Izzy Rooke-Ley on Female Pleasure & Activism

Hey Izzy! Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m 24 and I am the founder of The Female Sex (Education) on Diem as well as a female sexuality columnist for Diem: I write the column, Sex and the Cite. My column is, obviously, a pun on Carrie Bradshaw’s column, ‘Sex and the City’ (from the TV Series, Sex and the City)! I have substituted the word ‘city’ with ‘cite’ because in each article I cite, and then respond to, something that has been said about female sexuality: this could be a citation/ quotation which I have taken from a sex podcast, a book, a sexfluencer, from Sex and the City itself—from anywhere— or it could even be one of your questions which you have sent in to me on Diem. The aim of my column is to initiate a conversation around female sexuality in a way that will help you to understand that female sexual pleasure is self-care and help you to experience more sexual enjoyment and sexual confidence. I have set up a ‘Sex and the Cite’ Chatroom on The Female Sex (Education) Space on Diem in order to make Sex and the Cite interactive: in this Chatroom you can respond to, or ask questions about, anything I have said about female sexuality in my column and you can even post your own citations if you want to initiate your own conversations with girls and women around something you have seen/heard about female sexuality.

So, I help girls and women to experience more sexual pleasure and sexual confidence whilst always reminding them that female sexual enjoyment is not shameful: it is self-care.

I specialised in female sexuality during both my Master’s Degree in Gender, Sexuality and Culture as well as my Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature. I have also managed various sexuality events: including an exclusive event which I co-hosted with TV Presenter and Sex Educator, Oloni, as well as a live virtual event which I co-hosted with Celebrity Presenter, Maya Jama. I live and breathe female sexual pleasure.

Female sexual enjoyment is not shameful: it is self-care.

What was your moment of realisation that you wanted to become a female sexual pleasure activist?

Well, I have always been a very sexual person. But, the shame that is culturally imposed onto female sexual pleasure and the female genitalia negatively affected me when I was a young girl. So, as a young girl I learned to be ashamed of self-pleasure: this affected the way in which I experienced pleasure for years. Also, as a result of cultural attitudes towards— and the cultural censorship of— the pussy as well as something in particular that a woman had said to me about labia when I was a young girl, I used to think that having a vulva and labia that did not look as smooth and flat as a Barbie doll’s (and, obviously, Barbie doesn’t even have a vulva… it is literally erased), or that did not look like a baby girl’s, was something to be ashamed of. The shame I felt, as a result, negatively affected my mind, my relationship to my body, and my sexual pleasure for years. So, the deep relief that I felt, at 16 or 17, when I was reading Vagina by Naomi Wolf and finally learned that every woman’s labia look different was overwhelming, liberating, and intoxicating. I felt so much relief yet, at the same time, I also felt angry because I had been made to feel so ashamed, worried, and insecure about something that is completely normal and healthy. This was the moment that I realised I needed to protect other girls and women from going through what I did mentally: from the shame and the insecurity and the lack of sexual confidence.

As girls and women, we have been constantly informed— explicitly or implicitly— that our sexual pleasure and our yonis are ‘something to be ashamed of’ or that we are ‘sluts if we enjoy sex’ and so on. So, my moments of realisation that I needed to become a female sexual pleasure activist were in all these moments in which I realised that everything we have been told to make us feel ashamed of our sexuality, our yonis, and our sexual pleasure is a lie: a lie that originated from a patriarchal ideology constituted of a male desire to repress us and to maintain, and sugarcoat, male dominance over girls and women.

Just realising that everything that is said to shame female sexuality is a lie— that it has no substance and that this lie was created out of a male desire to repress us— dramatically improved my relationship with myself, my yoni, my sexual pleasure, my sexual confidence and my overall wellbeing.

So, I am making it my priority to educate other girls and women about the simple fact that every yoni looks different. I am making it my priority to help girls and women experience more sexual confidence and more sexual enjoyment and to feel zero shame about that enjoyment— whether that is with yourself or with others— because female sexual pleasure is, in reality, not shameful: it is self-care.

You’ve done a lot of work to end FGM: tell us a bit more about it? How can others get involved?

FGM— which stands for female genital mutilation— is actually a prime example of the lies that girls and women are told in order to make them feel ashamed of their sexuality and sexual pleasure as a mode to sexually repress girls and women. So, many unfounded justifications (including ‘religion', 'culture', 'purity', ‘beauty’ and so on) have been created as excuses in order to maintain and sugarcoat the existence of FGM.

