Ev’Yan Whitney: Sensuality and Sexuality
Exploring sensuality and sexuality can be liberating and healing
An interview with Jenni Grover and Ev'Yan Whitney about sensuality and sexuality for ChronicBabes. Ev’Yan is a writer and female liberation artist. Her mission is to help liberate others into loving themselves, manifest their sexualities, and encourage them to be beautifully mindful... if only to teach herself the same lessons. She spins unadulterated truth and provokes self-actualization over at her blog SexLoveLiberation.com.
Sex. Love. Liberation. Ev’Yan believes that exploring those three things, while maintaining an open and vulnerable heart about them, is vital to our existence. She empowers her community of budding sensualists with a newsletter, ebook, coaching, podcast, and much more.
Jenni: Hi, this is Jenni Grover of ChronicBabe.com and welcome back. If you are following along in a linear fashion we are at Lesson 5, which is all about loving your body again. And, of course, you don’t have to be following ChronicBabe 101 in a linear fashion—you can jump around as much as you want, but today we are going to talk about loving your body and exploring sensuality, even if you’re sick, which I know for a lot of us is kind of a sensitive topic.
I have a really incredible woman with us today to talk about some of these ideas. She’s Ev’Yan Whitney and she’s a female liberation artist, which is so cool. Her website is SexLoveLiberation.com and she has some really thought-provoking posts about sexuality, sensuality, exploring ourselves, and relationships, and she has a manifesto of the same name which I really recommend you check out. Welcome Ev’Yan, how are you today?
Ev’Yan: Hi! Thank you so much, I’m good, I’m good!
Jenni: I’m so glad you could be with us today. Your perspective is quite unique and something a lot of people will really benefit from.
Ev’Yan: Wow, thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate it.
Jenni: Sure. So when I think about being sick for a long time, to a lot of us, the idea of sex and our concept of sensuality sometimes really gets shoved under the rug. You know, we may be too tired, our body may feel unfamiliar to us, for some of us our libido diminishes because of some of the medications we’re on. There are any number of reasons why this happens. I feel like our sensual side is an essential part of who we are, do you agree?
Ev’Yan: Absolutely, our sensuality keeps us connected to our bodies. It’s like an awareness of our senses—even the ones that have been diminished through illness. It’s about mindfulness, I think, being mindful that we have these senses.
It’s really important; it’s an intrinsic part of our lives. Without this awareness we can’t live a fulfilled life and we’re starving ourselves, I think, from actual genuine pleasure and I really think that’s what living is about—having pleasure and loving our lives despite the things that are holding us back.
Absolutely, sensuality is huge; it connects us to a lot of things spiritually and the way that we express our sexuality. I don’t think we could actually be human beings fully without the expression of sensuality.
Jenni: I totally agree with you. I think it is such an essential thing. Without getting into a lot of detail, I can say comfortably that throughout my life, as a ChronicBabe, being that I was diagnosed almost 20 years ago with fibromyalgia, you know my libido and my sex life has been a roller coaster. Things come and go, the seasons come and go, I am divorced now and everything kinda changes back and forth and it’s confusing.
But when I’m taking good care of myself and really loving the things that do work about my body, I feel much more grounded and much more like myself. So if we really neglect that, it’s a problem. (And I don’t want anyone listening to feel like I’m judging anyone who has not been good about this, because I’m not. I really don’t want anybody to feel like that.)
Ev’Yan: Neither do I. I do this work to keep myself aware and mindful of what I said about sensuality, but I am in no way there yet, so I’m really glad that you said that.
Jenni: Oh good! I know how hard it is because I been through times when I’m like, man, everybody out there is getting some and I’m not!
Ev’Yan: Right, right, I totally know what you mean!
Jenni: I don’t want to feel like I did something wrong because of that, but I can change that. So when we neglect that side of ourselves, or maybe let lie dormant is a less-judgmental description, what price do we pay in our day-to-day life?
