Sep 7 • 11M

#23: Authenticity Arena – No. 08

‘J’, 33, bisexual, Mixed-race (Indian and white British) woman (cis), single, Brighton

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Almaz Ohene
Privilege. Proximity. Parity.
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[Image description: Text ‘Authenticity Arena No. 08’ on a navy blue background with a lilac paintbrush stroke highlighted segment]

Almaz note: Please do listen to the audio extract, while simultaneously following the text transcription, as it makes for a richer experience.

The audio recording (above) and transcript (below) are 11 minutes from a 45-minute chat I had with ‘J’, who’s a bisexual, mixed-race (Indian and white British) woman (cis), who, at the time of interview in July 2021 was 33, single, and living in Brighton.

‘J’ talked about how, in the past, with men that she’s dated, she’s found the undiscussed escalation from kissing to engaging in sex acts overwhelming, stressful and upsetting. The extract I’m sharing picks up a thread where I encourage ‘J’ to describe some of the feelings she has around the prospect of kissing a woman for the first time, and her early memories of sexual feelings.

‘J’ – 11:15mins
I’m saying ‘man’, all the time. I am actually bi[sexual], but have never even kissed a woman.

Almaz – 11:26mins
And is that something that is on your list of things to do in the short term?

‘J’ – 11:38mins
Kind of, yeah.

Almaz – 11:39mins
Yeah.

‘J’ – 11:39mins
[Laughs]

Almaz – 11:43mins
Yeah. I can see you grinning! I mean it’s obvious… So, can you explain to me what you’re feeling…

‘J’ – 11:52mins
Yeah.

Almaz – 11:52mins
… when you’ve said that, and you’re grinning?

‘J’ – 11:57mins
Oh! Whoa! Okay…

Almaz – 12:07mins
I know it’s a hard question.

‘J’ – 12:07 mins
That is a hard question! Okay, so it’s, like, the idea of kissing a woman… What’s the feeling?

Kind of warm and excited and, urm, [laughs] a little bit, kind of, cheeky, [laughs].

Ooh… Talking about it… urm, something, kind of, nice. Yeah, sort of cheekiness, like, it’s, kind of, cheeky to claim that once.

Almaz – 13:09 mins
Yeah, yeah.

So, I’m just thinking about how you have thought about that notion and expressed that to me. And then I’m wondering whether, if you were to find yourself in… [sighs] (under breath: “No, this is not coming out right.”)

As in, have you ever wondered, retrospectively, when…

‘J’ –  13:41 mins
Yeah.

Almaz – 13:41mins
… you were in those moments when you had a visceral reaction of crying, when you were presented with physical intimacy. I’m just wondering whether you’ve thought about, urm, thinking about it from a ‘cheeky’ standpoint, in the way that you’ve just described it to me now. Or whether you think that this desire and ‘cheekiness’ is coming from a place where you’ve grown as a person?

‘J’ – 14:23mins
I think it’s coming from a place where I’ve grown as a person. I think if I talked about any, kind of, sex, or the possibility of anything like that now, it’ll be a similar thing. And in those situations, it was not that. It just was scary. Ha, ha!?

Almaz – 14:53mins
Okay. So, it’s really interesting. We’ve really veered off topic. Just to re-ground it a bit.

‘J’ – 15:04mins
Yeah.

Almaz – 15:08mins
Ah, yes. You wrote: “As a child I was intrigued by the sexy interactions in Bond films.” So…

‘J’ – 15:14mins
Yes.

Almaz – 15:08mins
… I have been really trying to access my own interiority from when I was young.

‘J’ – 15:27mins
Okay.

Almaz – 15:27mins
And thinking about those kinds of things, and that’s why that question is on the survey. And it’s been really interesting to see people think hard, and also access their own younger interiority. And all kinds of really interesting things have come up. So, I was just wondering if you could explain a little bit more about those dynamics that you were seeing in Bond films?

‘J’ – 15:59 mins
Absolutely. So, obviously there are sex scenes in Bond [scoff] right? I don’t think for ages I understood, like, any of the mechanics of it. But it’s, like, naked people under a sheet. [Laughs]

Kissing. This seems to be, like, a thing [laughs].

Yeah, that’s quite intriguing, but it’s not just even the sex scenes. It’s the, kind of, flirting, I suppose, and they’re, like… Oh, James Bond and the Bond girl, are at the pyramids with their guns.

Do you know what’s a really sexy film? Mr and Mrs Smith. Anyway.

Almaz – 16:43mins
Oh, no, I’ve not seen it.

‘J’– 16:43mins
There’s something about guns!

Anyway, at the pyramids, like, with their guns and then they walk backwards into each other and it’s all like, “Ooh, they’ve bumped into each other, and they’ve turned around”, it’s, like, frisson there.

