February 3, 2022
Comprehensive Sex Educator and Trauma Expert Jimanekia Eborn joins Jameela this week to discuss Jimanekia’s own journey with trauma, where the term “gaslight” originates, Jimanekia’s work teaching children about consent and rejection, taking yourself on a date, finding your own boundaries, and more.
You can learn more about Jimanekia’s work and the classes she offers at traumaqueen.love
You can find transcripts for this episode on the Earwolf website.
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96 — Jimanekia Eborn (The Trauma Queen)
Jameela [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to I Weigh with Jameela Jamil, the show where we are starting a revolution against shame. And today’s episode is, I mean, it just couldn’t be more perfect. It’s definitely on a heavier subject than some others, and so I will offer many trigger warnings and that we talk a lot about sexual trauma. But the other side of sexual trauma, how to recover. I have specialist Jimanekia Eborn on the podcast today. I have spoken a lot about Jimanekia online for years now because I first interviewed her maybe seven years ago and was just blown away by everything she told me and everything she told me during her interview back then stayed with me, and I went on to tell everyone about her since then and and pass her words on to others in moments of need. I’ve just I’ve just I’m just obsessed with how Jimanekia looks at the world, how Jimanekia looks at recovery and self preservation. And so we do talk about trauma. We talk about understanding your triggers. We talk about consent. We talk about training your friends to be able to support you, something I’d never thought of before today’s episode in the way that I do now, we talk about the importance of teaching young people about consent and how best to do that, and most importantly, about rejection, about the impact of not teaching people about rejection and how to give it, and most importantly, how to receive it and to understand it’s not the end of the world. And so much of the violence that we see can sometimes be just a lack of education around how to handle rejection and what it actually means. We discuss boundaries, how to have them both emotional and sexual, and we talk about body forgiveness, learning to love yourself after sexual trauma and going on self dates. I’m not going to tell you what those mean, because you should find out directly from Jimanekia, not me. Just listen to the episode if you feel like you’re in the right state of mind. I think her work and her words are very healing, and I’m just dying to know what you think. So message me after this. But for now, this is the excellent Jimanekia Eborn. Jimanekia Eborn welcome to I Weigh, how are you?
Jimanekia [00:02:26] It’s whatever day it is, I’m here. That’s all I got today.
Jimanekia [00:02:29] Okay, is that the vibe for 2022? I’m here.
Jimanekia [00:02:35] Yeah, I mean, the options are slim. The bar is low. So yes.
Jameela [00:02:42] I’m so happy that I get to chat to you today. I’ve been a really big fan of yours for we’re going on our seventh anniversary, I think.
Jimanekia [00:02:51] Wow.
Jameela [00:02:52] Isn’t that wild? I met you because I was doing a documentary about for the BBC. A radio documentary about consent based on an essay was started by an essay that I’d written about the need for enthusiastic consent. And the BBC found all of these experts from around the world for me to talk to about consent and the interview that I remember the most was yours, you had such a big impact on me. And there are things that you said in that interview all those years ago that have just stayed with me and and remained in my thought process in the information that I pass on to others. And so I just would like to spread your wisdom to as many people as possible. And so that’s why I asked you here today.
Jimanekia [00:03:40] I love that. Words of affirmation, love the English.
Jameela [00:03:45] and so you are known online as an expert in many fields, especially around sex and consent. But you are also known as the trauma queen. And so would you mind explaining that for anyone who is not yet familiar with your work?
Jimanekia [00:04:00] Yeah, I do a lot. But the trauma queen came about because royalty at that was it. And I just wanted to feel like I can trust myself and, you know, kind of sound more like I know things because I do. And it’s also for myself that reminder. But trauma is because that is the thing that people are very worried about talking about and very scared about. And I don’t know anyone that doesn’t have any type of trauma. And for me, it feels fun to talk about, which makes people go, Wait, what? And I’m like, Yeah, we all have it. Why aren’t we talking about it? Because we don’t talk about it. We can’t ever move through it.
Jameela [00:04:44] Yes, we can’t know each other or ourselves as well.
Jimanekia [00:04:47] Right. And people are like, Well, I’ve never had trauma and I’m like, OK. And then even today, now I’m like, Well, have you ever had to deal with COVID things? Have you been alive between 2019 and today? And they’re like, Yeah, and I’m like, Well, you know, being in a pandemic is pretty traumatic. So, I mean, if even just that level of like, Oh, I’m like, Yeah, it’s unfortunate. And yes, I do focus around sexual assault and sexual trauma and rape, right? Because sexual assault is the umbrella. But there’s so many ways just trauma shows up in our lives in different ways that maybe you’re like, Oh.
Jameela [00:05:27] And so your whole thing is to kind of not stigmatize that trauma, but just to address it, to embrace it and like move through it lovingly towards yourself. So you call yourself trauma queen in order to kind of own that title and not feel like a a victim of that title, a victim of trauma. So you are a survivor of trauma and a queen who has kind of like, come through it. I think that’s really lovely. And and it comes from a great deal of experience, both through work and your own experience. Can I ask you what it was that made you want to center your life’s work around protecting women, protecting all genders, protecting folks from different backgrounds and races? Where has this? How long has this been something that you’ve cared about and wanted to deal with?
Jimanekia [00:06:17] OK, well, I always like to give a trigger warning, I’m going to talk about a few hard things. Death, sexual assaults, rape, murder. For me, it’s been a lifetime thing. I always say that I am a child of trauma. My mother was murdered in front of me when I was one years old.
Jameela [00:06:34] My God.
Jimanekia [00:06:35] By my possible sperm donor. So I mean, he’s still in prison where he should be. But also, it’s like, that’s a part of my journey. Right. And so the normalization of like things happen. People are harmed. Oftentimes women are harmed. And then I wanted to become a and fast forward, I wanted to become a detective because I wanted to help these individuals. One burnout rate, two. Don’t want to be a cop. That’s a whole other conversation. But I was then raped when I was studying in college. I woke up and
Jameela [00:07:07] you were studying criminal justice at the time weren’t you?
Jimanekia [00:07:09] I was, I was which full circle. I’m back doing another master’s in criminal justice. I have a problem with school, but I woke up and someone was in my room, someone I had been with before he was standing over me fully naked. And so I know you and I had talked and I was like, I like to share my story to normalize that. Sexual assault can happen anywhere. I was mid dream when I woke up to someone there. And so from there, spiraled out of control, was carrying a bar in my trunk, was fun, partying, but literally drowning. And then one day I was like, This is not well. And it took for my grandmother to say, I don’t know you anymore. And I was like, Oh, what’s going on? Like, I didn’t connect all the ways I was spiraling with the rape because I hadn’t told anyone. And I then started getting help. I went spiritual first. I eventually got a therapist. I, while all this was happening, I was going to school, went back to school to become a therapist, which if anyone is an MFT, they force you to go through all the things of learning them.
Jameela [00:08:16] What’s MFT?
Jimanekia [00:08:16] Marriage and family therapist. I thought that was the way that I had to go through to help people. But, you don’t. There’s other ways and everyone doesn’t love therapists and therapy is not the only way to help folks. So
Jameela [00:08:30] It’s also not accessible to way too many folks. So it’s important not to rely on that as the only way out of trauma. I always feel like that’s something I struggle with because I am someone who talks a lot about therapy and EMDR and and many people online. A lot of mental health advocates do, but we always have to be conscious of the way of the fact that a lot of people may never be able to access therapy, especially not maybe for as long as they need it. And so therefore, it’s really helpful to not think that you’ll never get better unless you can access this one like very inaccessible thing
Jimanekia [00:09:01] and also talk therapies not the only thing like some people need
Jameela [00:09:05] Talk therapy fucks me up
Jimanekia [00:09:06] movement.
Jameela [00:09:08] Yeah, yeah, yeah, I agree. I agree. Well, for me personally. I think talk therapy is a great thing and I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from trying it, but I couldn’t cope with it. It would bring up all of my trauma up to the surface. And then it was Time’s Up and I would be sent out into the street with all of this shit from the past brought up right to the point where it felt like I was like it was in my throat.
Jimanekia [00:09:28] Absolutely.
Jameela [00:09:29] And I was left to my own devices for a week to try to not let that corrupt me before I could see the therapist again. And so, you know, it didn’t. It didn’t work for me, either. There’s lots of kind of like physical, practical things that I need to do to to be able to move through my trauma. And I find it, I’m too, you know, maybe I just don’t have what it takes to sit in it. But a lot of people don’t. And that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with you.
