Brenda grew up in a “sex silent” household and transitioned right into purity culture. For a naturally highly sexual person, this spelled dysfunction and disaster. She found her way out of abuse and repression, went through a period of intense exploration, and she is now an advocate and educator for other survivors of religious trauma. She shares her truth publicly and celebrates all of her experiences—even the “dark” ones, as they have anchored her learning along the healing journey.
Brenda Marie Davies is a 37-year-old cisgender woman. She describes herself as bisexual, open-minded, and single. She describes her body as slim.
Book: On Her Knees: Memoir of a Prayerful Jezebel
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (CLICK TO OPEN)
LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach, Leah Carey, and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!
LEAH: Hey, friends. I’m excited to share today’s conversation with you because when I discovered Brenda’s YouTube channel, I went down the rabbit hole for hours watching her material. So, to back up a bit, Brenda Marie Davies is an ex-Evangelical. She discovered purity culture in her early teens and went all in. She dedicated her life not only to her own purity, but to encouraging other young women as well until the day she realized she had to walk away.
Today, she hosts a popular YouTube channel that she describes as “your guide to becoming an inquisitive, fearless, sex positive, free-thinking Christian in the modern world.” I am all for that. Brenda is a 37-year-old cisgender woman. She describes herself as bisexual, openminded and single. She describes her body as slim. Earlier this year, Brenda published her memoir On Her Knees: Memoir of a Prayerful Jezebel. Her website is godisgrey.com and her YouTube and all social media are under the handle @godisgrey. That’s grey with an E and all of those links are in the Show Notes. I’m so pleased to introduce Brenda!
Brenda, I am really excited to be talking to you today. So, the quick story of how this interview came to be is that I got an email from your publicist and I very rarely respond to publicists’ emails because they’re usually inappropriate for my particular show. But I was so interested in your story and in the work that you’re doing that I went down the deep rabbit hole of your YouTube channel and got really excited about what you’re doing and who you are. And so, I decided, let’s do the thing.
LEAH: So, I’m thrilled to have you here.
BRENDA: I’m thrilled to be here. Thank you for taking a chance on me.
LEAH: So, other than watching your YouTube channel, I don’t know much about your story because I like to go into all of these interviews completely fresh. So, let’s start at the very beginning.
BRENDA: A very good place to start.
LEAH: A very good place to start.
LEAH: Where I start every interview, what is your first memory of sexual pleasure?
BRENDA: Oh, love this. My first memory of sexual pleasure is that I used to rub myself on couches and stuff like that and I started really young. I remember probably being about three years old is my earliest memory of it. And the best part is that my mom saw me doing this and she simply said, “Hey. We actually do this in private.” And she gently ushered me upstairs and sent me to my bedroom. And she infused no shame. I felt perfectly fine. As a matter of fact, she probably could have done it a little heavier handed because I didn’t really get it.
BRENDA: And I kept doing it in public, but yeah. That was my earliest memory.
LEAH: Yeah. So, what kind of conversation was there in your home around sex?
BRENDA: So, unfortunately, I grew up in what I call a sex silent household. So, I did not get shame and messaging that was overt, but I did receive internalized fear about sexuality, just by body language. I remember that my parents would be watching Ghost with me or something and then when Patrick Swayze’s at the potter’s wheel, you can just feel everybody’s body tense up and no one’s breathing.
Another memory I have is watching the movie Big when he starts touching her breasts and then just my dad being like, “Close your eyes or look away.” And that was it. And then, funny enough, the only “talk” that me and my brother ever got was horrifying because after they set this precedent of, “This is scary and weird and we don’t address this,” my mom was a huge Oprah fan. Oprah is the queen of our household. She is still my queen.
BRENDA: Reigning supreme. And so, she had all these really helpful afterschool specials and things. And I just remember my parents extremely awkwardly standing by the front door and they were like, “So, we left a VHS in the player and if you just press play, we’ll talk about it when we get home.” Me and my brother looked at each other like, “No. What is this?”
BRENDA: And we played it and it was Oprah talking about STDs. So, we were learning about sexually transmitted diseases, which they were called at the time, which I know we’re not doing that anymore, and without context of how you get these diseases or anything. And then, they sat us down and asked if we watched it, if we had any questions. And we were like, “No” and just ran away.
BRENDA: So, that was that. That was my household.
LEAH: Wow. How old were you when that happened?
BRENDA: I think I was probably about 12, so my brother would have been 11, 10, 9. Yeah, I think that was it. But I do have a sister that I commend all the time because she was the one that was always challenging everybody. We would be sitting at the dining table at Thanksgiving and she’d be like, “I’ll give that guy a blow job.” And everybody would be like, “Danny, stop talking. Don’t say that.” But she was so indignant in the most beautiful way. She was just like, “No. We’re going to talk about this and I’m going to share my truth.” And I really do believe she’s a huge component of what gave me the tenacity to do the work that I do today because I ended up shifting into like, “Yes. We need to talk about these things.”
LEAH: Yeah. You told me before we started that you grew up in a Roman Catholic family, but I know from the work that you are doing now that you have a really significant Evangelical past. So, can you tell us how that happened because that will become very important to this story?
BRENDA: Yes. So, ironically enough, I was drawn to a youth group because my friend who invited me promised that there would be babe guys there.
BRENDA: And I was a huge nerd in middle school and high school. I was 12 at the time and all my friends were having make out parties and I was never invited, couldn’t give away a kiss to save my life. And when she said that, I was like, “Oh my gosh, yes.” And they were Christians, so they had to be nice to me. But I call it ironic because, of course, then you step into the Evangelical church and there are a bunch of babes there, but then it’s like, “Well, don’t flirt with them. Don’t touch them. Don’t kiss them. Don’t even think about them” and that whole thing gets flipped on its head.
And it’s also a significant part of my sexual development because I remember that my sexuality was beginning to flourish. It was burgeoning. It was about to be what it is, which is very vibrant in my life and very important to me. And the Evangelical church cemented right over that, stunted any of that growth and said, “You’re saving this for marriage. You are not going to lust, even that would be a sin.” And it really shifted even my masturbation life and my fantasy life and how I saw things.
LEAH: Okay. So, let’s talk about masturbation for a minute. You are three-ish years old, you’re rubbing up against the sofa. Were you coming to something that you would now recognize as an orgasm or was it just the experience of rubbing that was pleasurable enough?
BRENDA: I remember always having orgasms. I’m an orgasm queen.
BRENDA: It’s really easy for me. Don’t everyone get too jealous.
LEAH: And how frequent was that?
BRENDA: I think it was, I don’t know, once a week or something like that.
LEAH: And you got the message from your mom that this is not something we do out in public, but it sounds like there was no other conversation in your home. So, was there any shame for you around it?
BRENDA: I actually have never taken on shame about masturbation even though the Evangelical church tried its hardest to make me feel ashamed about it. But it’s funny because as hook line and sinker as I became for the whole Evangelical narrative of sexuality and saving yourself for marriage and all that stuff, when they told me we’re not supposed to masturbate, my very first thought was like, “I’ve been doing that since I was three and if you want to save sex for marriage, I’m going to need an outlet here.” And I did the research on my own and I found that they really only justified that by using three completely out of context Bible verses and I just wasn’t convinced of any of those arguments.
So, I just continued on in peace and also, I always described to people that I felt like I was really advantaged in that pastors will try to shame you for certain sexual acts or certain behaviors or proclivities or whatever, but they will often say with masturbation, you know it’s wrong because you feel that conviction afterwards. You feel like God is disappointed in you. And I had the privilege of being like, “Well, I’ve been doing this my whole life and I never once felt conviction. I never felt once that God was mad at me.” So, I just never took that on. I just refused to and thank God for it because that was the one thing I was saved from.
LEAH: That’s amazing that that’s the way that they would approach it that you know it’s wrong because you feel it inside you, when what they’re doing is instilling that feeling within you, so that it becomes its own feedback loop.
