Welcome to Modern Anarchy, the podcast featuring real conversations with conscious objectors to the status quo.
I'm your host, Nicole. On today's episode, Jess shares her powerful journey from shameful masturbation to relationship anarchy liberation and queering love. Together we talk about the ontological shift of leaving religion, the divine intervention of dating a kinky person, losing your virginity twice, and ABCD anal y'all for this episode. If you have experienced spiritual trauma, big warning here that this might be a really difficult conversation to listen to, Jess and I really get into some of the nitty gritty of the painful lasting effects and things that we've had to work through from our experience growing up in fundamental religions. And so if you have had a similar experience, I just want to give you that warning that this might bring up a lot of emotions for you, as it did for me, right? And I'm sure Jess as well, we kind of talk about that.
And at the same time, I also found, at least for me personally, this conversation very healing, it feels so, it feels so good to be seen in the level of experience that you've had to know that someone else out there knows that pain, knows that experience, knows all of that. I mean, no one can ever really know, right? Because we're all in our own experience of this world, and no one has actually walked the specific steps that you have walked.
But there are some humans out there who know a little bit more than others. And that is definitely what happened in this conversation with Jess, where we kind of found a connection in the pain that we shared together. And I hope any of you listeners out there who have had maybe similar experiences find some sort of healing in this conversation as well. And I mean, beyond that, we also get into some fun, fun, anarchy conversations about what it means to love other people, what it means to have sex, y'all. If you have been listening to the podcast, you know that these are some of my favorite conversations to dive into, to create new language for and to create new paradigms of how we understand relationships and connections. So this is a lovely episode with Jess. It really meant a lot for me in terms of my healing from religious trauma and looking to the future of where we are going as a society with relationship and our key.
So y'all, I hope you enjoy today's episode and tune in. Yeah, there's no rules, no specific direction that we have to go in. Do you have any questions? Or yeah, what questions do you have for me before we start? I mean, that was my yesterday, I was like, oh, what are we going to talk about? I looked back at things and was like, oh, there's no, you know, some people are like, I want to ask you these 10 questions and how do you feel about that? And I was like, oh, this just gets to be a conversation. Like, that's, that's fun. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think it's more fun that way. And then it like, you never really know where the conversation is going to go.
So it's like such a co-collaborative thing that I always really enjoy getting to do with other people. Yeah. Yeah, so no, no questions. Okay, cool, cool. And then also as part of the conversation, also feel free to ask me questions as well. It starts to feel like it's too much like on you, feel free to direct it back to me. So don't feel like it has to just be an interview. Okay.
Tell me your deepest, darkest feelings. Well, you know, I'm all for it. You know, I'm all for that. So then, yeah, is there anywhere you would like to start the conversation with?
I honestly don't know. Like I was, you know, Carleen, I was like, thanks for the rest, you know, and, and they were like, well, you mentioned something about like church and you're my church person. And I was like, all right, maybe we'll just jump right into that. Yes.
Yes. So I mean, that's, I'm always want to talk about that. I always want to talk about masturbation and pleasure. Let's do it. Let's do it. Up for everything. Okay, so you are.
Sure, sure, sure. So you are the church person. What does that mean? That means within the community, like I'm in Portland, Oregon, in the States. And within the community here, I'm the person that does this work who grew up evangelical. And so when folks are coming in with that particular, extra need for support, because it is such a different flavor and depth of shame. Absolutely. I get asked questions or sent clients, because I think when you haven't been around that indoctrinated experience, it's very foreign. And people don't quite understand like how stuck things get. Yes.
In the body. So yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yes. As someone who has had a similar experience, I can definitely resonate with that indoctrinated worldview and how pervasive that ideology is to your whole experience, especially with sexuality. Yeah.
Could you tell me then if you'd be willing to more about your own journey with the evangelical church and your own path? Yeah. Yeah. So I it's really interesting because I grew up in the Methodist church, which is fairly like liturgical and service based. And you know, what have you definitely got sent to or invited to one of those like, pledge yourself to wait until marriage, kind of things. And I think that was mostly just because the youth pastor thought that's what she should do with the youth group and not necessarily like, there wasn't a big like, energy behind that in the church.
And then when I went to college, I got hooked up with one of the campus ministry programs, which was a very evangelical, like, we're going to pray for people to be saved. And what is your testimony? I was like, I don't know what a testimony is. You know, because before that, it's just like, well, like, God created us and we love him, you know, and then this is like, Oh, well, no, you're bad. And you have to ask to be saved. Yeah.
It's far enough the way now that I'm like, these words just sound so weird and fucked up. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
And like, I also don't always get to talk to somebody who has the same, you know, background where it's like, I'll have to explain what that word means. Yeah. And then even so like, went to college and got more like evangelical, I had friends, I mean, it was the I kiss dating goodbye. Like, Oh, wow.
Yeah. And Nicole, so all of my friends were courting. And then they were even like kissing or laying next to each other. Pre-marriage because that, you know, could slide you down the terrible slope into sinning and apparently the only unforgivable sin in sex.
Or the one that like, everyone gets shamed for. Yeah. And so like, all of that is happening at the same time I found masturbation and was like, Oh, this is amazing. And I can't tell anybody about it. Because I'm not supposed to be doing this. I'm not supposed to be sexual.
And so like, had a massive cycle for, I guess, what's almost 18 years old to 24, so six years of just like, I'm doing this thing that feels really good and joyful in my body. I'm praying for forgiveness, doing this like, and I can't tell anybody about it. And I'm, you know, kind of stuck in this.
Just like, I guess I'm going to do this thing again, that this connects me from God and then ask to be reconnected. It's bananas. It's fucking bananas. Yeah, so that's like, that was college. I think I had 12 weddings the summer after I graduated because everybody was ready to start fucking and that was the best way to do it. And to everyone's credit, that's why I think everyone is still married, which is kind of amazing because that was almost 20 years ago. Mm hmm.
