A Q&A with Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry from TLC's “All About Sex”

by Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn

“It’s a kinky conversation,” says Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry of All About Sex, the late night series she co-hosts Saturdays on TLC. Think 30-minutes of The View, only hornier, and with drinking games. “It’s the kind of conversation you’ve been wanting to have all week, and you haven’t had the girlfriends around to have it.”

Viewers can engage with the hosts on-air via Skype or Twitter (@AllAbouSexTLC), and Dr. Tiff – as she’s known by most folks from appearances The Steve Harvey Show and co-hosting ABC’s The Revolution – Tweets her followers @AskDrTiffanie for their burning sex queries.

“Because it’s not just us telling them what they want to hear, but them telling us, ‘This is something I’ve had a question about…,’ so that’s how that conversation’s going to get started.”

Well, we’ve got questions, too. So let’s have at it…

For Harriet: With online dating, more women are exploring polyamorous relationships. But oftentimes men who play the field, don’t trust women who do. How can women stay open in their sexual choices, and not be penalized for being honest about them?

Tiffanie Davis Henry: The worst thing you can do is to put yourself into a relationship where you’re not honoring yourself or your true desires. Women are in a place right now where we are freer, we are learning more about our sexuality, and we’re giving ourselves more permission to try new things. It’s okay to explore. And it’s not just okay for men. I think we both have room for growth and development, and if you understand that you deserve what you want, then have the conversation and let the chips fall where they may. What you may find sometimes is that people aren’t able to give you what you want, and you have to be okay with that, too.

FH: So are men becoming more vulnerable in this area than women?

TDH: That’s an interesting question. Men are definitely more sensitive than we give them credit for, for sure. There are times when women will play to their vulnerabilities and are more open about their vulnerabilities, whereas men will give you more of bravado and deny any vulnerability that they have. But it’s there, for sure. We all have them, and that’s okay.

FH: Within the black community, sex and sexuality are still so stigmatized that women find it difficult to talk to their girlfriends, much less men, for fear of being disparaged.

TDH: We as women can sometimes be our own worst enemy in terms of repressing our sexuality, of dictating sexuality, and what sex should look like for us. For the longest time, I can remember oral sex being something that black people just didn’t do. And then it became, ‘It’s the thing we do, but we don’t talk about it.’ And now it’s, ‘If he doesn’t do that, then I’m leaving!’ So we’ve progressed, but we’ve progressed behind closed doors. We have to bring that out in the open, and really start having those conversations.

FH: You keep saying ‘have the conversation.’ And yet, we can’t even seem to have honest dialogue about mental health…

TDH: That’s a whole ‘nother conversation. Girl! It’s such an important part of our health and well-being, and in our communities, we want to cut off our heads and act like it’s not a part of our body. We’ll treat everything else. But if something is wrong with the head, we’re not going to touch that. With sexuality, it’s interesting—and I don’t think this is unique to us as African Americans. One of the things that happens with therapy, is that when sexual issues show up, that’s what brings people in. What I tend to find is that many of the sexual issues that show up in my office are more of a symptom than the actual problem.

FH: What’s that connection between sexual and mental health?

TDH: So when I see a woman who can’t have an orgasm, or who’s has never had an orgasm, when I start to peel back the layers I find, “You’re really an anxious person, it’s hard for you to relax,” and orgasm is about letting go. What I’m working on with this particularly person is letting go overall. Being able to relax. Letting other people do things, and not trying to control everything. And once you start to work on those types of things you realize that the sexual issue tends to dissipate, and things get better because other areas of your life tend to clear up and be fixed. Sex and the mind and the body, it’s all connected. You can’t fix one without everything.

FH: Generally speaking, talking about what we want sexually is difficult, whether you’re a single woman exploring your options, or a married woman wanting to add some spice in your sex life.

TDH: We want to wait for the perfect time, and the perfect scenario. At a certain point you just have bite the bullet, have the conversation and see where the chips fall. I mean, how sad is it to be in a relationship with someone, and he never knows what it is that you really like sexually? And let’s take sex out of it. What if they never knew what you really liked on your hamburger? Something as simple as that. It’s a hard conversation to have, but certainly it’s when you don’t have it, then we force ourselves to stay in relationships way past their expiration date.

FH: How much of a role do black churches play in our hindrance to fully explore our sexuality and sexual relationships, be they heterosexual, same sex or bisexual?

TDH: I identify as a Christian, and I believe that God loves me no matter what. The way in which we live our lives and carry it forward, and the way we treat others, those things are really, really important. All of us have to come to a point of acceptance and really be honest about who it is that we are, because we’re not going to find true love, we’re not going to find happiness, until we come to terms with that.

For more of Dr. Tiff’s insights about sex and sexuality, tune into All About Sex. It airs Saturdays at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

Photos: Kyle Christy/TLC

Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn is a journalist and co-author of Swirling: How to Date, Mate, and Relate Mixing Race, Culture, and Creed (Atria/Simon & Schuster). She is currently co-writing the indie-feature, Lovers in Their Right Mind, a dramatic comedy exploring the romance between a black woman and an Iranian man. Connect with her on Twitter @JaniceRhoshalle

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