Want to educate yourself more on self-identity, sex and relationships? FlexMami is the taboo-tackling, multi-hyphenate you need to hear from. Through her podcast, writing and social channels she’s candidly discussing all things sex, relationships and general life. In doing so, she’s also revealing why the most important relationship in your life is the one you build with yourself. It may even be the key to finding more happiness! She also happened to travel with us on the new Rome to Barcelona Contiki train trip.
For our ‘My Happy Place’ series, we catch up with FlexMami post-trip and ask her our burning questions. In return, she shares the important projects she’s working on, why self-education is a MUST and her advice for upping your conversational and relationship game.
How would you describe your job?
I’m a multi-hyphenate, a slashie, a jack of all trades and a master of none. Essentially, I work as a DJ, TV presenter, podcaster, author, social media influencer and a model. I have a few things in the pipeline… I’m writing a book and I’ve just submitted my first draft and it’s in the first stages of editing. It’s super spooky as I’ve never written a book before! The process is far more daunting than I’d anticipated, my ego was taken for a spin when I realised that it’s really not easy to condense all your thoughts into a palatable format!
Then, there’s my conversation card game, ReFlex. It’s a critical thinking conversation card game helping you to build and improve relationships with yourself and those around you. So, the cards ask you questions on everything from sex to death, politics to personal development. The idea is that you answer the questions presented on reflex and then go through why you responded in the way that you did. It’s a great way to help you understand more about why you are the way you are and why you think the way you do. We’re not really given a lot of avenues to do that.
Why do you think we’re all a bit rubbish at talking about relationships and sex?
I find that part of the reason we struggle to relate to people around us, is because we let our perceptions guide everything. We’d sooner create a narrative as to why someone doesn’t want to engage with us over just asking them; and why black women are stereotyped in certain ways, as opposed to engaging with them on the internet. Oh, and we’d sooner start a group chat and discuss what that emoji meant from a guy that we slept with, than actually talk to the guy!
I feel like we’re all putting up a barrier that’s inhibiting us from having the relationships that we want to have. The sooner we encourage everybody to stop fearing shame and the consequence of being your whole, true self, the better. We need to start understanding that people won’t have context for you – who you are, what you’re about, the way you think – unless you give it to them.
I personally have found it really beneficial to control the narrative surrounding me and my body. And by that I mean the narrative that people make up about me being a fat, black, body neutral influencer from Australia. The narratives that people make up often don’t fit the reality of what my lifestyle is. The things that people make up are both better and worse than my reality. But none of it actually accurate! It’s much more important that people gain the whole view of who I am so they can better engage with me.
You coined the phrase 'facilitate your nut'. How can we all get better at educating ourselves?
So, FYN – I always say is a figurative and a literal statement. It’s about seeking out your own pleasures, but it’s also about prioritising your own self-education. We all need to be more autonomous when it comes to learning and understanding. Rather than being spoon-fed, we have to start taking some responsibility on how much we do or don’t know about ourselves, the world and the people in it.
A big realisation of mine is that we’re the experts of our own bodies. I got really bored of looking to others to tell me what my body was doing and why was behaving in a certain way. I should know how to pleasure myself, I should know how to seek out info, I should know how to interpret the data. I shouldn’t be looking for other people to be the guiding star on everything in my own life.
Basically, we’re so overdue when it comes to looking introspectively. I think the average person can name a thousand external reasons why they don’t have or haven’t experienced what they want. And they can blame a thousand people – their mum, their boss, their weird ex. But if we spent as much time looking inwardly, realising the ways we contribute to our own suffering and how a lot of the time we get in our own way, then we’d find out that there’s a lot more work we need to do internally before we start pointing fingers.
What's a 'situationship'?