Yeah. And then I went to Chicago and then I went to. I did an inner city mission program, which is a whole other set of things that impact in that. Yeah, I know that feeling. And while I was there, like that's when things started to kind of be like, I don't agree with this. I don't, you know, lots of people are really against like folks being clear. I don't agree with that folks with this, you know. And then I, in that time also quote unquote lost my virginity twice because it was within the same friend group.
And so like, didn't help people the first time it happens, then the second time it happened that person thought that they had taken a virginity. And then share that with your whole group. No, like, nobody was sharing this, but like they were just like, Oh, I like, yeah, yeah. And I was like, mm hmm. Interesting. Okay.
Okay. Like I don't know how to communicate this and then within my Christian friends, like there was just a lot of shame in that a lot of feeling broken. And then I finally like a few years after that left the church and moved back to the West Coast and started my process of like, what does it mean to be an adult at 25 and not like have any clue how to do any of this. Yeah. That should be so like, you know, I didn't get the opportunity to try things out as a teenager.
And so now I'm, you know, in my mid to late 20s trying things out and then have the shame of being in my mid late 20s and being like, Yes, I don't know what an erect penis looks like I don't know who I'm attracted to I don't know how to go out on dates like. Wow. Am I clear. Mm hmm. Yeah, I think they're clear. Okay, like what does that mean.
Yes, you know, and so it's like this interesting like there was shame before because I was sexual and then there was shame after because I wasn't sexual enough. And yeah. Yeah, short version.
Absolutely. And I mean, the amount of my heart goes out to you significantly I think. Yeah, my heart goes out to you because there's so many aspects that I have similarly gone through so like I can feel at least I'm assuming the weight of those transitions, you know, when you say you come out of that and you ask, you know, what am I supposed to do in this world. At least for me it was such a radical thing when your whole life was centered around God, every single decision, every single decision and thought was in the concept of how is this honoring God how is this furthering the kingdom. To stop that and to actually construct a life free of that is radically scary.
It was for me at least because I was like I don't know what the fuck my point is on this world then like what I'm where do I go how do I find an ethical structure like what. Yeah, yeah. And they get to choose.
And yeah. It was interesting as I was coming out. I remember going to see a friend who I mean was still is married to a pastor is in ministry. And I was like trying to express like not wanting to go to church anymore. And like being like, okay so like we have teaching like we asked God to live in us so like that means that Jesus God Holy Spirit is living inside of me. So like doing things that make my heart and my body happy are honoring God because God lives here. You know, like just trying to like shift my theology or my understanding of divine into something that like actually works for my my cosmos and like and maintain connection with people that I had significant relationship with and like she was kind of able to hold that space but many people were not. And then when I decided to leave I was just like putting my hands up in a big X I was like I can't deal with any, any of this.
And so didn't do anything really spiritual for a long time, because it's heartbreaking, it's heartbreaking to leave your community it's heartbreaking to like be rejected when you're questioning or you don't believe the things that your community believes anymore. Yeah, so it's a big protective measure. Yes, and I can resonate with that so much it's it's almost triggering to be around those people and to hear their thoughts right. Yes. Yeah, absolutely.
It's it's at least for me as I started to pull myself out. The way that they saw the world was so through that lens that it was hard to communicate about some ideas and I mean I still navigate this with my sister and mom who are Mormon right so like and the ability to connect with those sorts of people that see the world through radically different lenses is so tricky. Yeah. And I think what you're hitting on is such an important piece of like the difficulty of this experience of coming out of the church and the aspect of community that is so deeply tied into this you know those are your friends that you've had for years this is your family your friends and once you start to ideologically pull yourself out.
Who do you have to go to after that when your whole community is still in that ideology. Yeah. Yeah. Or like the thing that I learned, because I'm, I'm a perfectionist and I'm also like a researcher and so as I was coming out I was like all right, I need to learn everything about the sex.
Right. So like, got books and I the first person I dated was very, very kinky like looking back I was like how I mean in my in my worldview it's like oh, that was like a little like divine intervention is like you get to date this person. Absolutely.
Yeah. And I'm my heart breaks for the younger you that was discovering masturbation and the joy and the pleasure that we are all capable of having with self love and the self care that is masturbation and having to navigate with that. This feels so good in my body.
This is healthy for my body from research. And this is disconnecting me from God. Oh, like just navigating eyes so, so painful. Yeah. Yeah, and I'm a bad person because this thing, right. Like it's, I don't know, the being a teen and early 20 something in the early 2000s was very like, very anti sex in the Christian circles and so it's like, I could have done anything else.
But because I was being sexual, like I was the worst. Yes. And so like that really like sits with me. Mm hmm.
Mm hmm. And that was also a time, you know, before the prevalence of the internet where, you know, kids nowadays can just Google sex positive things and that's great. Like this is amazing.
So back in the early 2000s when purity culture was at its height and we didn't have connection to other communities to learn that, hey, other people do this differently. I mean, you're so in, you know, a bubble really. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, and everybody, like, I've learned, I was actually just writing about visibility yesterday, um, from my blogs, but like, I've learned in like the last five years that there were other people in that church community that were feeling similar to me, but because we were still afraid to share those things. Or maybe some people did, but got shut down. And I was like, Oh, we actually like, we did have a little band of explorers back then, but we were all kind of something by ourselves.
It was landlines and snail mail. Right, right, right. Exactly. So then here you are navigating in your own mind. I'm this bad person because I'm masturbating and feeling like you're the only person that's questioning this, which then, you know, within that evangelical worldview means that Satan, the devil potentially has a grip on you and that you're fighting the devil and his tendencies within you.
And now you start to think that maybe you could, yeah, be having that sort of like demonic energy within yourself. I mean, this is really difficult things to be going through. I think some people don't really understand who haven't. I kind of like what you said earlier, who haven't been in this dynamic when we say like, Oh yeah, it was shameful and I felt bad. It was like, no, like this is a cosmic level scale of bad of like, yeah, maybe Satan is affecting me and compelling me to do this.
