Dive Deeper with Leah Carey
I have been through the fire and come out the other side. Now I’m here to walk with you as you do the same.
I will help you take a stand for yourself, your desires, and YOUR PLEASURE.
Maya was born in the Sudan and came to the United States at age 6. She shares the frustrations she’s had around religion and how it affected her sexuality, the way she used sex in her early life to fill an emotional void, and the pleasure she has finally found with her husband.
Maya is a 30-year-old, cis-gender female who describes herself as mixed race (black and white), heteroflexible, married, monogamous with the possibility of some monogamish play, with a young daughter. She was born in the Sudan and came to the United States at age 6. She was brought up Muslim and describes her body as tall and thicc.
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LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I’m sexual educator and sexual communication 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: Today, we’ll meet Maya, a 30 year old cisgender female who describes herself as mixed race, black and white, heteroflexible, married, monogamous with the possibility of some monogamish play, and she has a young daughter.
She was born in the Sudan and came to the United States at age 6. She was brought up Muslim and describes her body as tall and thick. Maya shares the frustrations she’s had around religion and how it affected her sexuality, the way she used sex in her early life to fill an emotional void, and the pleasure she finally found with her husband. I’m so pleased to introduce Maya!
I’m so excited to talk to you. We’ve gotten to know each other a little bit online but I only know tiny bits of your story so I’m so excited to talk to you and have this in-depth conversation. Thank you for doing this.
MAYA: Thank you for having me. I’m actually really grateful to have been invited to be on your podcast because I absolutely love it and I think you’re an amazing human being.
LEAH: Aww, thank you. The feeling is mutual. [LAUGHTER]
LEAH: So let’s go back to the beginning as we do with every one of these conversations. What is your first memory of sexual pleasure?
MAYA: I don’t remember an exact instant but I do remember as a little kid, elementary school, being perverted. That’s how my friends I would describe it. We would make up songs about balls and vagina and sex and stuff like that as an elementary school year old kid.
MAYA: But pleasure, I really couldn’t date back. I do remember in I guess in elementary school, maybe middle school, I had a friend. I don’t know how much detail to go into.
LEAH: It’s fine. Go into all the detail. [LAUGHTER]
MAYA: So I had a friend who was into witchcraft. She called herself a witch and she said we needed to get the devil out of us so, “Stop masturbating because you masturbate, right?” And I was like, “Yeah? Maybe?” And I was really caught off guard with the question.
LEAH: Were you masturbating and you didn’t want to say it or you weren’t and didn’t know what it was? MAYA: I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what it was. But I was touching myself and I was like, “Oh, that’s
what I’m doing. I’m masturbating.” But I didn’t know what I was doing when I was touching myself. LEAH: Sure. So she says you have to get the devil out of you because you masturbate. [LAUGHTER]
LEAH: And so what did she do?
MAYA: This is an irrelevant story but I had a friend who swore she was being possessed by the devil and so I went to my friend who said that she was Wiccan or whatever. We’re little kids. My friend was not possessed by the devil.
MAYA: But my friend was like, “Yeah, you have this girl around you because you have all these, whatever, negative energies. You need to get rid of it so all the bad things that you’re doing you need to stop including you masturbate.” And that’s how it came up.
MAYA: Totally insignificant.
LEAH: Well, it is significant in that it’s the first time it sounds like it came up for you to understand what this thing was that you were doing.
LEAH: Yeah. So when you were touching yourself, were you getting pleasure from that?
MAYA: Not that I can remember. No. I do remember again maybe elementary school, middle school, we used to play truth or dare with my girlfriends at sleepovers and one of the dares that always happened was to masturbate and so we go in a closet and we’d masturbate.
MAYA: I remember one time I had to flash outside the window, roll up the window and flash our flat chest out the window.
MAYA: So we did little perverted stuff like that.
LEAH: So what was the conversation like in your home around sexuality?