Jimanekia [00:09:51] Yeah, I love that you said, move through. I’ve been trying to stop saying healing.
Jameela [00:09:56] Mm hmm.
Jimanekia [00:09:57] And this is something I have been talking about it’s because I feel like sometimes the word healing puts people like people put it on a pedestal. Of like, Well, I’m not healed yet, so whatever. And so I’ve been saying, like, how do you move through your trauma? Because we focus on like, well, clearly, I haven’t done all these check marks, but everyone’s check marks are different. So you might be feeling great today and tomorrow you might be triggered by something. So how do you continue moving through it versus like, how do I heal it? Healing for me sounds like infinite. Like once I do this, I’m good, but honestly, we don’t know. So that’s why I like to say kind of moving through my trauma and navigating it.
Jameela [00:10:34] Can I ask you a question that is that might get me into lots of trouble?
Jimanekia [00:10:39] Not the first time. Yes, go
Jameela [00:10:42] OK. So there’s a lot of discourse right now. There’s been a lot of discourse about trauma for the last couple of years, and I don’t even know how I feel about any of this. But then there’s been this kind of like new wave of discourse that kind of almost feels old fashioned, really, where some therapists, like big therapists are saying that maybe, maybe we use the word trauma too easily. Now, obviously, I’m not referring to you what you’ve been through but like. I’m not my. There’s no one place to judge what is someone else’s trauma, what is worthy of being deemed trauma. But they think they are worried that if we use the term trauma too easily, it might make us freeze and think that we are too. I don’t know, like, quote unquote broken, because what we associate trauma is something that is so dramatic and it’s something I want to get into with you because trauma looks all kinds of different ways, but they are concerned that we are using the word trauma too easily to the point where we are then kind of being mollycoddled or mollycoddling ourselves and then using that as an excuse to not move through the thing that is happening to us. We’re no longer looking at things like, well, life is just shit. Now I I really struggle with this because I can. There’s a part of me that is so frustrated with the old guard way of just being like, Just get on with it. Just, you know, stiff upper lip, the kind of the British way of moving through. But I do also understand the fear that we are going to see a kind of like paralysis of a generation of just like, Oh, I have trauma, trauma. I’m traumatized. Therefore, I must freeze. Have you seen this discourse online?
Jimanekia [00:12:12] Yep.
Jameela [00:12:13] How do you? Can I ask how you feel about it?
Jimanekia [00:12:16] Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s that conversation and also just using the word triggered, everybody’s triggered, right? I think my answer to that is words mean things, right? Like, yes, people might be using it in a context, maybe that they don’t understand. But that’s the only word that they have to explain what they’re going through, because maybe they don’t have enough language to to fully express what’s happening. So yes and, right? Like, yes, maybe people are just throwing it out and not having like a full connection. But that’s when the therapist, the educators and the supporters, that’s when we come in and that’s where we fit to go like, OK, well, let’s talk through it because I think it’s also a disservice to tell someone, Are you really traumatic? Is that really trauma?
Jameela [00:13:03] You can’t gate keep like, what is someone’s trauma. It’s all relative.
Jimanekia [00:13:06] Because everyone’s different. And I think when we do that, it’s a disservice to who were supporting. I think what we can do is help them navigate what’s going on and help them find their own language, to name it.
Jameela [00:13:17] Yeah, I think that’s a great answer. And also the term triggered, I think that kind of applies to that. I recently saw a thing where someone was talking about the fact that we use the word harm now so easily online and so much online that it’s now kind of it’s inflating the value of the word harm.
Jimanekia [00:13:36] Desensitized.
Jameela [00:13:39] Yeah.
Jimanekia [00:13:40] Thank you.
Jameela [00:13:40] But it’s like we’re devaluing the word and the actual action of harm because we’re now using the word so often for things that aren’t actually technically like literally harmful. And because we don’t have like a spectrum of words for that as you’re kind of bringing up. So maybe that’s what we need to do is develop a actual spectrum and a kind of like generally like a broad terminology, almost like a mental health dictionary of some sort. Maybe that could be something you and I
Jimanekia [00:14:06] I’ve been working on one for like two years.
Jameela [00:14:08] That’s amazing. I think that’s so helpful.
Jimanekia [00:14:11] What are you going to do with it?
Jameela [00:14:12] I mean like give it to us, so we’ll work on that with you. I would love to. I would love to participate in something like that because I do think language is important. And I do think then that, you know, people start when they hear that someone’s been harmful, someone’s doing harmful behavior. Other people take it less seriously now because they’re just hearing this word too often. So I fully agree with you that it’s maybe about us, like digging a little bit deeper beyond the kind of buzzwords online and finding the actual word.
Jimanekia [00:14:37] But also to add to that is, are we also just being more exposed to what’s happening to people? right. Like social media gives people such a platform to say, this happened to me and people go, Oh my gosh.
Jameela [00:14:51] 100 percent. And also like, Look, how much shit there are, you know, our parents and our parents parents were carrying around that they didn’t have a name for because they couldn’t name it. They couldn’t figure out how to solve it. So it’s a it’s a fine balance, but it’s a question I wanted to ask you because you’re incredibly open and and it’s a discourse that I think a lot of us are seeing online. It’s growing very fast. And I think there’s just there’s a fine line between protecting yourself and also like gatekeeping and gaslighting. And so we walk that line very carefully. I know that gaslighting word gets misused all the fucking time.
Jimanekia [00:15:28] There’s literally a whole film. I also, you know, I do stuff in the intimacy coordinators. I make them watch that. That’s like my first class.
Jameela [00:15:35] Yeah. Tell people what it’s about because I think a lot of people don’t know that’s where the term comes from.
Jimanekia [00:15:38] It’s such a that literally is where it comes from, someone didn’t make it up, just fun fact for folks, but it’s a beautiful, also a pretty scary film because a lot of folks watch it, they go, Oh, but it’s about a woman who has to deal with some stuff. Fast forward, she finds this man who is trying to get believe her mother’s jewels and whatnot, and he pretends to be in love with her and all these things. But he’s also trying to get her to feel, quote unquote crazy because I’m trying to not use the word, but like she’s losing it and she has to depend on him because she can’t trust her instincts. So that’s that’s the bare bare minimum of like he’s forcing her to really question herself. So she feels like she’s out of control and has to depend on this person. That’s what it is.
Jameela [00:16:25] Yeah. It’s convincing someone that reality is untrue.
Jimanekia [00:16:30] Absolutely.
Jameela [00:16:31] Yeah and manipulating someone, not just disagreeing with them.
Jimanekia [00:16:33] Watch the film y’all.
Jameela [00:16:34] It’s a great fucking film. OK. So back to I was just something I just wanted to talk to you about, especially because you are the trauma queen. And so, OK, so. I, first of all, just want to say, I think it’s remarkable that you have taken so many experiences that were incredibly traumatic and I’m sure incredibly difficult to move through and you’ve kind of recycled them in order to help other people and prevent other people’s pain. And I just want to make sure that I tell you that because I think I think it’s really remarkable and I think it’s not just a beautiful thing to do for other people but it’s a beautiful thing to do for yourself. And it’s it’s what I try to do and I’ve personally found it very healing. Have you found? I’m sure this work is also emotionally extremely taxing and maybe at times has been triggering because you’re hearing about these same things that you’ve been through. But would you say you found it overall quite healing?
Jimanekia [00:17:32] Absolutely everything that I do. And I had a therapist, my therapist told me, she was like, I’ve never seen someone that continues to navigate their healing through their work. I think I’m constantly learning better ways to support myself and anything that happens to me. I’ll put it on the internet and be like, This can be a teachable moment, because maybe this happened to you. I had the person that raped me reach out. A few years ago via Venmo. Venmo, Honey requested twenty five cents and the note, cas you can put notes was the year he assaulted me. And so I put that on the internet after I got my shit together days later.
Jameela [00:18:10] What the fuck?
Jimanekia [00:18:12] Yes, that is the response I also had. Yeah, it was. It was a time. But for me, I knew I had 30 minutes to get from point A to B, or I was going to not make it.
