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Session 168: Women, Agency, & Pleasure

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a Licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible version of ourselves.

By now you’ve likely seen and heard Cardi B & Meg the Stallion’s newest release, WAP. Of course there’s lots of commentary so we had to chat about it on the podcast so Dr. Lexx Brown-James is back to join the conversation. Dr. Lexx and I chatted about the stereotypes that are often invoked in commentary about Black women’s sexuality, the importance of agency in sexual liberation, how respectability politics are used to shame Black women, and how we can unpack our own shame around sexuality to encourage healthier attitudes towards sexuality for our children.

Resources Mentioned

Visit our Amazon Store for all the books mentioned on the podcast!

Where to Find Dr. Lexx

Instagram: @lexxsexdoc

Twitter: @lexxsexdoc

Facebook: @lexxsexdoc

Grab a copy of Dr. Lexx’s children’s book.

Check out Dr. Lexx’s upcoming event.

Listen to Dr. Lexx dispel the myth that relationships have to be hard work on Session 164 of the podcast. 

Listen to Dr. Lexx discuss getting rid of sexual shame on Session 55 of the podcast.

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The hashtag for the podcast is #TBGinSession.

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Read Full Transcript

Session 168: Women, Agency, & Pleasure

Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 168 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. I'm sure by now you've seen and heard the newest release from Cardi B & Meg called WAP. Well of course everybody and their mama has an opinion about the song so we had to chat about what it all means and Dr. Lexx Brown-James is back with us to join the conversation.

Dr. Lexx is an Amazon best-selling author of These are My Eyes, This is My Nose, This is My Vulva, These are My Toes, and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, an AASECT-certified sexuality educator and supervisor. When not in therapy, she contracts with organizations regarding reproductive justice and accessible, comprehensive intersectional and anti-oppressive sexuality education.

Dr. Lexx and I chatted about the stereotypes that are often invoked in commentary about black women’s sexuality, the importance of agency in sexual liberation, how respectability politics are used to shame black women, and how we can unpack our own shame around sexuality to encourage healthier attitudes towards sexuality for our children. If anything resonates with you while enjoying this episode, please share it with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession. Here's our conversation:

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for joining us again today, Dr. Lexx.

Dr. Lexx: Thank you for having me back. I love it here.

Dr. Joy: We are always happy to have you back. I really appreciate you sliding into my DMs like, Hey, can we talk about this?

Dr. Lexx: You have created just such the perfect platform.

Dr. Joy: Tell me, Lexx, what was your initial reaction to the WAP visuals as well as audio?

Dr. Lexx: In my chest, my reactions were my knees still got it. That's what I thought initially. Like I could drop down and get back up and I didn't fall out, nor did I die. So I was really proud of myself out of that. And it was so freeing. There was a 90s nostalgia, you know, I grew up in Atlanta, I grew up in College Park so hearing Frank Ski on the radio was normal and regular every morning. And I was like, look at this homage, look at this homage! And that was unexpected, and then all of the commentary. And it's all based on this over-sexualization of black women. And I was like, okay, let's see where this goes. But everybody only defaulted to this over-sexualization of the black woman based on this Jezebel stereotype.

The Jezebel stereotype is the idea that black women, typically hour-glass figured, lighter skinned and with some type of non-kinky hair–think the mulatto type woman–is sexually overt and think a Carmen Jones. So Carmen in that movie would be the idea of a Jezebel. But people forget the conversation where black women and their sexualization, they're also sexualized as nannies: fat, dark-skinned black women who have kinkier hair, who are considered not necessarily sexual because they're not the Jezebel and yet they reproduce and take care of children. They are the “for mother-for the people” *[inaudible 0:04:55] as the welfare queen. They're having sex, they're producing but they’re not necessarily seen as very sexual.

And then there's also the Sapphire. And the Sapphire comes from Amos n Andy and is considered that kind of ball-buster type woman who is like, “Oh, well, you can't handle me,” and attitudinal, and think maybe like a Clair Huxtable type. “I will tell you when we will be together in this way.” And then there's the superwoman. The black superwoman, this idea that black women can make $1 out of 15 cents and take care of the communities and their children and their partners and their jobs and every *[inaudible 0:05:37] and amazing and they're never exhausted or tired and always have this pleasant attitude. And they’re considered asexual, right? Because they're so strong and they don't even need sex. And nobody's willing to really broach them because they don't need to have this physical pleasure or satisfaction in their lives. With all of these other stereotypes, and the only one that people wanted to focus on was the Jezebel. And I was like, huh, well, that's pigeonholing.

