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How YouTuber 'Shan Boody' Built A Powerful Sex Positive Platform

BOSS UP

Not everyone can have an open conversation with their parents about their sexual exploits, let alone broadcast it to the world. But Shannon "Shan Boody" Boodram, a YouTuber who's known to keep it real when it comes to anything sex, love and relationships, has managed to do both. Her latest video? A bare-all sex talk with her parents, and let's just say that it goes there.

“At first my parents, of course, weren't thrilled and people around me are like are you sure? And I've lost jobs because of it," Shannon admits about her risqué career-path. “But the firmer that I get and the more sure that I am, the more other people feel that way."

As taboo as the topic of sex is in the black community, Shannon has managed to capitalize on the one thing that everyone's doing but few are willing to openly talk about. And when it comes to lovemaking, Shannon is as much of an expert as she is an enthusiast. The certified sexologist earning her credentials from the University of Toronto has made guest appearances on shows such as The Amber Rose Show, Just Keke, and The Insider, lending her expertise to the millions looking to gain a better understanding of their anatomy and how to use it, as well as dropping knowledge (and the occasional tear over an ex) to her 140,000 plus fans on YouTube.

So how exactly does one choose to specialize in sex? Well, if you ask Shannon, it was something that just came about naturally.

Growing up Shannon tapped into her sexuality at a young age. Her mother called her crude but Shan calls it having a natural sexual development. Her Barbie's became sexually active before she could even quite understand the depth of the act. She found the available information on the subject to be boring, so she relied on popular urban books such as Coldest Winter Ever and Fly Girl to school her on what to expect for first-time frisking. And though her parents didn't hide sex, their open door policy still left questions that she didn't quite know to even ask. So at the age of 16, when she lost her virginity to a hot London bloke while attending a track meet in Hungary, it didn't quite meet her expectations.

“The first time that I had sex I thought the clitoris was inside of the vaginal canal, and so I kept waiting for that experience—for this button to be pressed and for it to feel amazing—but the truth is your vaginal walls have as many nerves as the back of your hand, so there's not a lot," says Shannon.

At 18, when she stepped on the campus of Baltimore's Coppin State University, she had five notches on her belt and zero orgasms to complement them. Describing her own teen sex life as “shitty," she became fascinated by the stories of her more experienced friends. The honest conversations with her fellow peers sparked a desire in her to get the real scoop on sex, and not just the sultry scenes that television shows and porn portrayed the act to be.

“I met a girl there who was 18 years old and HIV positive, and one of my friends from Baltimore, she was a lesbian. And so I learned about sex from her and I was like man, this is what's kind of missing. You have the facts and information but competing with that are these interesting stories."

The textbook version of sex was dull, so she started gathering real experiences from her peers and compiled the answers into a book that touched on topics ranging from abstinence to STI's and unplanned pregnancies. “I didn't really think to myself, oh I'm going to make sex my career. I was just like this is a really good book idea."

After a year of touring with her book, Shannon decided that she wanted a less controversial career path, but just as she began turning down the sex talk, BET reached out to her with an opportunity to be a sex and relationship educator for a new talk show they were filming, so the Toronto native applied for an American work visa and flew to L.A. to audition. She landed the role, but the pilot didn't get picked up. Back in Toronto she was specializing in wedding photography when a year later the television network reached out again, this time for a talk show featuring Eva Marcille, Jessica White and Wendy Raquel Robinson. Although once again the show didn't get picked up, Shannon, felt that her calling was in L.A., and relocated to the city of dreams with no job and no place to live to continue auditioning for roles.

But the move was far from easy. She was shooting pilot shows, but each pilot locked her into a six-month holding deal in which she couldn't audition for other roles. Her American work visa limited her to working only in television, making it difficult to pick up outside work as is typical for those pursuing television and film roles. The constant cycle of going in and out of holding deals left her penniless, feeling purposeless, and struggling with depression. In one video, Shannon breaks down in tears as she recounts the experience of fighting to get out of bed everyday while waiting for the next opportunity to come.