MAYA: So I grew up, I would consider it a strict Islamic household but I guess in relation to other Muslim households, we’re very liberal.
MAYA: My dad was considered a very liberal type of Muslim. I mean he married a white woman.
MAYA: But in regards to sexuality, it was something that sex was a sin. You’re not allowed to have a boyfriend. I don’t remember sex ever being discussed.
I do remember in high school, my mom, I don’t know if she thought I was a lesbian or she was just concerned that I never talked to her about boys, but she said, “You know it’s okay to like boys, right?” And I took that as she thought that me and my best friend were lesbian and so me and my best friend joked around about it.
But now as an adult, I believe that she just wanted me to talk to her more because I never talked to her about, “Oh, I have a crush on a boy.” That was never something I told my mom, and my dad was just completely distant from any type of socializing.
MAYA: He was the provider.
LEAH: Yeah, so you mentioned before we started recording that you lived in Sudan for the first several years of your life. What kind of cultural differences? Do you remember between those early years and coming to America?
MAYA: So everything is separated in men and women. Men and women very rarely are together and so I remember going to stuff, I had to be separated from my brother and I was like, “This isn’t fair. I want to hang out with my brother and not with all these women.”
LEAH: So was there a difference between how he treated you and how he treated your brother when it came to dating and having friends of the opposite gender?
MAYA: He was allowed to hang out with his girlfriends. When I was a sophomore in high school, a boy asked me out on a date to see a movie and I decided to tell my mom about it. My mom was like, “Yeah, you can go but I’m going to come with you.” I was like, “What?” So she dropped me off at the guy’s house. He drove a car. So he drove me and him to the movie theatre. My mom followed in the car behind us and bought the ticket to the same movie we were watching and then sat a few rows away or whatever but yeah, I was like I’m never going to do that again.
LEAH: Would she have done that to your brother? MAYA: No, no.
LEAH: So how did you avoid that in the future?
MAYA: I just didn’t tell her. It made me become sneaky. [LAUGHTER]
MAYA: It made me become sneaky and actually a previous podcast, I don’t remember the girl’s name but I believe she was Muslim as well, someone you interviewed. And she talked about how growing up, she was really sneaky and going to hang out with boys and stuff like that and I was like, “Yes, girl. I completely relate.”
MAYA: Being super strict on your kids like that doesn’t create positive boundaries. It creates sneakiness. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 19 in college. The fact that I was a virgin in high school by choice, not because no boy wanted me or whatever, it gave me a sense of pride. And it did come from my background and my parents and stuff like that but it was definitely something that I was proud of, that I didn’t have sex. Now I was doing oral sex and stuff like that.
MAYA: Which in my young brain, I was like, “Oh, I’m doing everything but sex. I’m not being penetrated so I’m okay.”
LEAH: That’s funny because the other interview you were just commenting on, I think was Terri. And I think she said the same thing that she did oral sex because that was everything but sex. And I know that in some Christian kids, their version of that is that they’ll do anal sex rather than vaginal sex because it means that they’re still technically a virgin. It’s so interesting the mind games we play with ourselves.
MAYA: I know.
LEAH: What happened next? What was your sort of next big marker in terms of sexuality?
MAYA: I lost my virginity to a senior. I was a freshman. And I really, really, really liked him. I remember I would spend a lot of time hanging out with him, making sure I was in the cafeteria when he was there and doing little stuff like that. And Christmas break, I didn’t go home and neither did he and campus was pretty quiet. And so we would hang out every day. I’d go to his dorm. We’d watch movies. We’d make out. And he would always ask to have sex and I always said no.
LEAH: Why did you say no?
MAYA: That pride thing. I liked the fact that I was a virgin.
LEAH: Did you have a sense that you were waiting for something in particular in order to have sex?
MAYA: Oh, good question, yes. So my parents obviously wanted me to wait until marriage but I wanted to wait for love. I wanted to wait to have sex when it meant something, not just because. Because I’ve had so many girlfriends who have lost their virginity and regretted it or just been upset about it and I didn’t want that to be me.
