Shannon T. Boodram is a published author, photographer and journalist. This Canada native is known for her free spirit and ability to push issues that need to be discussed. From her book Laid: Young peoples experiences with Sex in a easy access culture, to the blog she runs with Andrea Lewis ThoseGirlsAreWild.com which is meant to empower young women, Boodram is a trailblazer and the definition of a Bauce. Get to know this budding storyteller in Part one of our interview below.
For our readers who might be unfamiliar with you could you describe yourself professionally and speak on exactly what it is that you do?
I think I would describe myself as a storyteller. I graduated from Centennial College for Journalism and I literally do all different types of journalism. I do Photography, I write, and I do T.V. I’m on a show called Daytime Toronto and then through writing I write for a few Toronto style magazines. For photography I own my own business I’m a freelance Photographer but by large I love to tell stories whether that’s through pictures, writing, or through voicing it and ThoseGirlsAreWild.com is also an extension of all that living life out loud, sharing stories, relating to people, being a community servant in terms of how people relate to other people and relating to other people through my own work.
I understand what you mean people relate to things in different ways, you know how they say people learn differently through visual or listening so it’s kinda like you get to tell the story but from different perspectives so everybody gets to understand it.
Yes exactly! because I don’t like being called a Jane of all trade I feel like everything I do is connected in some way thank you for that!
(laughs) You’re welcome! You’re also a published author Lets talk about your Book Laid: Young Peoples Experiences with Sex in an Easy Access Culture. Why did you feel it was important to explore this subject?
Personally for me I had a very negative teen sexual experience I lost my virginity at 16 to somebody I hadn’t met and by the time that I was 20 right out of my teens I’d had 6 partners, and since then I’ve had like two. I just had a lot of misinformation as most teens do. It’s a very new part of your life, your hormones are raging, it’s being thrown at you, you don’t know how to be around it so I was almost obsessed with learning more and trying to figure it out and how it would effect me in my life but unfortunately the things that I grabbed a hold of in terms of educating myself were visual like music videos, and books like Coldest Winter Ever, and Porn which is available, or stories from friends so I formulated this whole misguided misinformed sexual lifestyle and I got myself into all these situations that were not beneficial to me physically, emotionally, or even health wise so when I went away to school in Baltimore for a track scholarship I was among a group of girls all the time because we trained together, ate together, went to track meets together and we started to share stories, and I found that before when I use to talk with groups of my friends it was in a very superficial way usually it was lies like I don’t really care if he calls it doesn’t bother me, or yeah it was great last night when really when really I was like dead on a bed for three hours, so the group of girls I had we started having these really honest conversations and sharing these experiences and stories their was this girl I met who was 18 and HIV positive, ones who didn’t find sex satisfying but were still going through the motions, so it was this sense that you’re not alone in this and I felt confident enough to start reaching out for actual factual forms of education so went to books and the library and education websites. Before, I just felt like this is what it is and there’s nothing different but once I realized other people where going through the same struggles I knew their was something different out there.
So much power can be held when you do have knowledge, but to be a young person and to seek out knowledge I think is a lot to ask of especially when you’re already provide with so much information about sex you’re not under the impression that you need more. I didn’t go to my parents for more information because in my head I pretty much already had it figured out. So I wanted to have a form of education that was sort of a combination of the salaciousness that the media sells which is you know the interesting stories, and the juice. The problem with sex ed is that it skips all the good parts it will just tell you the aftermath. Tt will tell you the precautions but it won’t tell you in a way you can relate to it, or feel it, or want to relate to it or want to read it. What I did experience at school is that the truth is interesting, the truth has value, and it’s something you want to talk about and want to here about, so that’s what inspired Laid, Laid is just a group of people 18-25 who shared sexual experiences they had in their teens that they believe others can learn from and I asked them to write their stories as though they were talking to their best friend so it has all of the juice all of the details but it has all of the honest drama that happens afterwards you’re not gonna get a very narrow view of the experience you’re gonna get start to finish what went down.
