If you really think about it, sex education in America is pretty pathetic. Did you know that, in the US, just 24 states mandate some kind of sex education for K-12 students? And where there is education, that it’s inconsistent, misleading and, in some instances, not required to be medically accurate? And perhaps most shocking of all, that only 9 states require a discussion about consent or sexual assault!? WHAT??? No wonder we lack the basic foundation to make healthy smart decisions for ourselves as we tackle relationships, love and sex.
Danielle Bezalel wants to change all that with her podcast, Sex Ed with DB. She launched the podcast in 2017 after hearing from a rabbi on a field trip that he was okay with his daughters not knowing anything about sex until their wedding night!
Only 26, Danielle’s already accomplished so much. She graduated from UC Berkley with a degree in film and media studies; lived abroad for a year in Israel (where she met the rabbi); worked for a non-profit and then a tech company; and even sings in a band. She’s now in grad school at Columbia, studying to get her master’s in public health – all while pursuing her passion of educating people about sex education.
We sat down with Danielle to get the low-down on what drives her, professionally and personally, and what makes her podcast stand out from the crowd.
What’s the mission of the Sex Ed with DB Podcast?
“We’re a feminist podcast that educates and entertains through intersectional and unique storytelling. By feminist, I mean being inclusive so that all identities – women, non-binary folks, people with different identities – are taken to the front of the conversation, bringing people the sex education they never received. I know ‘intersectional’ is a buzzword these days; what we mean is that queer voices and voices of color are to be elevated so we can share their stories. I also feel particularly strong that, as the host of the show, I allow other voices to be heard.
By addressing important topics through diverse storytelling, we’ve found unique and underserved experiences in this space.”
Why sex education?
“Sex Education is the MOST important thing – even if you’re not a sexually active person. It’s all encompassing! It’s about relationships (all kinds – family, parents, friends, lovers), body-image (how you see yourself or feel about yourself in your own skin), gender and identity (the way you move in the world) and sexual orientation — and how that potentially shifts over time for some people. We’re taught to feel these issues are very private, but they impact all of us.”
What does Sex Ed mean to you?
“Wow, it means so much! It means inclusivity and belonging. It means getting every person medically accurate facts, tools and information to live happy, healthy and pleasurable lives. It’s about not stigmatizing, and making sure folks feel comfortable in their skin. It means not talking about one kind of identity or one kind of sex act, but including all different kinds of sex and identities, including LGBTQ voices. It means we talk about the clitoris, and the fact that sexual assault and rape remain big issues. It means ensuring youth’s voices are heard and that, especially in grades K-12, there is age-appropriate sex education taught and available to empower people to live their best lives. And, something that’s not talked about much, that sex education is a life-long endeavor – from birth until death!”
If you could impart three key things around sex education for readers, what would they be?
“Ha, that’s like a genie granting me three wishes so, of course, I’d wish for more wishes. But, seriously, my top three list would be:
- Consent. Your body is yours, and no one else is allowed to have access to your body unless you give them an enthusiastic ‘yes, means yes’. Consent can also be taken back at any time…it’s reversible. And that with consent and owning your own body comes being comfortable in your own skin. Body image is so important. Getting everyone, especially kids, to feel beautiful and smart and wonderful in their own skin is extremely important.
- Redefining sex. There are so many different kinds of sex and there are so many different ways to have safe sex; penis/vagina sex isn’t the only kind of sex. And with that comes the education around condoms and birth control. And then that comes with some folks not having sex at all and making sure the full spectrum is discussed. There are so may different ways to express sex, love, and intimacy.”
She then chuckles, “there are so many things I want to include, that I’m trying to combine them!”
- “Number 3 would be about pleasure, in general, and that your pleasure is key to everything. Whether you’re in a relationship or sexual experience, these should be pleasurable to you – and not harmful. There are so many different ways to experience pleasure, including self-pleasure. And let’s not forget the orgasm gap. How many of us with clitorises are taught about that part of the anatomy in schools? Zero. It’s a huge disservice!”
What does being a “Babe With The Power” mean to you?
“Wow, that’s so cool. There are a couple of things that come to mind.
First, acknowledging the fact that there are very clear power dynamics in our society and it’s usually straight white cis gender men typically having power. And then, structurally and historically, people of color, disabled and queer people don’t have, or haven’t been given, power. So, it’s important to me to speak to this whenever I’m given a platform. I want to encourage other voices to be heard or acknowledged – for anyone who is marginalized or systemically disempowered.
And then second, and more personally, it’s about being really comfortable and confident in who I am. To be able to fulfill my dreams, and to know that the luck and privilege of my upbringing and those circumstances, in conjunction with my hard work and drive, all work in co-hoots to allow me to be in this lucky position.”
On a lighter note, I’ve read you had a band and you love to sing. What are you listening to these days?
“The Hamilton soundtrack is always on. I also listen to a lot of podcasts. And well, my guilty pleasure is Post Malone.” And then she checks out her Spotify for her recently played. “Always a good Beyonce, and I’m obsessed with Lizzo, plus I’m also listening to Ben Platt’s new music. I’ve always loved broadway shows ever since I was a little kid.”
Who would your dream podcast guest be?
“Honestly, right now, I think Lizzo. She has so much to say about being proud of yourself and being comfortable in your own body – it’s just so important to see and hear these days.”
Do you have a mantra?
“Always leave room for dessert! I have a big sweet tooth – chocolate and tiramisu are my weaknesses! There’s also this really awesome quote that I learned in college from Rabbi Hillel the Elder – ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And, if not now, when?’ That just encompasses so much for me – why I do what I want to do, and that I need to push for things to happen.”
What’s next for you?
“I need to wrap Season 3 of the podcast, and then get Season 4 up and running next year. I’m looking forward to graduating next May with my MPH. I’d love to work with kids and create a sex education curriculum. Ideally, I’d work with technology and other mediums that will allow me to express myself and my work creatively.”
Like I said, she wants to change the world, and she wants to do it her way – now! That is definitely a Power Babe!
Danielle Bezalel is the Creator, Producer, and Host of The Sex Ed with DB Podcast. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Sound Cloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. Check them out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.