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Jenny hosts a channel called Sciencemom that helps to increase science curiosity in kids. She's smart and kind and gentle and I've enjoyed learning about her sexual experiences. This year I sat down with her to put on record how her sexuality changed from a Latter Day Saints lifestyle to one separate from the church. New underwear, a more balanced power dynamic, post-childbirth pleasure. I hope you enjoy this endearing conversation as we wrap up the year.


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 (00:00) to (02:00)


Lindsey: Hi, I'm Lindsey Doe, clinical sexologist and host of this sex-curious show, Sexplanations.  I am now hanging out on ScienceMom's spaceship.  Hi, Jenny.  Thank you for having me.

Jenny: Hello.  You're welcome.  

L: And being on my show on your show.  Um, so I want to talk to you all about sexuality from your unique perspective to share with me anything you want, but I heard that you have something for us to play with while we do?  

J: I do.  Well, it's (?~0:28).  I do science education and I wondered if you had ever seen inertia beads before.

L: I have, but--

J: These are so fun.

L: If you haven't seen inertia beads, oh my goodness.  

J: Now, you can make these yourself from party necklaces.  These are made just with duct tape and then party necklaces that I cut and strung together, so you don't have to go out and order something special.  Anytime you go to a party or like, get Mardi Gras beads, you can make your own.  So go ahead and give it a tug.  

L: Wait, okay, wait.

J: So you're just gonna pull.

L: I've never done it before.  I've only seen it done.  

J: You've never done it?

L: The tiny little ones that people use for keychains and whatnot.

J: Oh yay.  So all you're gonna do is pull straight down and then the beads will do the rest.  

L: I'm so nervous.

J: Don't be nervous.  Just pull nice and hard.  Pull down.  

L: That's amazing.  Jenny and I met at a conference and we have done a podcast together and then we've also had breakfast and various conversations where I've learned about your background and the, the LDS church and how that has affected your sexuality and how you are a mom and an educator, maybe.  

J: Yeah, I am.

L: And a wife.  Okay, so what do you think is the most valuable thing for people to take from your experience?

J: The thing that I found interesting in my own experience was how much my relationship with sexuality changed once we left the church, because there was--I didn't expect things to change.  I'd been happily married for many years and you know, we had my one partner, we knew each other really well, and we sort of had our rhythm for how things would go in terms of intimacy, but then when we left the church, all of a sudden, things changed and I was surprised.

 (02:00) to (04:00)

I didn't expect things to change and I realized--

L: What?  What happened?  I want to know.  

J: Okay, alright.  So I'll back up a little bit.  We're close.  We have a good relationship emotionally, which I think really impacts how your relationship is sexually, and when we decided that we were going to leave the LDS church, I mean, one of the simplest things was getting new underwear.  We had worn these, you know, long traditional garments and so we went to the store together and had to pick out underwear, which felt like almost a little terrifying, because we hadn't shopped for underwear in upwards of 10 years.  Went to the, you know, the checkout, feeling like we had contraband, like blushing, blushing to be like, putting panties on the, on the conveyor belt.  Then when we got home and put on the new underwear, it was like, wow.  Like, I feel kinda sexy in this underwear.  It's like, this is new.  This is different, but the thing that I think really changed once we left, once we left the church was the authority and the power structure.  I think that I didn't really give myself permission before to feel pleasure.  Like, it wasn't okay to feel pleasure, 'cause I didn't think perhaps God didn't want me to feel pleasure.  It was kind of the dynamic that I had, and I mean, it was a deep thing.  It wasn't something that I spent time thinking about, but I think that was kind of the underlying thing, and so when I evaluated my idea of God and whether God wanted me to be in this church or not anymore, all of a sudden my idea of who God was expanded.  I don't think God really cares about whether I am experiencing pleasure in this way or not and I don't, I certainly don't think he's disapproving of me getting aroused, so.

L: Or maybe wants that for you.  

J: Yes, yes.  I was surprised by how much, how much things changed.  You would think that before this happened, I would tell myself, you know, it's okay to get aroused, and I had told myself that.  I wanted to get aroused when we were having sexual experiences, but it was often challenging and difficult and I think it's because I had been experiencing guilt for so long when I was growing up in regards to sexuality that then it was like it was easier to replace that with other guilt than it was to get rid of it, and so now my new concern when I was married was often like, well, am I performing well enough?  Am I doing this right?  

