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ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Jillian Keenan is obsessed with Shakespeare…and spanking. Her new book Sex with Shakespeare is a deeply intelligent, exciting, and moving memoir about her own search for love and sexual identity as well as a provocative re-examination of sexuality throughout the Shakespeare canon. Jillian is a freelance journalist based in New York. As a foreign correspondent, she’s reported from Somalia, Niger, Khazakstan, Burundi, Bosnia, and more. Her reporting has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Slate, The Atlantic, Scientific American and many other top media outlets. On today’s episode, Jillian shares her experiences and struggles with growing up kinky, how a classic children’s book became her surprising first ‘startle’, her love of language, and her passionate plea to the mental health community to understand the number one most damaging thing they’ve gotten wrong about kink and spanking all along. As always, you can find us by heading over to SchoolofPsych.com and be sure to follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/schoolofpsych) and Twitter (@schoolofpsych). Jillian's website: jilliannyc.comSex with Shakespeare

English
United States
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TRANSCRIPT

00:00:01attention Shakespeare was a pretty body part so today's episode features adult content with adult language not suitable for little ears so either get thee to a nunnery or consider yourself warned here's today's episode from my earliest memories from the time I was a toddler I was a fetishist and always have been I have a fetish for spanking this is the school of Psych podcast episode 7 BDSM spanking and Shakespeare with today's cast Jillian Keenan
00:00:39welcome to the school of Psych podcast featuring insightful interviews about psychology culture and relationships to help you know yourself understand others and live thoughtfully beware the Ides of March this was the warning issued to Julius Caesar during lupercalia an ancient spring cleansing Festival celebrated to chase away evil spirits purify the city and welcome health and fertility and how exactly do those wild and crazy Roman celebrate lupercalia by running naked and drunk through the streets while the young Noble women would purposely present themselves for a playful spanking to spur on pregnancy and fertility the joys of spring hello everyone and welcome back 4 episode 7 of the school of sight podcast on your host dr. Jared if I have a therapist in storytelling media consultant in Atlanta Georgia thank you for joining
00:01:39is today and as always you can check out show notes social media and more by visiting is over at school of Psych. Com I cannot think of anyone better to celebrate today the Ides of March then today's guest Jillian Keenan Jillian is a freelance journalist based in New York as a foreign correspondent she's reported from Somalia Kazakhstan Bosnia and more reporting is appeared in the New York Times the New Yorker The Washington Post slate the Atlantic Scientific American and so many more places but Jillian is also a kinkster and an enthusiastic Spanky fetishes as well as a rabbit Shakespeare geek her new book sex with Shakespeare is due out from harpercollins William Morrow Publishers later this April sex with Shakespeare is a deeply intelligent exciting and moving Memoir about Julian search for love and sexual identity and a provocative reexamination of sexuality throughout the Shakespeare
00:02:39which just wakes you up to all those awesome things you missed during 8th grade English class it's a great read it's available now for pre-order and I thoroughly recommend checking it out and I provided a link in the show Note 2 pre-order over at school of Psych. Com also a quick note about today's episode each week I work very hard to provide not just great stories and great interviews but also great audio quality for each episode but sometimes technology and internet connections have other ideas in mind we had some technical bumps and glitches so pretty early in the interview you'll hear switch over to a traditional phone line but we tried to clean it up as best as possible but thank you for your understanding but now once more unto the breach dear friends let's get to the interview
00:03:32alright Julian hello and welcome to the school of Psych podcast thanks so much for having me so the first question I want to ask you about it is actually in the dedication page you right in the dedication that some birds pair bond for life and this is for my penguin would you mind sharing the story behind my best friend is named Pung I spelled p e n g but it rhymes with long it's a Taiwanese name I've always called her penguin I think it started when I was younger and I started to write the word tongue and I realized it's the first same four letters as penguin so I just started calling her penguin she's the bird with with who might have pair bonded for life I like to joke tell me about the role that she's played in your life because she is a figure in the book I think that she played an extraordinary role in my life I think that she was my first
00:04:32experience of unconditional love she was my first experience of a kind of loving consistency that may have been lacking from my biological family as I say in the book some of my earliest memories of beginning to explore my sexual identity involves my best friend not physically but but verbally and in through the stories we wrote and years later as an adult when I when I asked her if she were called any of the oddly masochistic things I said or joked about her the strange stories that that I wrote when she and I would write stories together when I asked her if she remembers those things because of course they are in hindsight so obvious and mortifying to me she told me that she had no recollection of that she hadn't even noticed so when I every time I let my freak flag fly and lived in something super weird she didn't even notice and I have always been grateful to her for that why do you think you