“L.A. is one of those cities where if you're not really clear on what you want to do, go home, and once you have that clarity and what you want to do the second part of that is constantly knowing what is giving back to you, and putting that energy out there," Shannon says.

Despite the seemingly grim circumstances, Shannon learned to hustle and picked up hosting and journalism gigs to make ends meet, as well as continued building her brand on her YouTube channel, where she speaks openly on the topics of sex and relationships in today's culture. “I'm getting better at my craft, I'm connecting with people on my own, and I basically can make my own schedule. People can't take that away from me. You have to find a space for yourself that you have control of and that you actually are getting a return from."

"You have to find a space for yourself that you have control of and that you actually are getting a return from."

Not only has she battled with inconsistent jobs, but being known as a “sex expert" also impacted her job opportunities. In November, she was offered a stage-hosting gig for a tech company, but upon accepting the offer the company had a sudden change of heart after researching her and discovering her passion for pleasure.

“I'm not hiding the fact that I talk about sex. I'm a strong woman who's educated. I volunteer at a sex trafficking clinic. I give the best that I can to this world, and to devalue me because I talk about something that people search on the Internet more than anything else is disgusting," says Shannon.

"I give the best that I can to this world, and to devalue me because I talk about something that people search on the Internet more than anything else is disgusting."

The experience taught her to not only be firm in who she is, but also be patient with those who don't understand who she is. “I think that I'm finding my comfort, but I'm also respecting my pace. And I think a big part of maturity for me was giving that permission to other people—giving them room to find their comfort and to respect their pace. If they're not where I am right now it's okay. The more confident I am and the more that I'm honoring what's authentic to me, that will rub off."

Perhaps the biggest challenge for the 30-year-old is continuing to walk in her purpose even when it seems that all odds are against her. In a recent video, “Am I Cursed by God?", she celebrates finally becoming an American citizen after months of fighting to be approved for her green card—a big win in the midst of battling bed bugs, hunting for a new apartment with little money in the bank, and purchasing a plane ticket for an event that was cancelled last minute.

“How hard you work in the worst of it will determine how temporary this is," she says. “The slower you act, the more that you indulge in self pity, the more you indulge in comforts to take your mind off of it, the longer it will take to get rid of these issues." Pushing through the hard times has proven to be rewarding for the sex educator, who recently picked up a big contract with Trojan and continues to speak on sex panels amongst her other hustles.

As stressful as the struggle has been, those same experiences have given her the confidence to say that she's no longer a young girl just trying to figure it out, but a woman who knows who she is and is unapologetic about it.

"I've definitely grown up as a woman," Shannon says. "I've dealt with so many things. I've dealt with bed bugs, I've dealt with car problems I didn't know how to fix and flats on the side of the road and running out of gas, and my Internet turning off for no reason and having to call the Internet guy. It's just life. And I'm proud that I'm busy and I'm focused, and I don't spend as much time worrying about other people's opinion. When I first came here, I still felt weird about the word 'woman', but now I'm super clear that's what I am."

In addition to her success with her Shan Boody YouTube channel, Shannon recently inked a deal with Fullscreen where she created, executive produced, and starred in her own multi-episode series exclusively on the streaming platform. The series, all 12 episodes now available in full on the platform, is called "Shan Boody Is Your Perfect Date" and is a social experiment where Shannon sets out to prove that the key to being anyone's perfect date is tapping into the psychology of seduction versus looks and appearance. It did so well, she's getting a renewal!

Shannon also went public about her open relationship with up-and-coming artist Jared Brady, someone she gives further credit to about the growth she has experienced as a woman in recent years. They are very committed, very in love, and very open with their audience and even branched out from her channel to create a couple's channel called The Examined Life, which is formatted in a style that is part-podcast, part-vlog where Shannon and Jared talk and have candid conversations about everything from their relationship to their own journeys as individuals.

That's how you really glo up.

Catch up with Shannon by subscribing to her YouTube or giving her a follow on Instagram.

All images courtesy of Shannon Boodram

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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