BRENDA: Yes. I always say that conviction is internal. I love conviction. That is something that any human being of any faith practice or lack thereof has, that deep knowing that you’re doing something wrong or you’re doing something right. Shame is external. It comes from external sources. It knocks at your door. It’s like an invitation and you take it in or not. And that’s how I saw the masturbation narrative. I was like, “No. This is not coming from the inside. It’s coming from you guys.”
LEAH: Yeah. You also mentioned that the messaging from the Evangelical church changed your relationships with your fantasies. So, as a young teenager, what were you fantasizing about?
BRENDA: I love telling people this because I imagined that there’d be a lot of shame, but it’s so common when you research kinks. They develop when you’re around six years old or before then. But for this, I remember that I had this fantasy about the hottest guy in my school. He looked like Paul Walker from the Fast and Furious franchise. He was so beautiful and he dated this gorgeous girl who lived across the street from me.
So, I used to sit at my bedroom window and see him pull up in his car and pick her up and take her on dates where they’d make out on the porch before he went home. So, I would put myself in her shoes and imagine that he was picking me up and then I was getting into his car. So, my fantasies became that, going on dates, developing a relationship, and then him laying me in the back of his car and making love to me. And that’s what was getting me off at that time.
And then, the Evangelical church told me that that was all a sin and that even imagining sex that would be sinful in their eyes gave me this guilty feeling. So, I started doing all these hoops where he would pick me up in his car and we had actually gotten married the night before and everything was okay and all these mental gymnastics. And then, eventually it felt easier to just lean into ravishment fantasies. And my entire fantasy life became ravishment because if it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault.
LEAH: Yeah. So, for people who are not familiar with the term ravishment, that is what in the past we would have called rape fantasies, which people have so much shame around. And there is so much that like you said, sometimes it’s because we want to be able to just sink into experiencing something we believe is wrong. Other times, it’s to reclaim experiences that were nonconsensual and we want to find a way where we can be in charge of that fantasy and sometimes people just really enjoy the idea of being ravished.
BRENDA: I know. And that’s what I keep wanting to people to know that it’s a very, very common fantasy and that it doesn’t mean that you actually want non-consensual sex to occur in your life. But it’s also something when I share with Christian women, I find a lot of them share this fantasy for the same reason. It cannot be your fault, so how do you make it not your fault in your head?
LEAH: Doesn’t the Evangelical church also say though that if you’re raped, it’s still your fault?
BRENDA: So, then you’re crossing over into the internal fantasy life of a person versus the external narratives and stories that we have traded in the church. Yes, it’s a very patriarchal structure and there have been pamphlets even. There’s a huge home school system the Duggars and a lot of TLC families are a part of. And one of the pages actually says and teaches how to victim blame. And it says it’s addressing sexual assault and not one of its points addresses the assaulter, the person that actually did the crime. It all addresses the victim and it says literally things. I mean, I don’t know the exact words, but it is, what were you wearing?
And they use the word defraud, that if you were behaving in a certain way or dressed in a certain way, you defrauded your brothers. In Evangelicalism, they call it cause a brother to stumble and again, to be clear, these are completely taken out of context. These verses were not about sexuality, but they were perverted and twisted like saying do not cause a brother to stumble has nothing to do with whether or not a girl was wearing spaghetti straps like I’m proudly wearing right now.
BRENDA: Fuck that.
BRENDA: But yeah, it’s a huge rampant problem in the church. We like the pointing. We like the comfort of being like, “Oh, it’s the Catholic church. They did that.” But with the advent with this beautiful movement, church too, we see that it’s every denomination in Christian has been rife with abuse and it’s because they do help perpetuate rape culture very blatantly.
LEAH: Yeah. So, once you got into the Evangelical church, how did that play with your parents? What did they think of your moving into this world?
BRENDA: Well, this is something that breaks my heart and my mom and I have had beautiful conversations about it because she comes from an opposite culture almost where she had a sex silent household as well, I believe, but also she was just free. She was a hippie girl in the 70s and just a beautiful innocent sweet heart and her dad was very abusive and absent. So, she didn’t have that good figure.
And she has a lot of regret maybe even still that she holds for the sexual exploration she had because I don’t believe she felt a lot of ownership or joy over the sexual experiences that she did have and she does have some things she regrets. I’m like, “Mom. Please let this stuff go, please.” But when she saw me dive headfirst into purity culture, which we weren’t using that term at the time, it was just what Christians do. You save yourself for marriage, which is not terminology I subscribe to either. I like calling it your sexual debut, not your loss of virginity.
BRENDA: She saw me in a position where in her eyes I would be avoiding all of the pain and shame that she had endured in her sexuality. She really believed and thought, “Oh my gosh. This is so good. This is going to save her from so much pain.”
BRENDA: I know. It was devastating because that culture wreaked havoc on my sexuality and my whole sexual history has been extraordinarily painful because of it.
LEAH: Yeah. So, let’s move into that. You’re in the youth group. You’re not allowed to flirt with the boys, but there they are. So, how did that play out for you?
BRENDA: A lot of times, I wonder if many of us in these prepubescent or pubescent years went into this culture because it gave us a reason to not engage in sexual activity that we perhaps weren’t genuinely ready for. I think in this culture, when I was growing up in the 90s and early 2000s, it’s very highly sexualized. We had the conflicting messages of Britney Spears in her sexy schoolgirl outfit, but also she needs to save herself for her marriage.
So, everyone in my school was having sex and I would overhear the girls talking about it in the locker room and no one was really carrying that shame. It was more like, “We’re getting older. This is what we do.” So, I really think in retrospect, I just wasn’t ready to engage in that behavior. It actually took me years to let go of playing with Barbies. I had to willfully look at my Barbies and hold them and be like, “Brenda, we are not doing this anymore. We are trying to become a teenager.”
BRENDA: So, I was a late bloomer. I wasn’t ready and I think the church culture gave me an excuse and gave me a reason to be like, “This is what I’m doing.” And that’s why I work so hard to change that culture and I’m so proud of Gen Z because there should always be a space where you can say, “I’m not ready for this yet or I don’t want this yet.” But I really think, this is a theory of mine, that a lot of us maybe embrace that because that felt so comfortable and good and there was no else really telling us we were allowed to wait except the church.
LEAH: So, on this podcast, I’ve spoken to a number of people who came out of purity culture and one of the stories I’ve heard is that you don’t actually start “dating” someone until you’re already certain that they are somebody that you want to spend your life with. Is that an experience or a message that you were receiving?
BRENDA: Yeah. It’s exhausting. It’s horrible. Basically, there’s so many problematic issues, but I’ve heard so many stories from both friends in my life at that time and then anecdotally from my entire audience that say a variety of things. For one, men would come up to them, usually older men, sometimes the girl would be 15 and the guy would be 19 and they would say things like, “I was in prayer and fasting and the Lord told me that you’re my wife” and really corner her into that.
LEAH: Because you can’t argue with, “God told me.”
BRENDA: Girl, what are you supposed to say to that? Oh my god. It’s like, “Yes.” No one, the adults in that environment are not protecting you. That’s why this culture is rife with rape and assault and abuse because of things like that. The adults would just be happy for them. I remember men saying that to girls in our youth group and then the pastors being like, “How exciting. Are you excited?” And then, I had so much anger and bitterness towards these people. But then, I also looked back and I was like, “Wow.” My pastors were 25 and 26 years old. We were all the blind leading the blind. They’re divorced now. Almost all of them had adultery in their relationships that came out. They all had different things that came out later, but yeah.
And also, Joshua Harris, he wrote this book I Kissed Dating Goodbye and that really upped the ante for purity culture because we were deep in the true love waits movement. They made a true love waits Bible, which perverted the entire bible into a sex manual, just made every single book of the Bible something about sexuality.