Jameela [00:18:25] What do you mean your 30 minutes to get from
Jimanekia [00:18:27] before I knew I was going to start hyperventilating. I was I was going to start not being able to drive like uncontrollable. Like I know for myself, I have distance. I was like, I got 30 minutes to get from. I was moving at the time, too, so I was moving. And I knew I had 30 minutes to get where somewhere I knew I could feel safe. So for me, it was getting to a park because I know my skill set, you know, I know that I need to ground. So I went to the park to literally put my feet in grass, to be near water, to be able to have fresh air and have like positive sounds. And then I also a thing that I teach folks is find people that you can let them know, find people that can be your people. Right? So I have friends that if I text them one word, they know how to show up for me.
Jameela [00:19:18] And do you instruct them from beforehand how you get people to show up
Jimanekia [00:19:20] You can train people how to show up for you.
Jameela [00:19:24] Yeah, yeah. So what things? I mean, you don’t have to give me your exact thing if it’s personal. But what are some things that that any of us could do if we establish that boundary or that like relationship with the friend? We’re like, OK, I’m your S.O.S. What are some examples of things that people could do?
Jimanekia [00:19:42] Absolutely. So once you, you get your people, you ask them, Hey, you served me well in this way. Like, you know, the people you have in your life who shows up to give you advice, who can cook, who can do these things once you nail them down. I had a conversation like, Hey, something might come up. Would you be down to be my person? Yes, cool. So for you, you’re really good at talking my brain down like can if I sent you the word blue. Can you send me a quote? My favorite song? Can you order me food? Right? Can you remind me to eat? Can you remind me to shower? Right? Because when I get in that traumatic space, the first thing that’s gone is how do I take care of myself? I’m not going to eat. I’m not going to do hygiene. So can you just check it? Can you call me? Can you face time me? Can you remind me to go outside? So it depends on what your needs are, or even just, hey, you have that candle that that smell helps you to, like, alleviate some of that mental stress. Anything, any time that we’re triggered and I always tell folks this, we can be triggered by anything that touches our five senses, but also anything that touches our five senses can also help us come back to ourselves where we need to be. Which is great and also shitty, right, because you’re like, yes, I love smells. Not that one, though. But this other smell might be able to come back the smell of a cologne that takes your brain back to maybe the time you were assaulted.
Jameela [00:21:16] Yeah, yeah, it’s it’s it’s really good food for thought. I also wonder if it’s a good idea to if you’re someone is listening to this is like, I want to be the S.O.S. for someone. Don’t be the S.O.S. for too many people.
Jimanekia [00:21:29] Absolutely not.
Jameela [00:21:30] I think you should. I think we should each have one at best, two, because you also don’t want to overburden yourself because it’s a it’s it’s it’s a privilege, but it also can be a lot to be the kind of not the sponsor, but the life like the life jacket for someone.
Jimanekia [00:21:50] Yeah, or just like I like to say accomplice. So I have a I just I put out a class last month, so it’s online transitioning from an ally to an accomplice. Like, how are you actually showing up? And even in that, if you opt in to be someone’s accomplice support person, how are you taking care of yourself? Because we, we give, it’s easier sometimes to give to others and pour these cups out. And then you look and you’re like, my cups empty. Oh, right. There’s also the ways we need to take care of ourselves.
Jameela [00:22:20] Yeah. And I think that you should have your own S.O.S. person. We kind of all have to be like monkeys on branches picking nits out of each other’s hair. You know what I mean?
Jimanekia [00:22:30] We’re not meant to do it alone.
Jameela [00:22:32] I’ve never really considered that before. Obviously, I talk so much about support and having a great friend group, but I completely shut down. And the only way that my friends know I’m in trouble is because they don’t hear anything from me for months. And at first their thought is, Oh, she’s busy. She’s like, off doing, you know, fuckin stupid shit in her career. But after a while when it becomes excessive, they then realize that, oh shit, she’s like having a mental health crisis. It just and I feel too daunted to tell anyone what’s happening. So I don’t tell anyone anything and I don’t open up about it at all. But the idea of just having a word where I don’t have to follow that up with a full explanation of what’s happening, I’m just suffering, and I need someone to just remind them that I know how to get out of this. Because we do every time I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, every time we have one of our depths or we get triggered or traumatized or whatever, every time we we can often think, Well, that’s it. I’m back at square one and now I don’t even know how I’m going to climb that hill again. You have done it numerous times each time you have picked up skills and tools that have armed you in being able to recover faster and faster and faster, you will get over this again. And so I think that’s super helpful.
Jimanekia [00:23:47] Absolutely.
Jameela [00:23:48] Picking a kind of safe word. I think that’s amazing. Before we go into everything else, I do really want to ask you about your work in consent because I think it is such a fundamental conversation, one that kind of started with a bang at the height of MeToo. This kind of fizzled out because so much shit is going on in the world. And I think that there is so much more nuance needed and more understanding needed, and I think we need to teach it to people earlier. You told me when we first met all those years ago that one of the things that you do when your multiple layers of of teaching and training is to teach children about rejection. And I find that fascinating, and a lot of people have been shagging in the pandemic and they’ve had babies in the pandemic. And now they’re looking at these children thinking, Who are you going to be when you grow up? And I think for any parents out there or I think that’s super helpful to understand and learn. I remember finding it illuminating that you were teaching children about rejection.
Jimanekia [00:24:55] Yeah, I think I think there’s the rejection. And just like knowing your own self, like your own boundaries, like I have god daughters and I talk about them all the time. Now they’re nine and seven goodness. And we started talking to them really early of like, Do you want to be touched there? Like, Do you want a hug? Then OK, you don’t have to have a hug.
Jameela [00:25:16] Wait, do you have daughters? Did you just say
Jimanekia [00:25:19] Absolutely not god daughters, don’t do that
Jameela [00:25:20] Oh, sorry. Okay, fine. I was like shit, I’m a really bad friend. I had no idea.
Jimanekia [00:25:25] No my little goddaughter, so I give them back to their mother and I come home. But having the conversations like, you’re forced to hug family members, you’re forced to be nice to people, especially if you are black and brown, right? Like, hug your hug your grandma, go hug your aunt.
Jameela [00:25:42] everyone’s your fuckin uncle and aunt in my culture.
Jimanekia [00:25:45] A million aunties. but also like, what if you don’t want to? And so we started giving them the option, like, do you? Which I asked them, Would you like a hug?
Jameela [00:25:55] Yeah. Do you want to sit on Santa’s lap?
Jimanekia [00:25:57] Yeah. And you see their little brains go, Nah, not right now. OK, cool. And they go, OK, cool. It’s not that hard. Like, we can give them that permission. And if we start young, they’re able to figure the things out. And that’s the consent side, right? And then if we’re really just giving them space to ask questions, it also helps them to do all of that.
Jameela [00:26:20] So what do these what did these rejection kind of classes or workshops look like? Were you teaching them how to give rejection, how to receive rejection? Because I think that is such a. Whenever I tell this to any of my male friends in particular, they’re often it often is very thought provoking for them, but they’re like, Yeah, we really have no like, we’re given no guidance on how to accept rejection. And obviously, men are predominantly the ones who are expected to be the ones who pursue. So therefore they are the ones more likely to receive the rejection. And so they’re receiving it more frequently, perhaps than us because they’re shooting their shot more often and they really don’t have any kind of set up and skill. And so then a lot of ego gets involved like it’s been. Rejection has been very stigmatized in the beginning of time so it’s become so inflated and people’s minds are, oh, she said no, that is that means that there’s something wrong with me rather than
Jimanekia [00:27:15] or it means try harder.
Jameela [00:27:16] You just, yeah, try harder or they’ll be judging me. They think they’re better than me, etc. Like, there’s a whole narrative that kind of infest your brain when someone just says no, and it’s never like, Oh, maybe it’s a chemistry thing, or maybe it’s not the right time, or maybe they’re just not interested in, and that’s OK for us to have different tastes.
Jimanekia [00:27:33] Yeah, we I love to talk to people about how rejection isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Like you said, what if that person is going through something and they just can’t? What if you’re what if you’re right? What if it’s not a good connection? What if they already have a partner? Or
Jameela [00:27:47] Oh don’t get me started on that because it’s fucking infuriating how many people have to say they have a partner, specifically women I think this happens to where they’re like oh I have a boyfriend and only then will a man maybe, you know, but even then, will a man maybe then be like, Oh, OK, because he respects them. This maybe fictitious, man, that you are dating more than he respects your autonomy. It doesn’t matter that you’re not interested it matters that I don’t want to step in another man’s territory.
