Welcome to a between-the-seasons mini episode of Good Girls Talk About Sex!
Reema Zaman is a 35-year-old, cisgender woman who describes herself as Bangladeshi, heterosexual, monogamous, and single. Because her father was a diplomat, Reema lived in many countries during her growing-up years. She came to the United States by herself at age 18 with a dream of being an actress. She released the book I Am Yours in February 2019. It is the story of reclaiming her voice after years of trauma and abuse.
I spoke with Reema ahead of the release of her book, but for technical reasons we weren’t able to release the full interview as part of the regular season. But I’ve been able to pull together some portions of the interview to share with you today.
LEAH: Hi, I’m Leah Carey and this is Good Girls Talk About Sex. This is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. Before we get started, I want to tell you this. 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 the things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!
LEAH: Hello friends. It’s not Season 2 yet, but today I have a special mini episode to share with you. Before we jump in, I have a couple of announcements. I am doing a giveaway! I’m going to send my favorite sex toy to a listener, possibly 2 if I get enough entries, and here’s how you can participate. Go on Apple Podcasts and leave a review and rating of Good Girls Talk About Sex podcast. Take a screenshot of your review and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Contest Entry. In your email, let me know if you’d prefer a sex toy for a person with a vagina or a person with a penis. Yes, I have a favorite for each and they are both boyfriend approved.
If you’ve previously left a review, thank you! You’re still eligible. Just send a screenshot of the review and I’ll include you in the drawing. Want extra chances to win? Send me a screenshot of a social media post telling your friends why you love the Good Girls Talk About Sex podcast. You’ll get up to 3 extra
entries for a post each on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Send your screenshots by May 2 , 2019. I
will do drawing on May 3rd and notify the winner or winners.
Due to the complexity of laws about shipping sex toys internationally, unfortunately, this contest is only
available to those with shipping addresses in the United States and Canada. But I will send a special
digital thank you to everyone from outside the U.S. and Canada who posts a review and sends me a
screenshot by May 2 . Also, generic reviews saying things like “Great podcast!” won’t be eligible for the drawing.
So once again, go to Apple Podcasts, leave a review and rating. Take a screenshot of your review. Email it to me at email@example.com with the subject Contest Entry. And if you want extra entries, take screenshots of you telling your friends on social media why you love this show. Send this all to me by May 2 and I will choose the winner or winners on May 3 .
Also, I’ve recently debuted a new YouTube channel and will continue posting weekly videos there throughout the break between seasons. Recent videos have included “Why being naked is super healing
for body image issues”, “Can I find love if I’m not thin and pretty?”, and “Can good girls go to a sex therapist?” You can find all of those and more at youtube.com/iamleahcarey.
And now, on to the reason we’re all here, today’s Good Girls Talk About Sex conversation. Reema Zaman released the book I am Yours in February 2019. It’s the story of reclaiming her voice after years of trauma and abuse and you can find it at your local bookseller. I spoke with Reema ahead of the release of her book but for technical reasons, we weren’t able to release the full interview as part of the regular season. However, I’ve been able to pull together some portions of the interview to share with you today.
Reema is a 35 year old, cisgender woman who describes herself as Bangladeshi, heterosexual, monogamous, and single. Because her father was a diplomat, her father lived in many countries during her growing up years. She came to the United States by herself at age 18 with a dream of becoming an actress. We’re jumping into the middle of the conversation talking about how the relationships she had in early life were emotionally healthy. But as she got older, she began gravitating to more abusive men. I’m so pleased to introduce Reema!
REEMA: The first few relationships were really healthy. It was about his pleasure as was my pleasure. His voice and my voice. His interests, my interests. His goals, my goals. It was an actual healthy relationship. It was as I grew older starting in college and then into my 20s, things became unhealthy and toxic. And I started giving up my power, giving up my voice, and replacing and allowing men to walk over me to the point that it all climaxed in an abusive marriage in my mid-20s.
And it was through that marriage, during that marriage, I started taking real stock of, “Why did that happen? I used to be a confident young teenage girl. What happened to me that I started swallowing my voice to the point of silence and self-deprecation, self-denial, self-harm? What happened to me to let me become this person who is married to an abusive man?”
I was sexually objectified at a very young age through the cultures that I was being raised, because in any kind of conservative culture that looks at sex as though it’s shameful and looks at women’s bodies and anything to do with women’s bodies as though it’s shameful, everything from periods to desire. If you’re raised in cultures that are saturated with shame toward women, that will have a lasting debilitating effect on girls and women.
And that’s when I started to realize, because sex and talking about desire, talking about crushes, being in conversations with people of the opposite sex, in Bangladeshi culture, that’s all very, very taboo. Growing up whenever we would visit Bangladesh, and we would have social gatherings amongst family and different families with my parents’ friends, all the children, we were segregated. Boys in one room and girls in another room. Men in one room and women in another room. And so, any time you place any kind of separation because to keep people from having unseemly sexual thoughts, it only heightens.
It makes everything unhealthy and only heightens the very things that we’re not supposed to be thinking about, not only was I being raised in these very conservative cultures that looked at sex and women’s bodies as being so shameful, and then through the shaming of girls’ bodies, it also creates a hyper objectification of girls’ bodies, and an early objectification, and any kind of objectification at whatever age is so unhealthy.
