Explicit podcasts are booming, but the three women behind Brown Girls Do It Too say theirs is different
As the truism goes, every generation thinks it invented sex. But surely this is the first to be talking about it more and doing it less?
On Thursday, BBC Asian Network launched Brown Girls Do It Too, a six-episode sex podcast hosted by three millennial British women of second-generation Bangladeshi, Indian and Iranian heritage. Not to be confused with Brown Girls Do It, a well-established independent podcast about books, politics, race and class, the newer project is at the Carry On meets Carrie Bradshaw end of the cultural spectrum.
In it, Poppy Jay, 33, Rubina Pabani, 31, and Roya Eslami, 24, talk about their sexual experiences and discoveries in what is pitched to listeners as a raucous, intimate over-share. And so Eslami tells of losing her virginity to a Tinder date, Pabani explains how she pulled the hottest man in the room and Jay insists sex [need not be] a special, precious thing it is just an activity for me, like going to the gym, its a function and a release.
All three of them work in the media in London and were approached by a male producer at the station to work on the project. None of them knew each other beforehand or had even met until the day of recording.
We went to the pub before the recording of the first episode, says Eslami, who tongue-in-cheek describes herself as a Persian princess. I think it helps were not friends when I told these girls about [the boys Ive slept with], they heard that for the first time, so I hope there is a freshness when youre listening to it.
Thats one perspective, but some will find that Brown Girls feels contrived, and a cynical move by the Asian Network. In person, the three of them are entertaining; they insist that there is nothing like their show out there and specifically, in terms of British Asian girls talking about masturbation and blowjobs on a BBC platform, there isnt but the business of aural sex is booming.
Women talking frankly and explicitly about sex and relationships is a major podcast genre there are now dozens out there. Given that episodes are invariably listened to solo rather than as shared experiences, the format lends itself perfectly to the subject. In the UK alone, Laid Bare, Project Pleasure and Unexpected Fluids have already been smash hits, following in the wake of Cock Tales and Inner Hoe Uprising.
Sex is so personal, no two stories are exactly the same, says Eslami, so Im not worried about ours sounding similar. The difference for them, she says, is that we all talk a lot about being 15-year-old Asian girls, having a moustache, not being fancied by any boy in school. I want to tell [girls like that], that one day youre going to love yourself and youre going to enjoy sex and you dont need to worry about this period where you feel like a sexless being.
The three agree that theyre horrified at the idea of their parents listening but beyond that they dont worry too much about the response they get. Of course we worry about what our mums and dads think, says Jay, but I dont even know the words for sex in Bengali its never talked about and that shame is used to control women. Sex comes with all this baggage of guilt and it really shouldnt.
I think the members of my community who do hear about it will be shocked, but I think thats OK and its fine, nods Pabani. Its not about destroying ties to our culture or religion or communities. [Other Asians] seeing me a certain way might make bridges for women after me, to be able to be freer and to speak. Im fine with it.
Yet on the flipside, when it comes to a broader audience, Pabani thinks it would be upsetting if people thought it was radical. Were just women talking about sex, we just happen to have melanin in our skin. And we want to feel multi-dimensional Id like people to see us as quite chill about the way we speak about sex. Were not ashamed, were proud of our exploits and the things weve learned.
A long list of reasons have been reported as to why millennials are having less sex than generations before them economic insecurity, porn and the distraction of Netflix have been cited by psychologists explaining the 21st century sex recession. But Eslami, who also admits Ill never sleep with anyone unless Im waxed downstairs, is adamant that sex is evolving with us. I think its amazing we sext, send nudes and a guy can use an app to send his girlfriend a buzz on her sex toy from across the country.
The three brim with contradictions, but overturning stereotypes imposed on them, they say, is key. Often, white people dont see Asian people as sexual beings. The perception is that were more modest, humble or prudes, says Eslami.
And so she tells listeners that she has made a list of all the people she has slept with on her phone but is also still in the process of trying to orgasm with a partner. We dont come across as experts, she says. Were just girls who have done really good things with sex and really bad things with sex the theme is that were just honest about the good, bad and ugly.
Jay, who says Ive been playing catch-up since I was 25, wants to spread the word that everyone is bonking. Theyre bonking in cars, hotel rooms, parks and we need to be honest about it.
Eslami laughs. And by talking about it, we want to break the myths and fictitious representations of sex the sex you see on TV where there is five pumps and the girl has come? Thats not how it is.
Listen and learn: more sex podcasts
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By promising theyre putting the pleasure back into safe sex and healthy relationships, two friends explore how everyone can have a better time in bed.
The original that spawned so many podcast offspring, Dan Savages sex and advice series started as a weekly newspaper column in North America. Now he tackles the problems posed by his listeners.
Alix Fox and Riyadh Khalaf offer real-life, embarrassingly honest stories about sex particularly when things go awry. Expect tales of amazement and despair and over-sharing from their guests.