Jimanekia [00:28:12] Only if you’re cisgender, I have a girlfriend. Oh, what do you guys like friends? Nope. Don’t like I don’t like the word friend I. It’s a tricky word for me. But but I do teach people how to receive it because something that I’ve learned in every book, I just read a lot in all the classes is sometimes rejection can also ping for folks a physical reaction. So for some folks, when they are rejected, it might actually give them a physical pain. Which I think is very interesting, brain wise,
Jameela [00:28:43] Where does that come from, that’s learned, right?
Jimanekia [00:28:46] Yeah, it is. It’s a learned thing. And also, you know, rejection isn’t a bad thing. It teaches you how to deal with it in other places in your life. We’re all going to be rejected from jobs. We’re all going to get bad grades. That can be a form of rejection.
Jameela [00:29:02] I think rejection’s great. I personally, I mean, obviously, I’ve got this weird fucking like love relationship with failure. I think rejection means, OK, great. Well, then that’s a clear answer on the fact that this thing wasn’t right for me right now, even if I wanted it, even if I thought I needed it. I have been. I don’t have to have the responsibility now and say, Oh, OK, the universe or the person or whatever has said no great. Well, then that wasn’t right for me. I’ll move on now.
Jimanekia [00:29:26] Yeah. But I think it’s that idea, especially for cis hetero men. The ways that they are brought up is interesting to me in the ways of, well, if they say no, that means try harder or take it from them. They like that. Who taught them that? It’s a lot of I find that a lot of the things we’re doing now is a lot of unlearning and then teaching people these new skills of like, if it’s a rejection, it’s OK. It probably has nothing to do with you. People are humans and have their own shit.
Jameela [00:30:00] So does this look like what does this look like when you’ve got two kids? Let’s say just for the sake of like heteronormative, that dynamics that this happens most in. Do you have like a little girl and a little boy and you like workshop a thing of do you workshop a scenario with them? How do you teach children about rejection?
Jimanekia [00:30:20] Normally it’s been in like sex ed situations. I really love having this conversation younger, but oftentimes we can’t get to them until, like high school or college,.
Jameela [00:30:30] Which is so stupid.
Jimanekia [00:30:32] It’s a little late, but I’d rather catch them in college, especially freshmen. I get to do like freshman orientation type stuff, and I’m like, great because a lot of times they’re out of the home, they’re just adapting. You know, it’s a little more possibly dangerous because alcohol, you’re just trying to adapt. You say yes to things that maybe you don’t or guys are trying to pursue because they’re trying to look cool. Right. It’s a lot of just like I’m trying to make it and figure it out. But also like we can still look at who we are, right? And maybe we look at ourselves and be like, Oh, my dad taught me this. And that’s literally not what my friends tell me they want. So, like, listening is a great source, everyone, hearing is great.
Jameela [00:31:14] Wait. OK, wait. So so. So you have so you have freshman kids or like college kids. And they’re going through all this chaos and they are changing and they’ve seen maybe a lot of pornography and they’ve watched a lot of really problematic Hollywood films that reinforce, like really old patriarchal stereotypes. And so. What’s what are you teaching these kids, can you give me like an example of a couple of different things that like a like nuggets of advice you have for these kids to introduce them to their the concept of consent and specifically rejection? I’m so interested in the rejection part of it.
Jimanekia [00:31:54] Yeah. I think when they I ask them questions, Have you ever been rejected? People raise their hands and I go, How did that make you feel? And I think even having an understanding of what’s happening to them when they feel it, it helps us to better navigate how to assist them. I believe in anything that I teach is like meeting people where they are. So if someone’s like I feel rejection and it makes me sad, then we have that conversation because then they’re most likely not the only one in the space that that comes up for them. And it’s like, what does that feel like for you? Like, have you ever felt that before? It often times goes back, which is interesting, too, is just being in school, getting a bad grade, raising your hand and not getting called upon. That kind of starts, folks, and it starts building some kind of resentment. A little bit of anger for some folks, being rejected makes them feel stupid. Right? So then we have those conversations. I like to pull it out of them. OK, well, where did that come from? Do you remember the first time you felt that? Because I think when folks are able to say the things out loud and find their own roots that they’re able to figure out how to navigate it. So yes, we’ll have different people talk in there, but then I find that there’s so much understanding of others from other people’s stories. This is why I like podcasts because people can go, Oh oh, I see that in my life. This makes sense. I thought I was the only one. and so it allows them to kind of ask more questions to figure it out. And then it, they take that information and take it. It’s like ants. They pick it up and take it to like their little home base, and they tell the people around them what they learned and then they take it. Maybe they’ll give it to someone else. So the reasons I like to do this is to hopefully that they take little nuggets and take it back and then people start asking more questions. So it’s not just one way it’s literally meeting folks where they are because I might walk in and think this is clearly the only way it’s done. And that room doesn’t match the last room I was in
Jameela [00:33:58] and talk to me about how you feel about the ways in which we deliver rejection because it’s complicated, right? I understand when a lot of people are like, I shouldn’t have to let someone down gently. And also the feeling that a lot of like a lot of people, regardless of gender, it and depend on your gender can depend on your size, a good event or whatever the circumstance. You can resent the fact that you have to let someone down very, very carefully and gently just in order to preserve your safety. It is fucking wild the fact that you might not be safe because you said no to somebody. So I understand the instinct to be like, I don’t really I don’t really want to have to tiptoe around someone. I should be allowed to just say no and have autonomy over my own life. So it’s not from that angle that I’m coming that like, how do we teach people how to say no safely, although that is important.
Jimanekia [00:34:48] Absolutely.
Jameela [00:34:49] And valid in a world where we haven’t taught children from the youngest age about rejection. But when it comes to letting people down or saying, no, I not just for the sake of my own safety, but from a place of empathy, I don’t want to trigger something in someone, especially whose life I don’t know. And I do appreciate the fact that they did come up to me and shoot that shot, even though it wasn’t necessarily something that I wanted or was looking for. I try to have empathy for the fact that someone did a brave thing that they felt, maybe societally, regardless of their gender, like that’s their thing that they have to do. They have to go out and they have to pursue because maybe people aren’t pursuing them. I try to have an understanding and a respect for the fact that someone made that gesture, provided they then respect my answer.
Jimanekia [00:35:34] Absolutely. I think it’s case by case, like you said, right? Because sometimes you got an answer.
Jameela [00:35:39] Do you talk to people about how to how to dole out rejection?
Jimanekia [00:35:43] Mm hmm. Mm hmm. And again and again, I think it’s case by case, I think if we can be somewhat honest and like you said, acknowledge the person that came to you. Right, and this isn’t like acknowledge everyone and say thank you for coming, because that thank you might be the first time, the fifth time you might not have any thank you’s left right. So I think it’s case by case, but say, you know, thank you
Jameela [00:36:08] I wouldn’t thank someone, but I’d be like, I appreciate the fact that that was really brave and I’m flattered.
Jimanekia [00:36:13] Yeah thank you, appreciate. But acknowledge
Jameela [00:36:14] This is not this is not something that is right for me right now.
Jimanekia [00:36:16] Yeah. Acknowledge it. Hey, thank you for coming up. I appreciate it. Whatever, whatever your language is, whatever word feels good. The kids are saying the vibe was cool or whatever. I don’t know kids. Everybody’s vibing. But I think acknowledging that they approached you and then you can say, No, thank you. I often just say No thank you. Like, thank you for coming up, but no thank you. I’m whatever you can be as honest as you want. And also, you can be as dishonest as you want. And I say this because it is always about safety sometimes. Most of the time we have to navigate. And so I say do it in the way that you feel the safest.
Jameela [00:36:55] Yeah, feel free to look, I mean, I used to wear a fake engagement ring on my finger, which is so annoying.
Jimanekia [00:36:59] I mean, it means nothing. They still be like, Oh, can you have what is with all the friends?
Jameela [00:37:02] Yeah, yeah. Do you want to have a friend? I have enough friends mate and also you didn’t stop for me to become my friend. Otherwise, why did you not? Why did you pick me specifically? What was it about me that you thought would suit your personality?