So, to clarify, FGM is a collective term for a range of procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia— or other injury to the female genitalia— for non-therapeutic (non-medical) reasons.

There are 4 main types of FGM:

1. Clitoridectomy is the total or partial removal of the clitoral glans, which is the external part of the clitoris. (The clitoris is both an external and internal structure. The external part of it is, obviously, the only part we can see: this part— the tip of the clitoris— is called the clitoral glans. It would be near impossible to excise the whole clitoris since it is mostly internal: the clitoris has crura— legs— which extend backwards, internally).

2. Excision excises the clitoral glans and the labia minora (the inner lips) and can also involve the partial or total removal of the labia majora (the outer lips).

3. Infibulation involves suturing (sealing up) the vaginal opening: only a tiny hole is left for bodily secretions, leaving girls and women’s vaginas one tiny hole away from being hermetically sealed. (The opening that is left is so small that it does not allow for the easy release of bodily secretions, which can lead to complications including infections). In addition to the sealing up of the vaginal opening, ‘infibulation’ usually also involves the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans as well as the inner and outer labia: the raw surfaces that are left from this excision may also be stitched together to seal up the vulva. About 98% of Somali women have been subjected to infibulation.

4. The 4th type of FGM involves all other harmful strategies which are inflicted on the female genitalia for non-medical purposes: including pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterising the genital area.

So, not only is FGM a severe violation of girls’ and women’s rights, but it can also cause extensive physical, psychological, and sexual health complications. Many girls and women die from FGM.

So many girls and women, who have been subjected/are subject to FGM, are being lied to: are being culturally conditioned to believe that they will be ‘pure’, or ‘mature’, or ‘beautiful’ after mutilation or that FGM is a ‘cultural’ or ‘religious’ obligation and so on. These constitute some examples of the types of manipulative excuses and lies that are implemented to mutilate girls and to sugarcoat this mutilation. People need to stop thinking that interfering with FGM is interfering with culture and religion or that it will make a girl ‘pure’ etc. FGM obviously does not make a girl ‘pure’. It is not a religious obligation and so on.

I want everybody to know the reality of FGM: it originated as a strategical, patriarchal technique to inhibit female sexual pleasure in a way that violently traumatises the female body and mind in order to sexually, physically, and psychologically repress girls and women as a mode to ensure the ascendancy of patriarchy. It is nothing else but this.

Many people think that FGM is isolated within primitive tribes in Africa: this could not be further from the case. FGM is perpetrated on girls and women globally (especially because of migration): so, yes, it happens in the UK, in the USA, and so on. It can literally happen in any country. In Female Mutilation: The Truth Behind the Horrifying Global Practice of Female Genital Mutilation, Hilary Burrage states that around ‘every eleven seconds a [female] baby, [girl], or young woman somewhere in the world undergoes a genital mutilation, […] by force and without pain relief’. FGM is mostly perpetrated in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Pakistan and India.

Soon, I will be hosting a Session on The Female Sex (Education) Space to give you more of an insight into FGM and how you can get involved to help end FGM. If you have any questions, I will be more than happy to talk with you in the End FGM chatroom on The Female Sex (Education).

You’re incredibly passionate about women understanding that female pleasure is self-care

Yes, so something I usually say is ‘remember, always, that your sexual pleasure is self-care’: that’s what I always say to girls and women. As I have been saying, we are constantly lied to: told that our sexual pleasure is ‘something to be ashamed of’ but it is not. In reality, sexual pleasure is beneficial for our happiness, our confidence, and our overall mindset and wellbeing. That’s why I also say to girls and women that self-pleasuring can be added into your self-care routine. We don’t need to rely on a dick or a sexual partner to give us sexual pleasure: we can pleasure ourselves in a way that is beneficial for our mental and physical wellbeing.

And, actually, when we familiarise ourselves with our own bodies, our yonis, where we feel pleasure, our erogenous zones which exist all over our bodies (in my first Sex and the Cite article, I explain how people usually think of the female erogenous zones as just being the tits and pussy but they are all over our body), and when we learn how to pleasure ourselves in a way that maximises our comfort and pleasure, then we can start to feel more pleasurable sensations, we can reduce our stress, promote our happiness and general sense of wellbeing, and we can improve our sexual confidence— not only in the bedroom but also in day-to-day life— as well as our sexual relationships with ourselves: all of this can then filter into our sexual experiences with others. We can begin to teach our sexual partners how to pleasure us and feel more confident about asserting our right to sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure and confidence starts with yourself: with self-pleasure and self-love. Your self-pleasure practices can be implemented into your daily self-love and self-care regimes to promote your happiness and wellbeing.

