Alexis

“I project confidence.”

Name?

Alexis McDonald.

Where did you grow up?

London, Canada about two hours southwest of Toronto.

Were you brought up religiously/secularly/other?

I was brought up Catholic and attended Mass every Sunday. Now my family is more what I would call ‘Culturally Catholic’ as my mother and I both have issues with the way woman are viewed and treated in the church. I loved going to church as a child. It sparked my interest in music and theatre. I am to this day very spiritual.

Was there turbulence throughout your childhood/adolescence?

My brother is autistic and that was difficult to deal with as a child. He was often bullied and I too was bullied but our home was a safe space with loving parents.

"Growing up Catholic I was taught sex was meant to be explored in the confines of marriage. I knew that it was something I wanted to experience before marriage. And rhetoric also dictated that bisexuality was ‘wrong’ so I had to come to a place of acceptance about what I wanted and what I believed to be right and moral." -Alexis Photo by Jennifer Toole

“Growing up Catholic I was taught sex was meant to be explored in the confines of marriage. I knew that it was something I wanted to experience before marriage. And rhetoric also dictated that bisexuality was ‘wrong’ so I had to come to a place of acceptance about what I wanted and what I believed to be right and moral.” -Alexis
Photo by Jennifer Toole

Were you ever embarrassed about your development/puberty? If so why?

I developed one C cup breast and one A cup breast. I had to wear a prosthetic to even them out under a blouse and had to be careful to not reveal the discrepancy when changing around other girls my age. I have since had plastic surgery to even them out.

Can you remember any key moments in your formative years that shaped you?

Having an autistic brother had a profound effect on me. It taught me to be patient. Our friendship also nurtured my desire to teach and entertain. My brother was a built-in audience for me. I remember one day setting him up alongside an audience of stuffed animals and putting on a concert for him. He clapped and cheered and I knew I wanted to be a performer.

Any that shaped your perspective of women?

I grew up with very strong women in my life. My one grandma’s story always captivated me. I learned very early on that she had lost her mother at an early age. Her second child was a stillbirth and her husband passed away when she was in her early 40s. I was inspired by her ability to persevere and at the same time was saddened at how she kept her tragedies close to herself. I only knew the details of her life through my father. It created a very complex perception of women and how they handle challenges.

Of sexuality?

Discovering masturbation.

When did you become aware of your gender?

When I was in kindergarten my mother told me I could invite any six girls from my class to my birthday party. I wondered why not boys. I felt a divide for the first time.

When did you become aware of your own sexuality, were there any key moments?

I was twelve when I first started masturbating. I was in the tub cleaning myself when I discovered my clitoris and realized it felt good to touch it. I started taking a lot of baths! (laughs)

What, if any, are the obstacles you’ve overcome on your path to womanhood?

From a physical perspective my asymmetrical breast situation made me very self-conscious about my body. From a mental standpoint, I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and I had to ride the wave of manic depression before getting properly medicated. From a spiritual perspective I had to reconcile my religious upbringing and my beliefs in the way I wished to live my life.

Have you ever struggled with your sexuality?

I’m not sure I’d call it a struggle. I realized fairly early on that I was sexually attracted to both men and woman. I didn’t have a name for it at first, but once I learned about bisexuality I identified with that.

Have you ever been embarrassed, burdened or ashamed of your sexuality? If so why?

Growing up Catholic I was taught sex was meant to be explored in the confines of marriage. I knew that it was something I wanted to experience before marriage. And rhetoric also dictated that bisexuality was ‘wrong’ so I had to come to a place of acceptance about what I wanted and what I believed to be right and moral.

What is the image you think you project every day?

I think people think I am a confident and somewhat attractive woman, but low maintenance when it comes to grooming myself.

How would you describe your personal experience, existing in the way you do, each day?

I feel I have a lot of privileges being an educated, well-spoken, literate and somewhat attractive woman and feel like it affords me a lot of opportunity.

What is the image you would like to project?

I am glad that I project confidence and attractiveness. I am happy with this projection. The truth is I don’t always feel confident or attractive, but I am a performer and can hide behind this persona on my worst day!

"I think all too often women make apologies for who they are." -Alexis Photo by Jennifer Toole

“I think all too often women make apologies for who they are.” -Alexis
Photo by Jennifer Toole

What do you think the image other people perceive is?

I think people think I never feel insecure or unattractive, which is an impossible ideal.

What is your political stance on women’s reproductive rights?

I think ultimately a woman is in charge of her reproductive rights, but I think the men in their lives should be considered in decision making.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice?

I am pro-choice, but I think preventative contraception should be exercised when at all possible.

What are your feelings about contraceptives? Their availability, cost, stigma, usage?

In Canada we are very lucky. Many free birth control options are available by visiting doctors and clinics. I think all young women should be practicing contraception if they do not want to reproduce at any given time. Birth control options should be taught in school.

I am at a real peace over what is right for me.

What are your feelings on casual sex?

As long as you and your partners are all taking care of your (and their) sexual health I don’t have any objections to casual sex for others or me.

Are you in a relationship(s)?

Yes, I am engaged to a wonderful man in a monogamous relationship.

What are your feelings on marriage?

I don’t think marriage is for everyone.