Dr. Joy: Why do you think that is? Do you think that people are even aware of all of these other stereotypes?

Dr. Lexx: I think they're aware, but I don't think that their sexuality is as amped up, and I think that a black woman in charge of her own sexual pleasure is scary for some folks. We have a lot of shame. I was personally told as a child to call my vagina a pocketbook because I'm a southerner. You keep your pocketbook closed and you keep it off the floor: those are the two things you learned. And I was like, huh, that's interesting. Why would it ever be on the floor? But the idea that if you have this own sexual pleasure, you're some type of whore, you're some type of wanton, over-sexualized “not a wifey material.” And so I don't think the other ones get as much play because they are somewhat more acceptable.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. Because their sexuality, like you said, is not as overt. It might be okay for those things to be happening but everybody doesn't know about it.

Dr. Lexx: Mm hmm.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. And a lot of the commentary I saw, Dr. Lexx, was around just this whole idea, like is this appropriate, especially right now? People, it felt like, were offended or really shocked, especially given everything that's happening in the world right now, that we have this overly sexual women reclaiming their sexuality or claiming their sexuality in a way that feels like it might not fit with everything going on in the world right now.

Dr. Lexx: Right. And my question is, when better? When better to do it? While we're having movements towards black liberation and freedom, when we are having more time–maybe–to ourselves at home, to have these conversations... When better to talk about what sexual liberation looks like? I've had clients who didn't know what the different parts of their vulva were. They're calling their clitoris the third nipple or scared to say any of the words that are in WAP, especially the P part. They can't say that word out loud or they whisper it very low because of the shame and the “we're not supposed to talk about this.” And they suffer in their sex lives. They don't say “this isn't pleasurable or this hurts or I really want to try doing this a different way,” because they don't think they're allowed to. They don't have that permission and nobody ever gave them that permission.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. You know, Dr. Lexx, one of the first times you were here, you talked about sexual shame, right? I know a lot of your work centers on that so I want to hear you talk more about how that shame does play out because I don't think that people necessarily recognize that what they're experiencing in their reaction to this video or other things is shame.

Dr. Lexx: *[inaudible 0:08:57] and the level of respectability politics. I've tried this a couple of times online at this point, so this idea that black women are inherently sexual and they get over-sexualized, it's true. There is the adultification of young black girls and there's an adultification of black males, too. They’re sexual from puberty, they want sex, is a misnomer, and it is put on black bodies, undoubtedly.

This conversation and WAP are two different conversations. We're talking about being able to enjoy pleasure. So vasocongestion–big fun words because I like dropping big fun words here–is when the genitals are actually full of blood and it can happen from an allergy, it could happen from arousal, it can happen because you just need extra blood flow in that region for some reason. The vaginal canal starts to lubricate during arousal and excitement and the vaginal canal can even change colors. It can turn from a lighter pink to a deeper red or a crimson or even a purple because it is saying like, I'm excited for this. We can start to own that. It is okay for you to have pleasure in a society that's been taught that you're not supposed to have pleasure, you're supposed to self-sacrifice for goodness.

And for black women specifically because some colonizer saw some bare-breasted African women on the coast and was like, oh, they must have sex all the time because their breasts are always out. And because they felt aroused by seeing this, by seeing this natural state of being and the body in this way, they posited that on those African women. And that is the narrative that has been used to scapegoat abuse of black women and girls throughout time. And so to fight back against that narrative, it's you have to be as prim and proper as possible because this is what the world already believes about you.

And WAP takes that and throws it out the window saying like, why am I gonna go? I'm going to decolonize my perspective. Why do I have to believe what these people have said about me all the time? Why do I have to be this way to be respected?