Yeah. And if I share it like, does I mean the whole church is going to lay their hands on me and try to cast out this terrible thing that is happening. And so, yeah, the quiet which then compartmentalizes your experience and bring this. Mm hmm.
Yeah, absolutely. And the way that it your internal messages about your body, the internal messages about what is good for you to do. I mean, that doesn't just drop once you leave the church, you know, you know, as having to talk to my therapist, as someone who's becoming a psychologist and have the similar journey, it is my journey as well every single week, right? Like that shit doesn't just go away. I have to do the right thing.
Like, if I don't do the right thing, I'm going to be punished. Mm hmm. Wow. Do you connect that to your perfectionism at all? Yeah, I mean, it's that's a familial like value that was passed down, but it's also like to be a woman in the Christian church, like you have to at least seem perfect. Mm hmm. And strive to be perfect.
Mm hmm. Yeah, and then if every single decision you're making, you're wondering, is this in line with God's will? Talk about the mental processing that you're doing there. So now you're looking at every single thought, is this right? Is this right?
Is this right? And the amount of self reflection you have to have and potentially can go to, yeah, a degree of anxiety perfectionist, at least my own experience is what I've had with this. And specifically, it's not even your actions. The radical thing that I always thought about the evangelical church is that it comes to this point where it's also about your thoughts because thinking about murder is just as bad as doing murder in the eyes of the Lord.
So when you even think bad thoughts, now you're also a murder in the eyes of the Lord, which puts you into this really wild cognitive spiral where like, you're making these huge judgment calls about who you are as a person based on automatic thoughts that we can't necessarily control. Yeah. Yeah. But isn't that a great way to control a population of people?
Yes, boy, does it work and it is a recipe for anxiety. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Mm hmm. Yeah. And I mean, I think we can shake that off a little bit.
I know, right? Exactly. This is also probably a conversation too for both of us of like, breathing through that because like even having this conversation, I'm sure at least for me, it's, you know, activating to a level of degree to connect back to those emotions and to remember where we were and for you feel that it's still something that, yeah, like you said, shaking that off in your body. Yeah. Mm hmm. And I'm thinking too about you had pledged yourself to marriage, to waiting to have sex until marriage right at a young age. And then to lose your virginity twice. Would you laugh at I love.
I love. In retrospect, it's like, it's all such a big ball of fucked up, but it was like, it was true. I lost it twice. I mean, and then I like, I don't know, I like to talk about all the different virginities.
It's like, well, every time you kiss a new partner, like that's the first time every time you try something, you know, and so it's fun to just kind of like take that and throw it on its head. Yeah. But yeah. Yeah. Lost it twice officially.
Mm hmm. And how was that experience for you? Um, it was very deeply shame filled. Both times involved a lot of alcohol. Because that's what I like.
One year in your twenties and oftentimes that's just culturally what we're doing and, but it also was like, oh, you know, looking back is like, oh, I can blame that on the fact that I was drunk. I didn't actually choose that. And it's like, well, you really wanted it like. And then particular with one of the people I really wanted it with one of the one of the people.
And so it's like, you know, but there, there was no way to with integrity wanted within my system of belief. Right. Right. And so, yeah. Yeah, I mean, I think that makes a ton of sense. So, you know, if there's a lubricant of alcohol to say, this is why it happened.
Then we don't have to deal with the fact that wanting sex doesn't fit into the paradigm of thought that we're at the time. Yeah. Yeah.
And again, like getting drunk. Is a is a better, better sin. What the hell. Yeah.
Not as bad of a sin as choosing to have that. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah.
In the hierarchy of cultural sense. Right. Exactly. Yeah.
So, yeah. And then, you know, after that, it was like, well, I've broken this for my future at this point, it was husband. You know, and then as I was progressing through, I was like, do I really even want to get married? Do I even only like men?
Do I even like, you know, and now. I'm like, I'm so polyamorous for the most part. And I'll be one. I mean, I might get married.
Who knows. But, you know, like, do whatever I want to choose. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Yeah. And I love the freedom that comes with that. So low polyamory and all that liberation is so beautiful, especially coming from where you were before.
At least for me, it resonated when you said that I had broken this for my future husband. Yeah. Yeah. And that like, that, I mean, that all still trickles down, right? Like even now it's like, oh, this, like, this does this pleasure get to be for me too? I mean, the answer is yes. And most of the time the answer is yes, but there's still times where I'm like, oh, I should do this for them. Do you want to do this for them?
Yeah. But feeling of obligation, where's the, where's the joyful consent in the center of that? Is there joy? The center of that. But the like, the, you're supposed to say this special thing for this maybe never existing person. Yeah. Yeah. Like, and we're assuming that everybody is straight. Yeah.
that because God is perfect, you're going to be able to understand how to be sexual once you have saved this thing that you've never practiced with the person that you've just entered into a sacred contract with. Mm-hmm. It's a lot of pressure. Mm-hmm. And a lot of patriarchy and a lot of like procreation and the man who's the head of the household and it's a recipe for a lot of disaster.
Yes. Yeah, I think about the man as the head of the household exactly what you said where it was, I remember this teaching that as a woman my job was to serve my husband. And true in turn he was supposed to serve me in the way that Jesus serves the church.
I hear it, I hear it, but Jesus is still above the church in a hierarchy structure and in the same way it was assumed that the male would be at the top in terms of the power and the dynamics of who is making decisions. And so yeah, when it comes to sex it becomes this, this is what I give to my husband, this is how I serve, this is how I do that, forgetting the whole aspect of female pleasure, ownership over my sexuality, consent, so many pieces. Yeah. And like even if, right, that's what you choose and what you want, like if you're attending to pleasure of both bodies, like the sex is going to be better, going to feel better for everybody. Absolutely, absolutely.