LEAH: Oh my god.
BRENDA: Yeah. It’s blasphemous really, which is the thing that actually blows my mind that people don’t recognize it for what it was and what it is. But that book that Josh wrote was, “Yeah, you have to court people that you know are husband or wife material.” And the anxiety that gave to young people, teenagers, young adults, was astronomical because you couldn’t just sit at a coffee shop and be like, “I’m looking at another human being. Let’s see if we vibe.” You have to go to the coffee shop already believing that that person could possibly be your husband or wife.
LEAH: So, within this atmosphere, how long did it take for you to meet somebody who you were willing to take that step with?
BRENDA: The funny thing is I was always terrified of Christian boys now that I look back and it’s because I hate inauthenticity and I always have and there was just something amiss all the time. They always read to me as extra super horny and having nowhere to place that energy or extra super desperate because they were horny and they had to find their wife. And I just never felt comfortable in spaces with those boys unless we were in a group of people and I say this again all in retrospect because I didn’t recognize it at the time. But I never once ever dated a Christian boy and now I know it was because of that. So, my first relationship or my marriage was to a completely secular guy that I ended up just “giving” myself away to.
LEAH: So, how old were you when you met him?
BRENDA: I was 21.
LEAH: And was he your first kiss?
BRENDA: Now you reminded me of my first kiss. My first kiss I adore because I’ve also always loved the bad boys. I love the boys in school that would pull the fire alarm and they were always in the principal’s office, which yes, has been very problematic for my dating life.
BRENDA: I’m like I need a rebel that’s getting in good trouble as they say, not in the bad trouble.
BRENDA: I’m finally reframing that. Now, I’m looking for good trouble or maybe no trouble at all, please.
BRENDA: But yeah, he actually was someone that I was super into. And as Christians, we also did this a lot as well, call it missionary dating. This was demonized. You’re not supposed to “missionary date” meaning date men that are not in the Christian faith to lure them in, but I definitely convinced myself that that’s what I was doing. And he did come to youth group with me and I told him I would kiss him if he quit smoking and went to church with me. So, he quit smoking for two weeks. He went to church only for two weeks. We made out and then he immediately started smoking.
LEAH: And was that the end of the making out?
BRENDA: Well, I look back and I realized there’s so much trauma with my little heart with my sexuality because he was not on the same page with me, with my sexuality, and saving myself. So, right before I took him to prom, I think that day he had had sex with another woman and I found out later. And it made me feel so insufficient and so sad because I can’t give that to him and he’s rejected me for it without realizing I was worth so much more and yeah.
LEAH: Are you aching to explore new vistas of your sexuality, but you’re not quite sure how to proceed? Are you wondering if your desires are normal? Are you afraid you’ll have to blow up your existing relationship to have the kind of sex you want? Or maybe you’re hearing these conversations every week and thinking, “I understand what she’s talking about. I just don’t know how to do it in my life?” Well, that’s where personalized sex and intimacy coaching comes in.
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I work with clients who are motivated to explore many different areas of sexuality including things like learning how to talk about your sexual desires with current or future partners, learning to date after a long time out of the dating pool, questioning if you might be queer, challenging body image insecurity in sexual relationships, dipping your toes into BDSM or consensual non-monogamy, exploring sexuality for later in life virgins, recovering from infidelity, and so much more.
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LEAH: So, fast forward to 21, you meet this other guy. How did you meet him?
LEAH: All right then.
BRENDA: Yeah. It was the inception of social media. No one knew what social media was or was going to be yet and it was just a social networking platform. And they used to have this little running squirrel on the side of the screen that would announce where everyone was going that night, which was cool. I still wish they had something like that.
BRENDA: But there’d be like, “Brenda’s going here at this time.” And I saw this guy that I thought was such a hottie. He had long dark curly hair and thrash leather jackets and t-shirts and was just a bad boy. He said he was going to see some show, so we didn’t call it sliding in the DMs at the time, but that’s what I did.
BRENDA: And I was like, “Oh, I’m going to that show” because I was and we met there very briefly, exchanged phone numbers. And then, we ended up meeting at a studio where his friends were preparing to go on tour with this band and this is the story of how I lost my virginity if you want it.
LEAH: Of course, I do.
BRENDA: Or again, sorry, had my sexual debut. So, I was white knuckling it, trying so desperately hard to abstain from having sex. And at this point, I’m 21 and it just feels like an uphill battle. I was anorexic for a number of years and I always make the comparison to anorexia because when I was completely not allowing myself to have food, sustenance, something my body needed, I thought about food constantly. I could not do anything but think about it. My entire life revolves around, how do I avoid situations where people will offer me food? All of it. My whole life surrounded that.
And sexuality to me became the same thing. And also, if you think about it, you could say, “Well, you don’t live or die by sex.” But my argument to that is, well, our entire population would die if we didn’t have sex. So, it is a necessity in many ways and then it’s not a necessity in others. But hormonally, it had built up so intensely in my body and I just didn’t know how I was going to do it anymore. So, I started reaching out to people at my church where I was going in Los Angeles and I was looking everywhere for virgins. I was shouting at the rooftops like, “Is there another virgin in here?” because I wanted support. And to my dismay, every single person I talked to that I admired, that I saw someone that was strong in the faith, they all had had sex.
BRENDA: Yes. And the only thing that they could offer me was, “But I really regretted it or I really wish I had saved myself for Josh because our marriage would hypothetically be so much better.” And I was just like, “Okay. So, no one else did this.” I did not give that up quickly because I am earnestly a seeking Christian gal. And I go into the Bible and then I see all these men hoeing around all over the place. David had 11 wives. Solomon had hundreds and thousands of wives and concubines. All these men had polygamous relationships with a 15- or 14- or 12-year-old girls that they marry to get property. I could just see it so clearly.
And I was like, “Where is the story in the Bible of a guy getting down on his knee with a 20 something year old girl and then saving?” That just didn’t exist in the Bible obviously. So, I couldn’t see it there. Still didn’t give up. I was still like, “Okay. I just need to know why I’m doing this and then I can stand firmer on it and then I will do it.” I just need to know why and I’m begging for an answer. So, after I went to this concert and I met this guy and exchanged numbers. I was at a coffee shop with him and he was like, “Do you want to hear the craziest shit ever?” And I was like, “Of course.”
BRENDA: And he goes, “I am staying with this dude and he has been saving sex for marriage our entire lives. He’s super Christian and last night, he brings home this hot blonde girl and comes out in the morning. And he’s like, ‘I’m not a virgin anymore.'” And I looked across to him from the table and in my head, I was like, “I’m having sex with this guy.” It was my breaking point. I was like, “I cannot do this anymore. I don’t know another virgin over the age of 21. I cannot do this anymore.” And my plan was to “give it away” so that I could basically satiate this obsession and move on with my life. I was tired of thinking about it. I was tired of revolving my whole life around avoiding it and I just wanted to be done with it and move on and be “normal.” But we ended up having sex. And I didn’t tell him my situation at all. And funny enough, I knew that I wasn’t going to bleed because I had had a hymenectomy when I was 15. Are you familiar?
LEAH: I know the term. Why in the world?
BRENDA: Because some people, I think it’s a very low statistic, have a super, super tight hymen and it becomes problematic because a lot of times, your period blood will get caught in there and will cause issues inside of your body.
LEAH: No kidding.
BRENDA: Yeah. And in my case, I found out about it because I was attempting to use tampons and I couldn’t get one in. And I remember my friend Kelly in high school was yelling at me over the bathroom stall and she was like, “Are you putting it in the right hole?” And I was like, “I don’t know.”
BRENDA: She was like, “Literally, all you have to do is put it in there.” I was like, “I can’t. I can’t.” So, my mom again although we were a sex silent household, I blacked it out obviously because I was probably so embarrassed, but I think I told my mom, “I want to go to the gynecologist or something.” And the gyno said to me, “Well, you have two options. No one will be able to penetrate you themselves, so when you are ready to have your sexual debut, a man will either have to take his hands and rip it open and then you can spend a few days healing then have penetrative sex.”