Ev’Yan: I think we become disconnected from, not just our bodies, our physical bodies, but that spiritual side of us that requires human contact, whether that’s one-on-one or with our partners. We were born sensual, sexual human beings, so to not express this side of us is like ignoring a part of us that is really, really important.
I was going to say it’s like cutting off your arm, but that’s a little bit too dramatic—but it really is, you’re missing a chunk of yourself. Something within you isn’t getting fulfilled and you might even feel like something is missing in your life, on a deep level… not necessarily like oh, I have a craving for this and it’s not in my kitchen, but more like something in our bellies that is saying feed me, feed me, I need sensuality, I need the expression of that, I need the manifestation of that. It’s kind of miserable and I can speak from that because I’ve experienced that shutting it off; it’s definitely miserable.
Jenni: Yea, I’ve been there too, I’ve definitely been there. I think a lot of people can relate to that.
Ev’Yan: I think the best saying about this is that everything is undoable. You can have forgiveness and you can forgive yourself for the impression you put on yourself, you know, you can move forward. It’s not like where you are now is where you will be for the rest of your life. You can help it and definitely, you can express your sensuality without question. You just have to do the inner work.
Jenni: I’ll just jump in and say one thing to people who have issues that are medically related, perhaps related to medications or procedures they have had. I would just urge people to really talk with their healthcare providers about that. I know how hard it is to walk into the doctor’s office and say, “I can’t orgasm anymore what’s wrong with me?” but you’ve just got to say it!
Ev’Yan: Absolutely! I don’t believe that doctors would look at you funny, because I feel like that is just common sense. The orgasm and the expression of your sexuality is part of human nature and if you go into your doctor and say “I am not living the life that I want to live, can you please help me,” they’re not going to look at you like you’re crazy, you know—they’ll say OK. If anything, you will be admired because you are taking control of your life: I recognize that this is essential in my life and how I’m living it, so they are going to want to do something about that.
Jenni: I hear what you’re saying when you say that perhaps the doctors will admire you for standing up for that. I totally agree with you. The times I have been freaked out about asking questions like that, the reaction I have had has been so positive.
We want to fix it, it is a part of our life and we want to change that. I have never had a physician look at me funny, make a joke about it or treat me with disrespect when I ask questions about that because I think it’s like if you went in and said, my eye isn’t working anymore, or I can’t feel anything in my left hand, or I’m not digesting foods in a certain way. It’s part of your physical function and your ability. So, I just wanted to throw that out there, I think it’s really important for people to know they can stand up for themselves.
So, for everyone listening—people who are solo, people who are with a committed partner, people who are in the dating pool—for all those people listening, what are some the health and wellness benefits of a healthy sex life?
Ev’Yan: You just feel better, you feel more connected to not just yourself but everything that’s around you, all the blessings that we have been given.
I feel that sex is a really great way to—not just with another person but even sex with yourself—is a really great way to be reminded that you’re not alone. That’s what I feel like when I’m involved in some sort of intimacy whether it’s with me, or my partner, I just feel incredibly connected, just to the Earth really. I don’t know, it’s kind of difficult to describe.
Jenni: I understand what you are saying because I feel very much grounded…
Ev’Yan: Right, yes, that’s the word!
Jenni: And that’s grounded like rooted, not the dug in way, but, like, in touch with almost my most primal nature? My most natural state? For me, I’m no expert, but when I am open to that side of myself I feel more like myself, like I’m a full person. I know also that orgasms release endorphins, which are great for pain management.
Ev’Yan: And it makes your skin glow…
Jenni: Depending on what kind of sex you are having that can sometimes count as aerobic exercise.
Ev’Yan: Absolutely! You can burn a lot of calories, depending on the kind of sex you are having.
You know, I think it’s really centering here, because one thing I like—and the people that I work with through my writing work—is that we were born from this innate sexuality, born from an orgasm, so in that way, to pleasure ourselves or to be intimate with someone, it kind of brings you back to what you were created from. That’s the kind of groundedness and the rootedness that I was speaking of.