Dr. Joy: You know, Brianna Holt had a beautiful quote. She just wrote a piece for Complex all about WAP and she says black women have little to no control of how society views us, with or without Cardi and Megan's collab. Black women shaking their butts and describing their sex life in music is not what sets black women back; it’s the people who justify harm toward us because of these actions.

Dr. Lexx: Mm hmm.

Dr. Joy: And that sounds like what you're talking about.

Dr. Lexx: Exactly. That's exactly what we're saying. And we see that in rape culture. Well, she was wearing a short skirt and she was asking for it or she drank too much at a party or she's had sex with this many people so it must have meant that she wanted it now. And it's like, what? Or maybe think about, again, the adultification of young black girls. It's, oh, well, she's developed enough; her body is ready. And I'm like, that's not what this is. This is literally saying I can enjoy my body, I feel empowered through the pleasure of my body and I know what pleases my body and there's power in that. And starting to recognize that power that is being owned.

Dr. Joy: You know, Dr. Lexx, that is another part of what I have been observing, is people talking about, well, how is this not a continuation of the conversation of the adultification of black girls? Like what kind of message is descending to our young black girls?

Dr. Lexx: Mm hmm. Well, part of it is when you’re grown, you’ve got grown folks’ business…

Dr. Joy: Grown folks’ business at the basic level.

Dr. Lexx: Growing up, I had an interesting childhood and very liberal parents because I learned a lot about sex and sexuality, which was amazing because it helped me. Studies show that the more that kids learn about sexuality–not just intercourse, not just nutrition, but whole sexuality, bodies esteem, intimacy, consent, talking about expression of self, all of those things–the longer they will actually wait and the more likely they're going to be to use protection when they decide to engage in some type of intercourse or outercourse.

All that to be said, growing up, I got to attend hen parties with my mom and my aunties–who were really my neighbors but y'all know how that goes, right? And their kids are my cousins and/ or my nieces and nephews, depending on their age. And I got to go to hen parties where they would talk about being with these guys when I was a teenager and ex-boyfriends and how some things did work and how something didn't. And I'm like, wow, there's a whole world in this.

There's a whole world in like this power of feminine attitude and ownership that a lot of us don't get to know about. A lot of us are saying, “oh, you'll find that out when you're supposed to find that out,” but our mentors aren't necessarily comfortable guiding us and so we have to learn through pain instead of learning through wisdom. And I'd rather folks learn through wisdom than learn through pain.

Dr. Joy: I wonder if you can offer some strategies to people about how that can happen, right? Because I think the messaging that young women often get is just keep your legs closed, like you will figure that out, like you said, when you're older. But who am I going to figure it out from if nobody's talking to me about it? What kinds of things do you think people can do to impart this wisdom?

Dr. Lexx: I can give an example from my own life. I have *[Is it chil’en or trolling? 0:14:56] kids, I call them *[inaudible 0:14:58] babies. Those are my hubs and my oldest hub is a vulva owner and said it's okay that I call her by she or he pronouns, not they, and one day was sitting on my lap. And tends to be nude because she's three and that's what life is. So sitting on my lap and started touching her vulva and I was like, “Are you touching your vulva?” And she says, “Yeah, it's nice.” And I’m like, “It is nice and we didn't talk about consent of you touching your vulva while you’re on me. I'm a little bit uncomfortable and I'd really like for you to do that in your own private space when you're by yourself, like your room or if you want to go to the bathroom and do that, that's absolutely fine.” And she was like, “Well, I kind of want to watch the Magic School Bus.” I was like, “Okay, we can continue watching the Magic School Bus.” And then she was like, “Well, let me go wash my hands again.” And I was like, “Thank you for doing that.” And she went off and washed her hands again and came back and sat on my lap and didn’t touch her vulva anymore, right?

All of that says, “Yes, it's nice to touch your vulva. It's absolutely okay to touch your vulva. It is not okay to touch your vulva while you are on me. This is not a private place to do so. Please go do that in a private place or you can stop and do it later.” But we're not shaming. And some people are like, well, my kids not three; my kid is 16 and trying to be out here in these streets during COVID and etc., etc. It's time to talk to them about, one, if they're out in the streets, if they are doing things where they're sexually active, is it pleasurable for them? Have you taught your child how to advocate for their own pleasure and what that looks like? I've never met a parent yet who says I want my kids to have a crappy sex life. I've not yet met that parent.