LEAH: Holy crap.
BRENDA: I know. She was like, “Or we can put you under and break it and it’ll be done.” And I was like, “B.”
BRENDA: Yeah. So, that’s why I went in very confidently being like, “I’ll be able to hide this. He’ll never know.” And I intended to never talk to him again in my life, but my brain went into so many mental gymnastics. And long story short, he ended up really pursuing me and I was not expecting that. And as he did, I convinced myself that God had sent my husband soon, “God had sent him to save me from having sex with someone who wasn’t my husband. So, this was my husband.” This was “the one.” And I redeemed my sin in my mind by marrying him.
LEAH: And did you after you got married become one of those people who said, “I wish I had saved it for our wedding night?”
BRENDA: Hell no, absolutely not.
BRENDA: I was in all kinds of other turmoil like that was the last thing I had time to worry about because then everything is always opening up anxiety. Because again, I’ve always been such a sexual little monster that I stated fantasizing and being like, “Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to have sex in the same room as another couple or wouldn’t it be fun to have sex in this way, XYZ?” And I started to get really nervous and being like, “Is that Biblical? Am I allowed to do that? Are we allowed to have different styles of sex? Does it have to be just?” There was always anxiety running because you can always be more holy. You can always be more perfect, more pure and it’s exhausting.
LEAH: Yeah. So, okay. Let’s rewind a little bit to that first time you had sex. Was it pleasurable? Was it fun?
BRENDA: No, I didn’t feel anything and the reason is because of embodiment or lack thereof in this case. I, obviously looking back, had completely disembodied and I remember that we were just making out. I’ve never seen his penis. We hadn’t engaged in anything else except kissing and I said, “Get a condom.” And he looked stunned because it was just like, “Oh, this is out of the blue.” So, he got a condom and I just remember staring at the door and just being like, “Okay. Great. This is something I’m checking off my to-do list.” I don’t remember feeling anything.
LEAH: Yeah. That mirrors my own experience so much. You said you couldn’t find anyone at 21 who hadn’t had sex. I was 25 the first time I had sex because of so much trauma. The first time I did it, it was that same feeling like, “I’m just going to finally get this over.” I no longer want to be “the world’s oldest living virgin.” And it was a 2-year relationship and throughout it, it was always either painful or completely numb. But always boring. There was never a time when it was in any way pleasurable or fun.
BRENDA: I’m sorry.
LEAH: Yeah, exactly what you’re taking about. It has little to nothing to do with him. Although in my case, he was not a good match for me, but it had nothing to do with him. It had to do with the fact that I was not in my body.
BRENDA: Yeah, makes all the difference in the world and in Christianity, we have these two terrible again I’ll keep repeating out of context Bible verses that are used and weaponized to disembody us specifically. One is, “The heart is deceitful above all things.” Pastors use that as a mechanism of control and they say, “Oh, this is God’s word. God is saying be wary of your heart because Satan will creep up in there and convince you of lies.” But it’s just your pastor manipulating you into not believing what you know to be true to be true and that can very quickly lead to spiritual abuse and it has in so many cases.
The other verse is that, I don’t even know if it’s a verse, but “Your flesh is evil.” That has been used to just dismiss our bodies like to just say, “This disgusting flesh machine that you’re in. Your spirit is the thing that is sent. Your spirit knows what’s best. Your body is disgusting.” And we carrying around that narrative again has helped women dismiss their rapes in Church to be like, “Well, it’s just my body. It’s just my body.” And that has obviously led to so much trauma and pain and again causes people to disembody. And for me, I compartmentalize so many things, my sexuality was in one element in my life, my spirituality was somewhere else. And that disembodiment and compartmentalization caused me to get myself or to be in a lot of sexually traumatic experiences.
LEAH: So, when you were with your husband, did the sex over time ever become better?
BRENDA: We actually used to have great sex when we were dating and we were really experimental together. I learned so much about my likes and my desires and it was very open and free. And I never asked him about it, but I’ve always theorized that he had a Madonna whore complex because as soon as we got married, he almost never wanted to have sex with me.
And I have these terrible memories like one time after coming onto him again and again and again and getting rejected again and again and again, he was talking about how all the secretaries in Mad Men were super-hot. So, I went to the thrift store and I found a whole 1960s secretary outfit and I teased my hair into the beehive. And I had the 1960s eyeliner and I was carrying a manila folder. I went all out and he came home from work one night really exhausted and I was like, “Hey, sir. Do you need me to stay or can I go home?” And he got really excited and I was like, “Oh my god. He’s really excited. This is working finally.” And then I said, “My husband is waiting for me at home. Do you need me to stay or whatever?” And his whole face dropped and he was like, “So, you’re fantasizing about cheating on your husband?”
LEAH: Oh, no.
BRENDA: And I completely deflated. I’m like, “No. I’m trying to have sex with my husband.”
LEAH: Yeah. Have you ever roleplayed during your fun phase? Had you ever role played?
BRENDA: No. It was the first time I tried it, which takes so much courage.
LEAH: Oh my god, it does.
BRENDA: Yeah. And I was completely deflated. I actually to be honest with you have never tried that again. And this is over 10 years ago at this point I think, I haven’t been able to build up the courage to do it again because it was so humiliating. But I learned later in our relationship that he had been cheating on me while we were dating, so it was a projection thing as well of knowing that he had cheated on me and then projecting that fear that I would do the same to him and that’s why he couldn’t engage in that with me.
LEAH: Were you masturbating during your marriage?
BRENDA: Yeah, I’m sure I was.
BRENDA: I had to survive somehow because yeah, he was very, very rarely down. And he also said to me at a point when I was crying, he finally softened up and he’s like, “Okay. Listen. I think it just doesn’t work for you to come onto me. I get really turned off. Maybe just let me come onto you.” So, it just had to be that way.
LEAH: And did he?
BRENDA: Rarely, but yeah.
LEAH: So, let’s fast forward to leaving that relationship because I know there’s still a whole lot more of your story. What got you to the point where you said, “I’m done?”
BRENDA: I’ll try to keep these abridged, but he had this whole crazy salvia experience which, oh my god, I have no idea why that substance is legal. It seems so dangerous. It’s crazy. He actually almost jumped out of our third story window because in his mind’s eye he thought the entire house had collapsed. And when he went to our bedroom, he thought he was stepping out of the window on the pavement. It’s legal. I have no idea why. But in his mind’s eye, basically he realized that we were a sham and that was some revelation that he came to. And when I finally confronted him about the way he was behaving after that psychedelic experience, he said, “Look, I was cheating on you while we were dating” because he was going on tours with bands. Because in the salvia experience, he kept saying, “You’re fake. None of this is real.”
And I was crying. So, I was like, “What are you talking about? It’s all real.” But he explained it wasn’t real because he knew that he had built our relationship on lies and he was coming to terms with that. And it was excruciating because the expectation seemed like, “So, now you forgive me, right? Yeah, you’re going to forgive me.” And I always describe it as someone who had been carrying around a bag of bricks and then just put them on my back and was like, “Okay. So, we’re good now, right?”
I was in so much pain and also it completely destroyed this narrative I had been given from both Disney and the church, which both say, “You’re looking for the one. This prince charming, you’re going to live happily ever after if you’re just a good girl, if you’re just so pretty and so perfect.” And I had done all of those things and the happily ever after was a lie. That’s completely catapulting me into questioning everything that I had been taught in my faith and it set me on the journey to where I am today.
LEAH: When you left the marriage, was that the same time that you left the church or were those two separate events?
