As we partnered with feminist podcast Sex Ed with Dfor their fourth season, we got to ask its founder Danielle, a Columbia graduate in Sexual and Reproductive Health what got her into doing a sex education podcast, her inspiration and what the upcoming season will bring.
Tell Us About Yourself!
I’m Danielle! I hold a Masters of Public Health with a focus on Sexual and Reproductive Health from Columbia University and a B.A. in Film and Media Studies from U.C. Berkeley. I’m the Creator, Co-Producer, and Host of The Sex Ed with DPodcast. I currently live in NYC but also call the California Bay Area my home. I’m a singer, performer, and educator. I’m a lover of traveling, birthdays, comedies, eating dessert, and all things sex ed!
What Was Your Experience With Sex Education Growing Up?
Overall I think I had a pretty good sex education experience, but not necessarily because of what I learned in school or how I learned it. Growing up on Long Island in NY, we did have sex ed in middle school but I mainly remember the scary parts of it: the STDs, the unwanted pregnancies. Luckily, my mom is an OB/GYN and supplemented my sex ed from school with at-home chats about relationships, pleasure, and periods. She even put in my first tampon for me (we got pretty close in that moment, physically and emotionally). If I had to put a number on it out of 10, I’d say my sex ed growing up was a 6.5/10 since it wasn’t pleasure-based and the classes didn’t continue throughout high school.
What Motivated You To Start The Podcast And Is There A Mission That You Have?
You can read my entire origin story about the podcast here, but essentially I had an “aha" moment when I was teaching abroad in Israel in 2014. It made me realize that there are so many people out there who do not have proper access to comprehensive, non-judgmental, medically accurate sex ed. It made me want to do something about it while also allowing marginalized folks to take center stage, as their stories often get side-lined. Here is our mission that I’m wildly proud of: Sex Ed with Dis a feminist podcasting bringing you all the sex ed you never got through unique and entertaining storytelling, centering the voices of LGBTQ+ folks and people of color.
Who Is Your Sex-positive Inspiration?
I would say my sex-positive inspiration is Lizzo. She is an absolute badass who loves her body and encourages everyone to do the same. She is unapologetically herself and also shows her vulnerable side. She lets people know that she has her trials and tribulations, too. I wish I had Lizzo when I was a young girl!
Do You Have A Go To Place Or Educator For Tips On Sex And Masturbation?
Luckily, I’m a sex educator myself and I have my OB/GYN mama so between the two of us there’s a lot of knowledge and resources. Other than keeping it in the family, I love Planned Parenthood, and online resources with awesome Insta and/or Twitter accounts that have medically accurate, funny, silly, and pleasure-based education.
You Describe The Podcast As intersectional. What Does That Mean To You?
For me, intersectional means addressing the multiple intersections of identity. It means not uplifting white, able-bodied, cis-gendered feminism but feminism that centers people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, people on the gender and sexuality spectrum, people with disabilities, people with different kinds of body shapes and sizes, etc. I want the folks listening to Sex Ed with Dto be able to hear themselves in our guests’ stories -- to be able to say “I went through that thing, too” or “hearing this makes me feel less alone and more empowered.” It also means that we work to have people of color and LGBTQ+ folks as our podcast guests and talk about the issues they face on our social media channels. As a mixed-race person myself who doesn’t fully identify with the “straight” identity, it’s important to me that our content is relevant to as many people as possible.
What Is One Thing About Sex Do You Wish More People Knew?
There are so many things I wish people knew more about sex so I feel like this is a super tough question (!) but if I had to pick one, I’d say that there isn’t one way to experience sex. So many people choose to have a ton of partnered sex, none at all, or somewhere in the middle. Some people choose to have sex with themselves once in a while, or every day, or not at all. There are so many different ways to feel pleasure (whether that be through sexual intimacy or not) and it’s important that folks do some experimenting and figure out what feels best for them -- whichever way your journey takes you though, you’re going the right way :).
What Has Been Your Favourite Representation Of Positive Sex Education In The Media?
Lately, my favorite TV show has been Never Have I Ever on Netflix. To sum it up, NHIE is about the complicated life of a first-generation Indian-American teenager, but it’s really so much more than that! It’s about life, grief, family dynamics, relationships, being horny, coming out, learning who you really are, experimenting, taking risks, going for what you want, and so, so much more. It’s wildly funny, extremely original, and incredibly heart-warming all at the same time. 10/10 would recommend!
What Do You Think The Biggest Barrier To Sex Education Is In The USA?
There are so many barriers to quality sex education in the US. Only 17 states require sex ed to be "medically accurate." 29 states require that abstinence be "stressed" in sex ed classes. Only 8 states require lessons to teach about the importance of consent in sexual activity. Our states need to do a better job at requiring sex ed in their schools. I think the fact that America is the most religious country in the world is another huge barrier. I think the fact that we, as a society, don’t understand and accept that youth are sexual beings (and most of them will have sex by age 17), is another. I can go on and on. The main thing that kids should know is that they deserve medically accurate, age-appropriate, engaging sex education that allows them to ask the hard questions and learn all they need to know to make the best decisions for them to live happy and healthy lives.
What Can We Look Forward To On The Podcast This Year?
There is so much to look forward to this season! Here are a few of the many topics we’ll be covering: sex and disability, intersex rights and health, periods, sex ed in rural communities, abortion access on college campuses, asexuality, dominatrixes, eroticism, and so much more. Tune in every Wednesday starting May 6th on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts!
About the author: Danielle Bezalel, aka DB, is the creator, co-producer, and host of the Sex Ed with Dpodcast. Danielle holds a Masters of Public Health with a focus on Sexuality, Sexual, and Reproductive Health from Columbia University; she graduated with a B.A. in Film and Media Studies from U.C. Berkeley. Danielle lives in New York City. Go to www.sexedwithdb.com to learn more about the podcast. You can listen to the podcast on our website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.