You know, and it's like, what, like even in that capacity, like just teach people how their bodies work so that they can enjoy what like is a really beautiful thing if it is like set up where both hearts are coming together in the same capacity. Which is often true. Right, right, right.
But it has like the capacity to be true. Yes, and that's where like I always try to sit where it's like, you know, waiting to have sex until marriage can be a beautiful thing, right? I'm all for that, even abstinence can be a kink for many people and you can look at it in that lens where like, I am waiting to engage in sex until I am married and that is going to be something very special that is shared just between the two of us.
I'm all for that. The second though that you start to say that if you have sex with other people, you are damaged, you are used, you are somehow less worthy as a person and as a potential partner, that's where I start to say this is not okay, right? Like, I understand the choice of keeping that exclusive. But when we start to make judgment calls on our sense of worth because of engaging in sex, no, no, no, no, no.
Yeah. And is it like, am I choosing to be abstinent until I'm married? Because that's what I want or is because I don't want to be used or broken or dirty or discarded.
Like, that's not a choice, that's coercion. Thank you. Yes. And so, it's like, well, yeah. Right. 100%. That's the question too, of like, is this conscious?
Is this something that you were freely choosing to engage in? And I think with, yeah, a lot of religious structures, the answer is no. Because of the power structure that enforces it upon you, which then says, yeah, if you do have sex, you are damaged. And, you know, all these other pieces, so then you're right, it's not a fair, open, freely chosen decision here when it comes to that piece. You know, maybe believing in the religion is even that you can ask a deeper question of like, is it a freely chosen thing when it's what you were raised in, when it's what your community was, when you were given no other models? Was that a freely chosen thing?
At least that's what I experienced growing up in it, right? It wasn't like I was given, hey, Nicole, you can believe in God and this dynamic, or you could not, both are equally good. That is not what I was given.
I was told, do you believe in this or you're going to hell? I wouldn't say that's consent. No. Yeah.
No, it is not. So I think that's when this gets tricky. It's like, yeah, you know, like, I always at least personally struggle with this, like a boundary of like respecting people's religious choices and the beauty that is spirituality and religion, but really, really having a hard time grappling with religious structures that aren't freely chosen in that do enact patriarchal notions of so many different things, you know what I mean?
Like we were talking about like the whole fucking thing. That's, that's where I go and like, ah, it's so hard to meet it like respect religion and recognize that it has so many patriarchal influences in it that like, can I be a feminist and even respect religions like that? I don't know. Yeah.
It's really tricky. Could you pull the, right, can you pull the patriarchal influence out of religion? I think we do see some Christians doing that, right?
And like modern Christianity who are like reinterpreting the text, having different understandings and implying, you know, a modern understanding of, you know, all of these pieces into their notion of God. And so like, I do think it's possible, but yeah, it's usually a very difficult line for me to walk here. Yeah.
And that's like, for me, I'm like, that's not the work that I'm trying to do. Like I can hold spiritual space. I can hold space for people who are in still, yeah, whether they want to be or not, like in organized Christianity, exploring their sexuality, people who've left that are exploring their sexuality. But I, yeah, I don't have any desire to be in the mix of the folks who are trying to like, I don't know, like, I think peace and maybe back together.
Like what I know of Jesus was that he looks a lot more like me than he looks like the church and the communities that I run with and the way that I live my life. But you know, for me, there's too much like, that's trauma that I don't want to edge with at all. Yes, 100%. So when I hear spiritual music, like Christian music, it hits me in a way that is drawing and activating. That is, it's the trauma that is there at that core. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. It's, it's anything about music. My last few years of being a Christian, I would often wake up with really raunchy hip hop in my head.
Like, it's all the time. And this was like when I was in Chicago, being a missionary. It was such a weird sentence to say.
I know. But like, that was happening. And then like on the reverse, like it happens to me, I went to a really beautiful, it was like a erotic, I don't say erotic art, but it was like all like plays or like musical acts. So it's honestly when it's one person show on like phone sex, and I just was biking there and like all these hymns like started popping into my head. And I was like, this is very fascinating that you like used to do this thing. And now you're doing this thing. Why am I singing this hymn on the way to like, mm, right? Whatever.
Let's try to sing something else. Yeah. Yeah.
That unconscious is coming through. Wow. Yeah. It was like, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Which is what we've been talking about, like how it sticks with you.
It's not like we get out of this web untouched. Like there's still so many pieces that were, at least for me, I was explaining this to some other people were like, I would masturbate even outside of letting go of the church and all this sort of stuff, but like be at home in my apartment by myself and masturbating under the sheets. Like what? Like I'm half there because I'm like, yes, I'm doing it, but still like, let's do this under the sheets because I'm feeling some level of shame in my own space in my own apartment. Like that stuff sticks with you. Best in case God is watching. Exactly. Because that, you know, like I didn't even realize it until like looking back on it now where I was like, yeah, why was I ended up?
It's like, it's a full level of shame about it. Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Mm-hmm. And I remember I equally had like a purity ring and did the whole, a whole piece there. I thought I was going to wait till marriage. And when I lost my virginity, it was so incredibly painful. Like the actual moment itself in terms of the relationship was beautiful, but afterwards processing the reality of what had happened, I had like gone up into my bathroom and just sobbed uncontrollably on the floor because I knew that I was no longer worthy, that I had just ruined my one-shot at purity. And that was it.
So I just cried uncontrollably. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. Because we just feel, we feel broken. Like we're worthless.
And who's going to want us now that I've done this? Yeah. That I've done this, which is one of the most beautiful things you can do with a body. Exactly. Exactly. I mean, it's deep. That runs so deep that I remember the message of the rose. Did you ever hear that one where they, there was an evangelical pastor who had the rose and he passes it all around and like the petals fall off. And then he was like, when you have sex with all these people, you're like the rose and you lose all of your petals and they're like, who would want this rose?
Who? And that's what I felt. I felt like I was no longer worthy.