Okay so it’s sort of a honest human form of all the information that you might have learned but with all the human emotions and experiences attached?:
Yes exactly and in the book to I tried to balance it, their’s chapters introductions and endings. I had a Q&A period with people, i didn’t want them lecturing in their stories so just in case you read something and you’re like what is that at the end of each chapter if you didn’t understand what something was like date rape for example it was explained later on in a more educational way
What responses have you gotten from young people about the book both positive and negative?
The funny thing about it is when I started the book I started with a website and my mother saw that and she was livid and crying she was like people are going to think you’re a whore and honestly before my book actually came out nobody had said it was good. I never had any good honest opinions so I was terrified before publications because I didn’t know how people were going to receive this, am I going to be labeled as this dirty girl am I going to be view as somebody who’s pushing something onto teens that they’re not ready for? I didn’t really know but I never literally got one bad response afterwards and I can say that with confidence. Most people will come up to me and share experiences or someone would come up to me and talk about a situation that wasn’t coessential that happened. The best response I got were in terms of date rape and rape, the stats around that are 80% of people know their attackers so we have to understand that rape is not some masked man dragging you into a van type of thing it’s a very personal thing that happens and it can be damaging and the only way to understand it I think is to really read about it first hand and you see it from a different perspective
I think that’s a great aspect of the book it allows people to really see they aren’t alone in their experiences. But you were speaking about not wanting to be labeled when you put the book out. You’re book was published when you were 23 which is already a great accomplishment, was it hard to get publishers to take you seriously?
I think at the time my age was a selling factor. 18-25. The problem with any first time anything you know the same with a record deal for an artist, a lot of publishing houses say you have to have a publishing history before you even approach us, well how do I get a book published if you won’t take non-published writers? So it literally took from age 19 to 23 to get a book deal and if it wasn’t for having an agent and keep on plugging it would never have happened it’s really an industry that takes a lot of thick skin. I don’t think age was my set back I think my major set back was not having a publishing history that’s why I say to people who are young writers you don’t write a book now in hopes of getting it published next week you write a book now in hopes of getting it published in 5 year so it’s best to start now.
What are some other topics you feel young people don’t discuss enough and should be talking about?Sex is the major one for me because it’s not discussed in an honest factual way even if I’m now talking to guys I know about sex or anatomy it becomes uncomfortable like thanks for the lesson why do we have to only talk about it like uh yeah why can’t we have a honest discussion that provides you with information that’s effective and useful not just the pornographic movies related conversations of it, young people sort of base their conversations too much around how they play out on t.v. verses the way you actually feel so to have a honest conversation about things that really matter to you see that’s what at ThoseGirlsAreWild we really to promote just talking about things people usually don’t talk about and being upfront an honest on subjects that we usually want to make it seem like we’re perfect on because everybody craves those conversations but somebody has to start them.
Yeah I would definently agree, but speaking of ThoseGirlsAreWild How did you and Andrea come up with the concept to do ThoseGirlsAreWild?
It was totally random it was like literally at the time we did the blog everybody in our city of Toronto was doing websites and blogs so some of these people where really popular because of their blog and we were like all these people are not as cool as us (laughs) we’re way cooler we should start our own and that’s literally how it formed and the title ThoseGIrlsAreWild we were just playing around with inside jokes that we had. We mean wild as in sweaty armpit high five sort of not cognoscent of other humans in the vicinity so we ran with that name. The name is a blessing and a curse.
I remember a while ago you and Andrea started these journey to success videos On your YouTube channel for ThoseGirlsAreWild are you all going to continue those and when can we expect them and when can we expect some more because I lived for those?
Oh the journey To’s! you know what’s crazy those don’t really get a lot of views that’s the crazy thing about YouTube sometimes and it shouldn’t be like that you know you sometimes focus on what gives you the most payout but we loved doing those so yeah this is great reinforcement I really should do one again especially now that I’m at the weirdest place in my life right now so it would be a really great time to be honest.
Check back for part 2 where Shannon gives advice on balance, branding yourself, and her opinion on some hot button issues facing young women today. Until then take a look at her video resume’ to get a glimpse of the 25 year old in action. Keep up with her on Twitter: @shannontboodram.