Dr. Joy: Right. Most parents are just like, I don't want them to have a sex life, period.

Dr. Lexx: And that's absolutely okay and absolutely unrealistic.

Dr. Joy: If they choose that, then fine, but not just because you want it.

Dr. Lexx: Exactly. And even folks who identify as asexual might have some type of romantic or physically pleasurable intercourse or sexual play, so it's saying, “Hey, have you checked in with your body to see what feels nice?” How do you tell somebody: No, you don't want to do something or yes, you do want to do something? We do leave that part out. We teach people how to say no all the time. We don't really teach them how to say yes around their physical empowerment and enjoyment, especially when they're adolescents.

Dr. Joy: I think this goes back to your earlier statement, though, and even our first conversation with you here on the podcast about sexual shame. Because I don't know that as a parent, you can have that conversation with your kids if you have not done some of the work of releasing your own sexual shame.

Dr. Lexx: Agreed, agreed. And I will contend that some parents that I've seen say, “I just don't want to do what my parents did to me.” Where you woke up and you just found a book on your bookshelf and it was like, okay, what is this about? Or they handed you a book with like, “Come to me if you have any questions.” You were like, “I'm not coming to talk to you. This is strange,” because they were also really uncomfortable.

I've seen parents who say “I want to do differently for my child,” and figuring out what that looks like. And that also might be saying we have an askable adult. Like, I'm a Titi to my line sisters’ kids, right? So those are my line nieces and my line nephews. And so I have had line nieces come to me and be like, “Hey, this is what's going on. I need some help, Titi Lexx. What do we do?” And I'm like, “Hey, your kid wants to have a conversation with me. Is this okay with you?” I check in with consent, not necessarily about the topic but saying, “Can I be that askable person and are you comfortable with that?” And they're like, “Yes, I'm okay.” And I told the same thing to the teen, like, “Hey, I'm gonna talk to your mom to make sure it's okay you talk to me,” and then we can put some boundaries around it.

Dr. Joy: I love the concept of an askable adult.

Dr. Lexx: And an askable adult that you trust.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, because it feels like, okay, even if maybe I haven't done my own work to be comfortable with this conversation, if there is an auntie or somebody who they can have this conversation with, then the conversation still happens.

Dr. Lexx: Exactly. I've not yet met a parent that was like, “If I feel safe with this adult to help me parent these kids, I'm going to be like, nah.” It's different if it's some random stranger that you don't know or who you're just getting to know, but if it's somebody you're super close with and you trust their opinion and you all have like values, and you're like, “Okay, this person's knowledgeable about this, I trust them. I want my kid to have help. I want my kid to have support.”

Then we're building those communities and so making sure you have somebody who is sex positive in your community can be integral. When these kids see WAP, because it's going to happen; the internet is everywhere, kids are way more savvy at deleting cookies nowadays than we were, and deleting browser history. They're gonna see it and it will be like, “I noticed you were interested in this. What were you interested in?”

Dr. Joy: Making it a conversation as opposed to shaming.

Dr. Lexx: Mm hmm. And say like, “I'm not really comfortable with you consuming this type of adult content. Can we talk about what was interesting and maybe find like the information you were looking for?”

Dr. Joy: Yeah, and it also feels really interesting that people are reacting to this as if this is the first time we have seen women claim their sexuality in a music video or in lyrics, right? Like, this comes from a long history of other female rappers and women in music who have done similar kinds of things. Why do you think the reaction has been so strong?

Dr. Lexx: I think this is the first time it's been so in your face. I will tell you, I got my life from that fountain in the intro in the video.

Dr. Joy: The fountain was rather cool, as a former breastfeeding mom.