My definition is a classic, undefined, non-committal relationship. Perfected by millennials, it’s effectively a romantic relationship that has progressed past a few dates but hasn’t been labelled. It’s not inherently positive or negative, and for some it’s an ideal scenario to allow you to get to know each other, minus the pressure. So, a situationship is basically something that looks like a relationship, smells like a relationship, dates you like a relationship, sleeps with you like a relationship, introduces you to you to their friends like a relationship – but, crucially isn’t a relationship, for reasons that differ per person.
How do you suss out a toxic relationship?
There are so many ways to suss out a toxic relationship. The most important thing to remember is that there isn’t a one-size fits all approach when it comes to healthy expressions of affection and love. Buuut I think there are a few clear, clear, clear signs. Here’s how to spot them:
- When you have a conflict, you’re both out to hurt each other or to win as opposed to resolving the conflict, I think this is a sure-fire red flag.
- You dread broaching a conversation or if you’re scared to speak to them candidly because of the consequences.
- You feel like neither party is putting in the effort and it’s taking more out of you than it’s giving you.
- You’re a worse person in the relationship than you are out of it.
- There’s any physical or verbal abuse, that is a deal-breaker. I do find that we normalise both these things because not a lot of us have had very healthy expressions of what love and healthy relationships can look like.
- Nothing is ever resolved. If it constantly feels like you’re harbouring resentment towards each other and every new fight is the chance to bring up old misdemeanours.
- There is deceit in the relationship dynamic. I think it’s important to make a distinction between privacy and secrecy. If there’s a lot of secrecy, and you feel as if someone is constantly trying to withhold or deceive you, that is huge.
- That person isn’t considering you or your needs in the bigger picture or if you’re an after-thought in your own personal relationship, then that’s a concern!
How can we open up about our sexuality more – specifically on holiday?
I feel like the good thing about being on holiday, especially if you’re around strangers, is that you’re indirectly given permission to be your whole self, whatever that looks like. I find that when you’re at home, there’s pressure to be the ‘you’ that everybody knows and is comfortable with.
When I’m on holiday, I find solace in the fact that nobody knows me – you’re free to express your identity however you want. If you’re in a position where you want to share that part of yourself, in a way that makes you feel more comfortable with the people you’re around, then I’d just find a way to steer the conversation around sex and sexuality. I think it’s also the quickest way to break the ice.
Perhaps if you’re meeting someone for the first time, ask them whether they’re dating anyone. they might say ask you the same, and you can say – ‘no, but I’m interested in [insert preference here] and I’m so excited to have a good time on this trip.’ I feel like that will be received really well, I mean why wouldn’t it?
How is your podcast, Bobo and Flex, changing the conversation around sex and relationships?
Bobo and Flex is honestly the best thing I’ve ever, ever, ever done. We describe it as a ‘cross-continental sex, lifestyle and philosophy podcast’. Cross-continental means that Bobo records it in NYC and I record it in Sydney. The way people describe it is ‘the self-actualised group chat you wish you were a part of and now you can be.’ LOL.
I think what makes it great is that we discuss smart things, dumb things and taboo things really openly. In one breath we’re unpacking moral dilemmas and ethical code, such as the subtle differences between pink flags and red flags in dating, and in another we’ll be discussing how to decolonise your mind and unpack the Eurocentric standards put upon us.
We talk about alternative forms of spirituality and we give you the tools to dodge all kinds of problematic boys. I feel like we’re changing the conversation because we’re taking away the idea that everyone else is the authority on these topics. We’re really open and brazen about our own personal experiences and I find not a lot of people do that. People love talking in hypothetical situations and talking about everybody else’s experiences, but we’re not so good at sharing our own! So, on our podcast it’s us telling you about our personal experiences, like what we enjoy during sex. We’re not saying anything for shock value or to validate anybody, we’re saying it because these are the conversations we wished were happening.
Podcasting is a space that’s been made for and created by white men. It’s just been so awesome to carve out this space as two black women, and it’s not appearing as a show just for black women. We have listeners who are straight, queer, non-binary. We’re just tapping into a demographic of real people, and for me that’s super cool.