From Mormon to Sex Guru: ‘Sex+’ YouTube Host Laci Green Responds To Jenna Marble’s Slut-Shaming [INTERVIEW]

Alright, kids, let’s talk about sex (cue balloons falling from the ceiling and people cheering in the background). Yes, huzzah, everyone’s favorite topic!

Last month, YouTuber Jenna Marbles released a video that took the YouTube world by storm. In her video, “Things I Don’t Understand about Girls Part 2: SLUT Edition,” Jenna accuses women who have numerous notches on their bed posts as being sluts with no respect for themselves or their bodies. Damn, harsh words.

In response to Jenna’s attack on the female species, Laci Green, host and producer of the YouTube show “Sex +,” came out with a video of her own to define and discuss the ideas behind Jenna’s slut-shaming accusations. Laci created “Sex+” as a YouTube space to discuss and educate people about their bodies, sexuality and sex in her weekly videos. A kind of fairy godmother of sex, Laci’s videos are centered around answering viewers’ questions ranging from topics like losing one’s virginity to female condoms.

Laci began making YouTube videos after her exit from the Mormon church left her feeling isolated from her childhood community. Laci threw herself into the world of peer education when she began attending UC Berkeley and discovered her passion for spreading sexual positivity. In between filming videos for “Sex+,” the Discovery Channel and Planned Parenthood, Laci took the time to sit down with me to talk about her moment of vagina wonder and why it was so important for her to take a stand against one of YouTube’s favorite comics.

How did you get into this unique field of peer sex education?

Laci Green: I was raised in the Mormon Church which, if you know anything about Mormonism, is definitely one of the more sexually restricted religions out there. I had a number of strange experiences in the church that I began talking about on YouTube and started talking about religion in general. I was going to Berkeley and having my own feminist awakening, I guess you could say, and I got tired of talking about religion as an institution and wanted to talk more about social effects. The social effects of it that had taken a hold of my life. I gradually moved into working on “Sex +.” I started with topics that were very close to me and then sort of expanded it to other topics that other people were asking me to talk about and sort of evolved to where it is now.

Are you still a practicing Mormon? I know it’s a pretty strict path: BYU, mission, marriage. How did you choose to divert from that?

No. To be blunt, I was done. I had enough of it and I just left, and it was really isolating which is why I sort of took to the internet. In Mormonism in particular, like you said there is sort of like this set path you go from: you do the church thing, then you go on your mission and then you BYU and it’s in order. They basically make it so that your whole community is within the church, and so when I left, I didn’t really have anyone. That’s why I went online. I was living with my parents at that time but then I moved to the Bay Area and sort of like started my own life out here. Getting into Berkeley was the biggest thing for me, was having a new community that I could be a part of.

What kind of feedback did you get? Were you nervous about showing it to people you were close to?

That’s an interesting question. My family has yet to really acknowledge that I do this for a living. I’ve had a lot of support from friends and peers and people my age. Not so much from the older folks. Well, my mom for the first time like 3 months ago admitted to having watched one of my videos after I had been doing it for 3 or 4 years.

When was your vagina wonder moment?

[laughs] I was involved in this radical feminist sort of cooperative in Berkeley that ran female sexuality programs on campus, and there was this activity where they handed out a speculum, which is that plastic or metal device they use at the gyno to give you exams. In this class they gave everyone their own speculum, and it wasn’t mandatory, but if you wanted they encouraged you to use the speculum and sort of become familiar with your own anatomy on your own terms. And so when I did this assignment, it was the first time I had ever looked at myself. I’d definitely touched myself, but it was the first time I had ever touched myself in an sort of nonsexual way. I started to realize how much I was missing out on. I had basically made it it’s own separate island of a body part instead of something that was incorporated with the rest of my body, and that serves a lot of really important and otherwise awesome functions.

Why was it so important for you to make a video about Jenna Marbles’ “Slut” video, especially because you mentioned how much you look to her as a YouTube voice?

Well, slut-shaming is a really big problem, online and in the world. It was particularly troubling for me when a mover and shaker like Jenna Marbles sends out some sort of negative waves into the community. As soon as that video hit, I got hundreds of emails and tweets and messages about it. People were upset, and they felt victimized by her. People see their favorite YouTuber as a friend, and I was compelled by my audience and I was compelled as a woman. We talk about this stuff online in a more academic way, and I wanted to add to the conversation, especially after reading all the comments and seeing all the ensuing conversation that was happening. It was really upsetting to me.

Why did you want YouTube to be the platform you connected to people on? Why social media rather than the classroom?

I think that social media is where people live. We hang out on the internet, we sort of take to our pet sites — YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, whatever your site may be — and I think that it’s really important to start these conversations where people are hanging out and bring those conversations to a safe online community. It’s a lot easier for people to talk about this stuff online than it is in person. It has a special protective effect now that it is online, and we can kind of explore privately or anonymously if they like. But mostly it’s because so much negative stuff happens online, and I feel like there needs to be some more voices shaping the conversation.

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