00:05:26why do you think you guys have such different experiences
00:05:30well I think that she and I were born with different sexual orientations I of course can't speak to her sexual identity or orientation but I can say that from my earliest memories from the time I was a toddler I was a fetishist and always have been I as you've discovered from reading my book have a fetish for spanking it's more important to me than sex it's more Central to my sexuality then even sex itself as I wrote If I had to choose between sex and spanking I would flush sex like a drug Smuggler ditching his stash in an airport bathroom and so throughout my childhood I really grappled with this this is a really difficult thing to become aware of at an early age because even before I had been exposed to freighter psychoanalysis or the causality of these kinds of things I felt like something was really wrong with me I felt really twisted you can you tell us about like one of those
00:06:30times that you can remember that there was a kind of feeling of not I don't feel like Twisted not not being right absolutely in fact I can tell you a story that's not in my book that I was just reminded of today oh yeah I'm in the BDSM Community we or I should say in the BDSM communities plural because really there's not one BDSM Community there are a number of different branches to this tree we use the term start over moments when something comes up in pop culture that reminds us of our betush and and startles us and just today I was thinking about the very first start all that I could remember which was from a Berenstein Bears book do you know that the books that are cartoon bears that are written for small children. I absolutely do
00:07:20will just earlier today I was thinking back to one of my first startles and I went on Google to see if I could track down the Berenstain Bears book that had startled me way back in 1993 when I was 6 or 7 years old and thanks to the glory of the internet I was able to find it I would have been six or seven years old then and I remember this book has very subtle Allegiant the idea of the book is about bullying and about the whole book follows one of the child bears as she deals with a bully who is intimidating her at school but at the end of the book The Bully finally gets caught this other character and it sent to the principal's office principal's office
00:08:20my parents I won't be able to sit down for a experiences as as a kid and thinking about the confusing kind of non-conformity of sexuality you you knew that you were coming into spanking from a very young age can you tell us about that that's worth it I knew that I thought about it all the time that I drawn like a moth to a flame to any conversation on the subject of Richard subject in school to write a book report on or do my research project on I always pick something related to corporal punishment by New Birth long as I can remember that this was disgusting and gross and wrong and so I knew very early on that I should
00:09:20to the greatest extent possible to live in Shroud of Shame I'm almost certainly I Spy. I rented the Dead Poets Society and there's a scene in school where I am a teenage male student about 17 or 18 years old gets paddled by the principal was for me I love watching it become interested in sound editing and so I wanted to rewatch that seen a couple of times this morning
00:10:20that I told you that I wanted a couple of times so that I could try to figure out how they edited impact why but I thought I was covering up my unusual what does you experience when you would watch that over and over what was the what was the feeling what was the experience I didn't understand it I didn't know why I felt that way I felt like I couldn't look away but also that the experience of finding these startles of Athena reference to thanking and Fillmore in conversation was more profoundly satisfying satisfying
00:11:20was interested in that as it is traditionally understood or fascinated the idea of quality people secret churches online it was always words that are related to spanking and one big kind of experience about the star lighting that's the story of the book is your attempt to kind of wrestle with understanding this element of your life but understanding lots of elements of your life
00:12:20through what you know about Shakespeare and the stories in the characters in his Cannon and not just Universal but very physical and visceral for you you write that Shakespeare is physical and biological Shakespeare is in some dead words on a page but rather a living breathing evolving entity do you remember your first experience or encounter with Shakespeare an actor named David Ivers played caliban in that production and he was extraordinary I couldn't take my eyes off Taliban he was angry abused he flinched easily and often
00:13:20stuttered every time he said a word that begin with the letter M into me I was 15 at the time and there must be a reason why the actor shows the letter B of a Shakespeare play my first coffee of the circled every letter that child and says that begin with the letter F to try to figure out why this letter was the one who chose to stumble over every time and it very quickly became clear that everything painful and important in that characters life begins with the letter M mother Master Miranda Man in the Moon
00:14:20and it was like why do you think this character this isn't abused character yes this is an abused character is a character who is told to submit to a dominant force in Prospero so I think that just as I had years before and Tacos mixed with a kind of longing for the bully character in The Berenstain Bears book for I wanted to do you spell characters but I also felt excessively attracted to the character positions of authority relationships thoughts about why that that has such residents for you
00:15:14I thought about that a lot I always been serious relationships that have a disciplinary power Impala and I'm not quite sure I can explain why 90% of the erotic spanking another body as a child and teenager my sexuality.
