Jenny Keane: "There is a huge vulnerability when it comes to exploring your sexuality" 3 months ago

Jenny Keane: "There is a huge vulnerability when it comes to exploring your sexuality"

Her's Digital Cover Star for February 2022 is holistic sex educator Jenny Keane.

"Education gives your sexuality context."

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Professionally trained holistic sex educator Jenny Keane is on a mission to ignite a sexual revolution in Ireland, and when you consider the year she's had, it seems we're truly on the brink.

For quite some time now, Jenny has been connecting with thousands of Irish women both through her hugely popular Instagram page and with her regular workshops on sex and pleasure. Today, that community continues to grow.

However, Jenny didn't set out to become a sex educator. Instead, she fell into the path through her own curiosity.

Like many Irish women, she attended an all-girls school, where sex education was inseparable from the Catholic faith. However, backed by her own super-progressive mother, Jenny used books to satisfy her own curiosity, and eventually became a trusted source on the matter. Her friends would turn to her with their questions, and, as she became sexually active herself, that initial curiosity grew and grew.

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The real eye-opener for Jenny came when she moved to California when she was in her 20s. There, she immersed herself in the yoga culture, and attended sex workshops on everything from how to perform oral sex to female ejaculation.

"I was shocked by how normal it was," Jenny tells Her. "I realised there is so much more to this than I could ever have imagined. It wasn’t sexualised, it was very much about curiosity and understanding. I really experienced what the word tenderness meant in relation to sex."

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From there, Jenny delved further and studied trauma therapy and sexological body work.

"I had never intended to teach," Jenny says. "I had never intended to do this for anyone other than myself. Everything I did was really self-led from my own curiosity."

But Jenny wasn't alone in her curiosity. When she returned home from her travels, equipped with a thorough grounding in holistic sex education, her friends were full of questions. After being flooded with private messages from her pals, Jenny realised that her newfound expertise could help women everywhere, rather than just herself. So she began arranging workshops.

"It was very small, very underground, because I could never advertise it," Jenny says. "But it just grew through word of mouth. I started with 12 people, and then 16 and then it grew to 22."

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"Lockdown was the perfect chemical reaction because it allowed people to explore in a way that felt safe for them."

When the pandemic hit, Jenny worried that the jump to Zoom would turn participants away, but instead, it had the opposite effect.

Kicking off lockdown with an orgasm workshop, Jenny upped the spaces on the class and within 24 hours, 100 women had signed up.

Afterwards, she received messages from people who missed out, begging her to put it on again. After upping the limit once more, 350 women attended the next workshop, and this increased to 800 for the following one.

In the end, the move to online workshops allowed Jenny to reach many women who may have been too embarrassed to attend an in-person workshop.

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Jenny says: "There's this beautiful opportunity for people to attend from the comfort of your own home and be anonymous. You have the option of leaving the Zoom if you don't like what you're hearing. You have that control. It allows people to show up in a greater way if you create a place where there is safety and trust.

"Lockdown was the perfect chemical reaction because it allowed people to explore in a way that felt safe for them."

Image: Evan Doherty

"Shame thrives in environments where something isn't spoken. So speak it, and there's no shame anymore."

Despite her own openness, Jenny acknowledges that talking about sex isn't easy for everyone.

"There is a huge vulnerability when it comes to exploring your sexuality, and that's because your sexuality is inextricably linked to who you are, and how you show up in the world," she says.

"I always say that if you want to change the way you have sex, change the way you live. If you want to change the way you live, change the way you have sex."

In order to empower women to explore their sexuality and ask questions, Jenny says that it's vital to create a shame-free environment.

"The community that we have is so beautiful and so supportive because there's no shame. I built that community on a shame-free environment. Once you're in that room and you realise 'Holy shit, there are 800 women on the call here', it completely de-stigmatises any shame you may be carrying from your own experiences. Shame thrives in environments where something isn't spoken. So speak it, and there's no shame anymore."

She continues: "The numbers speak for themselves. I had 7,795 women in a self-pleasure workshop. That's almost 8,000 women turning up to explore their sexualities, that have the same question. I think that's the most powerful thing you can offer somebody in that place is just knowing that you're not alone. Any question that you have, any experience that you're going through, you're not alone."

"We were never given the tools that allowed us to explore our sexuality."

As well as creating a shame-free space, Jenny notes the role education plays in eliminating sexual stigma.

"Education gives your sexuality context," she says. "I think that due to the lack of quality sex education that we receive, we unfortunately were never given the tools that allowed us to explore our sexuality in a way that felt safe and comfortable.

"Good quality sex education really gives what you’re going through context. When you step into an environment where you’re taking ownership of your own education, where you’re curious, where you’re asking questions, then you really step into a place of empowerment - that has ripple effects in all areas of your life."

The community Jenny established both through her workshops and her dedicated Instagram presence continues to grow, and new members are of course, always welcome. In fact, her work is led by the women she interacts with.

"Whatever I'm doing is a conversation between me and the people who are interested," she says. "This topic is so vast. If you want to learn something, then let me know because that's where I get my cues from. In the beginning of 2021, we did a lot of workshops around pleasure and understanding arousal and body confidence. But if you had told me that by the end of that year, I would be doing dedicated workshops on how to experience pleasure while on top, or an in-depth workshop on anal sex for example, I would have said, 'You're joking.'

"I'm really led by the women in the community who are conversing with me and want to know more."

Stay up to date with Jenny Keane by following her on Instagram, or by heading to her website right here.

Feature image by Evan Doherty.