Sex Gets Real Episode 125: Karen BK Chan on kindness and the masks we wear

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Sometimes I get intimidated or nervous about speaking with a guest. Other times I feel excited to dig in with a colleague or friend. But this week? The only word I had was delight.

Karen BK Chan delights me with her words and thoughts and ideas. The way she questions our cultural stories and makes sense of them astounds me. I could listen to her talk for hours, honestly.

So, when she agreed to come on the show, I didn’t know what to do with myself. How do you talk about all the things when you only have an hour?

We go deep in this episode. Where we start off talking about kindness and consent, we quickly end up eyeball deep in discussions around the masks we wear to protect ourselves from rejection and being consent violators ourselves and finding those places within ourselves that are invested in perpetuating our stories about who we are.

From rejection and emotional intelligence to a new approach to consent and digging into rape fantasies, it’s a packed show that left me brain boner-ing for days.

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In this episode, Karen BK Chan and Dawn talk about:

  • BK’s version of teaching consent, which is pretty extraordinary. Norms and expectations are changing, but consent education hasn’t gotten to a place where it’s doing what it’s supposed to do.
  • Acknowledging that all of us have the potential to violate someone’s consent, and in fact many of us have. It may not be sexual in nature, but we have all crossed someone’s boundaries at some point. So, how can we be less about painting people as evil and more about doing better as we look ahead while also holding space for the trauma?
  • Why sometimes BK feels like she is selling goods that people have not asked for in trying to change the cultural narrative around romance, sex, relationships, and consent. When you are so entrenched in the cultural narrative of how sex and relationships happen, based on what you see in Hollywood and the media, it can feel really foreign and threatening for an educator to come in and say there’s a different way to move through life.
  • Rejection resilience and how to get better at tolerating rejection. BK shares how if someone cannot stomach the possibility of rejection, they’re very likely to violate consent because they will avoid the possibility of rejection at all costs. So what can we do? BK explains some basics about emotional intelligence which helps cultivate resilience of all uncomfortable emotions.
  • Desirability being part of capitalism and how we’re being sold on a certain version of worthiness and lovability which then drives our beliefs and behaviors around rejection and sex.
  • How we are all invested in different stories we tell ourselves about who we are, and we will lie, cheat, and make poor choices in order to ensure those stories stay true.
  • A listener question from Natalie on how to talk to her wife about sex. Her wife always gives her tons of orgasms, but never cums herself. Natalie needs help in how to talk to her about that. BK and I dig in.
  • The difference between talking about sex and talking about sex between two specific people and why starting with one is less scary than starting with the other.
  • Pushing your partner into scary places and why Dawn thinks that is so yummy.
  • Rape fantasies – why they’re intriguing and why sadists get pleasure from other people’s pain.

Resources discussed in this episode

BK’s Jam video on YouTube

About Karen BK Chan

Karen BK Chan, sex educator, joins Sex Gets Real this week to talk emotional intelligence, rape fantasies, and so much more.Karen B. K. Chan is a sex and emotional literacy educator in Toronto. She has taught sex education and emotional literacy for 18+ years. Karen (aka BK) is dedicated to sex education that is plainly spoken, emotionally honest, and grounded in justice.

Known for her accessible style and easy sense of humour, BK speaks internationally in classrooms and at conferences, to children, parents, and professionals. BK integrates curriculum content into stories, and theory into practice.

Her 5-minute YouTube video “Jam” (which likens sexual experience to musical jamming) is used as a teaching resource internationally, and her chapter on sex and creative play was part of the AASECT Book of the Year in 2014. BK’s writing has appeared in publications like Sexology International, the Tete-a-Tete,, and national education manuals. In 2014, BK was named “Service Provider of the Year” by Planned Parenthood of Toronto for her work in sexual health.

You can find BK over at and on Twitter @karenbkchan.

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  • Dawn
  • September 4, 2016