On my upcoming release of Sex and the Cite, I will be giving you tips on how you can implement self-pleasure into your self-care practice using a non-vibrating pleasure wand.

You’re now hosting your own community Space, what can womxn expect from it? How do you hope it benefits them?

Yes, I am hosting The Female Sex (Education). Girls and womxn, in this Space, I will help you to change your mindset so that you can experience more sexual confidence and pleasure and I will be giving you sexual tips to implement into your self-pleasure and self-care routines. This is a shameless and judgement-free Space and it is every girl’s and woman’s access to sexual self-care for your mind and body. If any of you ever want to ask me/talk to me about anything related to female sexuality— so that you can get more enjoyment out of your own sexuality and your sexual experiences (whether those are with yourself/ with others) and so that you can feel more sexually confident— then you can link with my Space and whenever and whatever you want to ask me/talk to me about, I’m here for you. When it comes to female sexuality, I want you to know that you can talk to me about anything (I don’t own a filter) and I would love to talk with you!

Who inspires you most in the industry?

There are so many people in the sexuality industry that inspire me but I would say, in particular, Alexandra Cooper: the hostess of Call her Daddy. What I find so inspiring about her is the way in which she can so openly and confidently talk about sexuality, sex, sexual pleasure, her sexual experiences, dick, balls, pussy, and so on with zero shame and zero filter in such an entertaining way. The easily accessible, conversational, enjoyable, playful, seductive, shocking, shameless, empowering, and uplifting way in which she communicates to her ‘Daddy Gang’— her listeners— is an inspirational model for how I intend to talk about female sexuality with— as well as support and educate— girls and womxn that link with my Space.

You’re writing a book right now: tell us about it?

Yes, I am writing a book which deconstructs and invalidates the shame which is projected onto female sexual pleasure, which is culturally injected into the minds of girls and women, and which negatively affects the way in which most girls and women sexually enjoy as well as their sexual confidence.

So, the intention of my book is aligned with why I set up The Female Sex (Education) and Sex and the Cite: I am writing this book to help promote sexual enjoyment, confidence, as well as physical and mental wellbeing for girls and women and to help improve their sexual relationships with themselves and others.

(I am not sure when it is going to be complete yet: I write so fucking much that what was supposed to just be chapter one has nearly turned into a book itself— 60,000 words— and I am still adding to it...)

As you know, we’re all about community... how has your community helped you personally?

I think what has helped me is realising what ‘community’ means for me and how you can actually choose your community. So, what this signifies for me, personally, is something that acts as a support system: it is something that supports you, your attitude, values, and interests. So, to me, my ‘community’ is not like a natural habitat made up of people that are just there, or that live close to me, or that I know. I think that a community/ support system is something that you can choose. You can choose who or what constitutes your personal support system. Firstly, I believe that your support system should start with yourself: it should be centred around how you support and love yourself. If there is going to be anyone that is there to support you 247, it is yourself: so, it is important to work on your self-love and self-confidence and actually work out what is your attitude? What do you value? What interests you? What energy do you want to bring into life? What energy do you want to infuse your life with? And then, once you have started doing this, it is about understanding what or who is going to align with these things: who/what is going to support you, your attitude, your values, your interests, your general wellbeing, and so on, and who/ what is going to add to your life in a way that benefits you. So, you can actually control the type of people and things that come in and out of your life: you can create a filtration system based on what energy and values— and so on— you want in your life so you know who/what you will accept into your community/support system and who/what you will not accept. Allow people (or podcasts or whatever it is) into your community that are going to align with your values and do not invest time and energy into those people or things that do not support your goals, passions, and values or that drain your energy.

I have two quotations on my bedroom wall that can benefit everyone when it comes to choosing what constitutes your community/ support system.

The first is a statement by Idil Ahmed: ‘Value your time. Eliminate distractions and things that don’t serve a purpose for your higher goals. Each conversation and every interaction should be an investment that adds to your life in some kind of way. When you prioritise your energy on what matters, everything changes.’

The second I found on ‘The Female Hustlers’ Instagram page (@thefemalehustlers): ‘It’s the small habits. How you spend your mornings. How you talk to yourself. What you read and what you watch. Who you share your energy with. Who has access to you. That will change your life.’

Finally, I would like The Female Sex (Education) to be able to constitute a support system for as many girls and women as possible: something that is always there to support you and offer you tips that you can add into your self-love, self-pleasure, and self-care routines.

Enjoyed this? Come join the The Female Sex (Education) Space in Diem, download here.