BRENDA: They were pretty aligned although I definitely survived in the church for probably another three years because you’re told you’re going to hell if you don’t go to church. So, I couldn’t bear to lose both those things simultaneously. But while I was having sex with him and we were dating, I had been lying to everyone in my church circle. I found out recently they were also all lying to me like everyone was having sex.
BRENDA: And I was like, “I wouldn’t have felt ashamed if I knew we were all lying to each other, my goodness.”
BRENDA: But I remember feeling that everyone’s voice was so loud. I kept wanting to go to church to find solace, to get in quiet and stillness and receive an answer about whether or not to leave my marriage. And it just felt like everyone’s external voice was just coming at me telling me how to push through and how to battle for this marriage. And it finally became like, “Y’all need to stop.” But my breaking point was in 2008 during the election of Obama, our pastor was on platforms saying that we needed to vote against gay marriage because that was the year that it first went through and it didn’t pass. It didn’t pass that year. And then, he also said that we had to vote, I don’t remember who the candidate was.
LEAH: I can’t remember.
LEAH: The last couple of years have just made everything else seem like it all felt so important and now it’s whatever.
BRENDA: I know.
BRENDA: We’re like, “Just anything, but a sociopath, can we please?”
LEAH: How in the world have I gotten to the place George W. Bush actually feels palatable?
BRENDA: I know.
BRENDA: Seriously, my goodness. And I just remember it all rubbed me so wrong. I was like, “Why are you controlling every element of my life, even this? This is not your place in my life.” And yeah, I was just so fed up with everything that I walked away.
LEAH: So, walking away from the church, being out of the marriage, how did that affect your ability to engage sexually with other people who you were not planning to get married to?
BRENDA: Yeah. Unfortunately, it was terrible because I actually just put out a video yesterday telling the world that I had an abortion because for me, everything that happened from leaving my marriage forward was steeped with insecurity, with the inability to know that I deserved good things. Because as soon as I had “lost” my virginity, I didn’t know what made me a good girl anymore because my whole life, I had been told, “This is the thing that a woman needs to possess to be a good girl. And then, if you don’t possess it, you’re in a marriage with your Christian husband and that’s when you’re engaging with it.”
So, at that point, I said, “I’m not going to count because if I keep count of the men that I engaged with, I will stop way too soon and I just need to explore this without the shame.” But I had no tools to advocate for myself because I didn’t know I was worth anything anymore and every relationship I found mirrored that. They were all quite toxic for me and I don’t know. I oscillate on that too because I also truly believe that every relationship teaches you so much about yourself and really helps you get to the next level even if it’s painful, so I did learn so much from them.
But it all culminated in so much abuse and so much misuse of my body, it snowballed. And it ended up being this very, very abusive relationship and the beginning of my 30s where I was abused into an abortion. And that was the second point in my life where I broke and said, “Okay. But I’m also not doing this anymore. I can’t do this anymore.” And I’d also like to say, plenty of moments of absolute ecstasy and joy and happiness and I did find men to engage with that were just over the moon wonderful, but I definitely never knew that I deserved to be partnered with any of those truly good people. I always partnered with people that caused me a lot of pain.
LEAH: Friends, I talk a lot about consent, what it is, and how to talk about it. But I still get a lot of questions about how to do it without killing the mood. Here’s the thing. A consent conversation can be hella sexy when it’s done well. But you can listen to me talk about it all day long and still not know how to do it yourself, which is why I’m so excited about Dipsea.
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LEAH: I did watch that video that you put out about the abortion. It thought it was really impactful.
BRENDA: Thank you.
LEAH: I think it was really brave of you to do that, especially given who your audience is. And I’m struck also by you saying you decided to stop counting. When I went through my sexual healing journey, there was this guy who I was like, “Oh, maybe I’ll have sex with him even though I know I’ll never see him again.” And I was working with a body image coach at the time. And I was saying this to her like, “I think I might want to have sex with him, but I think part of my hesitancy is attachment to the fact that I still have a really low number. For somebody in my early 40s who has never been married, my number is still.” And she’s like, “Maybe it would be good if you just decided to never pay attention to your number again.”
BRENDA: Let me clap to that.
LEAH: I know, right?
LEAH: And really, it was incredibly liberating for me. I now have absolutely no idea what my number is particularly because my definition of what constitutes “sex” has changed. So, what were some of the things that you explored during your period of exploration? What were some of the things you loved and what were some of the things you discovered didn’t work for you?
BRENDA: Yeah. I love this question. One of the first experiences that I had was having sex with a friend of mine named Ben, who is still a friend of mine. And we are in this gigantic gorgeous circle in Los Angeles that has become my family. There’s probably about 40 of us or maybe even 50 of us and it just feels like my extended family, my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, my sisters, my brothers. And it’s been so invigorating and beautiful to have this whole support group in LA because my family doesn’t family live here.
So, this guy was just so casual and free and really gave my body so much pleasure and he would pick me up in his gorgeous Jaguar from the 60s. And it was just so romantic and he never pulled out my wallet in front of him. He made me feel like a woman and he took care of me and it felt good. And also, I just remember one time, I started tripping and was like, “So what is this or whatever?” And he took the time to sit down and look me in the eye and he was like, “Can you imagine being with me? You really want to be with me? Think about it.”
BRENDA: And he was like, “I’m also obsessively in love with my ex-girlfriend and I cannot get her out of my mind. I’ve been trying for years. I might still marry her.” And he’s like, “Do you want to be with me?” And I was laughing because I was like, “No, actually. I totally don’t.” It was great because we had a really casual, gorgeous, probably year and a half long sexual relationship and it always felt positive. So, that was a gorgeous introduction to everything.
The first person that I did fantasize as going to be my rebound, I felt like, “Oh my gosh, maybe this guy is swooping in to save me from all this pain because maybe I don’t want to go on a big sexual exploration. I did just want to be with someone.” This guy was annoyingly gorgeous and it’s more annoying knowing what a piece of trash this dude is. I’m just like, “Ew.”
BRENDA: I don’t want him to fall off a ditch or anything, but I also don’t have any positive feelings towards him because he has this repeating pattern. He’s extremely manipulative and narcissistic. I know we overdiagnoses our ex-boyfriends at this point in history, but I think there’s something really amiss with this guy. Because I could see him get true pleasure out of coursing me and telling me things were a certain way, giving me a lot of hope for the future, talking about distant plans, next Christmas and his family members that I’d love like building up so much hope in me. And then, also texting and being like, “Oh, this is another girl I’m fucking. That’s okay with you, right?” That dichotomy of like, “We’re going to be together, but I’m still doing this thing. You’re cool with it, right? You’re cool.”
I had that thing a lot of us women have where you’re just like, “Yeah. I’m cool. I’m laidback. I’m a cool chick.” And meanwhile, you’re just dying inside and shower crying and he did all of that. And he has this repeating pattern as well where he does this to women that are so badass and powerful. Now that I know I’m bisexual, I just want to hit up all of his girlfriends and be like, “Hey.” They’re gorgeous, powerful women with great jobs. And he would always replace one before letting her go to the point that the girl he replaced me with he hooked up with her on Valentine’s Day when he was supposed to come over to my house, dated her. They were supposed to go on a vacation to Hawaii and he ended up taking the girl that he was cheating on her with instead.
LEAH: Oh my god.
BRENDA: Yeah, this guy’s a true gem, a true treasure. And it sucks because it was incredibly traumatic and I was such in a place of pain. I couldn’t eat because I was so upset about my divorce. And he would also compliment me for that. I was skin and bones. If I showed you a picture, very waify modelesque. He was a designer too, so he would really reiterate, “You look amazing.” And I would be thinking like, “Thank you, but I also haven’t eaten in weeks and I feel like I’m going to die, but thank you.” That was just really toxic, unhealthy and I was too low. It just set me on a really sad path, I think.
LEAH: You just mentioned that you have now discovered that you’re bisexual. Can you talk a little bit about how that happened?
