Lovehoney Sex Expert Interview: Ev'Yan Whitney
Photo credit: Celeste Noche
Ev'Yan Whitney is a sex educator, sex activist, and sexuality doula who helps facilitate, educate, and hold space for women and femme-identifying folks who want to step out of sexual shame and into erotic empowerment.
Tell us about Sex Love Liberation! How did your personal journey inspire your professional journey as a sexuality doula and educator, and what advice do you have for other women looking to empower their own erotic selves?
I started this work from my own deep desire to heal my sexuality and figure who I was as a sexual person. For most of my life, sex was weighed down with lots of shame, dogma and trauma, and despite my no longer believing in old, harmful stories about sex, I was still feeling the effects of those narratives and they were wreaking havoc on my marriage.
So to make sense of my own issues and start to heal those stories, I started a personal blog (then called The Sexually Liberated Woman) to chronicle my sexual liberation journey. Shortly after, my work went from being a place of refuge for me, to being a place of refuge for other women who were struggling through the same things I was. And since I was doing so much work on myself, it was a natural transition for me to begin facilitating sexual healing and liberation for others.
So from that place, the advice I would give other women who want to empower their erotic selves is to be curious. Be curious about who you are as a sexual person – what your desires are, what your sexual needs and curiosities are, what kind of relationship you want to have with your orgasm and body. Asking myself questions like that when I was in the thick of sexual self-discovery was huge for me and laid a solid foundation for my sexual identity to flourish outside of shame and trauma.
In your work, what topics have you observed couples to need more education around, and why do you think that is?
I don't know about education, but I definitely think couples could benefit from learning how to speak openly and honestly about sex. So many of my clients don't have talks with their partners about the sex they're having (or the sex they want to have). I think having those conversations (especially if they're done outside of sexual context) is really important to be able to deepen your sexual connection, reinstate consent, and make sure your pleasure and needs are prioritized.
How can incorporating toys into the bedroom help strengthen and increase the level of play in a couple's sex life – especially when one partner is or both partners are learning to connect with their sensual selves?
Playing with toys is such a great way to access different kinds of sexual intimacy and playfulness with your partner. It also helps challenge narratives that place a hierarchy on certain sexual acts and instead makes pleasure the priority.
Because that's what sex is supposed to be about: having fun and feeling good. I like giving my clients permission to incorporate toys – both within their coupled sex and their solo sex – to explore their pleasure and create new stories about what accessing that pleasure (without shame) looks like.
How did the recent #sensualselfiechallenge on Instagram get started and what are some of your biggest takeaways from the stories participants have been sharing?
I started the Sensual Selfie Challenge because I wanted to invite women + femmes to experience and explore body positivity and sexual celebration through sensual self-portraiture – which is something that I've been doing in my own sexual liberation practice for the last couple of years.
The last time the challenge ran, we had over 4,000 people play along and it was profound. People were telling me that for the first time, they were able to see themselves as sexual beings with their own eyes as opposed to through the eyes of their partner or the proverbial male gaze that has so dictated the way femme sexuality is expressed and witnessed.
I also heard from people that by taking these photos, they began to feel sensual and connected and more confident in their bodies. What's funny is that when I was planning the challenge, I was doing battle with an inner voice that told me that this was superficial and frivolous and no one would resonate with it. So to have witnessed people having these healing and empowering experiences is beyond beautiful. That was definitely the highlight of 2018 for me.
What's your very favorite bedroom advice to give?
Use masturbation (or solo sex) to help you create more intimacy and sexual fire in your partnered sex. It sounds so counterintuitive, but what I've seen is that when you have a strong sexual connection with yourself and when you're able to nurture that solo sexual relationship, you're better able to show up to your partnered sex with more intention and confidence.
This has definitely been the way it's gone for me in my own relationship. I notice that when I prioritize the sexual relationship I have with myself, I exercise my sexual autonomy and agency, and when I show up to sex with my husband from that place, I feel more present and self-possessed, which is a win-win-win all around.
Photo Credit: Celeste Noche
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