LEAH: So you said no to him to his request for sex. How did he respond to that?
MAYA: Arrogantly. He was very arrogant. And he was like, “Okay, you say no now.” Yeah, he was very arrogant and actually that day that I ended up. It’s cinematic. He texted me and he said, “You’re going to lose your virginity to me tonight.” And I was like “Hahaha, no I’m not.”
So rewind a little bit, even though I was a virgin, I was very flirtatious. I liked getting attention from men, guys, boys, whatever. I was young.
MAYA: Not like men. But I liked getting attention. That’s how I got pleasure. I didn’t need to have sex because I wanted the pleasure of the attention. So I was actively flirting back with him and kissing him and giving him massages when I would go see him and all of this kind of stuff. And oh God, this is so terrible that I’m talking this way, but in his mind, he’s like, “She wants me.”
MAYA: “There’s no doubt in my mind that she wants me.” And I did, for sure. Yeah, and so I ended up having sex with him that night because it just flowed that way, when I was there, it just happened. He didn’t force himself on me, anything like that. It just happened and I remember I enjoyed it. I don’t remember the feeling but I wouldn’t say I definitely didn’t orgasm because I don’t remember. I just remember the feeling of, “Damn, I just lost my virginity. I can’t believe it. I had sex.”
LEAH: Was that a shameful feeling for you? MAYA: I don’t remember.
LEAH: Yeah, it’s just the way that you language that like, “Damn, I lost my virginity” as if you did something wrong.
MAYA: Well, okay. It could have been a little bit of shame. I mean he was a very attractive, very sought after guy, other women, so I guess I kind of felt like fine with it that it was him. After the event had happened, I remember trying to pursue him romantically and he did not want that. He was like, “I’m really sorry if I gave you the impression that I wanted to be your boyfriend. That’s not what this was. If you don’t want to be friends anymore, I understand.”
All through text and I was like, “Damn. I was really disappointed.” But again, I don’t necessarily feel like I was that hurt by it. My husband likes to joke that I’m a little bit cold-hearted when I’m done with someone, I’m done with them. I don’t mourn the loss of relationships or friendships. I just tend to move on from things and he’s like, “Are you sure you’re okay?” And I’m like, “Yeah, I’m fine.” So maybe that’s what’s going on a little bit there.
And from there, I was a little bit obsessed with him and he had this freshman obsessed with him, chasing him around and he loved it. But he said he was done with me. I don’t remember the progression of it but there was a party and he wanted to come home with him and I said no. And he didn’t like that I said no and so I was ignoring him by dancing with some random guy who I ended up dating for a year and a half after that night.
MAYA: He was my first love, the guy after the guy I lost my virginity to. That guy ended up taking my friend home and trying to make me jealous but I was like, “Ha, nope, I don’t care.”
LEAH: He sounds like a real peach.
MAYA: Yeah, yeah.
LEAH: So how did things develop with this person who turned out to be your first love?
MAYA: So he was stereotypically a bad boy and I was a good girl. And the stories that I’m telling you probably doesn’t sound like I’m a good girl.
MAYA: But I was labeled as a good girl and he was labeled as a bad boy. He was a known drug dealer. He was always high.
It was summer time. He went to California. I went back home and that was it. We went on one date. We hung out for maybe a couple of weeks. He had my phone number so he called me every day and we talked on the phone every day that summer and he asked me, “I want to ask you to be my girlfriend because I would be very disappointed if you come back to school and you already had a boyfriend.” And the agreement that we had was, “You can do whatever you want during the summer, but when we come back to school in September, we’ll be monogamous boyfriend girlfriend.”
LEAH: I really like that. Making an agreement like that, especially at that age, but frankly at any age is pretty damn unusual and really mature.