 (04:00) to (06:00)

You know, that, like, that was sort of my new worry and once I got rid of that underlying worry, things got so much better when I was able to sort of drop a little bit of those guilts and just be with the sexual experience and not be worried how am I peformig or is it okay that I'm enjoying this?  Am I enjoying this too much, is God gonna be mad at me?

L: And so, now you feel like you have a great relationship with your sexuality?

J: I feel like it is much better, and I don't know if all women are like this.  I feel like as a woman, my relationship with sexuality is a little more complicated, because it's very hormone driven and it like, it waxes and wanes with my cycle in sometimes predictable ways and sometimes not predictable ways, so we've learned to come to terms with that in a better way, too.  I think initially, there's sort of this like, spectrum of sexual experiences that you can have, and like, at the far end is the, you know, crazy happy sex where, you know, we're both kind of our minds with pleasure, and then like in the middle was this more like, kind of sleepy comfortable sex where we get close and we like it, and it's been good for us to realize that like, we don't always have to be up here and that especially for me, sometimes it's better if I'm not trying to get up here, because if I feel like I have to get all the way up there, then afterwards, I sort of resent like, I had to work so hard and I did not want to go there.  I really wanted to be here, like, this was the experience I wanted, not up here, and again, it really, it really depends a lot on the time of month and how the hormones are.

L: Yeah.  I agree.  I share that experience.  Well so, as Science Mom, so you have a YouTube channel where you explain different parts of science to a younger audience than maybe who's watching right now.  Have you tracked your cycle at all to see where your sexual arousal and your desire for the spectrum of like, amazing sex, perfunctory sex is?

J: Yes, I do.  We have, you know, to be honest with you, my husband, Math Dad is sort of his nickname on our channel, he tracks my cycle very well, 'cause he's very interested in knowing like, when this happens, and you know, two weeks before the cycle starts correlates very highly with the, I'm, you know, much more easy to arouse, very interested, and then right after my cycle ends is sort of like our lowest time, like, right when I finish menstruating, I'm generally not, not so interested.

 (06:00) to (08:00)

So in general, that's how it goes.  So you hit that ovulation window or a few days before, that makes sense biologically, right?  Like our sex drive has this purpose of wanting to reproduce and so it makes sense that around the time you ovulate, you feel like, alright, let's do this.  

L: Yeah, so is that something that you can talk about on your channel?

J: No.  I don't think so.  

L: Because I was just having a conversation with someone who started their period when they were nine, and I think that your audience is geared toward 9 year olds.

J: It's true, it's true.  It would be--

L: Maybe not the, you're going to be super turned at this time, but the changes in hormones and attitude and personality maybe even?

J: You're gonna be a--That definitely could be, and you know, puberty, I think, is a fascinating topic biologically.  We go through a lot of changes when we go through puberty and that would be something I would love to talk about at some point, but not, not like next week.  (?~6:55)

L: Subscribe to the Science Mom, see if it happens.  Is Jenny gonna talk about puberty, please?  Oh my gosh, that would be amazing, 'cause what approach would you take?  You always have something interactive and very entertaining.

J: I do, I'm all about the hands-on.  Boy, I would--

L: How would you do hands-on puberty?

J: I would have to think about that one.  I would have to think about that one.  I'm curious, though, I wanted to ask you about, if you have had any experiences with shame and sexuality?

L: Oh, yeah, tons.

J: Because did you grow up in a conservative background as well, where sex was very much a no, don't do this?

L: No, I would say--so I grew up in a Christian home, and my parents had taught me that they waited until marriage and so that's kind of what I just, like, oh, I want the ideal dreamy life, like, I'm gonna wait until marriage, and then I experienced puberty and this rush of hormones and all of these thoughts about like, I need something inside of me, something is going, I just want to make out with things or experience the, these fantasies that I was creating in my head, and so then I stopped believing in the church and those ideals because it felt like such an enormous conflict with what was natural.  

 (08:00) to (10:00)

I do have an episode on Sexplanations about shame where I talk with a friend.  We go back and forth just listing off the parts of our sexuality that we experience shame around and how we cope with that, not in an institutionalized way.  

J: I'm glad that you were able to, to navigate that.

L: Thank you.

