about not yucking anybody's yum?
Kenrya: Where they yuck my yum as a Christian and I think that that's where the disconnect comes from because I don't want to feel like I have to hold back on my praise or not express the faith that I have that gets me through because this person thinks I'm stupid because I believe in something bigger than myself. That said, I don't feel like I couldn't be with somebody just because they believe something different than I do but there has to be a mutual respect there where we both attempt to understand what each other believes in and respects that that is what it is. Even with... Oh, Agnostic, and I respect someone who doesn't know, right? Because Agnostics say, "I don't know."
Erica: Yeah, exactly.
Kenrya: And I think a lot of that too.
Erica: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, so part of this story, part of the plot of this story, is that Imani rejects the idea of an arranged marriage because she wants to marry for love. She doesn't whole heartedly... She's not one of those like, "Over my dead body." She's just like, "I'm open to seeing who you might..." because her parents had some guy and she looked at him like, "Okay, maybe." So, she was kind of open to the idea of it but very grounded in the fact that we're not going to get married unless we absolutely love each other and want to be together. This isn't going to be a, you know, you show up, I show up, oh, hey, we getting married, kind of thing. Oh, and also this story shows a nuance, well it's not even a nuance, but it shows there's a very... an arranged marriage is very different from a forced marriage. So, this is an arrange... her parents want to put her in an arranged marriage which is, "Hey, hey, we hooking y'all up. Y'all going to get married," and all parties are like, "Yes, we're going to get married," which is very different from a forced married which is just that. You're currently partnered, and hopefully will be forever, but would you trust somebody to pick a partner for you, and if so, who?
Kenrya: Oh, shit. I don't-
Erica: Put your eyes back in your head please.
Kenrya: Would I trust somebody to pick a partner for me? I mean, I think that that's what we're doing when our friends set us up, right?
Erica: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: I think I would trust someone who knows me really well. I would not trust my family to do that. I have not lived in Cleveland for going on 21 years. Holy fuck.
Erica: I know, we've been living here-
Erica: ... well, away from home longer than we lived at home.
Kenrya: Yeah. And while, sure, my family knows me to a degree, they don't know me the way you know me.
Erica: Yeah, like y'all knew me as a child, y'all knew me living under someone else's roof.
Kenrya: And they know this image that they have of me as the one who got out, you know what I mean?
Kenrya: I'm not... I think that they absolutely have this vision of who I am that is not really who I am, and that anybody that they picked would be based on the wrong fucking person.
Erica: You know, that's interesting you say that because I think I have been... I've been spending more time around my family. When my grandmother passed away I was stuck in St. Louis for two weeks and then going through surgery and treatment I've had family spending significant time, and I think this past... I want to say like past couple years they are really reconciling who they thought I was with who I am, and it's been very interesting watching them kind of put the two together. My younger sister is like, you know, my family is like, "Oh my God, Erica. Can you believe?" My sister's like, "That bitch been like that. Y'all bitches just don't want to pay attention." Because, yeah, I am very much the one that got out and I was always the quiet goody two shoes. Shut up, bitch. I'm the quiet one in my family which is fucking scary, but I am. Not as much anymore but I was the quiet one. It was one of those ways that I just kind of stayed below the radar. I was either quiet or over performing, out performing, so I'd be the good one. Co-dependency like a mother fucker.
Erica: But it's been really interesting to see my family put the two together. I remember I was talking to my aunt, the one that stayed with me, and she was like, "You smoke weed?" I was like, "Yeah." "Oh my God, people that don't do anything smoke weed." I was like, "Yeah, I smoke and then I go to work the next day, like that's life." So, I don't think I could have my family do an arranged marriage for me because, yeah, it be a hot mess. It would be a hot mess, and not even on some like... what the person does or how they look, just on like what I would want out of somebody.
Kenrya: No, just the personality.
Erica: You know of anybody in an arranged marriage, that had an arranged marriage?
Kenrya: I don't think I know anyone personally who does. I think some parents of some of my friends have arranged marriages, like some of my immigrant friends, but no one personally. That said, I've heard lots and lots of stories about how they work well, you know?
Erica: Yeah. See, I think age has a lot to do with it also. I think had I been put in an arranged marriage at 18-
Kenrya: Oh, God.
Erica: ... versus... you know, it's just you're... [crosstalk 00:45:43].
Kenrya: You don't know who you are.
Erica: Yeah. I'm able to kind of grow with that person and we kind of grow together as opposed to-
Kenrya: Or not.
Erica: ... throwing this Black as... But, yeah, you're right.
Kenrya: I mean, I think about who I was at 18, I'm like a whole other ass person.
