Words by Elise Peterson, as told to Sheriden Chanel:


"I remember being 13 or 14 and looking in my grandmother's pajama drawer and finding her edible underwear there. Yes, Grandma kept it poppin'. I also remember going to college and needing boxes to pack my things into. She said, 'Go into my closet, I have tons of boxes in there'. I don't think she thought about it when she said it, but I went into her closet, and there were all of these boxes with tons of sex toys in them. My mom was a sex toy consultant, hosting these pleasure parties. I thought it was hilarious but also affirming, because the apple doesn't fall from the tree.

I feel like sexual freedom is a continual process of liberation.

It came in waves.

Going to college in DC and feeling like I wanted to be in a new environment and around new perspectives that I didn't necessarily have while living in the south left me with this checklist that I felt very inhibited to do while I was in Georgia. Like, kissing a woman for the first time happened while I was in college and having my first threesome happened when I went to college. Even before then, the first time I felt sexually liberated was buying my first pair of sexy underwear from Victoria's Secret when I was 15. And then going to college and kissing a woman for the first time, having a threesome, and having sex with a woman for the first time – those firsts – kind of built up my momentum to when I had anonymous sex with someone on Craigslist for the first time. That was super empowering. That was fun, a little scary, but fun.

Writer/Graphic Illustrator Elise Peterson x Style Like U

I think all of those firsts and pushing my own boundaries then led me to of course being a dominatrix. That was a conquest experience because so much of that derived from being in an abusive relationship and feeling disempowered in a way.

Being a dominatrix was my way of reassuming my power and dealing with that trauma in my own way.

I feel the most empowered now, at 27, after coming out of that experience and having had emotionally dealt with some of that baggage, and feeling okay and loving myself through all of that. The pinnacle of my sexual liberation was coming out to my parents.

That happened this past Thanksgiving. I think all of those were milestones of my sexual liberation. While I hope that there will be a point where I do feel fully sexually liberated, I don't want to ever stop pushing what that looks like for myself and how I decide that for myself.

Among the black community, sexuality is not something that is very vocalized.

A lot of my experiences came from within and came from pushing myself and tapping into my own curiosities, engaging my curiosities and sexuality, and receiving a lot of backlash. I had to endure a lot of slut shaming through the years and be okay with myself through it. For me, sexual liberation was very personal and very trial and error. Even when I was a dominatrix, there was a long time when my friends didn't even know I was doing it. I was working full time as an editor for Saint Heron, in art school, and working as a dominatrix by night. A lot of it was a very secret process, but I think what was affirming was delving into other women's stories, like finding out that Maya Angelou was a hooker at some point. It's not really a new idea, it's just one that isn't discussed enough.

Great sex is any sex that happens between two people that have natural chemistry and a connection.

I think that when you have a connection or you have chemistry, it kind of lends itself to a really awesome experience, whether it is sex or outside of sex, even though I don't feel sex is any different than that. I want to be able to laugh before, during, and after sex. I want to be able to have fun and not to take myself too seriously, to make mistakes and keep going, and be vocal. I want to do exactly what I want to do and maybe things that I didn't even know I wanted to do until it happened.

If something looks good, feels good, sounds good, you should do it because chances are, you aren't the only one who feels that way and you'll find a partner who will respect what you like and can also possibly be into it as well. Never place any limitations on what you will and won't do when you are in a healthy, happy relationship. I think that person is worth more than that one person you slept with three years ago that did you wrong, fuck that person. When you're with someone, whether it be casually or otherwise, and you want to do something, don't hesitate. I think I've been turned off the most sexually, whether it is with a man or a woman, who asks my permission to do certain things.

Writer/Graphic Illustrator Elise Peterson x Style Like U

Of course, consent is key but when you're already in an established environment of consent and you're asking me, 'Is it okay for me to kiss you?' Ugh, no it's not. You asked me. I'm totally not into it. As someone who is a dominant woman in my personal and professional life, I like someone who can match that. Confidence over anything. If you are secure about what you have and what you're working with, then I can work with you. If you're into you, then I can be into you.

Don't have any limitations, read a book, watch some porn."

- As told to xoNecole by Elise Peterson

Elise Peterson is a Brooklyn-based artist, writer, visionary, former Saint Heron music editor and current educator and founder and creator of the digital collage series Black Folk. Find her here and follow her here.

Originally published November 20, 2016

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