It’s so overwhelming, but also it’s a really great reminder that you came from that kind of carnality that you have in you. You have it in you because you were born from it. It’s not something that needs to be learned, probably been neglected and that’s OK, but it’s already within you, you were born from it; you just need to express it.
Jenni: I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but I love thinking about that because you are basically acknowledging where you came from and staying in touch with that, especially for a lot of us whose bodies don’t quite work the way we wish they would or the way we want it to. Thinking about it in that way, it’s a really nice way to take us back to this part of us that we can still get to work, or at least I can work on that. You know, we are all in different stages of where we are on the spectrum.
Ev’Yan: Absolutely, it’s a great reminder.
Jenni: For those of us who maybe have not really embraced or have been neglecting our female sensual side, do you have any advice on how to get back in touch with that?
Ev’Yan: I think that expression of sensuality is different for everyone. I could list things, but I don’t know if it would resonate with people.
I feel that starting with the awareness of your senses is a really good place to come from. Starting with touch. Caressing yourself. Self-exploration. Self pleasure with your own body. Reacquainting yourself with your own body, your skin and your pleasure spots. It’s a really great way and it puts you there, automatically. I’m not saying necessarily in a sexual way, maybe you can just run your fingertips over your own arms, or cradle your belly in your hands.
Things like that show love and tenderness and care, and that’s really what sensuality is all about. It’s just accepting a part of you that is so accepting of who you are, and your journey, and what that looks like, and so forth.
I think it is about listening, too, to your body—and feeding that inner hunger that is in every one of us. I think it is acknowledging and recognizing that we are sensual creatures, sexual creatures. Just that, in and of itself, is a really great way to thrust yourself into sensuality.
And practicing that on a daily basis, even if you have to write something on a sticky note that says “I am an orgasm.” That will immediately put you in the state of mind that says, “Yea, I am a sensual being, I am walking, breathing, I am sensual.”
Jenni: That’s so great, that’s the kind of sticky note that I would totally forget to put away! I’m big on signs and sticky notes and stuff and that’s exactly the one I would leave out, that everyone who visits my home would get to see! (laughs) I love that idea. Everyone would remember you have that sticky note. Maybe you want people to see it?
Ev’Yan: Yea, I’m sure that would be an interesting conversation. I’m sure they’d be like, “What are you talking about?” and you could say “Actually this applies to you as well, we were literally born from orgasms.” I think it’s a great thing to remind everyone. Even if it’s a little bit hard to latch on to, to be taken back to that, to remind us that’s where we came from.
Jenni: I love that idea, maybe I will write that on a sticky note and see what happens next time I have people over.
Ev’Yan: You should, you really should, put it on the refrigerator.
Jenni: Right next to “buy eggs and milk and beer” and all that stuff I write up there. I’m actually going to do this when I get off this call. That’s going to melt people’s circuits, but that’s fine, I like to do that. Get people thinking, you know—it’s difficult for a lot of us to talk about that stuff. I think that’s a great thing, to start a conversation.
Ev’Yan: Let me know how that goes for you.
Jenni: We have talked a lot about orgasm, but I want to talk for a minute about how I know sensuality doesn’t necessarily equate to sex or orgasm; they aren’t necessarily the same thing, or it isn’t necessarily a linear process that sensuality absolutely leads you to having sex or having an orgasm.
Can you talk a little bit about the difference? I want to make sure people know that you don’t have to have an orgasm to be a sensual being.
Ev’Yan: Right, absolutely. I believe that sensuality is a spiritual experience. Like going inside of ourselves. And what we were talking about earlier, acknowledging that we are an orgasm, that we came from orgasm. Realizing that we have this need to connect and express our sexuality. So, I feel that sensuality is emotional, it’s the most spiritual, and it’s internal, not necessarily tangible, like a physical thing.
For me, it’s just about inner awareness. Realizing that we have these senses and these desires and we were born with them. I think that’s what encompasses sensuality to me.
