In my first year of blogging, I discovered through friends that there was another sex-influencer on campus: Eva! I saw her YouTube video shared on Facebook and I decided that I must get to know this girl and become her friend (what’s better than two redheaded sex educators together?). Eva’s currently a Masters student at a different university and is studying sexuality to become a sex researcher. On top of that she’s educating the masses through her growing YouTube channel, What’s My Body Doing. As someone who doesn’t study the scientific side of sex, I was eager to interview Eva to learn more about her academic pursuits and her online educator status, and how the two intersect. Here’s what she had to say….
[This is a transcribed script from a recorded interview]
Suz Ellis: You started your YouTube channel almost two years ago now. What motivated you to start talking about sex online and why was YouTube your medium of choice?
Eva: I was involved in researching sexuality in school, doing projects on the history of the birth control, starting my thesis, and doing sex education stuff, and I wanted to share with all of my friends what I was learning because it was changing my life. So instead of telling every individual person, it would just be easier to make a video to share with everybody! I’ve been a consumer of YouTube since 2009, so it just made sense!
SE: There are so many topics under the sex-education umbrella to cover, especially because sex-ed in grade school isn’t comprehensive. How do you choose the topics for your videos and which subjects are your favourite to cover?
E: I talk about stuff that I’m learning about or that I’m puzzling with at the moment and want to share. I also try to think “what do I think people need to know that is going to change their sex lives the most.” There’s so much basic sex ed knowledge that people don’t have. Like for my dental dam video, there are so many people with vulvas having unprotected oral sex! Everyone should know about their options, and that education should exist. Or for other videos, like How to Buy Your First Sex Toy, I think you need to know that!
My favourite videos to make are often the ones that are most relevant to my sex life. [lots of giggles] I have a wonderful sexting friend (she’s the best) and I asked her “What should I make a video about?” and she said sexting. I hadn’t even thought about it, but it’s honestly one of my favourite videos that I made.
SE: This past fall you began your Masters and are focusing on studying the Social Psychology of Sexuality. Tell us a bit about what it’s like to study sex and what you’re learning!
E: It’s the best; I honestly love it so much. Reading new papers and seeing new research makes me so happy. This term I did a bunch of boring research classes, well boring to other people, so stats courses like how to plan a good study or how to write a good survey. I did write a grant application about what we know about Tinder and how we communicate on Tinder. There’s actually no research on Tinder, only on Grindr, which is interesting. I wonder if the fascination with a gay-specific sex app is carried over from the HIV/Aids research. There’s so much research about sexually transmitted infections and diseases, that I think Grindr has been studied so heavily in relation to sexual health. I don’t think they’re actually studying pleasure-based sex information. Pleasure-based sex research is harder to get funded. That’s going to be my whole life: trying to convince the government to fund my research of sex for pleasure.
SE: What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned since you’ve started researching sex?
E: For my undergrad thesis I looked at how undergrad human sexuality courses can change people’s attitudes and behaviours. This research has been done for a pretty long time, even from the 70’s, the 80’s. They collected a bunch of demographic information on sexual orientation, and what stood out to me was there was always a higher percent of bisexual people compared to gay people in their samples. And with bisexual erasure, I was so surprised. Bi folks have been here the whole time with double the numbers of straight and gay people.
Another interesting piece of information I learned was when I co-authored a paper for a student journal about the history of how researchers have studied the female orgasm (focusing on cis women). The paper that listed the discovery of the internal clitoris and its shape using MRI’s has had a lot controversy surrounding that paper. It didn’t come out until 2005, which is ridiculous compared to how long we’ve known the accurate anatomy of the penis.
SE: How has your education influenced your YouTube videos?
E: A lot of the videos that I make are things that I learn about and am thinking a lot about so that often inspires it. My education has made me stop and think more about some of the videos that I’ve wanted to make too. There have been some topics I’ve wanted to make videos about but then I realize that those topics are a lot more complicated than I thought they were. One of the PhD students in my lab does a lot of work on sexual empowerment and there’s this whole body of work that explores what sexual empowerment is. Is it feeling power subjectively, or is it actual political power? It’s all very complicated and interesting. There are lots of researchers who disregard the subjective feeling because the power doesn’t manifest tangibly, politically, or financially. I, personally, think the subjective feeling is still important. I’ve wanted to make a video about sex drive for awhile but sexual desire is hecka complicated. I have a 20-page paper on how complicated sexual desire is on my computer about it right now.
SE: Being a beacon of sex-positivity can make educators more experimental and open within their own sex lives. I know this has happened to me, specifically discovering queerness and certain kinks. What have you learned about yourself since becoming an online educator?
E: [giggles] The shorter answer is: haha, SAME. [lots more giggles] What a time. I’ve been thinking about making a video about questioning sexuality for, like a year. Feelings are complicated. We’re still figuring it out. The video that I want to make is how when I told my friends [about questioning my sexuality] – cause I shouldn’t have been surprised, as I surround myself with fantastic people – but the things that they said, I was like, you’re right! Of course. So that will be a thing one day.
SE: What about kink stuff, sex interactions, desires and activities?
E: Being involved in this community has really validated casual sex as something that can be super fulfilling, and you can have it in a way that you can communicate with people and have it in a mutually respectful way.
Thank you so much to Eva for giving us some insight into sex research and her process behind her YouTube videos. Go check out her channel, What’s My Body Doing for bite-sized informative sex-ed videos! Here’s a video we did about butt stuff on her channel:
Photo by Madeline Neumann Photography