(Read Part One of this exciting interview on my blog, kdgrace.co.uk)
Welcome back to the second half of my interview with the awesome Scarlet Ladies. Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of being included on a panel on porn and female sexuality sponsored by the very lovely, very vibrant Jannette Davies and Sarah Beilfuss, who together are the Scarlet Ladies. You’ll recall from the first part of the interview, they have a plan for world conquest, which I think is well worth reiterating. Sarah says, it includes “empowering every women on this planet. We want to have an impact on shaping sex education in this country and every country. Basically we want to change views on how people think of female sexuality.”
The Scarlet Ladies host women only events in London to talk about sex with the aim of normalizing the conversation around femalesexuality, its problems, pains and pleasures.
Theirs is a plan, I can happily support, so I invited them to a Skype interview to share their plan with you.
When I ask what they see as the most difficult problem facing women sexually at present, they answer without hesitation that it is shame.
“Regardless of how sexual you might be,” Jannette says, “the stigma that causes the shame will always be there no matter where you are. Women who are a little more prudish, less ‘out there,’ they tend to look at the women who are more ‘out there’ and want to be like them, but because of shame, hold themselves back. That needs to be dealt in sex education.”
“That means raising our kids to stop that shaming in society,” Sarah says. “For example, something we grow up with, like ‘don’t touch yourself, only bad girls do that.’ When I saw women who really were ‘out there,’ I slut shamed them because of my own shame. Women hold a lot of shame,” she reflects. “Men get their bits out with no problems, most women wouldn’t. Because women are so ashamed and shamed, a lot of sexual violence is not being reported. It took two years to go to the police and report my rape because I was so ashamed.” For a moment she sits reflecting, then continues, “you do encounter people who really don’t know how to deal with that shame, and then when someone reacts badly you just want to paw through the ground and never reappear.”
“My experience with the police has been incredible,” she adds. “The Diamond Division, which deals exclusively with sexual violence at the MET police are incredible. This is a part of why it’s so important that women talk to each other about sex and help each other. If you have a good friend who doesn’t feel the shame that the victim feels, then it helps. We need to educate the police. We need to educate all of these people who are there for us.”
It became clear to me early in the interview that these two women are passionate about Scarlet Ladies. I wanted to know how being the Scarlet Ladies had changed their lives.
Sarah is quick to reply. “I’ve opened up so much. I don’t judge anyone for anything. I feel a lot more connected with my sexuality and owning that again. As a rape victim I felt it was something that was taken away from me. I sort of kept my sexuality separate from me. But that’s not a good way to live. You feel you’re not whole.”
“I feel a lot more justified, a lot more convicted in everything I do,” Jannette reflects. “I don’t need to explain anything. I couldn’t give a flying f*ck. I feel more assured about what I’m doing.” Then she adds, “obviously when you get questioned a lot, you question yourselves.”
At present Jannette and Sarah are working on a recourses page for their website, which they hope will be a hub of information and links that women can come to for anything. That page is not yet up, but will be soon. In the meantime, they’re getting very actively involved in any way they can. Sarah is taking part in a bodybuilding competition for charity to support rape victims; next year there will be an art exhibition for an FGM charity -- a charity that supports women right here in the UK. Sarah informs me that over 60,000 women are at risk of female genital mutilation in London alone. By the actions of the Scarlet Ladies, they hope to raise the profile.
With so much excitement and vibrancy and so many things going on, I wondered what Sarah and Jannette consider the defining moment of Scarlet Ladies so far.
Sarah is quick to chime in. “When we decided to do this full time, that was the defining moment. The bodybuilding was already in the works because I thought my mission was overcoming burnout and chronic fatigue. My biggest achievement was not overcoming illness, but realizing the thing that made me ill was repeated sexual attacks against me. I decided to go into Scarlet Ladies full time, so I changed the charity of the bodybuilding competition to a rape crisis charity,” then she adds, “Something I still struggle with is publically talking about my struggles with being a rape victim.”
Jannette says, “the defining moment was this year at our first event on female orgasm in February. It was when the women left, how they felt about the whole experience. A woman from the Telegraph reviewed the event. She said Scarlet Ladies were like pioneers in regards of normalizing female sexuality and getting the message out there that we’re all normal women. For me it was basically the feedback we got from that female orgasm event. Just that validation in the Telegraph, a huge nationwide newspaper writing about it because they thought it was important.”
After my experience of speaking on the porn and female sexuality panel and seeing that the women who attended in the upper room of a pub that night were more than happy to linger on long after the panel had actually concluded to discuss the topic, I wondered what other events the Scarlet Ladies are planning this year?
Of course there will be more events panel talks, which are always a good opportunity to talk and share openly about the chosen topic.
To introduce women to something new.
More intimate events specifically targeted to women who want to deal with their sexual concern.
Very adult sex education, hands on, for people comfortable with nudity, pussy pleasure, getting familiar with the vagina. The Salons are practical work.
A whole day to come together with all different themes. The first is about body image. (Brit Babes’ own Victoria Blisse will be helping with that retreat.) It’ll be a workshop, coaching circle, getting women reconnected with their body, ‘falling in love with your body.’ There’ll be a ‘Me time’ room, which is a ‘do not disturb’ space.
The Scarlet experience:
An introduction to each of the new events that are being added on.
All of the Scarlet Ladies events will always centre around female sexuality.
Wow! After an hour of amazing conversation with these two wonderful women, I ask them what their ultimate goal is for Scarlet Ladies.
“Empowering every women on this planet,” Sarah answers quickly. “Touching as many women as we can. We want to pass that on. We want to have an impact on shaping sex education in this country and every country. Basically we want to changes views of how people think of female sexuality.”
Jannette adds, “One of the keys is talking and openly discussing. There’ll be twitter chats once a month; there’ll be SLT Sundays whereanyone can join in on the conversation. This incorporates men too. Also we’re planning a couple’s retreat where the focus will be for the partner to come along and learn about female sexuality.
“We want to open up that discussion because the more you talk about something the more you start to understand and the more you’ll listen. In August we’ve been invited to Sexhibition to talk about female orgasm. One workshop will be open to women only. We will discuss fetish as a woman’s thing. Women in the fetish world, is the second workshop.”
Jannette continues. “One of the things we do at Scarlet Ladies is we put women back in charge so women can communicate with their partner what they need. We need to empower women to do that educating and pass it on to their partners and realize that our sexuality is our responsibility.”
I say good-bye to Sarah and Jannette with my head buzzing from the excitement and the enthusiasm they both embody. I certainly plan to attend more of the Scarlet Ladies events in the future. Please be sure to check out their website for more about their mission and for all upcoming events.