And then sexuality is an expression, a physical expression, of sensuality, so it’s like sensuality in motion. It’s a manifestation of sensuality. When you feel like you’re in touch with your senses and you’re in tune to your body, you are very aware of that. Usually amazing things come from that, and whether that’s having sex or self-pleasuring, usually, something physical happens, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to deal with sex or an orgasm, but I do think that it differentiates between sensuality in that way.
Yea, that’s where I’m coming from with that. I think it’s really good to recognize where they are both different because I feel a lot people can say sensuality and sexuality in the same breath but a lot of people don’t understand the difference between the two. There really isn’t a huge difference between the two; it’s just about the way that you express it, what area you come from with it.
Jenni: That makes so much sense. You know, I have had times in my life—I have chronic pain, and I have pain everyday. Sometimes something will hurt, like say I’ve done a little too much cardio one day and the next day my thighs hurt, so maybe when I wake up in the morning I start to move and stretch and I’m like “Man, my thighs are really tight and sore!” I may just quietly caress them for a minute and just get calm, and be like, “It’s OK, this sensation feels good. Let’s focus on that sensation that feels good.” And that’s showing myself that I love myself even though I am in pain, that I am not angry at my body, I’m actually showing it some tenderness.
I know when I do things like that, just that simple act of getting back in touch with what feels good to my body, does a couple things. I think it actually helps me reduce my pain, because I get a little less focused on what’s bad and more focused on what’s good, and then I’m in a better place to attack the rest of my day. Instead of getting out of bed saying, “Man, my thighs hurt!” I can remember, “You know what, they hurt, but I also am able to touch them in a way that feels good.” That can change your outlook in a big way if you don’t feel good.
Jenni: We’re talking pretty openly here about sex and sensuality. I know for a lot of people, it’s a bit more taboo and I think in society, especially in some parts of our country and the world, it’s really taboo. In my experience, I have found that sometimes it’s even more difficult to talk about the specifics about what we need or desire when we’re sick. Because maybe we don’t know how to express, how to work around, “Well my, you know, my butt muscles really hurt, so I can’t be on top!” I’m just going to say it here.
If that stuff happens, it’s sometimes challenging to express that when we’re not coming from a place of total confidence. I’m wondering if you have ideas for ways to start a conversation with a partner or even to discuss issues with a friend, to try to get advice? Or do you recommend that people write about it for themselves to try to get comfortable? What kind of advice do you give for those people?
Ev’Yan: Well, I definitely think that anyone who has a partner should talk to their partner, as embarrassing or uncomfortable as it might feel. I think it’s really important to acknowledge that discomfort and transcend that, then say to yourself, “OK, I really need to talk to my husband about the way sex makes me feel when I’m having sex with him.”
It’s not going to be a fun conversation and then you’ll do it anyway, because communication is the key in expressing your sexuality, and especially if you are with a partner. So much progress and understanding can happen when we are honest not only with ourselves, but also with the people we are sharing our bodies and our life with.
There is really, really no other way for someone to explain to our partners other than that. I totally had a lot of moments in my marriage where I’d actually have to sit down with my husband and say, “sometimes when we’re having sex, it’s not like this and I would prefer it to be.” It’s not fun, it’s not comfortable, it’s actually kind of humiliating, but if we can get past the discomfort and realize that us speaking and communicating with each other gives us the best intimate life possible, ultimately that’s the life that we want. I can live with the discomfort, ultimately that’s what’s going to bring us closer together.
I think it’s great that you, Jenni, have this community where people can come and speak about their difficulties and their uncertainties. So, in that way, speaking with like-minded people is a really great way to get your voice heard and I think you’ve created a really safe place for people to do that.
I think we’re not always going to be able to have that same kind of response from people who aren’t on the same page as us. People who aren’t sick may not be able to relate to the issues we are going through. Your forum, your blog and the books you have written just really help people.