J: Like, smoothly, 'cause it's tough.  It's tough and it took me, it took me years, and I remember like, in our first, in our first few years of marriage, you know, sort of this expectation or hope from my partner, of, you know, him wanting to, really wanting me to enjoy this, and this feeling of like, I woud like to enjoy this but it's hard because for so long, any feelings of arousal were just coupled so tightly with this like, kind of inside, like, this horror inside like, ohh, I've done something terrible and it was really hard to uncouple that.  It took a long time.

L: So I know more than what you've shared here and part of I think why you've been so successful is that you have been curious.  So for example, the story of your first day as a married couple, like, that, to me, is what sets you apart from other people who are still struggling with their sexuality and that repression, is because you had some curiosity and you're like, okay, well, now that I'm supposed to know about sex, what do I need to know?  Here's a book, let's do some reading.  

J: We did, and my husband was just as much a neophyte and completely new to the experience as I was.  Like, he was completely new to it as well and I wanted to make sure we were on the same page and so as we were driving to our honeymoon--

L: I love this story!

J: I had a book.  It was His Needs, Her Needs and it had a nice chapter on sex which I had read before, but had been too embarrassed to talk to him about before we, you know, actually did the deed and got married, but once we were married, I was like, alright, I'm gonna read this out loud to you and it went through and just like, described the basic biology, like at a really nice, kind of comprehensive overview of like, what causes an orgasm and, you know, and what to expect with sexual experience and we read that as we were going down and there were a couple parts in particular where, I remember it mentioned that most men, after they climax, then their arousal is just sort of gone, like they're like, alright, now I'll take a shower and like, they kind of move on and for women, they tend to, their arousal goes down more gradually and that you can hurt your partner's feelings if you climax and then just get out of bed, and you know, go start checking your e-mail and as we were driving, I remember him being like, really?  

 (10:00) to (12:00)

Like, that would be weird.  Like, I wonder if it's like that, and then after we first had sex, he was like, yeah, it was totally like that.   After I came, I just wasn't even thinking about sex anymore, so, it was--that was a good thing to know in advance and I think, you know, educating yourself is always so helpful.  For me as a woman, knowing that sex would painful initially, that the penetration, which, you know, high likelihood that that would be painful, that was good to know, and that part can be tough to navigate, 'cause there can be, like, physiological causes and conditions that contribute to that that you're not gonna overcome just by having sex more often, and that took a little bit of time to figure out as well and it wasn't, for me personally, and I don't know if this is a thing, you'll have to tell me if like, some people have a birth canal so small that they're not gonna enjoy sex 'til they have a kid, like the actual penetration part.

L: Ah.  

J: That was, that was--

L: We're just gonna open it up this way rather than doing it that way.

J: That was honestly my experience, so I, most of the part leading up to penetration was enjoyable for me and I would have arousal then, but the actual penetration part was typically uncomfortable, like, not something I really enjoyed.

L: Until you had a child.

J: Until I had a baby, and then after I had a baby, I was like, this is what people have been talking about, like, that was--

L: I'm so curious.  

J: That was my experience.

L: Other things you think we should know?

J: So I consider myself, when it comes to like, talking about sexuality, I have to say I would consider myself more on the inexperienced end.  Like, this is not my area of expertise, except I'm very happy with my relationship.  I can have a wonderful, wonderful spouse and partner.  Like, if I was to try and leave people with parting words of advice, it would be sensitive to your partner's needs.  Make sure that you care about them and they care about you and then when you're trying to have a good sexual experience together, I think your chances are much higher that it will be good for both of you.

L: I like the two of you together.  You're both curious people, so it works really well.  Thank you, Jenny, for being on the show in your show.

J: You're welcome.

 (12:00) to (12:51)

L: If you wanna learn more about Jenny and her channel, you can go to  Your Twitter is @jennyballif.

J: It is.

L: And your Instagram is @thesciencemom and your Facebook is The Science Mom.

J: Correct.

L: And you do videos all the time teaching people about climate and what's the next one you're gonna do?

J: Science experiments you can do at home and--

L: Science experiments you can do at home.

J: Yes and hopefully, if we are able to get funding and keep going forward, we have a lot of series planned, like Science Mom Explains Chemistry, Science Mom Explains Physics.

L: Science Mom Explains Puberty.  

J: Possibly that one, too.  We'll see.  

L: That would be amazing.  Well, thank you for being on the show.

J: Thank you for having me.

Both: Stay curious.