To meet Jaime Eisen is to know all about her, because she can’t help but wear her heart on her sleeve. A few things you’ll quickly learn: she’s a twenty-something professional at a small design firm in Toronto, she holds a Master’s degree, and she’s incredibly close with her family. While all of these identifiers might sound typical, there is much more to Jaime’s story than meets the eye. For one, she works part-time as cam girl; camming is a form of online sex work that Jaime describes as ‘a mix between pornography and phone sex.’ She’s not the slightest bit ashamed to talk openly about sex, pleasure, mental health, the politics of sex work, or almost any subject wrought with stigma.
I realized now that my household was unique when it came to topics (like sex, or cannabis) that parents normally shy away from. We talked about things openly.
My first memory of cannabis: I’m 11 or 12 years old, at my grandparents’ house, getting myself a glass of orange juice when I notice a carton of pre-rolled joints in the fridge. When I ask my grandfather about them, he says, “Oh, those are your grandmother’s special cigarettes. They make her feel good!”
Growing up, alcohol and other drugs always felt very separate from cannabis. Weed wasn’t about partying, it was about facilitating connection with other people or with myself, rather than escaping. It wasn’t an all-the-time thing; cannabis was enjoyed in moderation, during extended family vacations or after a celebratory get-together.
Cannabis was never taboo or associated with negative behaviour. We were taught kindness and responsibility — like, don’t drink and drive, make sure you tell your parents where you’re going and what time you’ll be home, but there was trust. The lack of stigma or shame that my parents imposed on topics like sex and cannabis made them both feel safe to explore. They were activities to be treated with respect and intention, but they were never topics that were off limits or seen as experiences that made me unpure or unworthy.
In my adult life, cannabis is something that has helped me with sexual wellness. I was violently assaulted six years ago and when I finally sought treatment three years later, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For me, sexual wellness has become synonymous with “safe sex.” Even when I’m talking about experiencing pleasure on my own, without a partner, feeling safe is something I’ve had to work to get back to. The first step was for me to reconnect with my body.
My therapist at the time recommended that I start using cannabis as a means to quell anxiety. We talked about that sense of connection and safety I had felt with my family through the process of smoking weed, so my therapist suggested perhaps I could develop a healthy relationship like that, with myself.
Sexuality is a huge area for self-discovery. It’s important that we acknowledge our appetite for pleasure and recognize the amount of shame that often surrounds this topic. ”
For me, cannabis has never been about getting high, but instead about creating a sense of calm, comfort, and connection — the feeling of being grounded.
Sexuality is a huge area for self-discovery. It’s important that we acknowledge our appetite for pleasure and recognize the amount of shame that often surrounds this topic. How much happier would be all be if we could bypass that shame and say, “I deserve pleasure, I have desires, I want to feel good”? We could facilitate more open and trusting relationships with our lovers, and in our relationships with ourselves.
I feel lucky that I’m giving myself the space to explore these questions, especially after I felt for so long that any kind of pleasure, and especially sexual pleasure, was something I would never be able to access again. It was something taken from me and now I’m looking to redefine what pleasure means to me, on my terms.
Photography by Angela Lewis
Cannabis (whether it’s CBD lube, or a small joint) is an amazing aid when I want to explore my body and during that time allowed me to see myself as a sexual being in a safe context. There were benefits of cannabis for me emotionally, yes, but physically too. Many people who experience trauma in their bodies also dissociate from their bodies as a form of coping — so I found cannabis really helpful to feel present. I’d take a hit of a joint and feel a mild tingling sensation that allowed me to be in my body in a way that felt good and not scary. I started meditating on that feeling in the body parts that I could access pleasure, like, ‘Okay, I can feel my fingers. I can feel the palms of my hands.’ It took some time to work up to feeling this way about body parts that I didn’t feel belonged to me after the assault. I did the heavy-lifting, the mental and emotional work, but cannabis was a really important aid during that process of healing.
Nox is one of my absolute go-to resources for sexual wellness products and information. Their journal entries are really insightful and full of facts and resources (“Toys After Trauma” is one of my favourites
The Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Women Against Rape provides a 24/7 confidential crisis intervention service. A reminder that sexual assault is any type of non-consensual sexual activity.
Molly-Margaret Johnson aka @whatswrongwithmyvagina brings a sense of honesty, community, and humour to everything she posts, making her page one of my favourite to check on Instagram. She is full of sage advice on everything from dating, to trauma, to self-love, to actual vaginal health.
Dame Products makes some of the most wonderful pleasure products for women and aim to close what they call “the pleasure gap.” I have a lot of fun with their products, but they also encourage me to be more vulnerable and comfortable during sex.