“My Sexuality Is Unwilling to Be Compromised”: A Zine About Sexuality, Shame, Power, Healing, Reclamation

“One way we can change the narratives around our sexuality and our erotic bodies is by taking up space as sexual beings and celebrate other women and femmes doing the same.”

Last winter, I reached out to Kara Haupt of Babe Vibes, curious about what a collaboration between us would look like. I had this not yet fully formed idea about some kind of zine that celebrated, highlighted, made space for women’s and femme’s sexuality and expressions.

I didn’t think she would be down to work with me (my idea was so all over the place!), but after sitting down for tea in NW Portland and brainstorming for an hour, she gave me an enthusiastic yes. We got to work soon after.

There were a lot of things I didn’t know going into it, but the one thing that I knew I wanted to incorporate somehow was this idea of capturing these sexual beings in their natural element—their bedrooms.

I wanted to photograph real women and femmes (not models) in the very place where they let their hair down, where they create intimacy with themselves and others, and interview them about their sexual identity. I wanted it to feel intimate, vulnerable, powerful. I wanted it to be a tribute to their softness and femininity. I wanted to give these folks a rare platform to unabashedly take up space and celebrate their bodies.

We took that idea and many, many others and ran with it.

It was a joy to create and challenging at times. Kara lives in NYC and I on the complete opposite side of the country, so we were working against a significant time difference and working through some pretty wild times—depression, heartbreak, grief, creative blocks. The world started to fall apart right around the time of our original launch date so for a moment, I didn’t think we’d be able to finish it.

But, a year later, it’s finally here.

“This zine is about exploring the complexities, nuances, and varied experiences of femme sexuality. It’s about shining a light on the often hidden place that is the sexual self.”

SEX ETC is a zine about sexuality, shame, culture, power, BDSM, erotica, space-taking, bodily autonomy, masturbation, pleasure, love, healing, vanilla sex, nudes, late bloomers, fear, safety, orgasms, liberation, intimacy, illness, self-love, gender, and reclamation. 

It features raw and real interviews with real women and femmes of varying ages, shapes, sizes, colors, orientations, and walks of life—a young trans black person, a rape survivor, and a 43-year-old mother (to name a few).

There are personal essays written by rad writers like Jodie Layne and Ashley Reese. There is a gallery of anonymous nude selfies sent to us from our communities of women and femmes, with their permission. There are custom drawings from Caitlin Metz and intimate photography by Margaret Jacobsen.

And there’s even a piece by me.

(More photos at Babe Vibes)

“In this zine, we celebrate sexuality and use our intimate stories to take up space. We know that by having these conversations and highlighting femme sexuality, we are helping to heal certain narratives around sex and the erotic.”

It feels so appropriate that this has launched just days after the start of Spring. Reading the stories and the interviews from that lens, it feels like this zine is about rebirth, about new beginnings, about the warm confidence that comes with knowing who you are.

SEX ETC is a celebration of sexual liberation and reclamation.

This is my first ever tangible project, something that I can hold in my hands and see with my eyes and feel with my hands the amount of labor and love and creativity it took for a dream to be realized.

This zine is my dream. It’s Kara’s labor of love. It’s an homage to you and me and her and them.

I am immensely proud to share this with you.

UPDATE: Both the print and digital versions of the zine are sold out!

© 2018 Ev'Yan Whitney. All rights reserved.