MAYA: Yeah, he actually taught me so much about sex. [MUSIC]
LEAH: This week’s audio extras over at patreon.com include Maya talking about her “lesbian phase”, her depression and losing her identity as an athlete affected her feelings about her body and sex. There’s also over 20 minutes of Q and A.
Did you know that by joining the community of Patreon supporters for this show, you’re not just getting more of every interview. You’re also supporting the kind of open and honest conversations about female sexuality that I hear over and over again from listeners are eye opening, mind expanding, and even life changing. We operate as podcasters on something like the national public radio system. Everyone gets to listen to these conversations for free, then you get to decide how much they’re worth to you.
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MAYA: My depression expressed itself in promiscuity. So the worse I felt about myself, the more sex I had. And I know that’s not uncommon. It was a seeking of being desired. I wanted to feel wanted and I thought if men wanted to have sex with me, then I was getting back that feeling of being desired. And it was performative.
I wasn’t seeking relationships. I was seeking one night stands because I didn’t want to let anybody in. I still had a lot of walls up and I still didn’t like who I was so I was able to put on this façade of just like sexual confident person. I guess maybe that I liked and I got attention from it and that made me feel good. But the sex part didn’t. I remember I went through a phase where I would cry every time after I had sex because I just hated myself. And I hated that I was having sex but I did it anyways.
I worked in the bar scene. I was a cocktail waitress and I was a bartender. And I ended up bartending at this hole in a wall bar where we barely made 50 bucks in tips and the other bartender would stay after work. Actually finish cleaning up, she’d stay after and have a drink with the owner. And one day she invited me to stay, “Stay. Just follow my lead.” And I was like, “Okay.”
MAYA: And so I stayed and he would ask us to take off our shirts and she would say, “Oh, for how much?” And so he would pay us to do sexual things for him. And so then we’d make 50 dollars bartending but then we’d end up leaving with 200 because we would stay after and entertain the owner.
Yeah, I never had sex with him. I don’t know if she did. I did give him oral sex once and I hated myself for it. I was so just disgusted with myself for doing that and everything else was just like being topless, lap dances, touching him over his pants and stuff like that. He was old and creepy kind of so I wasn’t sexually attracted to him at all. It was definitely just doing it for the money and I guess maybe in a way it was exciting but yeah, I remember crying a lot during that phase.
I actually have a journal entry that I keep because it just reminds me of how I felt at that time. My self esteem was so low that I remember writing that the only thing I have going for myself is my looks, my body, and my sexuality. The only thing I’ll ever be is a bartender, as stripper or a prostitute. I mean I’ve never been a stripper but those are the things that I should pursue because that’s what I’m good at. I’m not good at anything else. I can use my body and my looks and the way that I talk to men to whatever. It wasn’t an empowering kind of feeling it was like, “This is all I’ll ever be.” And in kind of my own little way I know that sex work can be very empowering and positive for a lot of people.
LEAH: It can be and it’s not for everybody. I am a huge proponent of sex work for people for whom it is a choice. When people believe or are in a situation where it is their only choice and so they have no other options, then it’s a real problem. People deserve better than that. But yeah, there are plenty of people for whom sex work is a choice and it is a really empowering experience for them. I’m sorry that you had the other experience.
Were you still a practicing Muslim through any of this? MAYA: No, not at all.
LEAH: And was that in any way sort of weighing into any of your decisions. I mean we already talked about how there was shame for you in that first sexual relationship, was that continuing?
MAYA: I definitely had a lot of shame although again, timeline I’m not quite sure when I picked up this book. But I picked up a book called Sex Matters by Osho, I know he’s a very controversial person, I’m sorry for bringing him up.
MAYA: But the book is phenomenal.
LEAH: Some of his work is great. It’s just his actions were challenging. [LAUGHTER]
MAYA: Yes. But I picked up a book not knowing who Osho was. I only recently discovered his history but the book kind of made me say, “Fuck religion” and seeing sex as more than just giving myself away because that’s what religion teaches you about sex is women give away their virginity or their sexuality and that it belongs to a man. Once I decided that religion wasn’t for me, the shame kind of fell away.