Aside from that—finding that level of communication with people at an outer level—I think it’s really great to step inside of yourself and take some time and have an internal dialog with where you’re at, where you’re feeling, and have a great way to do that. There are so many different ways that you can speak about sex, there are a lot of safe places for you to do that, I think a lot more than people think there are. My blog is one of them.
I think it is just about moving past the discomfort and the taboo of sex and realizing that ultimately, we are sexual beings. I hate how people feel like, oh sex is so, like, gross or maybe it’s something I should be ashamed of when it’s part of who we are.
It’s like breathing. I don’t think there should be any shame surrounding that. I think the more that we can speak about it openly and even more, we bring awareness to something that is so essential in all our lives, like a heart beating, air in our lungs and stuff like that.
Jenni: I know that I am not really that uncomfortable talking about sex, I’ve not had too much of a hard time with partners. Sometimes I have. It’s asking for what you need and sometimes that’s a little difficult. I know I’ve been to a bunch of parties with, like, girlfriends, or brunch or something, and I say something and everyone stops for just a second and sort of giggles… Like oh yeah, we actually all want to talk about this, but somebody had to break the ice.
Ev’Yan: Exactly, that’s totally how it is! It’s not like everyone is sitting in their houses like, I don’t want to talk about sex, I don’t need to talk about sex. Everyone needs a voice on that and sometimes that’s what it takes, like “I’m having sex and I want to talk to someone about it” and that will bring other people into that awareness and they will be able to speak about it openly too, and it’s good to know that they have a safe place to do it.
Jenni: I need to go to the forum and make sure we have a sensuality group. (We do!) We have all these groups on the forum and maybe I’ll go peek and see and if there’s not one, I’ll make one. So, anybody can go to the forum and there will be a special place where people can go and I’ll have my moderators check it often to make sure nobody is being jerky on there. I do want people to have a safe place.
Ev’Yan: Right, absolutely.
Jenni: We’ve talked so much about many different things. As a kind of endnote, do you have a favorite all-time tip that you give people exploring their sensual side that we haven’t talked about yet?
Ev’Yan: I think that probably the best tip I give people on a daily basis is forgiveness. Forgiving themselves for oppressing their body and not expressing their sensualities. Forgiving themselves for being hard on themselves, personal expectations, angry with their body for the way it should be responding.
There is a lot of growth in our ability to forgive ourselves and I know that with such a touchy subject such as sex and intimacy, it’s really easy for us to get caught up in beating ourselves up. I should have been tackling this stuff years ago and now I’m totally not there yet and I’m speaking personally too, because it’s an ongoing battle with myself to not be hard on myself.
But starting to reach a place of forgiveness is probably the best way to move forward, explore your sensuality and express your sexuality and have conversations with people, and I think it all starts from forgiveness. I guess that’s, my tip. Forgive yourself.
Jenni: I think that’s so beautiful. I would add something to that. I know that I, in the past, I have been very angry at my body. I have certainly been very angry at my body when I haven’t been able to orgasm like I want to, or when I’m not feeling well enough to have sex, or whatever. That also requires forgiveness; we have to forgive our body for not being everything we want it to be. I think a lot of us need to do that before we can do anything else. That is such a great all-around tip for everyone.
Thank you so much, I’ve just really enjoyed our conversation, I could talk with you all day, I have so many more questions, so maybe we’ll have to do a part two.
Ev’Yan: I would love that!
Jenni: I really appreciate your time and I know our listeners have, too. In case anyone has joined us on the late side, I’ve been talking with Ev’Yan Whitney. She’s a writer and female liberation artist. You can check out her website at SexLoveLiberation.com. There are tons of blog posts there and great tips and information and perspectives. She also has a manifesto of the same name, which is really incredible, and I can’t recommend it enough. Thank you Ev’Yan, I really appreciate your time and your spirit being here with us.
Ev’Yan: Thanks so much for having me, and I hope my words have helped someone—that’s the goal.
Jenni: I know they have. Everyone, this is Lesson 5 on Loving Your Body. Thanks for being with us and have a great day.