BRENDA: Yeah. It’s really exciting because again with the sex silent household and the tensing of bodies that I described, when I came out in a video that I did with my friend, Grace Baldridge, who’s the musician Semler.
LEAH: I love her.
BRENDA: Yeah, she’s incredible. I’m so proud of her and her and her wife Lizzie are all friends of mine. We all connected so well and I hadn’t realized that I had come out to her last year. I totally blocked it out because I went to her house recently. And we were going to shoot a video response to Lil Nas X’s Montero and obviously give him all the props in the world and talk about how much we love him.
BRENDA: And I hadn’t seen the video. I abstained to watch it in real-time, which was fun. And then, her and I were talking and I was just very spontaneous. I was like, “Maybe I’ll just talk about what I’m going through, what I realized.” And then when I told her, she was like, “How did you realize?” And I told her, “Oh, I was recently watching Star Wars and I realized I thought Daisy Ridley was way hotter than Adam Driver.”
LEAH: Which by the way she is.
BRENDA: Definitely true, yes. If I had to choose, I know what I would choose. But she looked at me and she’s like, “Okay. I hear you, but also you called me about a year and a half ago and told me that you were bi.” And it came back to me and I remembered and I was like, “Oh my god.” I actually blocked that out. And now, I really believe it’s because I was testing out the waters. I think I was really just putting it on her, putting it out there to see how it would land, and then just giving myself more time to process, which I wasn’t really ready for. But then, right before we did the Lil Nas video, I saw this TIkTok it was called two supportive lesbians and there’s a lesbian couple. And they’re like, “Tell us the news” and then they just are supportive in their response.
So, I said the Daisy Ridley thing and said I was bi and my religion shamed me. And that was another testing of the waters and it was so beautiful to watch my community completely rally around me because biphobia is real, bisexuality is incredibly misunderstood, although I can see us getting there. But just seeing them embrace me and being like, “Yeah, you’re part of my community,” even though I haven’t “proved” anything yet, which is another thing that we have to get over. I’ve even talked to my mom about that and I was like, “You don’t have to prove you’re heterosexual, do you? So, why do you have to prove you’re not heterosexual?”
LEAH: So, when you say prove, are you meaning that you haven’t been out with somebody with another woman or do you mean you haven’t actually engaged physically with another woman?
BRENDA: I haven’t engaged physically with another woman. I’ve had experiences here and there, but they’ve always been for the pleasure of a man like, “I’ll do this” and there was never a woman that I was into myself, so yeah.
LEAH: Yeah. So common, so, so common.
LEAH: And I absolutely agree with you that it does not take actually touching the body to understand what your attraction and what your desires are.
BRENDA: Yeah. I think it’s really funny because it’s like one of those cinematic moments where you see a character have a revelation and all of these memories come back in a really quick succession. That’s how it felt. I remembered Winnie from freaking
LEAH: The Wonder Years?
BRENDA: I was like, “Oh my God. I was totally into Winnie in elementary school. Wow.” And also too, I have this thing for women that hang their mouths open and you can see their teeth. And I’m like, “That’s so Winnie, of course.”
LEAH: For me, it was Michelle Pfeiffer straddling the ladder in Grease 2.
LEAH: If only I had been aware at age 10 of how much I loved that scene.
BRENDA: That’s amazing.
LEAH: Friends, let’s talk about Patreon. It has been quite an evolution over the last two and a half years. For a long time, I took cuts from the episodes and put them on Patreon for people who financially supported the show. But by mid-2020, that no longer felt right because I was hearing from listeners who said they wanted to hear the Patreon extras because the show was making such a difference in their lives, but they couldn’t afford to donate. It really doesn’t feel appreciate to withhold this material in exchange for monetary support. That’s just not what I’m about. So, from July 2020 through April 2021, I made all audio extras at Patreon free for everyone and that has worked well.
I’ve been pleased to see that my Patreon support didn’t drop when you were supporting the show because you appreciate it rather than paying to get something in exchange. And now, I’m evolving again. Instead of pulling clips out of the show for Patreon and keeping the main episode as close to 50 minutes as possible, I’m letting the conversations play out in full in the main episode. If my work is meaningful to you and you have a few dollars to support it each month, I will gratefully accept your patronage at Patreon. If you have more than a few dollars, consider donating extra in honor of women who need this material, but aren’t in a position to contribute.
And I donate 10% of all Patreon contributions to ARC-Southeast, an organization that supports women in the Southeast United States to access reproductive services that are currently being legislated out of existence. I appreciate every one of you, whether you’re a client, a contributor, a social media follower or a silent listener, I trust you to know what’s right for you. Thank you for being here. You can find out more and become a community member at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
And if your finances are tight, but you still want to support the show, I would love it if you would take a screenshot of this episode on your phone and post it on Instagram. Tag me in your post and I’ll send you a personal thank you. Or send your favorite episode to a friend and invite them to chat about it with you. Use this show as a jumping off point to deepen your own conversations around intimacy and sex. Now, let’s get back to the conversation.
LEAH: Where are you in your sexual explorations, your sex life right now? You told me that you’re single. So, what are you doing in terms of sex and sexuality right now?
BRENDA: Yeah. So, it would be worth filling you in that my story doesn’t just end with all of this tragedy. Because after the abortion experience, it was beautiful. And as you saw on the video yesterday, I give so much credit to my unborn daughter whose name is Rose because she propelled me into major action. Because I was abused and manipulated into not allowing her to come through my body into this world, because I had not set my life and my relationships up for a way that would be conducive for raising a child in a healthy environment.
LEAH: I just want to interrupt for a second and clarify for people who have not seen that video that when you say abused, as I understand it, that was verbal and emotional abuse, not physical abuse? Is that correct?
BRENDA: No, I would say it was physical because while I was pregnant, he threw a bunch of towels at my head when I was in the shower. He would throw objects and heavy things across the room really close to me. And then, after the abortion, when I was still in the process of strengthening myself up to kick him out, he did hit me and he did fling me across the room. So, things really escalated after.
LEAH: I’m sorry.
BRENDA: Yeah. I used to always say, “It’s okay” to things. And now, I’m like, “It’s not okay.” But thank you. But yeah, that whole experience shifted my entire life and a huge part of that healing was then beginning to invite men into my life that were genuinely good and not allowing anyone into my body that I knew wouldn’t honor it.
And then, I read my friend Linda Kay Klein’s book, Pure. She wasn’t my friend at the time. She was just an author that rocked my world and stunned me and I was so happy to read her works because she studied the effects of purity culture for 12 years. And she gives stories of survivors from all different walks of life and purity culture trauma manifests physiologically in a lot of cases and get BV or vaginismus, panic attacks, all of that.
So, she at the end of her book talked about how she was finally ready to align her body and her spirit and be fully embodied again. And when she had sex, she said, “God, get in the bedroom. I want you in here with me.” And I tried that for the very first time in my life, I was with a man who pardon my French, I knew was a fuckboy and I remember thinking, “This isn’t good for me. This isn’t going to end well, but I’m so dang stubborn and I’m also in a lot of bad patterns and I know I’m going to sleep with him.” So, we were headed into my bedroom and I thought, “Okay. I’m going to do what Linda did, God get in here.” And it was gorgeous because instead of taking in all of the shame that time, I was fully embodied, fully present. And when he left, I didn’t say, “Brenda, you’re an idiot. You should not have done that.” I looked at God and I said, “Okay.” And I had the conversation of, “How do you feel? How does your body feel? Are you sad? Why? Oh, because he’s not going to call you back? So, do you want to do this again?” All of these things, and I have not invited a situation like that in my life ever since, I’m so happy to say.
So, that’s where I’m at now. I have done so much work learning about enthusiastic consent and mutuality and pleasure and sexuality and all of my sexual experiences since then have been beautiful including a really gorgeous experience with a guy who is 10 years younger than me, who’s still one of my dearest friends, who made a joke about a woman being a whore. And surprisingly, it was one of the most healing moments of my life because watching a man joke about a woman being a whore because he so thoroughly believed a woman cannot be a whore just healed my heart because I had fallen in love with a man who had called me a whore and said he would never a marry a whore like me.
