Shannon Boodram, certified sexologist, journalist, TV host and YouTube personality, is candidly entertaining and her approach to sex is no different. Embodying her mantra, 'I own it, they love it," where it's about her passion for discussing the female orgasm, sex mistakes or the time she accidentally had ben wa balls stuck in her lady parts, nothing is off limits.
As one of the emerging voices of her generation, she aspires to empower and educate millennials (and older) on having better sex lives.
"When you think of home decor, you think of Martha Stewart. When you think of sex, you might think of nobody...I want to be Shannon Boodram: female sexual empowerment, specifically for millennials but not limited to millennials," Boodram said.
Boodram, a native of Canada who now resides in Los Angeles, says her curiosity for sex began as a little girl playing with naked Barbie dolls.
"You know how like when you're a kid, some kids are drawn to the piano? I was just always sexually precocious," she says with a laugh. "I had the rule as a kid that my Barbies couldn't be naked because my Barbies stayed naked. I use to get yelled at for doing a lot of lewd things. That was the thing, 'Stop being lewd!' I was just a very sexual person."
She received her certification from the University of Toronto and studied at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality after moving to California in 2014. As a sexologist ("someone who is keenly interested in how people relate to sex and how the world relates to sex"), she examines the scientific study of human sexuality including human sexual interests, behaviors, and functions. A common misconception she encounters: people thinking she has sex a lot or is a prostitute.
"The big thing for me, I think, is I've now gotten to a point where it's so normal to me it's weird. It's so normal to me to wear a vibrator necklace that when people overhear me talking about it and they're like, 'What?' I'm like, 'Oh, that's weird for you?' I had to learn that comfort had to start with me," she said.
She continues, saying that the taboo around the facets of sex is peculiar. "I look around and I'm like, 'That person is here because two people f----- and that person is here because two people f----- and I'm here because of sex! We're all here because of sex. That's not some secret society, so why am I ashamed of that?"
In 2009, she released her first book, "LAID: Young People's Experience with Sex in an Easy-Access Culture" receiving positive reviews. She counsels people about their sexuality and uses her platforms to educate and normalize conversations around it.
After appearing on many TV programs including MTV Canada and BET, she shot a pilot for MTV that didn't get picked up. She decided to cultivate her growing YouTube community of now more than 120,000 subscribers. The most notable videos include "Magic v. Logic", "Head vs. Heart" and "The Poon and The Peen" with fellow YouTuber, iBeShucks.
I spoke with Boodram for a Skype interview as she discusses her distaste for Netflix and Chill, her own sexual history, and the dose of reality that millennials need about sex.
She believes porn is an illusion, setting unrealistic standards on sexual performance and thinks people should be encouraged to read and learn about sex rather than be thrown into it
People should be taught about porn the way they're taught about wrestling. It's not real. You can't expect to go in the schoolyard and do your favorite wrestler's move and in turn out well for you. You're going to get your ass knocked out. We have to teach kids that porn isn't real, it's a fantasy projection of what sex is and it doesn't really apply to real life. There're some principles in there that you can take but it's not how sex looks, sounds, feels or what works best for people. It's a dramatized version of sexuality. I think our porn is very cartoonish and if you're not taught that fact then you can get into a very slippery slope of making your life imitate art and there's no authenticity in there.
She dislikes "Netflix and Chill" and believes it's a guessing game with hidden intentions
I don't like the concept of Netflix and Chill. I don't like the concept of anything that has assumed assumptions. I think what is great about our easy access culture is that we communicate more effectively with fewer words and we're more straight to the point. So things like Netflix and Chill, it's like, why don't you say what you really want?
Her most praised video on pre-cum allowed her to showcase her expertise as an educator
I was nervous about that because it was kind of my first time taking on a formal sexual educator role. Not opinion, just straight fact and when you do that you put yourself out there for a lot of criticism. I was almost explaining pre-cum in a way of, 'Hey, here's how to safely do the pullout method,' and so I didn't know if people would get angry with me for that.
Reveals that her most controversial 'Head vs. Heart' video on marriage and infidelity with a relationship expert hasn't been released...yet
I'm just afraid to put that video out because she really did a better job of backing up her argument and I know I lost that debate but I still feel how I feel. I'm not going to put out a video where I look bad but I also feel the responsibility to have a conversation where I know I'll end up being the loser on.
How her YouTube platform allows her to create a community to 'mix education and entertainment'
I have a formal voice in this. I don't know any other woman of color who's talking about it from an educational background...bringing my formal education along with my experiences as a journalist and storyteller could be an interesting combination. I think the thing with YouTube is that if you find your authentic voice, and what you love to talk about, don't worry about anything else. I'm putting out content that's thoughtful and meaningful to me.
Believes there's a benefit of Tinder if your intentions are clear
It's totally cool to be on Tinder just for hookups if that's what you tell people. 'Well, guys are so quick to send dick pics!' That's an amazing thing! If somebody off the bat lets you know what their intentions are then you can decide whether or not it aligns with what you want. If everybody lead intentions first, it would be such a less stressful world.
Wants women to know if they don't experience orgasm through penetration, they're not abnormal
I know that I'm liberating women to feel like it's okay and that they're not broken and I know I needed that. I still need to hear that: "You're not broken." How you experience pleasure is not wrong.
Honest conversations in college opened her eyes to her sexual experiences and her views on sex entirely
I think that sexuality mixed in with suppression and lack of information and then the information I did get was poor information lead me into a really sh---- teen sex life where there was not a lot of pleasure. There was definitely no self-celebration, there was very little empowerment in it but I was sexually active and so, by the time I turn 18 I had, I don't know, seven or eight partners. I've never had an orgasm at that point with any partner. My friends would tell me stuff that would validate some of my feelings like, 'Yeah, sex doesn't really feel that great for me,' or 'I have an amazing sex life! Here's what I do differently.'
A common concern she hears about sex are 'I don't enjoy it' from women and how to approach women romantically, from men
People just don't have enough knowledge. They really don't. Whether that be on their bodies, or how to relate to people or what's normal. What's normal is the number one question, "Am I normal?"
After being fired from a job because of her videos, she stands firmly behind her work and responded in her video, "YES, I Talk About SEX!"
I'm only going to get more extreme. I told my parents that this year because they were lecturing me about that video actually. I'm doing something different and I have to stand behind my work and I can't continue to do work that makes other people comfortable. If I'm going to be effective in this field, I have to be willing to push the boundaries.