Jimanekia [00:37:16] You look like you eat lunch nicely with others, like, no, that’s not
Jameela [00:37:21] also not true. But I yeah, I. So it’s it’s a sad part of the human brain and condition that when someone does say no, we kind of just like have to know why we can never just take a no, we have to know why. Where does that come from? Is that like a part of like so that we can better ourselves, improve ourselves? Like, Why are we such sadists? Why when someone says, no, can we not just take a no? Why do we have to know why? Because that’s the thing that I think makes those in those moments turn from an interaction into an altercation. Like, a no isn’t enough. I need to know why
Jimanekia [00:38:01] I’m like thinking now. I think it’s tricky depending on if you have a relationship with this person or if it’s a stranger, because you can still reject a partner. And they still might have a reaction, so it might be them needing to know because they really want to understand, and I think some strangers want to understand. But I think it’s also to help themselves. So they think like, OK, well, it’s not me then right? It’s all psychological of like, how do we continue to move through the world? It’s like I was rejected and then it helps them not go home and maybe emotionally beat up on themselves. So being able to put it off on someone else versus like, Oh, well, this is a me thing. No. Can I understand? I think there is the wanting to understand. And then I think there’s the wanting to place blame.
Jameela [00:38:47] Yeah. And I think it’s the ego sometimes being triggered of like, why not me? What do you think you’re better than me? And that’s when it becomes really scary.
Jimanekia [00:38:57] Yes.
Jameela [00:38:57] And so that’s why I think a lot of us cop out and just say I’m taken. Because we’re just like exhaus, like, I don’t want to get into it with you, I don’t want to tell you that I’m not attracted to you because also I don’t really want to hurt your feelings. It’s just not a nice thing to hear. I wouldn’t want to hear that. I just would like to go through the day not hearing that someone doesn’t think I’m attractive or whatever like doesn’t like my vibe. Doesn’t like, whatever the reason is that you are rejecting someone, it’s just nicer to not make it personal, to not make it about either of you, to make it about circumstance. It’s like I said, it’s fuckin annoying, but it is just something that I’m always trying to understand because I personally, like I said, love a rejection love a no. I enjoy just a clear line, and I often don’t want to know why unless it’s someone that I love, if someone I love starts to pull away from me, then I do want to know, but I never comment it in a way where I’m going to be overly reactive.
Jimanekia [00:39:52] Mm-Hmm. But that takes time and learn. Like, you didn’t just wake up one day. And so I think we have to also, you know, give people grace in the way. Not too much else, but let me hear me out. Give people grace that they are human, right? And like you said, we don’t know where they come from. We don’t know how they were raised. We don’t know what they know. We don’t know what their intentions are. So like meeting them on a human level, but also being able to take care of ourselves is a tricky balance. And then understanding that I know we’re talking a lot about men. Anybody can do this any gender, any age, any of the things it can turn from, OK, cool to well you’re a bitch anyway. It goes so quick. Yeah, then you get enlightened and then you might start to be like, what? Now what do I do? How do I move from this? Can I get away? Can I disengage? And so this is why I say take it case by case, state your thing for me what anyone, ever, if anyone ever approaches. I also make space. If someone approaches. I step back.
Jameela [00:40:53] Well, I mean, this is one of the reasons I first reached out to you a couple of weeks ago is that that woman said no to that man on the fuckin subway and he stabbed her and I started talking about the fact that we do not have an understanding, like a global understanding around the fact that a rejection is OK. It is normal and it is everyone’s right. And I guess that’s kind of why you popped into my head and I was like, Please, can we talk about this on the podcast? Because it is such it is such a fundamental part of consent. And I love the fact that you are bringing up so from a small age asking children, Do you want to wear this? Do you want to obviously like if you get into the do you want to eat this that can sometimes work, sometimes they’ll just pick toasted cheese sandwiches and nothing else. But I think, do you want to hug that person or do you want to be with this person? I think it’s amazing to give children because you’re right. We’re kind of robbed of our autonomy at such a young age, and then it really does form us, especially ethnicities. A lot of these things disproportionately impact ethnicities and different genders.
Jimanekia [00:41:56] And when we ask them, we’re also role modeling for them. But how we receive the rejection from them, like normalizing like it’s OK to also feel rejected. That’s why I ask them.
Jameela [00:42:09] You mean like, Do you want to cuddle? You know this person? They’re like, No, thank you. And the adult behaves like a fucking grown up, and then they’re able to see that it’s not like the terrible dramatic moment. That’s such a good point. I think that’s great, I think that’s a really important exercise, something that I will try to impart upon anyone that I come across
Jimanekia [00:42:29] Anyone that’s in this house right now.
Jimanekia [00:42:30] Yes, 100, 100 percent.
Jameela [00:42:32] Although no one wants to have children with any of us anyway. OK. So thank you for that. And I think that’s super interesting. I would like to talk to you about consent because you do a lot of work within consent and all the kind of different types of consent there are. What do you think, considering the fact that a lot of us are more advanced than they were five years ago about consent? What are some of the things that you see most coming up in your work around consent that you think we still need to fine tune and understand?
Jimanekia [00:43:03] I think understanding that it’s ongoing and in every relationship, like people just think it’s relationships like like sexual or romantic relationships, like, no, it’s in every relationships you have. Family, friends, your work, right? Like, it’s kind of everywhere and it’s constantly not constantly being challenged, but it might be constantly challenged, so you have to continue navigating it. And maybe you have to keep, you know, putting it in different words for people to understand. And this is where I keep saying like meeting people where they are because language means mean things. Words mean things.
Jameela [00:43:43] So let’s say we have 2022 and people are realizing they haven’t had boundaries. I often like to talk about the fact that my therapist said to me the first time I met her. Well, darling, a doormat is already lying down before people wipe their feet all over it. And the fact that I was allowing a certain amount of people to cross my boundaries. So some people this year would like to have more autonomy over their lives to draw more boundaries up to to pursue more of their own consent being given in any different kind of dynamic in their life with family, with colleagues, with with lovers. What would you say is a good and helpful kind of foundation like starting block for someone like that?
Jimanekia [00:44:26] You got to know where your line is.
Jameela [00:44:28] How do you find that when you’ve been conditioned to only think about other people’s lines?
Jimanekia [00:44:35] This is where I’m telling you, Hey, you could be a little focus on you. You’re allowed. It’s not being selfish. It’s literally just taking care of you. For me, the ways that I go about doing it is a pen and paper. What do I want? What do I need? And just literally just writing things down.
Jameela [00:44:56] Yeah what do I like? What do I not like? I remember. In that same interview with the BBC One that I did the same documentary, I talked to someone from the S&M community who told me that a lot of people within S&M because like S&M is actually very safe sex. Is something that a lot of people consider to be very dangerous sex very scary sex, but the foundation of S&M is consent. And she was saying that they.
Jimanekia [00:45:18] If it’s done right.
Jameela [00:45:18] Yeah, of course. Of course. And humans have a way of fucking everything and anything up. But. But she said that a lot of people within the S&M community, the informed ones will send each other menus that they already have in their phones of what they enjoy sexually, and then they’re able to send those to each other. Have a look at them side by side, see if they match up and then decide, Oh, you know what? Maybe let’s not meet up for that date. Because actually we want different things. It’s just unbelievably clear something that I still feel like hot and shy about whenever I imagine sending my list.
Jimanekia [00:45:50] I do that.
Jameela [00:45:50] That’s fucking amazing.
Jimanekia [00:45:50] I’m going to send you mine, so I’ll send you the blank one. It’s a Yes, no, maybe list.
Jameela [00:45:55] A yes or no. OK, so elaborate on that. So I’m definitely into this. Not into that. I’m curious about. Right. And I think that that’s an amazing. I think it’s an amazing thing to to do because then we have clear lines. We know each other’s boundaries and we’re showing someone also that we’re not afraid to say it. And something that you talk a lot about is the fact that we don’t have to verbally say everything that we need to say to people. That’s the art of text message or emails or writing something down. If you find it stressful to communicate with someone by your mouth, then there are other ways to be able to say things that are less scary and very, very straightforward. And it protects you. It keeps you both safe.
