It was 2010 the first time I sat in front of a camera and spoke my mind. It was for the debut video of my first YouTube channel, Swear Down TV, a loud and proud talk show about the views of a pair of 20-year-old girls talking about s3x, relationships, and everything in between. At the time I never actually thought about it, but there were so few of millennials doing so. The first whiff my middle-class Guyanese Dad got of the channel content, he launched into lecture about respectability politics and how what I was talking about could stop me from getting a ‘good job’. I didn’t share his worries. I knew back then that I didn’t want a ‘good job’ or really care too much about how scandalous this would seem to people within my parent’s social circles or my own family.
Later that year, when I decided to write what would become my award-winning debut novel, Unfamous (a salacious tale of the lives of influencers at university, packed with s3x scenes hot enough to make you sweat your edges out), he was alarmed again. A little less alarmed, as it was literature so there was some level of ‘class’ to it, but still wary of the explicit nature of the tale. Not to mention that this story was published under my actual name and not my alias so now it would be especially easy for an employer to reject me. I, on the other hand, was over the moon! My smutty coming-of-age tale had been adapted into a sold-out stage play and I was being paid for it.
I understood where my parent’s initial concerns came from; I was raised in a Christian household (though they weren’t as devout as my grandparents) by two Caribbean immigrants who had grown up in London during the 60s and 70s, a much darker time for people of colour in this country than it is now (though this does not mean there is not still heaps of work to be done in today’s Britain). They had different, more volatile experiences, compared to mine and my siblings. They knew that to survive/thrive in Western society, you had to do something academically impressive, like become a doctor or a lawyer (or any other ‘respectable’ job) and of course, be twice as good to get half as much -a sentence a lot of black children are used to hearing from our parents. With there being such a stigma around sexuality, particularly black female s3xuality where any sexual expression we hold gets lobbed under the Jezebel stereotype (a theme made popular in the 60s and 70s through Blaxploitation movies), what I had opted to do was venture into particularly harmful waters where I could be hypersexualised, fetishized, mammified, exposed to misogynoir and worst of all, be looked down upon. I understood it…but something in me couldn’t be swayed into making my dreams smaller and more polite in case someone else didn’t like it. This was bigger than me.
As time went on, I became more focused on my mission of what I was put here to do. Through venturing into these risqué areas of content creation I found that women, particularly women in my community, were uncomfortable speaking about and advocating for their own sexual pleasure, so to make it digestible I had to approach it differently. My first order of business was saying ‘f*ck that’ to propriety and speaking with my authentic tongue. I will admit it did cross my mind that talking about s3x, s3xual pleasure especially, is already such a taboo subject and that wider society preferred it to be approached from a scholastic stance so that at least it could be argued that it was educational. On top of that, I am a young, vivacious black woman so the judgment could be especially harsh for me, both inside and outside of my community, so me speaking to the internet the way I speak to my friends would be scrutinised even more. The fear of rejection was there, but as a young woman who had suffered through awkward RSE (Relationship and S3x Education) lessons that spoke of such a human activity in such a clinical way, I knew that someone needed to take this approach. When it came to my fictional works however, I sort of did the opposite. I love a good erotica scene as much as the next girl, but I couldn’t deal with the slap dash approaches of the really hardcore/kinky stuff, so I wrote mine in such a descriptively indulgent way that my readers would be so taken in by my flowery prose that reading about the protagonist strapped to a St Andrews cross while her lover flogged her would sound as romantic as a sunset walk on the beach.
It was important for me, a fat black femme to stand up and speak out about my experiences and express my s3xuality creatively because there are not many people who take up space in the s3xual wellness industry who look, let alone sound like me, for audiences to relate to. I am always aware of my blackness and my candidness, and to make myself ‘marketable’ I knew that it would’ve worked in my favour to be a bit more refined in my approach. I found pretty much everyone in this space to be quite polite and whilst I respect the hell out of it and understand why they come at s3x the way they choose to…I find it a bit boring. S3x is fun and that’s how I wanted it to come across.
They say the nail that sticks out gets hammered but to be honest, as the S3xfluencer, being hammered is a top priority in my field…yes that was a s3x joke, so I figured that I could take it (that’s what she said). As far as I was concerned, s3x wasn’t polite so why the f*ck should I be polite about it?
I had two things to worry about, my blackness and lack of propriety, two things that could very well hold me back, but I was willing to take the risk for the sake of the big picture. There are so many women out there who are afraid to talk about s3x, so approaching it in a way that women do when speaking to their friends about it and throwing in a couple of jokes and embarrassing but real anecdotes (because s3x shouldn’t be so serious) made sense. It cultivates a comfortable and familiar setting. I put the things that could hold me back, front and centre because they were not weaknesses just because other people weren’t doing them -they were my strengths.
The more of me I put into my work, from centring blackness, cultural references, changes in dialect, and my out of the box experiences, the more powerful it became. It hasn’t held me back at all, in fact quite the opposite. My unique cultural stance and tone of voice fill a void and allows me to reach people that may not have felt that this kind of content was for them. There are women out there looking for my brand of s3x education and that is who I serve. I realise that as an educator and content creator that my work isn’t about me, it’s about the women who come to me looking to learn about their bodies so that they can live their best heaux life.
Now I make money doing what I love full-time (and my parents are fully on board), two literary awards under my belt, I have a constant stream of women in my DM’s coming to me for advice, explaining how I’ve helped their s3xual confidence or that they’ve bought a new adult product off of my recommendation. I hold sold out workshops, teach s3x ed to college students, work with amazing brands and have been featured on media platforms and publications that I never thought I’d even get to blink in my direction. I say this to say that no matter your background and cultural and social values, especially if you are a person of colour, there is a space for you in this space. Your voice is necessary to the movement because there is someone out there who sees themselves in you, who needs to hear your perspective. It may not happen overnight, but if you stick to your guns and stay true to your mission, you can make a real difference in so many lives. I hope that me using my voice and being my authentic self in this space will encourage more people who look like me to come forward and advocate for people who look like them.
Shakira ‘Scotty Unfamous’ Scott is a London based, multi award-winning erotic romance author and s3xfluencer on a mission to help womxn ‘live their best heaux life’.You can find more of her content on ShakiraScott.com Instagram: @scottyunfamous Twitter: @ScottyUnfamous