But I had been objectified from a very early age, from the moment I had puberty, and I hit puberty at age 11. And then on top of that, I had been preyed upon by sexual predators since I was age 11 and so all of that, the ramifications of it were even if I was consciously a card carrying feminist and I was a gender studies major in college, but my body, and my sexuality, and my psychology were feeling the lasting ramifications of unhealed trauma and unhealed toxic education.
And so, it all culminated in this really, really unhealthy cruel relationship with my ex-husband. That relationship, the things that happened in that was so, so unhidable. I could not rationalize his behavior after a certain point even in my face, cruel, that I had to take deep stock at what was going on. What had happened to lead me here? And therefore, I’m so grateful that I had that. The relationship was bottoming out, it was rock bottom. And it forced me to take stock of my life.
For me to the other compounding effect was starting from age 15, my goal was always to be a professional actress, and the deeper I got into my career, because that industry is all about objectification and unhealthy messaging about women and women’s bodies, and there’s all these punishing beauty standards, punishing behavior standards as well. That had a compounding toll on the way I behaved with men where I was settling for a voicelessness and a degradation that was being mirrored to me in so much of the media.
Because I had auditioned to becoming leading man’s girlfriend for 15 years, as though it was the highest, highest goal a woman can achieve is to check that off, and to be a very specific kind of woman. A woman who is punishingly thin, docile, demure, always acquiescing to a man’s superior authority, and just giggling, and tossing her head. And so, I almost became that woman. I caught myself before I was fully that person.
I started gravitating toward boys who were unkind to me, which is I’m not alone in this. So many of us, we start off these confident young girls, and then we start, and we make healthy decisions, and then the world gets its hands on us, and we start making poor decisions when it comes particularly to our partners, and who we are physically and sexually attracted to. And I started being physically and sexually attracted to men who degraded me.
And of course, in those same relationships, emotionally, I had no voice. It was always about his opinion over mine. My voice didn’t have room to exist. I’ve had a few relationships with different men from different cultures, but yeah, I grew up being told that the Ken doll is the ideal. And to be Barbie is the ideal so for the longest time I thought I was unattractive, because I didn’t resemble Barbie, and I thought at the very least, I could make sure to attract the Ken doll because then that would mean I had achieved some sort of worthiness in this world. And lo and behold, my ex-husband he resembled a Ken doll.
And this isn’t about white men, it’s more about the kind of toxic partners I had, because so many of my partners were these really were just misogynous, and part of misogyny is also racism. I think they’re very tightly entwined because both misogyny and racism are about subservience, and dominance, and toxic power. And so, all of the misogynists I dated, I was very much part of their attraction to me was the exoticism of being with me and all of that, and how lucky I was to be with someone of the superior human race.
And my ex-husband as things grew more abusive, he started calling me “wife for greensies and not for realsies” because to remind me, and he would hold it over my head on any days that he was unhappy with me. And that was his not so subtle way of reminding me that my green card had been precured through marriage like many couples. It happens in many healthy couples as well.
It was his not so subtle way to instigate fear in me, and to remind me that were I to speak out against him, he could very well reject me, and even get me deported, and that in our relationship in his eyes, I as his Bangladeshi immigrant wife to his white male superior privilege, I, according to him, was powerless. That I was tied and beholden to him, so I better behave.
For the longest time, good girl was always polite, demure, acquiescent, obedient, made sure to take care of everyone and everyone’s comfort levels even to the cost of my own. And now, I mean good holds a much richer meaning, much richer definition. I don’t even really prescribe good girl and I love the title of your podcast because there is a tongue in cheekiness to it, of course, because it’s a paradoxical title because the good girl we were spoon-fed, the definition of good girl we were spoon- fed, there was no space for sex. No space for desire.
And now, what I now conceive as the good woman or the good girl is intelligent, healthy, aligned, authentic, honest with herself as well as others, courageous and brave in having the difficult conversations, even if those conversations were to make others uncomfortable.
LEAH: Thanks for joining me on this mini episode of Good Girls Talk About Sex. Season 2 episodes will start airing at the end of May. In the meantime, don’t forget to enter the giveaway for my favorite sex toy by leaving a review at Apple Podcasts. You can also support this podcast at Patreon by joining the community at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. I’ve updated the offerings for each of the reward levels going into Season 2 including a monthly ask me anything for those who pledge 10 dollars a month or more.
I look forward to talking to you again soon and until then, here’s to your better sex life! [MUSIC]
As a member of the Good Girls Talk About Sex Patreon community, you’ll be supporting the core tenets of sex positivity and consent.
I’ve teamed up with the talented craftspeople at Shackleton & Shanks to bring you one-of-a-kind gifts that you can’t find anywhere else.
I donate 10% of all Patreon proceeds to ARC Southeast
Have a free coaching session with Leah – I’d love to talk with you! Fill out the form at www.leahcarey.com/session
Rate the pod – Leave a rating and review at www.ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls
Have a question or comment – Leave a voicemail for Leah at 720-GOOD-SEX (720-466-3739) – this is a voicemail-only line, so I promise you won’t have to talk to someone in person!
We publish episodes
EVERY OTHER THURSDAY