Jimanekia [00:46:40] Yeah, I to take it back to wish you were asking me. I think that there are so many ways that you can go about navigating your own, just like your own consent practices, but to just start baseline. Pull a Google doc out. My team knows I love a Google Doc, I Google Doc everything, and I just start writing and then I go back and I’m like, That’s not a word, but that’s fine. I’ll go back and just keep adding to it and taking things out. Let yourself do a brain dump. Like, think of all the ways you’ve wanted to be held, maybe by yourself, maybe by others, and maybe make different lists. How do I want people to show up for me in friendship family romantically? And it also kind of helps you to leave humans out if you’re fine to be like, Oh, my friends have been telling me about this person, they’re not on the list of ways that I want to be treated. So that helps you get out. And then sexually, yes. No, maybe list. There’s so many different versions I’ve been thinking about doing one specifically for trauma survivors that has like triggers and other things that maybe you can give to people. But yes, no, maybe list has so many different things on it. And yeah, you can do it. Give it to your partner. Make it a fun date night. Maybe you go to separate rooms, fill it out, come back, giggle and then you have conversations because communication is key in consent, no matter if it’s written on a note. If it’s a text, if it’s a smoke signal, as long as you’re able to communicate the things and also understand that consent can change, you might be a hell yes, you might be yes, I’m so down and then you might be like, I actually don’t like this while you’re in the middle of it, and that’s OK. So like having those conversations of, Hey, so I know I said yes to this. And even before, like, I might be a yes during or before, and then I might be like, I don’t think we should do that again. It wasn’t for me.
Jameela [00:48:32] Yeah, I like I remember like after I’d had that conversation all those years ago, it completely transformed the way I kind of approached relationships and I realized the previous times. I have not said what I want romantically or sexually because I’m like, Well, if they don’t like my answer, then they’ll leave. And it never occurred to me to have a follow up question in my head of, well, then is that the right person for you? Should you then do a thing that makes you uncomfortable you know like my asshole. I just want my asshole left out of everything. I want no one to go near. I don’t want to see it, like it’s mine, and it’s just the thing that is for me, right? I just I’m very funny about it. I’m really feel your face.
Jimanekia [00:49:11] I love that for you. I love that for you.
Jameela [00:49:13] Thank you. And there used to be a part of me that that would just be like, I won’t say anything about it. I’ll just wriggle away if someone gets away because I, what am I like? What is the play there? What was I doing? When it came to any kind of kinky stuff or whatever, and I was just thinking, I’ll just wriggle out of it, so I know if that’s what someone wants and that’s something that you do not like, then either you need to be in an open thing or maybe where they can go and do that with someone else. Or maybe you should both be sleeping with someone else instead. Maybe that’s why it’s OK to not be compatible. This fear of well, they won’t like me anymore. They’ll think I’m boring. We’re so conditioned. So many of us, regardless of our gender, to think that we have to undergo something that we find uncomfortable or embarrassing or humil, like whatever.
Jimanekia [00:50:02] And that takes it back to rejection.
Jameela [00:50:04] Yeah, because we’re scared of being rejected.
Jimanekia [00:50:06] There it is. Full circle. Look at that.
Jameela [00:50:08] And so and so as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become very, very clear about what I like. I don’t like I’ll say on my podcast, stay away from my asshole. And it’s been very handy. I said asshole and talked about my asshole too much now. And it’s actually my my skin’s actually getting really hot and I feel
Jimanekia [00:50:26] It’s ok I feel the same way about my armpits. Don’t touch them, I hate it, stay away from them. It’s weird for me
Jameela [00:50:31] Do people try and fuck you in your armpit Jimanekia?
Jimanekia [00:50:34] No they shouldn’t touch them! Like,.
Jameela [00:50:37] Why would anyone want it’s so ticklish? That’s so inappropriate. Anyway, moving, moving the fuck on, please, as quickly as possible.
Jimanekia [00:50:48] Away from butts. Let’s talk about not butts.
Jameela [00:50:50] Specifically. But I think that that’s really important. I love the idea of writing these things down. I love the fact the idea of even I remember at the time thinking, I don’t even know what I like. I wouldn’t even know what to write down because what I like is normally whatever the other person likes. You know, it’s like that opening scene of Coming to America. I like whatever you like.
Jimanekia [00:51:07] I like what you like. Yes.
Jameela [00:51:11] That’s what I did. You know I would. I just thought if they had a good time in bed, then I had a good time and I couldn’t have a good time unless like.
Jimanekia [00:51:19] But that’s also I think conditioned.
Jameela [00:51:20] Like that’s how I monitored whether or not I’d enjoy, of course, is conditioned. It’s conditioned, left, right and center. Those everything in Cosmo was how to please the other person. It was never like How to get pleasure for yourself. And so.
Jimanekia [00:51:32] How do I have fun?
Jameela [00:51:33] Exactly how do I have fun? And so realizing that about myself and how do I not have fun? And now just being incredibly clear means that I haven’t had any scary or awkward or awful sex again since learning that, and it’s something that we have to get more comfortable with.
Jimanekia [00:51:51] Absolutely, I also am one in the bedroom that’s like, we’re gonna laugh. I don’t know if you know, we are going to be laughing.
Jameela [00:52:01] Right. Not everyone likes that. Not everyone likes that from me. I think someone stuck it in the wrong hole and I said unexpected item in bagging area, and they didn’t appreciate that laugh approach.
Jimanekia [00:52:15] I would have high fived you and been like OK.
Jameela [00:52:18] I cannot have the the trauma queen on my podcast without talking a little bit more at length about trauma and and one of the things I wanted to ask you first is do you mind telling me other than like the practical things like therapy etc and surround yourself with better people and pouring yourself into helping others? What were some of the things that really helped you after you had gone through sexual trauma specifically? Because that’s what I would like to talk about is is how we get out of sexual trauma. I think a lot of people in the last two years have either experienced more domestic violence or they have had time to sit with themselves and realize they’ve gone through some stuff or they’ve been reading the news or these cases of like women being assaulted or people, trans people being assaulted. A lot of people are starting to reckon with things. Things have surfaced in the last two years that have maybe been able to be like we’ve been able to distract ourselves from them. I know that certainly happened with me and a lot of my friends. So what have been some of your coping tools that helped you get to a place where you even could function enough to help other people.
Jimanekia [00:53:35] Hmm. Finding community. Right, like being sexually assaulted, being raped, you instantly get like jumped into this gang that no one asked for. But you also feel very alone. And it’s like, of course, other people go through it, but it feels very much just like a me thing. So like being able to say it out loud, people go, Oh yeah, and you’re like, what? It’s not just a me thing? For me, that was really helpful. Figuring out not my purpose, not getting all Eat, Pray, Love on us, but like figuring out that it wasn’t everything. Right, like it did. It was a part, I always say this is a part of my my journey, but it’s not all of it, it’s it’s a chapter of my book, maybe a page in my book. But it will never be the whole book and being like, Yeah, this is something that happened. I can’t change it, but I can keep going. And it’s kind of like one of those moments of like, oh yeah, it’s done like it’s not still happening, like, what do I do? And then going, Oh, what do I do? Right?
Jameela [00:54:46] And that’s going to look different for everyone.
Jimanekia [00:54:48] But this is also where I start going, huh? What do I need? It took me, and I want to normalize this too, because everyone’s always like, once you’re assaulted, why don’t you go to the police or why don’t you go tell people? I didn’t tell my family until I wrote an article and it was about to come out. Yeah. So I told them before. So it took me like eight years to tell anyone. So I think normalizing like, hey, you don’t have to tell people until you’re ready. But if you need people that they do exist, so I think being able to go, Oh, this exists, although it’s not enough communities for me figuring out like. Today’s is a new day, and it always sounds so much easier than it is of, like tomorrow. This thing already happened, like it’s it’s we’ve moved on from it, but it doesn’t move on. So acknowledging of this is a part of me. It’s not all of me. Does it shape the way that I move through the world now? Absolutely right. Acknowledgment, I think for me was a big thing and then realizing the reasons I was drinking all the time. Why was I having more sex in? I am always a fan of sex, but like having it in more risky spaces, right? So then going acknowledging like, Oh, this wasn’t how I was before, this wasn’t what I was doing.
Jameela [00:56:10] Well, a big part of your work is sex after trauma. And I find that fascinating. And I was wondering like, you know, for you did you find sex post being assaulted something that felt tricky to you? Or was it somewhere that you found comfort and empowerment like it’s so different for so many of my friends. Some people end up having more sex. Some people completely stop having sex altogether, or some people find sex very scary. It takes them a really long time to be able to engage sexually with someone. I probably fall into that category. And so how how did you did you manage to get to a healthy place with sex yourself?
Jimanekia [00:56:50] Now, I didn’t have sober sex for a very long time. I didn’t have sober sex for like eight years. So that’s how I navigate it. I still love sex. I still love orgasm, still love you know the things. But it was like I was still very disconnected and just letting the motion happen. Did I want to do it? Yeah, but for the right reason, I don’t know was it because I actually like these people. Or was it because I was trying to feel something and fill a void?