Erica: But you had experiences that shaped you to be... lead up to... you know, certain experiences caused you to become, you know, shape you into the person that you are now and I think that if you were put in an arranged marriage at... If you chose to be in an arranged marriage at 18 you'd have... you'd likely have situations that... If you're put in an arranged marriage at 18 or if you chose to be in an arranged marriage at 18 you'd likely be in more situations that would cause you to grow more with that person if that's what you genuinely choose to do, you know? So, yeah, that's very different than this 38, 39 year old Erica getting thrown into... Shit, I couldn't be in a... It was hard me being in a chosen marriage with a motherfucker in my 30s let alone somebody else picked him. I picked this motherfucker.
Kenrya: Right. Which I think is what brings me back to the whole picking thing because I think that one of the things that has changed, at least for me and I think for you too, is that my picker is better.
Erica: Yes, much better.
Kenrya: Yeah. So, whoever were to do the picking would have to have that same sensibility.
Erica: Yeah. Do you think it's possible to learn to love somebody? Like if you walked into an arranged marriage situation and said, "Hey, this seems like a fit. I'm going to choose to love this person, learn to love this person in order to buy into the situation?"
Kenrya: I mean, I think that's what we do in every situation, right?
Kenrya: We learn to love the people who we are around. I think that we choose to love and learn to love our family members. We learn to love the folks who are our chosen family. If you look at how your relationships with your friends change over time and how you can see certain things in them and be like, "This bitch is wilding," but also still love her at the same time. And even with your romantic partners, you're learning to love them. You're learning how to love them, right? What are their love languages? What are the things that make them feel loved? What are the ways that you feel loved? What are the ways that you want to express yourself in terms of bringing those two things together? All of that to me is learning to love someone.
Kenrya: I guess it's just the timeline is different.
Erica: I feel like this is a theme among a lot of the books that we have planned for this season, but love is love. There are different types of love or the different relationships. Have you seen the thing... I'm taking a polyamory course.
Kenrya: Agape love.
Erica: Yeah, I'm taking a polyamory course and the first slide was like, "What is love?" And they talked about the agape love and the eros, just the different types of love. But at the end of the day-
Kenrya: Yeah, I've written about it a bit actually.
Erica: ... they're all love and they all have the same characteristics of this being a choice to, you know, choosing to stick with this person through the shit. So, nonetheless I think you really highlight that and I think we're going to see that in some of the other books that we have for this season. Okay y'all, so one of the things that we would like to do for season three is introduce a new segment that we like to call What's Turning Us On.
Kenrya: What's Turning Us On.
Erica: Did that... Did we say that correctly?
Erica: What's turning us on? Okay, anyway so in this segment we just going to put y'all onto some new shit that we love, enjoy, think you might be interested in. We'll make sure we provide links and all of that stuff so that you can get turned on too in addition to listening to us.
Kenrya: And then you can use these things while you listen to us.
Erica: Yeah. Okay, so-
Erica: ... the first thing that we are going to tell you about is this thing it's called The G-spot Clitoral Vibrator For Women, Couples Vibrator, Waterproof and Rechargeable Clitoris G-Spot-
Kenrya: It's got the most descriptive name.
Erica: ... Simulator Adult Sex Toy.
Erica: Parenthesis purple, parenthesis couple.
Kenrya: Lower D.
Erica: So, I found this thing because-
Kenrya: Wait, first describe it to the people.
Erica: Well, I was going to tell them how I found it and then describe it. So, I found this thing... I follow somebody on Twitter and she's a sex worker and was like, "Nigga, I almost died. Y'all need to try this." So, I clicked the link on Amazon, it was like 30 bucks so I was like, "Fuck it, let me try it. Let me send it to Killa so she can try it." And like-
Kenrya: No, that's not what happened. I was in your room-
Erica: Did I use it?
Kenrya: No, you had it but you hadn't used it yet and I was in your room because you had just got your little chest to keep all your toys in.
Erica: I have this ottoman at the foot of my bed that I keep all my toys in, but yeah okay, sorry.
Kenrya: And I saw it and you were like, "This chick said this shit the truth," and I was like, "Well, I'm going to get one too."
Erica: Yes. So, as I look at our Amazon account, because we niggas and share, it already put you on blast like, "You purchased this two times." So, thank you Amazon, we're hoes.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's fine.
Erica: So, I'm going to describe it, Kenrya you can chime in. The best way to describe it is it looks like a U but one side of the U is thing and shorter than the other side of the U which is fat and longer. Does that work?
Kenrya: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). It's purple.
Erica: And it's purple and it's rechargeable, and what else did they say?
Kenrya: It vibrates.