Dr. Lexx: Exactly. Thank you, Dr. Joy. I told my other sexologist friends–we were fighting when we started because I hadn't seen it and they had started conversations and, you know, I have little ones, I don't always get a chance to look at things up to date. I was like let me go look at this video and I saw that fountain and I was like, “Is that *[inaudible 0:21:13] nipples? It is! And none of them saw the breastfeeding or the nursing testicles that I saw. There were like, I saw the hair and I saw the pose and I thought about Lil’ Kim. And I was like, but you ain’t seen this nursing parent who oftentimes feels touched out or maybe even unwanted or uncertain about their bodies? And it's a celebration of, yes, you can bust it wide open and still be a nursing parent, and take advantage of those full engorged boobs while they're sitting up. And enjoy some of that sexual play, too. So, yes, thank you Dr. Joy for confirming that for me. Because I was like *[inaudible 0:21:52] I was like, alright, that’s okay.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, it definitely has felt like the backlash has felt different and I'm trying to remember the last video we had that might have given us this same kind of reaction.

Dr. Lexx: Oh, was it… I don't remember. I'm not the person for music and arts. I remember the tweet and I remember that I was not old enough to be singing about tweets, when my neck and my back was out. I'm just remembering growing up seeing FreakNik and hearing Trina and hearing Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown and seeing those things and seeing those same things and hearing the same terms, and people have sung about sex since the beginning of time.

Dr. Joy: Right. Like our mothers and grandmothers, they all had similar content in terms of lyric. Now, it may not have been as descriptive or as pointed, but everybody has been singing about sex for a very long time.

Dr. Lexx: For a very long time. And that's the other part of that. It is liberating to be like, I'm just saying this out loud. And that's part of our sex therapy model, right? The first step in our sex therapy model is permission-giving. It's saying I give you permission to talk about these things, I give you permission to say them out loud. I typically take that a step further and use that also for consent. Like, do you give me permission to talk about this with you? And ensuring that that conversation is safe for everybody in the room and also giving people permission to pass.

Like if it's too uncomfortable, we don't have to talk about it. But we don't see black women rappers get held up in the same light when we see black male rappers talking about the same thing. The black male rappers have talked about sex and how many people they want to run through and how they like their sex and how they want a sex kitten and a video vixen and how to hit it from behind, etc., etc. and don't get the same scrutiny. They don't get the same scrutiny and yet when a woman talks about her own body part and how it functions, she's now all of a sudden whore and uncouth.

Dr. Joy: Right. The discrepancy feels very jarring to me. Like when male rappers release these same kinds of songs, there is very little to no criticism of these kinds of things. But it feels like people really are reacting to the fact that these women have demonstrated their agency to talk about what brings them pleasure and that it's okay for us to talk about these things as women.

Dr. Lexx: Because we don't hear about the black buck, which is a male sexual stereotype for black men. That he always wants sex, that his appetite is insatiable, that he has a super large super human penis, and is able to just have as much sex as he wants for as long as he wants. And even saying those things out loud, “they're not supposed to be horrible for men.” Men are supposed to function like that when we think about toxic masculinity. Anything outside of that narrative is supposed to be non-masculine. And it's that embracing of this hyper masculinity and this toxic masculinity that I also think reflects back on, “Wait, what? You're trying to be empowered sexually? Nah, nah, I'm not cool with that, because now it feels threatening.”

So if I want a sex kitten… and I think I put this in a meme. I want a sex kitten, I want somebody who's gonna do sex tricks. And women are like, wow, I'm putting it on you. And then dudes are like, nah, not like that, you whore.

Dr. Joy: How does it come together? I do want to hear more about that and your thoughts about that. Like, if people are just not recognizing how contradictory those messages are. That it’s okay for you to do all these things if I say that you do them or if I encourage you to do them, but if you initiate it, then it's a problem.

Dr. Lexx: And I think that comes from that power piece. It's I have power over you or I have influence over you or I can own part of this narrative. Well, I'm the one who made her that way, right? T-Pain says now she like pain because he taught her how to do it. And so there's a prowess there that adds to that ego but it's not necessarily theirs to own. It's the own individual person’s to own and I think we get that in sexuality.

In my own study, black women having sex… And this was about fantasies but most of the black women in that study believed that during sex, there was a power exchange. There's an exchange of power during the intimacy. And this was a 250-women, just about. So there was an exchange of power that happened during this sexual exchange and intercourse and they believe that. And so if they believe that and they're with another person who believes that, then, yeah, now I have some type of power. Now I'm part of your narrative. Now I'm part of your story and you are because of me.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. We know that when women become more liberated, that leads to liberation for everyone so it does feel like people are working against their best interests in working against women being more sexually liberated.

