Humans of Toronto Good for Her’s Carlyle Jansen on her sexual awakening
Humans of Toronto:
“When I started Good for Her in 1997, I wanted it to be a place where women and people of all genders could learn about sexual pleasure. But people wanted a safe space to buy merchandise like books, toys and DVDs that would allow them to enhance their sex lives on their own or with partners.
Good for Her is central to who I am today, but it’s a far cry from what my life was like growing up.
My mother always knew she’d been adopted. What she didn’t know was that she had been born out of wedlock, which was a huge source of shame for her. She found out about that around the time her birth mother was dying. She was advised never to talk about it.
With me, she was very much ‘Keep your pants on. Don’t make the same mistake my mother made.’
I didn’t witness any intimacy at home that allowed me to believe sex, even between married couples, was okay. I saw my mom kiss my dad on the cheek only once.
When I was in Grade 10, sex expert Sue Johanson came to my class. It was before her career really took off, and she was going around to different schools allowing a lot of young people to think truthfully about sex. At one point she said, ‘I know some of you are probably having sex already.’ I was like, ‘Oh, wow!’ It hadn’t even crossed my mind. But I knew she was right.
I didn’t have that enticing body you see on billboards. If I wore skirts or sexy lingerie it just looked like I was in drag. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I started having sex.
Thankfully, things are changing now. We as a society are discussing sex more honestly and openly.
Still, Hollywood teaches us to meet someone, fall in love and then stroll into the happy sunset.
Relationships don’t always work that way. They’re struggles: orgasms don’t happen, erections don’t work when you want them to, our partner doesn’t want to tell us what to do. As difficult as these things might be to talk about, they remain insurmountable only when they are kept secret.
Learning how to make love well means talking about it. It’s not something we’re born knowing.”