For Marie Dunn, author and New York City social worker, talking to women about sex is paramount, stating that it raises the awareness of an important subject matter that is still taboo in many countries, including Jamaica, where she was born.
“I seem to ruminate and read about sex more than I engage in the act,” writes Dunn in the preface of her newly released book of over 100 short, steamy poems titled “Tease: An Anthology of Erotic Poems.”
Published under her pseudo name, Toya J, Dunn said she wrote the anthology to help women boost their self-confidence while becoming comfortable with their sexuality.
“Tease was written to be a resource and inspiration,” she said. “Women are often tethered to a fence when it comes to their sexuality and owning their sexual pleasure.
“We live in an oversexed society, yet some are still so in the dark, particularly on the joys,” she added. “Some are still afraid to mention the word sex openly.
“I believe the way we interact with sex is affected by our socialization, norms and cultural messages received,” Dunn continued. “As such, we should take the time to understand sex, develop self-confidence and be open to new experiences with your partner.”
She told Caribbean Life on Tuesday that “Tease” was intentionally launched during the Month of April (4/17/21), because “April is such a symbolic month.”
“April is National Sexual Assault Awareness and Poetry Month,” Dunn said. “’Tease’ was written to raise awareness, to improve people’s attitude towards sex that is still a taboo.
“We live in an oversexed society, yet some are still so in the dark, particularly on the joys,” she stressed. “Some are still afraid to mention the word sex openly. People are still blushing when I explain the contents of ‘Tease’.
“I believe what I like to call the ‘double-exposure’ of sex is stifling,” Dunn added. “’Double-exposure’ of sex is our being overexposed to the temptation of physical sex while simultaneously being underexposed to its spiritual beauty.”
Dunn said “Tease” was “custom-made” for women age 25-55, “specifically, women who have had fun with sex or have not experienced their best sex because emotional restrictions hold them back.
“Tease’ was designed to raise sexual awareness, remind women that they have agency over their bodies, and empower women and their lovers to engage in the deep exploration of the intimate self,” she said.
Dunn said her overall mission is to develop a “Bold Series”, which includes “Tease”, to provide “formal education programs” that can be implemented in schools, youth programs and shelters in the US and Jamaica.
Born and raised in the Parish of St. Ann in Jamaica and currently residing in New York City, Dunn said that, in reflection, her parents sheltered her.
“My parents instilled values and morals in me; they loved me unconditionally,” she said. “However, the Jamaican culture, religious beliefs and family norms influenced the publication of my prior book, ‘Bold Her Liberation’ and now ‘Tease.’
“The Jamaican culture cuddles sexual activity,” she added. “In essence, it is flooded with sexuality evidenced in our music industry, dance. Even the media covertly and unambiguously showcases and references sexual behaviors.
“On the other hand, sex is almost condemned; sex is still taboo to some folks,” Dunn continued. “There is narrow-mindedness for sex.
“Thinking about the differential gender-specific standards surrounding sex lends to a further state of unawareness,” she said. “Furthermore, there is such a high level of sexual activity and pregnancy among adolescents in Jamaica. The negative and mixed messages regarding sex, I believe, contribute to the confusion and misuse of sex.”
As a social worker, Dunn said she promotes intervention for families, and has a successful track record in coaching and training, team building, and conflict resolution.
She also works in planning needs assessment, change management, strengths-based assessments and programming for under-served communities.
Her educational background includes a Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University, Bachelor of Science in English Literature from Mercy College and an AAS in Paralegal Studies from Westchester Community College.
She also has certification in Developing Leaders Program from Columbia University, and Solutions-Based Casework and Parenting Journey 1 Facilitator Certification.
In 2018, Dunn said she started a publishing company, Bold Flamingo Publishing.
She self-published her first book of poetry in 2019 under the pseudo name, Toya J. A year later, she published an inspirational journal.
As a philanthropist, Dunn said she volunteers with other nonprofits, such as Focus Forward Project, working as a facilitator of a life skills program in the federal jail in New York City.
She is the founder and host of BlackXChange Korner, which focuses on empowerment, support and promoting cohesiveness among African Americans.
On publishing “Tease”, Dunn said: “I feel a sense of relief, joy, liberation, intense excitement. I feel empowered.
“I boldly followed my instincts and did not allow the negative chatter, judgments and stigmas to deter me from publishing my artistic erotic publication,” she said.
“’Tease’ is instructional, fun and sexy,” she added. “I hope that folks will read beyond the erotic content and consider the themes of sex, feminism, self-awareness.
“I have no regrets,” Dunn affirmed. “’Tease’ is a thought-provoking adventure from foreplay to resolution. ‘Tease’ increases the blood flow to your soon-to-be happiest places.”
As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Dunn said her “Bold Series”, including “Tease”, “provided positive mental health support for me during some of my darkest moments.”
“Tease: An Anthology of Erotic Poems” is available on Amazon.
Dunn can be reached on Instagram at @iam_mariedunn.