And yeah, no one was going to want to be with me. Yeah. Yeah.
And that's why not everybody understands what it's like to work with folks that come from our backgrounds. Yes. Yes. Because this isn't, this wasn't at least for me and I don't know about you, but this wasn't just a part of our life. It was our whole life. And the way that we understood ourselves in the world and in relationship to other people was all centered on this ideology.
And whether or not like you get to spend eternity with God or not. Exactly. Because the or not, let's be very clear is teeth gnashing at your skin with fire. Like I remember the verses and revelations, they're very serious that like people are going to be gnawing at your skin while you're burning alive and hell for the rest of our eternity. That's what the not God option is.
Yeah. Which also like respecting religion, if we took that same exact paradigm into another religious context that maybe wasn't Christianity. And I said, I've started this religion where I believe in this dragon. And if you believe in the dragon, you'll spend eternity with the dragon. And if you don't, you'll exist in fire with people eating at your skin for the rest of your life.
And I started telling this message to children. I wonder, I'm not going to say anything, but I do wonder if people would ask if that's abuse to be telling people this idea, this structure, where that's the sort of dichotomy options you've got. Yeah. You know, I think sometimes we forget like it.
Christianity has been so normalized because of the history and all this other pieces that like if we took it out of that context and said word for word, the ideology that we're putting in other contexts, I think it's more clear of like, what sort of potential emotional abuse we're imparting on people with this. Yeah. Yeah. I know. Then the beauty of that journey being like you and I both grew through something like that and then come out of the other side of it because you said you're a researcher, you know, here I am becoming a sex and relationship psychologist doing the same thing of like, well, I went through this radical trauma, I guess I'm going to study the hell out of it. You know what I mean?
So big into that shit. Exactly. Thanks Christianity. Love that.
You brought me for a good career. Yeah. And now you said that you identify as solo Polly.
Yeah. I like sometimes I'm like, I'm a relationship anarchist. And then other times I'm solo Polly. And I like, it just really, that usually depends on like, do I want to have this conversation with you? Yes. Can I ask you to have that conversation as someone who's writing their dissertation on relationship anarchy? Yes, absolutely. Tell me.
Yeah. What's the dichotomy there? It's that like, people when you say the word anarchy, clench. And so that's the thing.
And then I'm like, well, whatever I tell you after this, you're already like, pulled in and not open. And then polyamory, even though like solo polyamory is like, you are kind of your own primary and you have a lot. I don't want to say that people in other dynamics don't have a lot of autonomy, but like, there's more space to be autonomous.
Or for like, for me, coming from the history that I do, I'm way less likely to fall into submissive patterns that I don't want to be in. This is always the best way to put that. And so, like, I'll use that as I'm like, Oh, people kind of know what solo polyamory is. But really, like for me, it's like relationship anarchy is like, I'm in love with a lot of things. Like, there are plants and animals that I have significant relationships with my friends are just as important as the people that I fuck, who are also my friends, but they're just ones that I do that thing with versus crochet with or, you know, like, and just kind of breaking, I think breaking down hierarchy and clearing love is really important to me. Yes. And so like, I, you know, semi jokingly started calling my garden my girlfriend, I'm like, no, actually, like, actually, my garden is my girlfriend, like, I hold hands with my raspberries, and I like, kiss my current push and I like, it is a significant relationship. And it's reciprocal. And, you know, and so, yeah, I don't know, that's my, when people can hold that, I like to share. And then, you know, when people like are just like, Oh, well, you broke up with that person, so you're going to start seeing these other people more.
I'm like, I'm, this is not a time for me to do free labor. Yes. Amen to that. Yes. You want to learn more about this place, just like, you're not, you're not trying to meet me, you're trying to like, pigeonhole me or like, and that's not what I'm not here to do that, or you can come to this workshop. Exactly, exactly.
Talk about it here. Mm hmm. Because it absolutely is labor to explain that a lot of people, even just that like, solo polyamory relationship, anarchy, a lot of people don't know those terms at all. So like, yeah, even having that discussion is a, a active labor to teach and to explain. So I think it makes a ton of sense to have boundaries of like, when we say these labels and when we don't and recognizing like the context of the situation, it's almost, it's code switching, right?
To a degree because of this identity and the lack of understanding of it of like, when we say it and when we don't. Yeah. It's been good at code switching for a long time. Yes, thank you Christianity for that lovely skill. That one.
Got me to walk into a church and talk to everybody and they'll understand what I'm saying. I can do that. Yeah. Yeah.
I feel real gross, but I can drop into that culture. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. I loved what you said about relationship andarchy being like, yeah, taking off the hierarchy and seeing the value in all the relationships that you have.
And I think that's something that it's true. When you say anarchy, people freak out. People do freak out. It's part of why I named the show Modern Anarchy was because of relationship anarchy. But I think at its core is this idea of, yeah, love. You have love for your friends, your pets, your family, your garden, all these different pieces.
And why do we have to say one love is more meaningful than the other or the more important to you in your life than the other? You don't. When people say that, most of the time, I'm like, you're just bold-faced lying. Mm-hmm. Like your best friend is more important than your husband. You just happen to be married to your husband. Mm-hmm.
Or your sister is more important. And so I think also part of it feels like, can we just tell the truth? Can we tell the truth about the things? Absolutely. And I think even that can be tricky, though, like telling the truth about things.
I think some people do, at least from my own experience of the world, I fell into the space of, no, my monogamous partner is everything, Jess. It is everything. It is the most important, for sure. But I think that world is kind of what contributes to marriages failing. This world where we look at your monogamous partner as your whole community, which once was built with religion, community structures, other sorts of stuff where you spent out that relational energy. And to look at your partner as the one and only, which at least I've done in my past, and see it in that way is like, that's how it fails, because you stop recognizing the importance of your friendship and how beautiful that is, because the two of y'all are gonna relate in different ways than the way that you relate to your primary partner, if that's what we're doing here.