Dr. Lexx: Yes. That sexual liberation of saying I'm owning my body, I'm owning my pleasure and I am wet for this and you be like, “Nah, I don't want that.”

Dr. Joy: It sounds so ridiculous. But how do you think that then maybe does help men to even feel more comfortable with their own liberation?

Dr. Lexx: I think it also gives–remember that permission piece I was talking about? It gives them permission too to say I don't have to mind read: Do you like this? Do you like that? I'm gonna try this. This kind of figuring out of this really neat, beautiful puzzle is taxing. And one thing, if you're a woman who is sleeping with men, the penis doesn't like pressure. It does not like pressure. *[check 0:27:55] It's something that just was really hard and stressed really do affect penile performance. [I don’t follow what she’s saying in this sentence.]

So tell me what you like, show me what you like. And puzzle typically begets arousal. So the sounds, the whap noise, the macaroni and cheese sound, right? Those things that say I'm ready for you and I want you, can be such a turn on that it could beget more arousal and saying like, “Oh, I know exactly how to please this person. I know exactly what this vaginal canal wants.” I know exactly what this clitoris wants, I know exactly what, whatever–these nipples, these toes, this elbow, the back of the neck, whatever it is–I know what it wants. And that helps my own sexual self-esteem. And so you can give that gift through your own self exploration to your lover. You can give that gift of enhancing their sexual self-esteem because they listened to exactly what you needed and were able to help you facilitate pleasure.

Dr. Joy: Where do you think we can start to kind of break down on some of that, Dr. Lexx? How can we help people to kind of get out of that contradiction?

Dr. Lexx: I think one is starting with some of these conversations, so listening to this podcast, listening to sex-positive folks, hearing out all sorts of perspectives. Because, again, we live in America so most of our perspectives come from America, but looking outside of ourselves. I have a book called The African Reader, about sexuality from various parts of Africa that helped me like, oh look, other people have sung and talked about hymens and vaginas. Look at that. And there's power in that.

So starting to explore some of our understandings. Pleasure Activism is a great book, and then The Body Is Not an Apology is a great book, because we do have to externalize like, “Hey, this is how you've been taught to see yourself. What do you actually believe about yourself and the skin that you're in and the body that you have, that's outside of everybody else's opinions and constraints?” Then, you start to explore your pleasure. Do you actually like when your lover smacks your butt like that? Or is it fun for them? Do you want to be, I don't know, choked? Or do you want your toes sucked? Or do you want the back of your knee licked at the right place? I don't know. Whatever it is, explore for yourself what really feels good for you. And then being able to voice some of that, which has statistically been found better to happen in–I will say, perimenopausal and postmenopausal women.

There is, Dr. Joy, a level of cares that you no longer give after a certain point. You're able to verbalize, like, I don’t have time for this, I don’t like that, do it this way. And there’s some relief in also not being fearful of getting pregnant and things like that. But there is a level that comes with comfortability with your body at that point for a lot of women identifying folks before that.
So before your mid to late 40s, folks, “Babe, I really don't like that, can we try it a different way?” Or it really turns me on when- I'm really into if- Please keep doing that, it feels so good, right? Having some of that scripted language to encourage and also center your own pleasure during this time. It is not your lover's job to give you pleasure. It's your job to help your lover facilitate pleasure for yourself. And vice versa.

Dr. Joy: You know, Dr. Lexx, listening to you talk about that study that talks about postmenopausal, it feels like a part of what WAP does is give people language for censoring their own pleasure, that you can start asking for that even earlier in your life.

Dr. Lexx: Please, please ask for that even earlier in your life. Yes, it can be celebratory, too. Not something that's just so hidden and so away. And while we're talking about WAP, I also want to just plug that it doesn't matter how you get a WAP. If it is a natural occurring lubrication, if it is an added lubrication that is water based or silicon based–do not use silicon based if you're going to use a silicon toy–enjoy that. People who are nursing, you need to automatically add a lubricant. It does not make you any less than if you're using a lubricant; it just makes everything feel better.