And then later they’re kissing in a submarine. Yeah, I definitely liked that.

And I remember also when I was… I think this is all from around the age of five…

Almaz – 17:14mins
Mmm, mmm.

‘J’ – 17:14mins
… we also went to visit my grandparents in India when I was five, and they were always watching… Like, there’s just channels that show songs from Hindi films. And a lot of your classic [laughs] … all very romantic songs. A lot of, like, the woman, kind of, being caught, and, sort of…

The lens through which I would look through those things now, if I watched them, I’d be like, “Goodness, look at this, kind of, he’s the pursuer and it all seems really unequal.” But anyway, she’s, kind of, hiding from him and he’s, like, singing. And there’s, like, this, sort of, playfulness. And hiding behind pillars and then looking out again. And it’s clear that she is desirable. And she’s, like, desired by this man. And I liked the idea of being in that position.

Almaz – 18:23mins
Yeah, yeah.

‘J’ – 18:23mins
Yeah.

But, I have an interesting memory from, again, when I was five. I was clearly, sort of, very,  sort of, sexual at the time [scoffs]. Or interested. I knew there was something to do with, like, nudity and genitals. Actually, I had all my, like, dolls…. I had one male doll and several female ones. But I, like, took all their clothes off. And I remember, like, the male one, putting him in my pants.

18:58mins
[both laugh]

‘J’ – 19:09mins
And then I my dad walks in [scoffs]. And it’s just this, kind of, naked dolls, and I’ve got, 10, or something in my pants. But, like, obviously I knew that I did not want him to see this.

Almaz – 19:26mins
Mmm.

‘J’ – 19:26mins
And to know that I was doing this. And he came in and looked very confused. And picked up one of the dolls and was like, “Oh are you giving her a massage?” And I was like “Yes.”

[Laughs]

Almaz – 19:39mins
Yeah.

‘J’ – 19:39mins
And he walks out again. I’m like, “Oh, I’ll stop doing this.”

[Laughs]

Almaz – 19:45 mins
So that’s really interesting because one thing that I am going to be looking at as part of this book, is the fact that, as a global society, we don’t yet have any kind of vocabulary to discuss and describe juvenile sexuality.

‘J’ – 20:07mins
Mmm.

Almaz – 20:07mins
And what has happened is that… The concept of ‘childhood’ became a thing in the Victorian times. And then it’s, like “Let’s protect the children.” But then juvenile sexuality was just completely taken out of the equation, and so now we’re left with no vocabulary to describe these things.

‘J’ – 20:31mins
Mmm.

Almaz – 20:31mins
And what then happens is we only have…. We can only ascribe adult sexuality on to children. Which is where we start to see these problems.

So it’s, like, we have the age of consent. And in England and Wales it’s 16. In the US it’s 18. In France, it’s 14. No, in Germany it’s 14. In France, it’s 15. In South Korea, it’s 20. So, therefore, it is, globally, completely arbitrary.

‘J’ – 21:08mins
Yeah!

Almaz – 21:08mins
But obviously we do need to protect children, or young people. But then it’s, kind of, like, well, in my opinion, I don’t think 20-year-olds in South Korea need to be ‘protected’.

In Germany, they have a ‘Romeo and Juliet law’, which means that if guys are 18, getting with 14-year-olds, people will start asking questions. But if you’re engaging in sex within your general peer group…

‘J’ – 21:39mins
Right.

Almaz – 21:39mins
… it’s completely within the realms of the law. And… (quietly: “So what was the point there?”)

Oh yes, so I think it’s fascinating that when people are really authentic and truthful with themselves, you’ll find that we do have certain behaviors, and certain feelings that start showing up, like, before we go to school, really.

‘J’ – 22:02mins
Yeah!

Almaz – 22:02mins
And it’s all completely normal.

[CONVERSATION CONTINUES FOR ANOTHER 20 MINUTES]

[Image description: White speech box with black border shadows. Black text ‘As part of my research for my book, I’m running an anonymous online sexuality survey’. Dark orange text ‘bit.ly/ao_sexsurvey’. Black text ‘Anyone over 18 can fill it in, wherever you are in the world.’ Picture of coloured rectangles placed at angles with black border shadows. White text ‘Do you have guilt or shame around desire, sex or pleasure? Why/why not? Do you support compulsory sex and relationships education?’ on top rectangle]

The sexuality survey is still open, so in the meantime please do fill in/share it as all of the responses are helping me make connections between the ways in which we’ve been socialised and our relationship to sexuality.

Take survey


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I’m Almaz Ohene, a Creative CopywriterFreelance Journalist and Accidental Sexpert.
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