00:16:14perhaps it would have been too intense and everything to do with me this is this is something that that's out there weird and strange and wonderful and I reached the point where I don't think everything yeah that that actually is the thing is that I mean maybe we don't need to question and interrogate these these things so highly and so
00:17:02deeply although well I know it's like Shakespeare you wrestle with it and you get something from that struggle and wrestling and trying to understand but at the end of the day there is no solid explanation that you hold on to there is ambiguity and depth and complexity process of
00:17:30so I want to walk through this this process in and kind of take us back to where things started with you cuz you were one tough cookie you grew up in a household that was very challenging who tells about that
00:17:48it's hard to say for me at least because I think that children have a tendency to assume that is normal that my childhood was pretty standard it's been interesting for me to see how people have reacted to my book over the last few months because I'm starting to realize that for some things that I experience not normal or not so challenging so but it was it was the stool thing because in some ways it was very privileged and your mom was passionate and charismatic figure but you also described it as her having cut frenetic inconsistency
00:18:48attic and unpredictable and terrifying but also in my case violation and you struggled with us later on because you struggle with this question right and people trying ask this question okay what came first the fetish or the trauma that somehow created The Fetish because of course many people would stay and if so destabilizing that the child has to decide that but they're so quickly it was like no the the experience the sexual interest and excitement was was there before this
00:19:48spanking in the corporal punishment was just a violation that affected the sexual component of you and see you struggle with that for so long I agree I would absolutely say that I was born this way and I know that some people laugh when they hear that it sounds from psychology and Psychiatry was that it felt like something perverted and damaged
00:20:48my wife it sounds like the most simple thing in the world that sounds like the most obvious thing in the world but the second I realized that I wasn't kinky because I was traumatized I was traumatized because I was already Kiki was like spring up for air after decades underwater it makes perfect sense to me now to think child is born with an innate predisposition towards BDSM for sexual spanking that is non consensual sexuality to punish him or her and it's just seems obvious that now but it's something and something that really just
00:21:45made me so it kind of broke my heart a little and made me so angry after you wrote your peace and put this out there in the New York Times column you wrote about getting emails and letters from psychiatrist who offered cures the head of a until I forget what her psychology or Psychiatry but the head of a mental health program at a major university in the United States you think you're happy but you're not nothing more than to be automatically
00:22:45or in some way or in need of Correction what went through your mind when you got that right in that first New York Times article that was the first time by myself not only to be many people around the world who was the New York Times friends and then fiance and like many many decades of Shame stealing Victorious over guilt and shame and fear real you think you're happy but you're not
00:23:45read my response to him now I met on a psychology podcast angry because me down in a big way I feel like the Mental Health Community children down by saying that for so long that adults who engage in consensual adults who engage in non-consensual spanking with children
00:24:45kind of weak voice on issue I know that and a lot more interesting about the problematic might end up being your children because it is culturally historically and biologically and after me for what I can do with my husband rather than a little kid
00:25:42what message would you put out there now I mean what would you what would you say back
00:25:55afraid this is going to sound so nihilistics but if I've learned anything over the past few years it's that I really can't change people's mind taking him I don't wear black leather and might might be a surprise but I don't think I could change his mind I think that the best thing I can do is talk about my experience so that other people who felt this way we'll know that they aren't I told my editor one I wrote this book because this is the book I needed to read when I was 14 or 15 or 16 17
00:26:55heartbreaking extraordinary letters from people who also sexuality and identity and I guess heartbreaking emails from people who also felt violated by childhood spanking it matters more what I say to his patient and this book is a message to to those people sharing your experiences he said I wanted to come back to you said I can't change people's minds but I want to come back to you journey through this because when it comes to with Partners at end your eventual husband especially with your eventual husband it was about kind of changing his mind about this very thing
00:27:52it was at her about changing his mind because from the second I added myself to him he was saying the correct thing he was saying I love you I support you here for you I'm not judging you never had ideas that my sexuality as a snack cup
00:28:17hanging out with me and my friends or my husband's name as identity vanilla and identify to show him what for me well because every couple navigates that communicating to each other what is sexually satisfying for each other
00:29:16tongue is the one who my best friend is the one who told me to think of it as a seminar and break it down into subject that I wanted to go through one by one like different implements different ways of thinking different style the little details that are important but I couldn't even say out loud but communication is important to my sexuality this way I don't know if I want to be inspired
00:30:16so I and I want to go back to what you said about words here because
00:30:22for a Shakespeare scholar words have meaning and weight and in the BDSM Community there is so much language here and words and terms and vanilla and all of these things absolutely stunned and journalists and other kinds of writers that are in this community I can't figure out why they're such a link between people but my ears are not missions or science test