LEAH: You’ve told me that you are mixed race, black and white. You are a very light skinned woman in terms of your blackness.
LEAH: I don’t know how one says that. I’ve talked to other black women who have had real challenges with feeling fetishized by white men or having real difficulty in dating based on their skin color and I’m curious about what your experience has been with that if any.
MAYA: No, I’ve actually never had sex with a white guy before. I had sex with an Italian guy but he was like really Italian.
MAYA: As I grew older, I realized that black men are where it’s at.
MAYA: I mean I grew up in a white suburb and that’s why I was too tall, I was too big. White men would look at me and say I’m fat. Black men would be like, “Ooh, she thick.”
MAYA: And so I don’t feel I was fetishized by white people. I felt like I was disregarded by white men but black men loved my body or my size.
LEAH: And I assume that that is how your husband treats you? MAYA: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Yeah, he loves my body. [LAUGHTER]
LEAH: What happens next?
MAYA: I dated a Muslim boy. We thought that we were going to marry each other. That’s kind of how we talked to each other. We were both Muslim but we were the very same type of Muslim, meaning we weren’t practicing and we were very Americanized culturally.
Yeah, but he had severe depression. I had severe depression and it just didn’t work. And he ended up breaking up with me because he said that I’m too big for him. And he’s 5’6. I’m 6 foot.
MAYA: So we were a very awkward pair. We looked awkward together but that’s what I loved about us. I thought that he didn’t care and I love fucking with people’s ideas of what’s normal.
MAYA: And the fact that we were together, it just made people uncomfortable and I loved that.
MAYA: And so part of me is like did I really love him or did I like the idea of how different we were together?
My husband is the first person that didn’t hold me up on a pedestal. I was very caught off guard how much he wanted to please me. Sex was always about the man and it was something that’s performative. As long as he came, then that meant that I did a good job or whatever. But with my husband, he wanted me to come first and I was like, “What?”
MAYA: And it was uncomfortable at first and I didn’t really explore my body like that. And so he would get frustrated sometimes when I wouldn’t orgasm because he felt like, “Oh, am I doing something wrong?” And then once it kind of came out that I don’t even know what my body is.
MAYA: How my body’s supposed to operate, and then we kind of worked on that, which was fun. [LAUGHTER]
MAYA: I spent a lot of time and attention on my pleasure, which was nice. And it’s funny because we love talking openly about sex and I think that’s a great part of our relationship is we do openly talk about
what we like, what we don’t like and what we want to try and what we’ve tried in the past, that kind of stuff. And so we have a relationship with two pleasers so sometimes I want to please him and he’ll be wanting to please me and then we’ll get frustrated with each other.
LEAH: So when you say you talk about things you’ve enjoyed in the past and things that you want to do in the future, what are some of those things?
MAYA: So we definitely want to have a threesome with a woman. It’s not something we’ve done because I’m not in the space so I’ve told him all my fun stories from my past and everything but one thing that is different is I don’t do drugs anymore.
MAYA: And with every crazy sexual experience I’ve had has been on drugs and my body is a lot different now than it was back in my late teens, early 20s. And there’s a little bit of insecurity there and so we haven’t done it yet but it is something that we both want to do. We just have to figure out how. We considered our first time doing it hiring a sex worker because I think that would be really fun/safe. I don’t know. It feels more comfortable doing it with someone who that’s their job as opposed to some random girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing either.
LEAH: Yeah, it wouldn’t be for everyone for sure but I think that that’s a really valuable option because when you commodify that relationship, then you don’t have to worry about, “Well, are people’s feelings going to get involved? And what if we see them out in the club next time and what if we get uncomfortable?” All of that stuff kind of goes out the window because you’re paying this person for their time and therefore anything that happens within that space is okay but you also don’t have to worry about lots of feelings becoming involved in it.