So, all of these things were moments of healing and they were so beautiful. And now, I’m walking in that healing. And it’s funny because so many Christians that are not for me will be like, “Oh, so now you just want to have sex whenever you want. Do whatever you want.” And I’m like, “Actually, living a full sexual ethic of sexual integrity is exhaustive. It’s not exhausting, but it’s exhaustive, the things you have to ask yourself. Is this person here with the right intention as well? Am I going to hurt them? Am I going to leave them on read? Or do I have enough capacity to treat them really well and the aftermath?” All of these things, it’s exhaustive and it’s a lot of work. So, ironically, I’ve had less sex than I ever had in my life.
BRENDA: Because it’s hard to find people that I’m truly genuinely aligned with that I know I’m not going to hurt and vice versa. And I do have this narrative of women are these gentle teacups and you can’t use them sexually or they’ll get really emotional. So, I did realize with my bisexuality, I still am harboring fears that I look forward to getting over of the idea that women would feel taken advantage of or taken for granted if I did just want to have not just a physical experience, but if I didn’t want to lock it down or be in a relationship because I know those are also patriarchal lies that aren’t necessarily true. Women like sexual exploration as much as the next guy.
LEAH: Not only do they like it, I think we crave it. Yeah. So many of us are craving it.
BRENDA: I, to be honest, feel a huge aversion to men right now and I have no intention of staying there. So much of me sees myself ultimately with a man and I would perhaps like to have another child with someone. But right now, I am really processing the abuse that I’ve been through. I’ve been raped. I’ve been assaulted. I’ve been mistreated. I’ve been cheated on. I’ve been lied to. Just the male form and the male energy, I think I just need a break unless and until I find someone that is so honoring and so much in his feminine energy that I feel safe. And that’s a huge part of why I’m really excited to explore my interest in women because I could see healing experiences in my future by engaging with women who are awake and alive and ready to go those places with me that I haven’t been before.
LEAH: Yeah. And I really want to signpost the fact that it is absolutely okay and completely authentic to be bisexual and to also have an inkling that you might choose a male partner as your nesting partner. Personally, I call myself bisexual, meaning that I am attracted to people of all genders and heteroromantic, meaning that my romantic tendencies, my desire for long-term pairing tends to be with men. And I think that’s a really important thing because our sexual desires and our partnership desires are not always in lock step and people don’t always talk about that.
BRENDA: I completely agree. And I feel the same way as you. And at the same time, I’m sitting here in the unknown and I love the space of the unknown. My favorite phrase in the entire world is, “I don’t know” because it’s so expansive. It leaves you open to so much education. So, my one friend Zoe, I was talking to her, I was like, “I want a relationship with a woman.” And she was like, “How about just don’t have all these constraints? How about just live?” And I was like, “Okay. Why don’t I just do that?”
BRENDA: But I do agree that it’s freeing to look at a romantic lean and sexual lean, they can vastly be different, all of that stuff.
LEAH: And now it’s time for the Lowdown, the things we’re dying to know, but would usually be too polite to ask any good girl.
LEAH: Do you have sex during your period?
BRENDA: Hell yeah.
LEAH: What’s the approximate number of sex partners you’ve had?
BRENDA: That’s private. I’m sick of being judged. So, we don’t go there, yeah.
LEAH: Okay. That’s fair. And you also said you stopped counting.
BRENDA: Yeah. I genuinely don’t know. I could give you a ballpark, but I’d rather not and who cares? That’s what I think.
LEAH: Have you ever had sex with a person with a different racial identity than your own?
BRENDA: Oh my god, yes.
LEAH: What’s your favorite sex toy?
BRENDA: Oh, butt plug.
LEAH: What’s your favorite sex position?
BRENDA: A great missionary where someone actually is so into you is so amazing. I don’t think anything tops that. Yeah.
LEAH: Okay. Do you prefer to initiate or for your partner to initiate in the bedroom?
BRENDA: I prefer to find someone that makes me feel so confident and secure in our relationship together that it goes both ways and it doesn’t matter. I keep linking up with men that make me feel like I’m a predator or something and I’m just like, “I want a guy hopefully or a person that’s just as game as me and is open.” I don’t want to be humiliated like that anymore.
LEAH: Yeah. I want that for you too.
BRENDA: Thank you.
LEAH: Yeah. Are you generally more active or more passive during lovemaking?
BRENDA: Oh, it depends on the person. Yeah.
LEAH: Do you prefer clit stimulation or penetration?
BRENDA: I love all of it. Do I have to prefer?
LEAH: Do you enjoy having your breasts played with?
BRENDA: Not to an extreme. I think it can get annoying really quickly, especially as a mom. I’m like, “Yeah, no.”
LEAH: Do you think it’s generally easy or challenging for you to orgasm?
BRENDA: We already talked about this. It’s too easy.
LEAH: Do you enjoy having your G-spot stimulated?
BRENDA: Sure. Why not?
LEAH: Have you ever faked an orgasm?
BRENDA: No. I don’t think so.
LEAH: Can you orgasm from intercourse alone without additional stimulation?
LEAH: Do you prefer the orgasm from masturbating or from sex with another person?
BRENDA: Sex with another person.
LEAH: What kind of touch do you enjoy most?
BRENDA: The touch of my heart.
BRENDA: The touch of my brain like intellectual stimulation and heart estimation. And then, all of it that follows is so good from there.
LEAH: Yeah. I love that. What are your hard red lines, things you absolutely don’t want to do?
BRENDA: Be in any situation where someone doesn’t authentically want to be there. I have friends that are on the Feeld app, for example, where people seek out kinks and talk to people who they’re like you can tell their girlfriend is there under duress or they’re trying to save their relationship and just like, oh, I just never want to be in a situation like that. I love what Dan Savage says, “No one leaves their bedroom worse than you found them. Everyone leaves their bedroom better than you found them.”
LEAH: Boy Scout rules, exactly.
LEAH: How do you feel about porn?
BRENDA: Not a fan, extremely complicated. I would only be comfortable in just staying, watching porn that I knew that I was ethically sourced and ethically made, but it gets so complicated for me because the situation of choice in that matter is so blurred. Is a woman really there because she wants to be there or is she just really struggling with the rent and this is the last resort? I don’t like any of that. If anything, I could watch porn of couples like amateur porn that’s two people. And even that gets sticky because you’re like, “What if a dude put this up as revenge?” So, it’s too complicated. I go for the imagination.
LEAH: Okay. Have you ever had a threesome or more?
LEAH: You can see now why most people do these interviews anonymously.
LEAH: Do you have hair down there or are you bare?
BRENDA: Oh, yeah. I love having hair down there. I think that’s cool for me.
LEAH: Do you enjoy giving blow jobs?
BRENDA: Yes, usually, but I’m so off men for this moment. I’m like, “If I’m going to do that with you right now, you better be so kind.” I’m looking for kind, just someone honest and kind. Then hypothetically, eyes. so down.
LEAH: When you give blow jobs, do you swallow?
BRENDA: I really hate it, but it’s the same thing as like a girl wearing high heels. You’re like, :I hate everything about this, but it’s worth it because I feel beautiful.”
BRENDA: I think if someone wants that, fine. But I definitely don’t prefer it, that’s for sure.
LEAH: Are you excited about the idea of exploring oral sex with women?
BRENDA: No, I’m terrified.
LEAH: Do you enjoy receiving oral sex?
BRENDA: Yes, I do. That’s a journey too because you have to be confident and your scent is okay, that you trust the person, that you’re not being judged. And a lot of times, it’s difficult to get over all those hurdles.
LEAH: Yeah. How do you feel about receiving ass play?