Like the way you relate with all these different people is unique. You cannot compare them. There is no comparison between the relations. You might have deeper levels of intimacy, depending on the time that you've spent with this person, type of engagements that you do, that mean intimacy for you. Like there's different levels to that, but the potential for meaning, I think, is what we have to focus on is like your friendships, if we use that label, right, whatever, are just as meaningful, because they're a relationship you have with another human, and can be just as meaningful as a sexual relationship, just as meaningful as a romantic relationship, and all these different relationship structures you can take.
And then it also gives choice. So it's like, oh, you're my girlfriend, so we have to do this. And you're like, whoa, you're my girlfriend, so what do you wanna do?
Do you wanna be called my girlfriend? You know, one of my sweeties, they only use the word, I say sweetie, they only use the word friends, like we are friends. And that's just like that is how they navigate their, like constellation of significant relationships.
And then they kind of be like, oh, you're my girlfriend, oh, you're this, oh, you're this, so you're like, if you get to show up however, yeah. I love the word constellation, I was just, I think I'm just like in the thick of it, because right before this I was writing my dissertation, so I was like doing all those sorts of research and all this sort of stuff, like diving in. And one of the blogs I was reading about it, had talked about it as like a constellation, and I use that word in my research too. And thinking about our systems in terms of orbits, and I've got some comets that come around once a year, we have a great relationship, and I have some relationships that orbit around me more frequently, and being able to, I'm not saying one planet is more important than the other, but they have these different structures, around when I see them, and how frequency, and all that sort of stuff. And I think as we find language for these types of relationship structures, we're still developing that, right?
Something like orbits, constellations, I like these words to describe our relational field, our relational community, you know? And even just like, I don't know, I think a lot about the emotional, like I don't wanna say emotional intelligence, but that's the word, like of within all of these different structures, is like, well, with this friend, how do I communicate well so that we are showing up and meeting each other? And in this like romantic relationship, how do I communicate well so that we're meeting each other for like whatever needs and desires that particular connection has?
Which like, we put a lot of emphasis culturally on, like you do that with your spouse or future spouse, but like, what if we attend to all of our relationships in that capacity? Cause then it's like, oh, you're my friend that I like to drink whiskey with and do yarn projects. And that is like a beautiful gift of shared experience and relationship. But then if it's like, oh, I'm having a really hard day and I need to tell you all these things and we haven't agreed to that, like we're just here doing this like fun talking about Netflix and getting tipsy. It's like, are you willing to hold that container? Is that where we're going with this? Like let's check in about that.
And it requires a lot more work, but there's a lot more clarity around the clover. Yeah, emotional support, right? Like that's a resource energy that we're asking of other people to give to us when we need emotional support.
And yes, we give it back, you know, in other ways too. But like, yeah, if your relationship dynamic is more, doesn't typically have that level of interaction than to ask for that, I think it is important to ask for that, right? Like that is not a part of your dynamic. Like, hey, do you have the space to hold this conversation? I know this isn't what we usually do. I'd like to incorporate that and being able to have that kind of communication. You're so right that like we only seem to put that amount of effort and focus into your spouse relationship where you might have those conversations of like, how's our relationship doing? Do you feel seen?
I mean, some people don't even do that. And we would highly recommend doing that, you know, like step one, but also like, I think it's very important to do that with your other relationships as well as like checking in. How are you feeling? How are you liking the dynamics? Like in those sorts of pieces to make sure there is that open line of communication. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I mean, like, do you like it when I hug you?
Like, yeah, you know, because we all, everybody comes from different touch experiences and their family and their culture and. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah. The one thing that always gets me to is emotional fidelity. Yeah. Oh, God. That's something I've been writing about in my dissertation, you know, like this idea of emotional cheating.
It's fascinating. That's a homophobic term. Because the second that you're queer, you realize that, oh no, if I have an emotional relationship, because you know, I'm a cis woman, if I have emotional relationship with another cis woman that I potentially, because I'm queer, could be attracted to, is that emotionally cheating now to my spouse?
You know, quote unquote. And then at that point, you say, oh, shit, and I can't have a relationship with anybody that's equally as important, because it's gonna threaten the emotional fidelity with my spouse. Mm-hmm.
Yeah. Or if you're in a straight marriage, of course you can have a best friend who's the same gender as you. And that's not emotional infidelity because your audience is gonna be attracted to that person. So it's fine.
But if you get emotional support from another person of the quote unquote opposite gender, then that's you having an emotional affair. Yeah. Who's the same as? Yes. Absolutely.
Like I think if we could just have that idea infiltrate, we could have a better society of like normalizing intimacy, like keep the monogamy, sure, but like allow yourself to have emotional intimacy with other people. And that's okay. And that's a beautiful thing. And it doesn't have to, we can take anything from the ideas of polyamory, right?
It doesn't have to threaten the beauty of your relationship that you have with that monogamous partner if that's what you're doing. Yeah. Oh. Yeah. And even physical intimacy, like. Yeah. I think if folks could get.
basic touch needs met elsewhere, the like intensity of sex needs and relationships would be much softer. Absolutely. Yeah. And I think it's interesting at least as a cis woman that has cis woman friends, we tend to be more touchy. I've noticed, you know, like we're more like, oh, hug kiss, you know, like, yeah. But then the idea of doing that with other cis non binary people can kind of create this sort of like dichotomy or like, yeah, what does it mean for having this dynamic? And I think this is where it gets really tricky. And I don't even know how to have these conversations of to people who haven't had this level of reflection on the abilities to have physical intimacy. Having physical intimacy with them can actually they like mean so much more than what I'm meaning it to. Do you know what I mean? Like, like, if I were to go to and I'm also careful of saying like a cis het man and like what that means, I know not ever if it's into that label box of like, you know, but like, if you go to someone like that, who has not thought about all this, and I start to snuggle, then that means that, oh, we're gonna kiss and have sex and like do all this sort of stuff. Yeah, there's like this slew of expectations because we haven't normalized physical intimacy and those interactions that like, yeah, just going into that sort of touch means ABCD and EFJ, you know, yeah. So then it's so this is where I find tricking is the anal. Yeah, yeah, ABCD anal.