MAYA: Totally. One thing we’ve struggled with and have talked about and that’s been really interesting kind of diving into is so we’ve been together for 5 years, married for a year and a half, almost two years, and sex was a lot easier when we were dating and so we’ve tried to figure out why that is.
And a lot of things came up as to why and one thing that we both kind of agreed on is that in both of our pasts, sex was not associated with love. Sex was an act you do with someone you don’t care about. When you care about someone, when you love someone, it’s different. And I associated sex with dirty like, “I don’t really love you. I just want to fuck you.”
MAYA: But when I love you, I do other things to express my love for you and so we have a really great relationship. We both love each other. We both support each other and sex is really challenging and awkward a little bit. And part of it I think has to do with we’ve talked about this, living together. When you live with someone, you don’t get to prepare. When you don’t live with someone, when I used to go visit him at his house, I would make sure I was showered. I had shaved. I smelled good. I felt pretty. My mental state was in the right place.
But when you live together, it’s like where is that time to prepare? You don’t want to plan for sex because that’s boring but then if you want it to be spontaneous, it’s hard to make it spontaneous because the other person isn’t ready or I haven’t showered or oh, the baby and just a lot of things that are going against you when you’re living together. I don’t necessarily think it was the marriage. I mean we still have great sex and when we do have sex, we’re like, “Damn, we should do this more often.”
MAYA: But the frequency isn’t as much as it was when we were dating. And so that’s something that we’re trying to work around especially with a kid now, it just makes it so much harder and you hear all the time married couples talking about how challenging married sex is or sex with kids, not sex with kids but when you have sex and you have kids.
LEAH: And there’s also a phenomenon called new relationship energy where when you’re first in a relationship with somebody, you’ve got all those good yummy chemicals running through your body, specifically the time for bonding and that makes sex feel extra exciting and extra good.
And then you settle into a relationship with them and those chemicals aren’t running in the same way and that is a challenge for a lot of people. I hear a lot of people coming to me saying, “Is there something wrong with our relationship like sex used to be so exciting and so great and now it’s just not as easy?” No, there’s nothing wrong with your relationship. This is the normal pattern.
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: What belief did you have about sex as a child or a young woman that you wish you could correct her on now?
MAYA: It’s a tough one. I don’t know if I can answer that genuinely. I can come up with an answer for you but I don’t know if it would be genuine.
I’m trying to think of what I would say to my daughter. And I just don’t know. The first thing that popped into my head was, “Don’t’ be ashamed.” But I’m not saying that shame is a good thing but I also don’t, oh my God, this is going to be problematic me saying this, but I definitely don’t want her to feel so liberated that she’s just having sex and throwing her whatever every which way because I feel like I did that but I did it from a very negative space.
LEAH: That’s what I’m hearing. When you talked about it, it sounds like it came from a space of depression and having a hole that you were trying to fill and so that’s very different than not wanting her to be sexually liberated, that’s not wanting her to use sex to fill other needs in her life.
MAYA: So I guess maybe that’s what I would say is, “Don’t use sex as a coping mechanism for difficult emotions.”
LEAH: Maya, thank you so much. This conversation has been so much fun and I’m really grateful for you for being so open. Thank you for being with me today.
MAYA: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. [MUSIC]
LEAH: Thanks for joining me today on Good Girls Talk About Sex. If you’d like to be a guest on the show, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at GoodGirlsTalk. I was only able to step outside my good girl box when someone I respected told me it was possible to do it. If you’d like to step outside a box that’s no longer working for you, I’m here to tell you it’s possible and I’d love to work with you. Join my mailing list to receive tools that help you name your desires and communicate them effectively to your partner or potential partners. Sign up at leahcarey.com.
I’m Leah Carey and I look forward to talking with you again next time. Here’s to your better sex life! [MUSIC]
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