What are your most positive relationships with other women?

Because of my sexual attraction to women, it has made connecting to women challenging, but no more than connecting to men on a platonic level is. I have a positive relationship with my mother, grandmother, my aunts, a few close cousins and girlfriends and my soon-to-be sisters-in-law.

What are your negative?

I had a traumatizing relationship with a former female boss that bordered on abusive.

What does the word ‘woman’ mean to you?

The first two words that come to mind are ‘beautiful’ and ‘mother’…not necessarily a biological mother role. I think women are very motherly in all senses, to others and to the earth.

What are your feelings on monogamy?

I think it is difficult but something I strive for because I believe it creates intimacy, not unparalleled intimacy but the intimacy I so crave.

On polyamory?

I think it works for some people and shouldn’t be taboo.

Do you feel your choice to participate or not participate in consensual sex is at all affected by societal influence?

I honestly feel I could confidently be in any type of relationship without societal pressure. I am at real peace over what is right for me not being influenced by negative energy.

How do you feel about products marketed to women?

I think our vanity is appealed to more than our actual requirements. We are sold an unrealistic perfect aesthetic.

How do you feel about feminine hygiene products’ portrayal in the media?

Well, I mean, we need those products, but I feel a little manipulated by the ads that I should feel ashamed of a natural thing. Not cool!

"I think our vanity is appealed to more than our actual requirements. We are sold an unrealistic perfect aesthetic." -Alexis Photo by Jennifer Toole

“I think our vanity is appealed to more than our actual requirements. We are sold an unrealistic aesthetic.” -Alexis
Photo by Jennifer Toole

Were you always aware of what your body could do sexually & mechanically?

No, it was an evolution of discovery.

Do you feel your sexual education was sufficient?

Not in school. It took many talks with my mother and a lot of reading on my own part to really educate myself.

If not, what would you have done to make it so?

I think sexual education needs to be more thorough in our school systems and I think the stigma of masturbation being a negative activity needs to be lifted through frank discussion with young people.

Where do you feel unsafe as a woman?

Any isolated place.

Where is somewhere you can exist without fear?

My home.

Do women treat you differently than men?

Depends if there is sexual attraction or not. If someone, male or female, is attracted to me I think it makes our ability to connect platonically more difficult.

In what ways does being a woman make you vulnerable or exposed?

I’m not a very physically strong person so I feel that I could easily be assaulted, sexually or physically.

Would you consider yourself a feminist?

Yes.

How do you define feminism?

I believe feminism is being a person who believes in equality between the sexes.

What do you think are positive ways the world views women?

As nurturers, strong, care givers, performers.

What are negative?

As controllers, weak, manipulators and performers…. I think gender is very performative. Both males and females perform roles and I think ‘the world’ often judges both men and women on how well they perform these roles.

"I hope I can make other women feel beautiful and confident about their bodies as well as their beliefs." -Alexis Photo by Jennifer Toole

“I hope I can make other women feel beautiful and confident about their bodies as well as their beliefs.” -Alexis
Photo by Jennifer Toole

Do you think the world’s perception of women limits or benefits them?

I think that women need to define what being a woman means to them and if anything any limitations ‘the world’ puts on them can only serve to make them break through those preconceived notions.

What is your relationship to sex?

Positive.

What does a sexual relationship mean to you?

A relationship where physical intimacy is given or shared.

Have you found a balance of fulfillment with your partners?

With some yes, with others no.

Do you feel that your desires are marginalized in the bedroom or are less important, if so why do you think that is?

You have to remember I’ve agreed to marry the man. I’ve found a partner who respects my desires and who equally strives to please me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be marrying him. Have I felt marginalized in the past? For sure. There’s a reason those relationships didn’t work out!

Are you fearful of being openly sexual for fear of judgement?

No.

Have you ever been in a position where your sexuality was used against you?

The assumption that being bisexual means I will do a three-way with just anyone was an interesting assumption of one of my male partners.

Have you ever been physically or verbally threatened because of your appearance?

When I was at my heaviest, I was all dolled up for a job interview and a car full of men drove by. One screamed out the window ‘Hey fatty, why do you even try to look good at that size?!’ It was a very hurtful experience.

When you imagine sex, what is the visual/feeling you associate with it?

Tingling warmth.

What are your feelings on sex work(ers)?

It’s a profession that will always be around. Not something I would do or solicit but I don’t judge those who do it or use it.

Is sex empowering for you?

Absolutely. I like knowing I’m bringing pleasure to another while also deriving it myself. It’s the ultimate!

Is sex embarrassing for you to discuss?

No, I find it fascinating.

What do you seek through sex?

Intimacy. Empowerment. Pleasure.

Is there anyone in your world you undermine your principles for?

My grandma. I’ve never told her I am bisexual. It feels dishonest but she’s of another era and I feel she wouldn’t understand.

In which situations do you feel safe to speak your mind/stand up for yourself?

In most social situations but I do have issues with authority. I don’t tend to speak my mind at work or with employers.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think all too often women make apologies for who they are. I am determined to live as honestly as possible and nothing is more honest for me than participating in this project and baring all, especially not being a typical woman depicted in the media. I hope I can make other women feel beautiful and confident about their bodies as well as their beliefs. ~