Maybe that'll be the title of the episode. Because yes. And then so I've been at least trying to do that work with my friends of like, hey, like, I would like to have physical intimacy that's not necessarily sexual. Can we have that in our dynamic? Yeah, you know, and then it's like, oh, you're weird for asking that. But it's like, oh, no, that like, that opens up the possibility of that happening. And like, your needs getting met, they're probably unthought of need.
Yes, has an opportunity to get met. And then that like, I don't know, like the beautiful thing about that is like, then it starts to shift the culture of like, oh, snuggling can just be snuggling. Unless we've agreed that snuggling then means that I'm going to kiss you. And then it means I'm going to do this. And then it's like, yes. But it, you know, it's the yeah, the physicality escalator.
That's exactly what I was gonna say. The relationship escalator is what I was thinking. So yeah, maybe it's like a, yeah, physicality escalator or an intimacy escalator, because it's totally there too.
Right? Yeah, because we haven't deconstructed at least platonic touch to be in that. So I like that physicality escalator. Absolutely.
That's a great word. We're heading this way. Exactly, exactly. And like, can we slow down enough to have conversations to create relationships that work to meet your needs to meet the other people's needs in your life that are unique to you so that you don't have to ride that escalator all the way to the top.
And you can find whether whatever step works for your dynamics. Yeah. Yeah, that just made me think of like, I always love asking people, clients in particular, like, well, what do you mean by sex? Yeah, yeah, what does sex mean to you? Great question. Mm hmm. Like, and then let me like, well, you know, like intimacy, like, I would like to know like, what parts of your body are doing what with other people and are there toys involved or there are other people involved? Like, I need to know the specifics because that's where like, we get to start pulling in the part. Yes, I love that you're hitting on my dissertation.
This is so it feels so good for me. So the ideas I've written down by myself in my loan like research silo of like, yeah, what does it mean to cheat? What does it mean to cheat on someone? Right? Like, is that holding hands? Yeah, is that snuggling to some people? Is that a kiss on the cheek?
You know, in other cultures, that's super that's a that's a hello, you know, and flirting. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. And like, we'd say like, oh, that's cheating, you know, like, so I think all of that is wrapped under this umbrella of like, sex, because like, within the idea of monogamy, it's like, you only have sex with me.
Okay, what does sex mean? Is snuggling a part of that umbrella for you? Yeah. And especially gets complicated when yeah, you're talking about the pairing of like, an opposite gender with that, right? There's the heteronormity, like all that sort of pieces coming in of like, you know, this is why I love queer deep like deconstruction theory, like it just takes it all apart. And you're like, Oh, yeah, none of this makes sense.
Everything is a sham. But then the beauty being that like, if we do take this time to construct it, more needs are going to be met, you have more space to create a relationship that meets what you need and what you want in your life. And that is a beautiful thing.
Yeah. And it's like, everyone, everyone gets a disservice of like, sex is penis and vagina, if we're lucky to orgasms. Like, you know, it's like, it, it no one is no one is served by that, because it's like, well, how many nerve endings do you have? What are your emotional needs? What are your actual desires? What like, is your energy?
What is, you know, your trauma history, all of that? Like, and bodies can do like, okay, amazing. Like, you can have orgasms without being touched.
Yes, you can like, you can have really great sex without taking your clothes off. But it's like, unless you're allowed to like, like, or blinders even, but like, this be like, it's not a whole box of crayons, like it's literally like all the art supplies that ever existed are potential. And you can choose to be like, I would like, only red and yellow crayons. And that's a great choice if you want to choose that.
Or you can choose like, a whole bunch of other shit. Exactly. Exactly.
If you don't know. Exactly. Exactly. And look at all the beautiful colors you have in that box.
Okay. There's nothing wrong with red and yellow, nothing wrong. But wow, there's a whole spectrum of colors like, whoa. Yeah.
Mm hmm. There's paint, and then there's clay. And then there's me like, tell me there's a whole art world out there. But yes, there's like, yeah, there we go kink all the whole range of what sexuality can mean when we expand our ideas beyond the penis vagina, potentially orgasm, right?
Like, script. Hopefully orgasm. Exactly. I know the orgasm gap just like, if we could change one thing, it would be that, right?
Changing that orgasm gap. My God. The fallacy. Yeah. Mm hmm. And like, getting rid of the word forplay. Mm hmm. Tell me tell me your little manifesto on getting rid of the word forplay.
I like it. Well, forplay for me is just sex, right? And it's like, Oh, we've been sending like sweet and dirty texts all day. Like, that is part of sex. We like glances part of sex.
And I know what's for what is forplay for? Great people. Let me tap into that. I massage a lot of my partners. But like, like, that is all for me, like, that's all sex. Because the like, I really do want to have orgasms. I love having orgasms. But like, for me, the whole point is like, how much pleasure can this person and I engage in? Yeah, in the ways that our two bodies like to mm hmm. You know, and some people like, I have some people were like, it very much looks like missionary fucking.
And it's great. Yeah. And then other people were like, did we take our clothes off? I don't remember. Like, did we both have multiple orgasms? Yes, we did. So like, is that not sex?
Because like, our genitals weren't touching outside of our clothes. Or maybe even not at all. Mm hmm. I don't know. Like, I mean, yes, we answered yes, yes, but but it like, yeah, I just don't like the idea of like, foreplay is the thing that you do before the sex. Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Exactly. All of those, all of those things are. Yes, yes, literally right. Yes, I and yes, I agree they are and like even the word itself for play before play.