Jameela [00:57:23] So when you are teaching people about how because I think that’s a conversation that I really didn’t see happening much before you came along. Not enough and not the level that you do it. I didn’t see a lot of people focus on pleasure after trauma. You know, we just talk about the trauma and the sadness and the healing. But a part of that healing is also reclaiming this really big part of your life that maybe someone took from you, that they don’t have to keep if you don’t let them.
Jimanekia [00:57:48] Absolutely not.
Jameela [00:57:49] And so and so post the like recognition that you were drinking in order to, I don’t know, kind of like numb yourself or whatever or detach yourself what was your journey like being able to actually then because you can have sober sex now, right?
Jimanekia [00:58:06] Oh, yeah.
Jameela [00:58:07] Yeah, that was a real yes.
Jimanekia [00:58:09] Oh yes.
Jameela [00:58:11] What were the tools that you used in order to be able to regain your feeling of like safetys that you didn’t need to connect disconnect?
Jimanekia [00:58:19] Yeah, I think this is a part of the conversation we’ve been happening. I had to figure out what I actually liked because I was also having sex for other people and I had to be like, cool, like, I got there eventually because I had to maneuver. But what if I then showed up and was like, These are the things. So some of the things for me is I did a lot of self dates and people go, What? That sounds cheesy. Absolutely love a self date. But it also allowed me to figure out the ways that I like to be touched the pressure.
Jameela [00:58:48] What do you mean, a self date? What does that mean?
Jimanekia [00:58:52] Yeah I’d have dinner by myself.
Jameela [00:58:53] OK, so you take yourself out to movie cinema and then go home with a vibrator.
Jimanekia [00:58:57] So it looks different. So for me, I like to cook. So allowing myself to feel in a good headspace, so I’m dancing and cooking in the kitchen. And then maybe for me, I don’t know if you’ve seen I love a good bath, so maybe I’m just getting more comfortable and getting relaxed in my body and then I’m like, I could do this. So with that, it’s it’s what we’re learning is how we want to be touched again, the ways that we also don’t want to be touched, the positions we can be in and also cannot be in any more. Before I started figuring this out, someone put me in like a weird position. I kicked him in the face because that was triggering for me. And so for me, when I do self dates or when I talk about it, it’s like, lay down. Maybe throw your leg the way you used to like it. If you mentally go, you shutter. Maybe that’s not the move anymore. So it’s a relearning of your own body to even be able to have sex with others.
Jameela [00:59:51] You have an organization called Tending the Garden, in which you have sexual assault survivors who come for healing and come for a kind of regaining of their sexual autonomy. What kind of things are you teaching them and doing with them in these retreats?
Jimanekia [01:00:08] Absolutely. So we we actually just posted it today on Tending the Garden. We have six pillars that we do the retreats for, so we’re focused around supporting those that have been marginalized sexual assault survivors, which is some tricky for folks there. Like what sex workers. College students 18 to 25, cis men, trans folks, non-binary folks, women of color. That’s who we focus on. And so for them, I think what I’ve learned is there’s three pillars of ways to support folks. So there is the sexuality education because most of us have never had good sex ed to even again, language matters to ask for the things. There’s so many folks that don’t know there’s a difference between a vulva and a vagina basic because we weren’t taught it. So like giving folks that, giving them that understanding a mental health component. So that’s a second class that folks take meeting you where you are understanding what’s happening in your body. How do you support it? All those things. And then something about body forgiveness, which is something I started doing and I did it one time like a spoken word thing and the reaction I got everyone in the crowd was in tears and I said, Whoa. And so body forgiveness is literally going through and forgiving yourself because sometimes for survivors, it is so much easier to blame ourselves than to blame the person that’s caused us harm. And so it’s just like, Hey, a simple, like, Hey, this isn’t your fault, and I’ll run through it with folks. And then giving them the tools to also forgive themselves in the ways that they need to navigate it.
Jameela [01:01:44] And you, you. I think you even sent me one once like a pleasure kit.
Jimanekia [01:01:49] Oh, that that was something that we’ve done. So, there’s so many different ways we’re trying to figure it out. So with Tending the Garden also we want to start doing monthly kits for survivors to have come to their home every day and each week it’s a different thing that they can learn each way that they can show up for themselves. So this is something we’re working on. We’re doing online classes with different folks. We’re doing the retreats are really intense and six days you’re going to cry, but maybe you’re not ready for that. So we do other things. We’re also building out a platform for our community. So more support groups, more ways for you can have moderated chats with others that might be struggling with you. So we’re trying to fundraise to continue doing all those things. So if you want to drop, a coin will receive it. But there’s so many ways that people just feel so alone. And it’s also, like you said, it’s inaccessible because of money.
Jameela [01:02:44] Yeah, and there isn’t a lot for sexual assault survivors, I learned that when I was younger that there’s just kind of like there’s a kind of. They will use a, I don’t know, like a kit on you, and they’ll maybe let you see a counselor a few times, but there’s no confirmation of life after.
Jimanekia [01:03:04] Maybe.
Jameela [01:03:04] Exactly maybe. You come from a country where at least we offer these things for free, which is, I think, unimaginable. I imagine for many Americans, which makes me very, very sad. But I was very lucky that that’s where that’s the country that I come from. But a lot of countries don’t have that same privilege, and that makes me extremely troubled. But it’s just so rare to hear people talking about reclaiming sex or life after like or life after, specifically after sexual trauma. We kind of think, well, that person’s damaged now, and they’re always going to have to we’re and have to tread on eggshells with them and then probably don’t like sex anymore. We just assume that they find all sex triggering. There are ways to communicate that actually. You can go online. I’m OK now. Like, relatively, I just take a while. But after that, while has gone and I feel safe with someone, I feel like I know their history. I know their triggers and their traumas, and I can see whether or not they’ll be compatible with mine. Then I have a great sex life and so you there is great pleasure and great maybe better sex even than the sex you were having before that happened, because you’ve been kicked into having to learn yourself and learn how to protect and preserve and and elevate yourself. But I do want you to know that you can get back to that and that if you are someone who’s been abused or you are with someone or looking to be with someone, you know who maybe you found out they’ve been through a big trauma. You don’t have to be afraid this can be a don’t want to use the word exciting. It sounds trite, but whatever the other word that sounds less trite is for this is an opportunity to grow into someone to help someone grow, to learn with someone and to, like, find different parts of both of you. There is a beautiful way of looking at this. It doesn’t all have to be like sad and the end of everything. It can just be the end of something.
Jimanekia [01:04:59] We’re not all walking lifetime movies, we’re not. We’re not.
Jameela [01:05:03] Speak for yourself.
Jimanekia [01:05:05] I know you want to be, but you’re also not a walking lifetime movie all the time. But it’s true, right? Like whoever is hearing this, you know, lifetime movies are great, but also you’re allowed. I think there’s we get put into these corners. Well, this is how you should be. Why aren’t you sad? Because I’ve been sad a long time. Listen, there’s so many other things I can be sad about. Like, you’re allowed. I think sometimes we need permission to go. You can have sex, you can have a drink. You can do these things like you are allowed to be a whole human. And this is also why when I when I work with folks, I do it as like a holistic thing because we’re not just body parts, we’re not just brain issues like we are whole people. And also, trauma can affect so many other things within our bodies, besides our genitals.
Jameela [01:05:56] 100 percent. So is there any kind of advice that you would like to give out to anyone who this year is reckoning with or who has been through or has maybe from reading all of the shit in the news is starting to? Feel certain things they weren’t feeling before. Are there any things that you would like to kind of get them started on that journey to recovery with?
Jimanekia [01:06:20] I think that the reminder if you don’t have to be a super survivor. People go what? There is, there is the rhetoric of the ways the survivors look, you don’t have to fit that. It doesn’t change anything that you’ve been through that you’re still living your life were like, Well, I don’t know if you really look like, are you sure that happened to you? It doesn’t matter. You know, your journey. And also,
Jameela [01:06:42] oh, that’s a whole other conversation. The fact that we have such a specific idea of what that similarly, with eating disorders we look at, survival is just the way they’ve always been shown in in films and TV. As always, women, cis women, often often thin, often white and often white or often. I don’t know fuckin traditionally fuckin attract whatever. There’s a very specific prototype that we look at. Assault victims are very small, et cetera. And so it’s so important, I think in your work, the way that you spread awareness of the fact that actually this is happening to everyone and anyone can be subjected to this and you go out of your way to make sure that those people are served because a lot of people can end up feeling gaslit out of their own experience. I said this before on the podcast, but when I was attacked when I was 23, I was 22 god it’s been so long. I was told by our mutual friends well, that couldn’t have happened because he’s so good looking. As in like he’s better looking than you. So why would he want to do that? Why would he need to he can have anyone? And then I gaslit myself out of saying anything to anyone again for a while because I was like, Well, that’s well, that’s true. So it has to be someone who’s less attractive, like abusers and victims or survivors come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
Jimanekia [01:08:03] Yeah, every and this is a number and, you know, I like to give numbers and also I know that they are shitty, but every sixty eight seconds someone is sexually assaulted in the US,
Jameela [01:08:14] that is a wild statistic.