Erica: So, I fucking love this joint. First, it's rechargeable so it has like a little magnetic thing, and one of the things that I find important about my sex toys because I keep everything in my ottoman, I like being able to quickly charge it and not have to think about it and it has the magnetic charger so you just kind of click it on. So, that's what I like about it among many things. It has a little button on the top that gets the vibration going and then it also has-
Kenrya: A remote.
Erica: I'm learning... A remote?
Erica: I didn't know it had a remote.
Kenrya: We used the remote at first but I haven't used it in a while.
Erica: Yeah. So, the way that it works, both ends vibrate. So, the way I use it, the big fat end you put it in you. It's kind of like you put it in your vagina, and the little end goes in your vagina and kind of vibrates and then the big end, the fat end, sits on top and it vibrates your clitoral hood and clit and all that stuff. Right? Well, that's how I use it.
Kenrya: That's how you use it. Do you ever use it with a partner, or do you-
Erica: I use it with a partner, that's the only time to use it.
Kenrya: So you have it inside and you have a penis in there?
Erica: So, here's the thing, not saying he had a weenis but he didn't have a big dick.
Kenrya: Oh, okay. [crosstalk 00:56:01].
Erica: And so I was able to work it.
Kenrya: That don't work for me. So, the way that I use it-
Erica: I feel like it could if [crosstalk 00:56:07].
Kenrya: No, we tried.
Kenrya: The way... It hurt. The way that I use it-
Erica: We use like ignorant amounts of lube and his weenis.
Kenrya: Yeah, I'm not doing the weenis situation. So, I use it, I have the small... well, I use it a couple of ways but when we used it... when we tried to use it when we first got it, we tried it inside, it didn't work. So, then I put the little part on my clit and then the big part on my vulva so that it was like kind of vibrating the g-spot from the outside. So, that's what worked for me and then-
Erica: So, you kind of laid it flat?
Kenrya: Kind of, yeah. You're body has a natural curve so it don't really have to lay flat, it just kind of opens up.
Erica: Yeah, it's not like it's flat, but yeah.
Kenrya: Yeah, and so that's usually how I've used it and sometimes he'll use it if he's just trying to get me off independently. But the way that we use it most often is not the way it was intended, so if I'm on top I use it almost like a cock ring but it's got more size to it.
Kenrya: So, then the little part is in the front and it's on my clit and then the back part is actually in my butt so you get yah. You get double vibration and penetration that you get to control. It is like my...
Kenrya: Oh, I'm coming, I'm coming, I'm coming. It's done.
Erica: Oh my God.
Erica: I like that. So-
Kenrya: I love this little thing.
Erica: I love it because, like I said, I was using it with a weenis, but it's great because not only do you... I feel like with me and sex it's like a three ring circus, like I want to have everything go-
Kenrya: Spinning plates, and yeah.
Erica: Yeah, I'm like, "Where's the lions? Where's the tigers? I need the guy jumping through hoops." So, I like this because I get the vibration inside and then I get the vibration on my clit, but also my partner gets the vibration as he's in and out of me. Now, when you use it like that you can't be doing too much, you got to like... you can't be-
Kenrya: Just a real simple in and out.
Erica: Yeah, you got to just keep that shit simple.
Kenrya: Yeah, we... that just didn't work.
Erica: But it was great, and like I said, this dude had... he had a good size penis, like I said it wasn't a... because also you can't always do everything with a big dick.
Kenrya: No, that's true.
Erica: And his dick was... he had an acrobatic dick. You know, just some dicks-
Kenrya: It did tricks.
Erica: Some dicks are made for tricks, some dicks are made for tricks. That's the thing we're coming out with this.
Kenrya: The moral of the story.
Erica: But yeah, so he had a trick dick and it worked really well, and bitch I tell you, my eyes literally rolled back in my head like a slot machine. It was like...
Erica: But yeah, so this is my good little toy. I love it, I suggest everyone use it. Okay y'all, so that's the first time we're doing this segment in what's turning us on.
Kenrya: In what's turning us on.
Erica: So, yeah, hope this turns you on.
Kenrya: Until next time, we are Kenrya and Erica.
Erica: Two hoes making it clap!
Kenrya: Making it clap!
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B’Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Now you can support The Turn On and get off! Subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app, then drop us a five-star review and you’ll be entered to win something that’s turning us on. Just post your review and email a screenshot to TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com to enter. Our Patreon page is also live—become a supporter today and access lots of goodies, including The Turn On Book Club and two-for-one raffle entries! Don’t forget to send us your book recommendations and “sex and…” related questions and follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, merch, transcripts, guest info and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you soon. Bye!
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.