And I can say I had an over 75-year-old client who said that they had great lubrication and yet they still had some burning when there was some digital penetration. And I was like, that means there's not a lot of lubrication. You need more about that. And she was like, oh? So I sent them some lubricant samples and I got a call back from the partner and from the client, “Hey, can we buy more of this? Where do we get it from?” And I was like, I'm happy to send you to this website to get more of it. It’s that permission started off younger.

And for my own kids, both of my kids are vulva owners and I want them to have pleasure with their bodies. Again, learning through wisdom and not through pain. I want to make sure like, “Hey, you know what? If it doesn't feel good, you say stop.” Or I want you to be careful with your own bodies so this is why you wash your hands before you touch your vulvas and we don't stick random things in our vulvas. All of these types of stuff are important to talk about what feels good in our bodies.

And this pleasure doesn't necessarily always have to be sexual either as simple as WAP is. There's also pleasure from that empowerment of, “I can be on top and I can own this and say I'm gonna say my own name because I own this. And I'mma spell it for you because I'm that good.” And that can be empowering and uplifting as well.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, you know the other thing that I think it's important to think about in terms of this conversation, Dr. Lexx, is that it feels like women feeling empowered about their sexuality doesn't really just stop in the bedroom. Because it feels like there is this part of, specifically with Meg, right? We know that she was recently shot and there was of course, again, conversation about how people were not taking it seriously and all the jokes and memes about it and it feels like a part of why it was not taken that seriously is because she is so sexy. She is not seen as this helpless woman, that kind of thing. And so it feels like there is a convulging of those worlds in that her sexuality has also made her view people as somebody that it was okay to joke about her being harmed.

Dr. Lexx: Mm hmm. Those are those respectability politics again, right? You're not worthy of decent human empathy from somebody harming you. This was violent.

Dr. Joy: Yes.

Dr. Lexx: And she's lucky she survived because if it would have been anywhere else in her body or if she would have been majorly injured, then everybody would be like, “Oh my gosh, RIP,” and playing albums and dedication songs. And we have to realize that happens to real folks in everyday life all of the time. All the time. And then specifically, I'll definitely say specifically for black trans women, too. They are killed for existing because it challenges this power dynamic that men find it threatening, so men find their attraction threatening. And it's similar here saying that, oh, you're too sexy or you're too much and that threatens this idea of my masculinity because now I'm not the sexually dominant one. That's really problematic and really scary. That people would be like, “Oh, this is so funny.”

And I saw something about that, I read about it. The meme from Boyz N the Hood or the meme from… what's the show where Della Reese got shot in the big toe? That meme.

Dr. Joy: Harlem Nights.

Dr. Lexx: There we go. So it's funny and Beyoncé got bit in the face by another woman and everybody wanted to be in an uproar. And I was like, there is no difference. A human is a human and she just still deserves the same respect, whether she's busting it open or not.

Dr. Joy: You know, the other thing that I thought was really cool about the WAP video was that they brought other women in, so it also felt like this celebration, this sisterhood of sexuality. That we are not only going to talk about our own, but we're going to also invite other people to talk about theirs or at least share a piece of theirs.

Dr. Lexx: Yes, yes, I did love that. I loved that it can be, again, there’s no shame in our game and we’re not the only ones because all of us have some form of sexiness, that’s our own that we can all own. And I think that it was so empowering. It reminded me of what was that song? Ladies Night?

Dr. Joy: Ladies Night, yes.

Dr. Lexx: Yes. You had all these cameos, *[inaudible 0:37:10] Like, I want to go to the mansion now. I have no idea what my room would look like but I want to go to the mansion. It can’t be that cheetah room.

Dr. Joy: No, no, not that one.

Dr. Lexx: And so I was like this is so cool. Everybody has their own space and I think that was metaphoric. You all have your own space to be and create exactly who you want to be sexually.

Dr. Joy: Mm hmm. And that one person’s sexuality doesn't have to compromise or be in competition with yours.

Dr. Lexx: Exactly. Because it's abundant. We come from abundance. My level of sexy doesn't take away from your level of sexy. What she does… And I think we've been taught that. What’s that saying? Anything you won't do another woman will?

Dr. Joy: Yes.