LEAH: I guess the butt plug answer.
LEAH: How do you feel about giving ass play?
BRENDA: My cheeks are so red right now. I’ve never so overtly been asked these things.
BRENDA: I love pleasure. I love giving pleasure, so whatever someone is into with limitations, but I’m into it.
LEAH: What do you consider the “kinkiest” thing you enjoy with the understanding that everybody’s scale of kink is completely different?
BRENDA: TBD because forever, it was the ravishment thing and I’m really sick of that now. So, I don’t know. I think something new is going to emerge for me maybe.
LEAH: Did you ever play the ravishment fantasy out in real life or did it always stay inside your head?
BRENDA: No. I’ve played it out a lot. And I’ve always enjoyed it, but I’m over it.
LEAH: Do you enjoy dirty talk during sexual encounters?
BRENDA: That’s the best, yes.
LEAH: Do you enjoy laugher during sexual encounters?
BRENDA: No. I guess not.
BRENDA: I think after laughter is funny.
LEAH: Have you ever felt a sexual urge that confused you?
BRENDA: I’m trying to think. Sometimes when I’m attracted to someone, then I’m like, “You aren’t. Really? You’re attracted to that person?” It’s more of a funny thing inside of myself. There’s an unexpected person that strikes me I think is interesting.
LEAH: What’s your favorite part of your body?
BRENDA: I just want to say this because I want it to be true. I want to say my belly because I’ve had so much hatred for my belly. When I was anorexic, every time I went in the mirror, I’d just stare at it and be like, “That’s what I hate. I hate you. I hate you.” So, as a mother, I’ve been doing a lot of work about appreciating that part of my body and realizing this little pooch that is now there is a symbol of the fact that I carry life inside of me and it was the house for my son. And I do think I’m on a journey of loving it and not apologizing for it.
LEAH: What’s your least favorite part of your body?
LEAH: Yeah. If you had said anything else, I would have been suspicious.
LEAH: What’s something about your current sex life that isn’t quite as satisfying as you’d like it to be?
BRENDA: All of it.
BRENDA: Yeah. With the pandemic and everything, I haven’t had a sexual partner in a really long time. My breakup was recently, but things had waned for a while. So, yeah, I’m pretty dissatisfied with all of it and I’m a little lost in my fantasy life. So, I don’t exactly know how to pleasure myself at this moment. So, I think I’m in a very in-between moment that feels unsatisfying, but very satisfying for my soul. I think I’m doing a lot of healing work right now.
LEAH: And finally, what belief did you have about sex as a child or teenager that you’d like to go back and correct her on now?
BRENDA: Nothing because my entire life is built on spinning my trauma and turning it into light. Any bit of darkness that I’ve experienced, I love that I have lived it, so that other people don’t have to.
LEAH: I love that. And as important as this question is, I think when people ask me equivalence of that question, my answer is even if I could speak to her, she wouldn’t have believed me. Because she was so caught up in the trauma that was going on.
BRENDA: Yeah. If this woman came to that girl, I think I’d be really proud. I’d be like, “Oh, wow. You’re aging really well.”
BRENDA: But yeah, I now challenge every single notion that she believed and walk in quite the opposite of what she was espousing. So, yeah, she might have told me I’m going to hell.
LEAH: Interesting. Brenda, thank you so much. This has been an amazing conversation. Please tell people how to find you. Talk about your book for a minute.
BRENDA: Yeah. Everything and so much more is told in my book, On Her Knees: Memoir of a Prayerful Jezebel. It’s about my survival of purity culture and I use my narrative and weave in it all of the things that I have learned as a sex educator, as a speaker for sexual health and autonomy. So, it’s very sad. It’s a very, very sad book, but I also believe that it offers so much encouragement. And I see it as a love letter to all my fellow survivors of religious trauma and sexual trauma, but also I really hope people that are just curious and especially people who are trying to link up even just as a friend, but especially if you’re a lover of someone who has endured religious trauma or even just a religious upbringing, I wrote it for all of you as well too.
So, it will inform maybe how to help that partner or that friend or how to just empathize and have compassion for where they’re coming from and that includes if you have an aunt, parent, who’s driving you bananas and screaming about the gays going to hell. If you read this, you will increase your compassion for her and have more of an ability to talk to her and love her and whatever that person is for you.
And it’s also a beach read, people are saying they’ve read it in two days, so I think that it’s very sex, drugs, rock & roll and Jesus, Playboy mansion, backstage of concerts, Los Angeles parties, Paris Hilton, it has its fun moments as well. So, yeah, it’s called On Her Knees. And then, my platform is youtube.com/godisgrey, @godisgrey on Instagram and TikTok. I’m never on Twitter, but you can find me there, just look at the relics of old tweets.
BRENDA: Yeah. Then the book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
LEAH: Great. And we’ll make sure that all those links are in the information for this episode. Brenda, thank you so much. I really appreciate your willingness to be here and the way that you share your story in service of others.
BRENDA: Thanks you. Thank you for having me. I loved it.
LEAH: That’s it for today. Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced by me, Leah Carey, and edited by Gretchen Kilby. I have additional administrative support from Lara O’Connor and Maria Franco. Transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.
And I’m incredibly grateful for the financial support from Good Girls Talk About Sex community members at Patreon. If you’d like to support me in telling these stories and answering your questions, head over to www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. You can find Show Notes and Show Transcripts at www.goodgirlstalk.com. To ask a question about your sex life, your desires or anything to do with female sexuality, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX.
And before we go, I want to remind you that the things you’ve probably heard about your sexuality are not true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken. I work with women just like you to reflect their true sexual nature back to them without the judgment, shame or fear that can get in the way of us seeing it for ourselves. As a coach and PJ party hostess, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours no matter what it looks like. I am here to help you sink so deeply into your true sexuality that the version of yourself that was scared to speak up for her own needs feels like a mirage from another lifetime.
Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!
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- 3:47 – Brenda shares her first memory of sexual pleasure as early as age 3, rubbing on a couch and being redirected by her mother to do such in private. She grew up in what she calls a “sex silent” household, in which the sole sex discussion was an Oprah video about STD’s.
- 9:00 – Brenda talks about how being exposed to Evangelical culture in puberty impacted her actions and outlook.
- 12:51 – Brenda shares an early fantasy around a boy at school which became an ongoing ravishment fantasy to circumvent Evangelical strictures (even though it uses victim blame phrases like “cause a brother to stumble.”)
- 19:43 – She talks about how she got into purity culture. She was a late bloomer, still playing Barbies in a Britney world, and she thought it gave her some safety. It did not; predation and dysfunction just changed shape.
- 25:35 – Brenda meets her husband at age 21, on MySpace.
- 32:09 – Brenda shares the story of losing her virginity on purpose to a guy she didn’t plan to see again, her search through the Bible for sense, and her overlapping experiences with anorexia and a hymenectomy. Also, she ends up marrying him.
- 41:48 – Disembodiment is an issue, and weaponized scripture doesn’t help. She also describes a role-playing adventure which backfires, and the dissolution of her marriage.
- 51:45 – She opens up about having a forced abortion in the midst of an abusive relationship in the midst of an exploration spree.
- 57:23- Brenda talks about some of her sexcapades.
- 1:02:18 – Brenda is bisexual; she shares her Star Wars-related coming out story.
- 1:09:58 – Brenda catches us up to present day and being single, including her advocacy work and living in deep personal integrity.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Brenda answers questions about having sex on her period, number of partners, race, sex toys, positions, initiating or not, active vs passive, clit stimulation vs penetration, breast play, orgasming, g-spot, faking it, kinds of touch, hard red lines, porn, group sex, hair vs bare, blowjobs, swallowing, receiving oral, ass play, kink, dirty talk, laughter, confusing sexual urges, favorite body part, least favorite body part, sex life areas to improve, and old beliefs.
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Music – Nazar Rybak