Wait, what? Okay, so you're telling me that what I'm doing here is not the actual play part of the equation. Like what are we creating and even that like word choice, you know, saying like, yeah, this isn't the play part. This is just the, you know, warm up or whatever. It's like, no, this is the game. Like this is the play. This is the whole thing. And dare I say, all those pieces that you do in that part should be incorporated throughout whatever ensemble that you're engaging, whatever, you know, song you're creating with another human and your bodies and your mind and experience, it should be all we don't paint with just red and yellow, you know what I mean, like paint with a whole box people. Yeah, all body part. Mm hmm. And brain parts.
And brain part. Yeah. Yeah, my one of my teachers today was doing a meditation. I was like, Oh, yeah, I remember this conversation from a while back. But like what like, they said, what are your, like, what are your genitals today? Because we had like, in a previous conversation, like for me, the insight and showing you as if people can see what I'm doing.
Sure. I'm like touching in between my fingers for like the web of my fingers meet and like that. When I'm turned on that feels as good as somebody touching my clip. And so it's like, well, are my hands my genitals today, they might be as I volva eyeballs.
Where is the center of pleasure in your body right now? Mm hmm. Yeah, absolutely. And as a queer person, you know, even giving pleasure with your fingers and are they the genital, you know, like they're they're the giving of the the act here. So then our, you know, my hands my genitals, your my mouth. Yeah, exactly. There's a lot of this, let's say, we're deconstruction. It's got a lot of questions out here, people, you know what I mean, of like, yeah, expanding your erotic zones, expanding your ideas about sex.
And I think when you start to do that, that's what turns me on, right? Like the idea of red and yellow is great. But that scares me for the rest of my life. Like I don't want to just have red and yellow, like I don't know if I could, like a brownie is great. Like I love brownies.
Amazing. If I ate a brownie every single day for the rest of my life, I'd probably hate it. Throw in some ice cream, you know, like have a Sunday, do all of it, mix it all together, you know? Exactly. Exactly. I want to hold a little bit of space here as we're coming into the end of our time. Is there anything that you felt like maybe we didn't hit on today that's still lingering for you?
No, I just feel like I'm like, we could just stay here and talk forever. I know, I know. Yeah, I think, I don't know, I'm such a, I studied sociology and religion in undergrad. And so I'm very much like, please, the statement, bring back the conclusion. Also, like, growing up in church, like a sermon has a cadence and it has a like, closure together. And I've realized, I have a friend we're working on some really beautiful, like, undoing trauma with pleasure, or folks with religious trauma, the workshops coming up. And we, like, we both realized that we write content in the cadence of sermon. Yeah, like, let's just go with it. Let's go with it. Yeah, but I don't know, I think just like, sitting with what like, the curiosity and like, what are your values and what like, what do you want? Which like, I say that. And that is the most terrifying question. If you're coming from a background where you don't have to know what you want, because you're told what you want.
And you do what you're told, because that's how to be good and how to be holy. But like, yeah, that like, maybe like, side eye that question. What do I want? Yes, yes, feels really important. Or like, what are my genitals? What does happen in my rub my elbow on different things? Or my calf?
Or my cheek? And now, curiosity? Yes, I think inviting more curiosity to all of these things will yield a lot of lovely results for most people, right? Like, even, I know we both grew up in that Christian environment that did that. But even if you didn't grow up in that, you know, just existing within our social conditioning and culture, there's a lot of messages that tell you it's red and yellow crowns. There's a lot of messages that tell you monogamy is the only answer.
There's so many other messages. So like, everyone has experienced that level of like, this is the one way to do it. And like, taking a step back from that to see the full picture to see your ability to craft your relationships and a life that is unique to whatever your needs and desires in this world. I think that's a good place to start. Bring more curiosity, ask lots of questions.
Challenge the status quo, dare I say. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, this has been lovely. I do have a closing question that I ask everyone on the podcast. All right, I'm ready. All right. And it is, what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal? Oh, yeah, take your time.
I got some tea. I think like, I'm not going to say everybody because I'm got like six placements in Libra. But that almost everybody thinks that they're abnormal and a little bit weird. And so like, you being alone and being like, I'm so weird, and I'm so like, I'm into this thing, like, this is the porn I watch. This is the stuff I think about. I dream of having 10 boyfriends, like, you're not alone.
There are definitely 10 boyfriends out there that want to be one of 10 for you. Yes. Yeah.
And so like, the shame is constructed to keep you isolated. And there's enough people on the planet that there's at least five other people that like the same thing. Oh, yeah, go and read it, baby. Like, you will see, like just Google whatever you're into, and you'll find a whole community. I promise you, you're not alone. That's one of the many gifts, I think, of the internet age where they're like, are other people into this thing? And then you're like, do a little quick Google search, you're like, Oh, there's a whole community. There's a whole community. Yeah. Yep.
I can pay to access that right now if I want to. And the way that that sense of community is armor shame, I think is so beautiful. Yeah. And that's like, and that is the Lord's work. It is. It is.
I swear. I tell my mom all the time that I am closer to Jesus than most people. Like we are doing the Lord's work of like helping people heal, helping people feel comfortable in their bodies. Like this is God's work. Yeah.
In my understanding of God, you know. Well, this has been so much fun. Is there anywhere that you'd want to plug for people that are resonating with your message and want to connect more with you in the workshops you mentioned? So I am on Instagram at backslash beloved coaching, so be L O V E D. Yeah. Coaching. Spelling is hard when I'm not looking at things. I feel that. And then my website is the same beloved coaching dot net.
Those are the two best. I'm other places on the internet, but like Facebook and Twitter or not. I put a lot of energy there. I feel that.
I feel that I do. Oh, well, this has been so lovely. I loved all the different levels that we were able to connect on and shared experience. So it's very meaningful to me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Carly. If you enjoy today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast. And if you're a part of the anarchist community, then follow us on Instagram or nominate a guest for the show by sending in a letter to modern anarchy podcast at gmail.com. Otherwise, I'll see you next week.