Dr. Lexx: To hang on to some trifling person? Why? *[inaudible 0:38:02] if he wants her sex or maybe I'm open to it and he can have her sex and he can have my sex, or she can go have his sex. Like, whatever. We're not from scarcity; we're from abundance. This person isn't a threat to you and if you all decide these are your boundaries, that you're not with other people, maybe you can learn something new that he might enjoy, or you all can figure that out together. But whatever one person does doesn't take away from your own because everybody has their own like.

Dr. Joy: Yeah. Dr. Lexx, I knew that you were gonna be up on this video because this is kind of in line with what you do and how you work with clients. And I think that that's an important part of the conversation, too. It’s just, as therapists, how this kind of information can be helpful with our clients. I know you have already started using this in your clinical work, right?

Dr. Lexx: I have. I have a client who is just so empowered and who like listened to Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim and loved it and then had never seen *[inaudible 0:39:06] the video brings that nostalgia back with Halle Berry and the fact that perhaps we're not necessarily about these respectability politics and adopting all of them. It was we're going to be who we are and that's good enough for whatever socio-economic class we're in and whatever world we're in. And I was like, you gotta go watch B.A.P.S., talking about some self-acceptance. And that was her homework. I was like go watch B.A.P.S. You know this video, I need you to have some context, go watch B.A.P.S.

B.A.P.S. was about these two black chicks from the hood, all they wanted to do was like one wanted to be a dancer in a Heavy D video and that was her life goal. And they left the men that they were with for not feeling accepted and encouraged and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you haven't seen B.A.P.S., go watch B.A.P.S., y'all.

Dr. Joy: Your assignment. That’s your assignment for this week. I don’t know where you can find it; it’s probably on a Hulu or a Netflix.

Dr. Lexx: It's probably on YouTube at this age, at this point. But yeah, so just learning more and, again, it's all about that self-acceptance. I think that really is key of giving yourself permission to exist and to breathe without this fear of this biblical Jezebel, without this fear of being rejected based on your sexuality. Because if a person rejects you, then that's not the person for you. That's not the person you're meant to be with.

Dr. Joy: You know, something else that has really heartened me, just kind of following the Twitter threads, is that it feels like both Halle Berry and Viola Davis were photoshopped into different parts of the video. And they both have retweeted their photoshops.

Dr. Lexx: Stop it! I love it!

Dr. Joy: Which feels really empowering to me, I think, in that it is like this older generation of women kind of saying, yes, we cosign. So we are also rejecting these respectability politics, that like we can also be sexy.

Dr. Lexx: Yes, exactly. And especially for Viola Davis. Being a darker skinned woman with kinky hair. And like Viola Davis’s arms are amazing and are muscular built. Saying, yep, I can definitely be in this video, and owning that? I appreciate that. Now I have to go find that.

Dr. Joy: It was very, very heartening. I really appreciated her sharing her nonverbal cosigning, so to speak, with the video.

Dr. Lexx: Yeah.

Dr. Joy: Dr. Lexx, tell people where they can find you. I know you were recently here but maybe people missed your last episode. We will of course include both of your previous appearances in the show notes, but tell people where they can find you.

Dr. Lexx: You can find me at and you can subscribe to my website for all of the following updates. You can check out this new upcoming conflict resolution couple’s course I have for The Spark: A Virtual Brunch, and you'll get some one on one time with me, about 90 minutes to talk about resolving conflict, showing up how you really are. I know we're all trying to be together as much as we can in the most positive ways right now and that's what that course really does. And then I’m @lexxsexdoc across all social media platforms: that's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Dr. Joy: Perfect and we'll add that to the show notes as well. Thank you so much, Lexx.

Dr. Lexx: Thank you.

Dr. Joy: I'm so glad Dr. Lexx was able to join us again this week. To learn more about her practice, upcoming workshop or to grab a copy of her book, check out the show notes at Don't forget to share your takeaways with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession and please text two sisters in your circle right now and encourage them to check out the episode as well.

If you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at And if you want to continue digging into this topic and connect with some other sisters in your area, come on over and join us in the Yellow Couch Collective, where we take a deeper dive into the topics from the podcast and just about everything else. You can join us at


Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Sisterhood heals
Order Now

Looking for the UK Edition?
Order here

Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Order here