00:31:22people more into words
00:31:27I don't know it's such a verbal cake there's no doubt about that my butt for 30 minutes and I guess I left a decorated with words and conversation and a kind of rhetorical dance that people in this community the challenge of helping my husband discover what it is that I need and want because when I doubted myself in the New York time I think he was just your ass sometimes that's what you want right that is not it at all
00:32:20almost like a language that's taking medicine and I had to teach him to stick it to but as this is a verbal tank but here you were not able to use the words for years in casual conversation or public display affection quality to even say the word punishment in in mixed company in your romantic relationships because you find yourself a various stages in the book there was one time you describe my brain had one boyfriend and my body had another and you have found your cell
00:33:20kind of navigating these splits between a man who satisfied sort of your physical sexuality but maybe didn't stimulate you intellectually
00:33:35right that was be referring to is the fact that my first boyfriend who when I was 17 and for a long time in our relationship and I convinced myself that I was satisfying his interest not my own at that point I couldn't engage with enough to admit to myself that I had it so I was just trying to convince myself that well of course I love them and thought about them all the time on my first boyfriend because I felt in my head
00:34:35call Steve the relationship right thing force myself into this quote-unquote health Dynamic and reject be the dynamic that felt right to me I thought that I don't think comparing myself to an alcoholic I told myself that I needed to just ask for. Of years and and although I might never be I would be in recovery and that's what I had to do to be healthy and I'm sure remains very smart man but mentally I told myself
00:35:35what is unhealthy so I I tried to fix myself and that trying to fix yourself are there other ways that you've done that but ride besides trying to suppress this I think that a lot of introspection that I gone through over the years regarding my childhood was in the hopes that
00:36:02I might eventually get to a light at the end of the tunnel and in that life would be the Warm Glow of sexual activity then my fetish would be understood that should not be a story they are tell me where I'm at my current husband
00:36:52when I was single and I was really unsatisfied you can't stand yourself thought that I would never find a relationship like my first relationship again but more than that I thought that I should not try to find a relationship so I discovered a website that describes aversion therapy and it said that I should masturbate and think of what is erotic spanking in the midst of that fantasy before climax
00:37:38to make something bad happened into my appealing can't be something very honest so that I would begin with a negative outcome so I try to fix myself that way for a little while thought about negative
00:37:59yeah I think one of those websites I saw suggested that I like someone walking in and interrupting and seeing me and the same that I would feel that would be humiliating suggest that you go to people who are struggling with same-sex attraction
00:38:51feeling anxiety about same-sex attraction and again is this from decades ago thanks get stuck and then you are trying to lower your healing ways or yeah I just tell me about the sadness that comes along with that
00:39:30who knows I feel comfortable and satisfied by 32
00:39:40thanks that I wasted so much time trying to fix myself and it makes me sad because I know one hundred percent certainty that many many many people out there right now and I'm just trying to scream at the top of my lungs that consensual sexuality never needs to be sure that violates fence of so many people on so many demographic behavior when non-consensual behavior is no real culprit here and speaking of time and trying to fix things there has been something lingering hear in the background for you since a kid can you tell us about being diagnosed with MS
00:40:34yeah absolutely I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple first it's interesting to me that right now I'm trying so hard to feel not nothing but I'm not afraid of teen and my disease is something that could that could make you feel nothing at all
00:41:22I lived in shame and spoke denial for so long that I did steal nothing 5 years in my relationship with David my now-husband I didn't mention my fetish I tried to hide my fetish what it did have to come out in the bathroom by his myself on the internet Kid myself in the bathroom because I'm so ashamed and I really like them
00:42:01and I think it's kind of beautiful that I've reached a point mentally and David where I am confident and comfortable enough staying in detail what it is that I crave and need that I can have that because it's possible that I won't always be able to have it and I'm so glad that the deprivation that was conflicted
00:42:30in my early twenties is not something that I was not going to be the whole story of my life thank you for not living in shame and not living in silence anymore and thank you for coming on to the school of Psych
00:42:51the course of true love never did run smooth but let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments a huge thank you to Jillian Keenan for coming on the podcast today and sharing her story with us you can find her online at Jillian nyc.com or on Twitter at Jillian Keenan her first book sex with Shakespeare is due out in late April from harpercollins William Morrow and is available to pre-order Now by following the link in the show notes over at school of Psych., we sign off for a short spring break of one extra week this month but make sure to come back for a next episode on April 5th when best selling author and food blogger Jessica fechtor shares with us about the day her brain exploded
00:43:43it's a devastating thing to think up because what you thinking about moments is my daughter going to die
00:43:50until next time I'm your host dr. Jared to 5 thank you for listening and in the meanwhile love all trust a few do wrong to none and live life away

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