Jimanekia [01:08:16] But also, I think it’s less than that because we will never have a full number about sexual assault because a lot of us are about to be just telling everybody, we’re not going to report it. Right?
Jameela [01:08:29] Yeah, exactly. I mean, God, especially within the trans community, a lot of people don’t feel safe to even go to the police. It’s so true. So true. Well, so then what do we do Jimanekia. What what the fuck do we do? What do we do to stop reversing those numbers?
Jimanekia [01:08:48] I think we have to look at it on a micro level, like we’re constantly trying to look at it as the macro, which is mean like a whole world thing. But what if we start smaller? What if we started in our communities and your community might be the people around you in your neighborhood? Maybe it’s the school you’re in. Maybe it’s your friend group. But have to start.
Jameela [01:09:09] Or you’re household.
Jimanekia [01:09:09] Yeah, we have to start having realistic conversations of this happens every day. As we just said, sixty eight seconds, that’s very fast. We all know someone that’s been assaulted. But if we keep shying away and pushing it under, nothing’s ever going to change. And also, and this might be I might be a little spicy. But I also believe that those that cause harm also need to get their own therapy. People are like, we should throw them all in jail. Cool. But if we put someone in prison and nothing happens, but more harm to them, is that going to change that person? And so the people that cause harm also need to get assistance.
Jameela [01:09:49] I get in trouble every time I say anything along those lines, any time I ever say that there’s a mental health element to someone who attacks another person, I get into trouble online because this kind of fundamental belief that we cannot separate bad people from sad people. You know, like we cannot we cannot fathom the idea that that maybe someone isn’t just evil, maybe someone’s just really, really fucked up.
Jimanekia [01:10:13] Yeah. We don’t know unless we look.
Jameela [01:10:15] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s it’s something that I feel very strongly about, that I feel like we would all be in a safer society if we encouraged mental health care for everyone. And even if they’ve done something awful, we will be safer around that person if that person is then treated and healed. We don’t need to send them on a fucking like holiday to the Caribbean. But just understanding why someone does something helps us a) see the signs and other people helps us understand perpetrators. And it also means that we are sending us, as we’ve both just said, a safer person back out into our society. No one wins when we just punish and do not seek to understand and seek to treat.
Jimanekia [01:10:57] This why prison doesn’t work.
Jameela [01:10:59] Exactly.
Jimanekia [01:10:59] You’re just placing someone in another place. But listen, I’ll be in the shit hole with you because I do believe people need help. Are there people that are just this way? Absolutely but also one of my first jobs when I started in the mental health, I worked with juvenile sex offenders for two years. And people go, Oh my God, everyone was so harmed and I was like 50 percent of them had been sexually assaulted. The other 50 percent had not. And were they able to unlearn some things, some folks were oversexualized. All the things they wanted to act it out, blah blah blah. And going on like this forever. But then there’s the people that literally this is just who they are. But if they don’t attempt to get treated or we don’t attempt to, you know, get them therapy, counseling, walking outside, we’ll never know. And we just keep letting these people out because we you know the news. This is a tip. Turn the news off. Turn it off. Because all you’re going to see is, you know, guys get excused because they have lives ahead of them and all these other men
Jameela [01:12:05] destroy their college degree. Yeah, I’ve seen so many stories like that recently,
Jimanekia [01:12:09] but that’s not a new story, right? And so we have to normalize going, Yes, what can we do better in this community? How do we help these people having conversations, learning about consent, learning about boundaries, learning how to receive rejection? I think those are the bare minimum things we can start with, and those are free.
Jameela [01:12:32] So what do you what do you hope for through your work? Like, what are the things that you kind of ponder daily that you are that you are hopeful about? You know, as we kind of slowly crawl out of this fuckhole we’ve been in the last two years with everything that you’re doing, everything you care about, all the kind of different subsets of this work that you’ve kind of existed within and spending years in each of these different things, such like a broad variety of different areas around sex, trauma and consent that you’ve you’ve you’ve taken time to really learn from what do you feel the most hopeful for? What do you hope for?
Jimanekia [01:13:11] I had to sit back because I really had to sit back and really, really feel that question. My hope is that survivors can be centered. And that they’re able to navigate and have options for navigating what has happened to them, I find that society often focuses on the person that caused harm. And they get the person that’s, you know, still dealing with what has happened gets kind of lost.
Jameela [01:13:35] We just you mean we just focus on the punitive part, if at all. And then we forget the fact that there’s now a whole human who is in pieces who has to be put back together.
Jimanekia [01:13:45] Yeah. I my goal is to continue finding ways to connect other humans together. So when you know that you’re not alone. This is why I do support groups, but also to know that there is another side to this situation. Is it going to be a part of you? Yes. Are things going to come up that remind you of things, possibly, but that you’re not alone, you matter. Whatever happened to you? Not discounting it. But we can’t change it now. And it might sound shitty. But also sometimes we need to hear like. You’re OK in ways to keep navigating, because society tells us that you shouldn’t be. And I want folks to see survivors as not broken and that we all look different. I am a queer, non-monogamous black woman. You are not. You are also a survivor. We look different, but also we can sit here and go, Oh shit. I understand that. I’m like struggling to eat. You’re like, Yeah, right? Like, we can get that and normalizing like, hey, we might look different, but our journeys might be similar and different at the same time. And that’s OK.
Jameela [01:14:57] Where can people find your support groups Jimanekia?
Jimanekia [01:15:00] On my website, traumaqueen.love. I post about everything on my social media as well. It’s funny. I just put out a class on being a survivor and navigating your trauma like sexually. So reconnecting your sexuality. And then I have another class for allies, so I’m putting out more content so folks can just have it. But if you can spell Jimanekia, you can find me anywhere and find all the things.
Jameela [01:15:26] Well, it’s written above this interview. OK, so before you go, then Jimanekia, will you tell me, what do you weigh?
Jimanekia [01:15:35] I weigh my love, I weigh my patience, I weigh my sanity, which sometimes it tips. And I do weigh being a survivor, not a victim. A survivor.
Jameela [01:15:48] Yeah, I understand. Well, thank you so much, and I hope everyone goes and find your resources. I love the fact that you have resources, not just for survivors, but also for allies. I think it’s something that we could all benefit from is knowing how to actually like, exercise our tools to be a support to people. Because, as you said, one in every 68 seconds or probably more, this is it’s all around us and it’s better to be prepared. And don’t be afraid of having these conversations with your kids young in a careful and maybe a slightly vaguer, less explicit way. Start these conversations as young as you can around consent around rejection because you have no idea what kind of impact that’s going to have on that person’s life or the life of the people around them. We can do so much from our homes, and that’s where the best education starts because school and the internet and you find a fuckin Pornhub and all these different things and peers and sexual experiences should not be the main way that children learn this stuff. It should come from you first.
Jimanekia [01:16:50] Absolutely.
Jameela [01:16:51] Yeah. Don’t be afraid of the conversation because the reality is way fucking scarier than just having that conversation. And so thank you for your time, Jimanekia, and come back again.
Jimanekia [01:17:01] Thank you.
Jameela [01:17:04] Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnegan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andrew Carson, and the beautiful music you’re hearing now is made by my boyfriend, James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Ask Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month of Stitcher Premium by going Stitcher.com/premium and using the promo code, I Weigh. Lastly, over at I Weigh, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 1-818-660-5543 or email us what you weigh at IWeighPodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners.
Listener [01:17:56] I weigh getting out of a deep state depression and enjoying life and everyone in it. All right, thank you.
September 21, 2023
Jameela is joined by campaigner and writer Gina Martin, and in this optimistic conversation about creating change for equal rights around the world, they discuss how anyone can show up and support activism (especially offline in real spaces) and what this activism work can look like.