“Welcome to Something Private, a podcast about everything related to the vagina.”
That’s a typical opening line in Nicole Lim’s weekly podcast on women’s sexual health. The 24-year-old Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information graduate released her first episode of Something Private in August 2019 and hasn’t looked back since.
Nicole produces and hosts her own podcasts, which zoom in on bold topics including masturbation, polyamarous relationships and her own sexual experiences. She’s also collaborated with YouTuber Preeti Nair (aka Preetipls), the Randomly Relatable SG team and others in the past year.
How She Started
While Nicole’s always keen to talk about topics on female health, it wasn’t until her friend’s sexual health scare in early 2019 that inspired her to start the podcast.
Her friend was tested positive for a sexually-transmitted infection (STI) after having sex for the first time. While Nicole accompanied her friend to the hospital for checkup, she’s frustrated that she didn’t know what to say to comfort her friend.
“It felt very lousy to not be able to support my friend through a difficult time,” Nicole said. “It just looked really ignorant and foolish of us – a bunch of 20-something-year-olds who didn’t know about our sexual health even though we’re educated,” she adds.
This incident prompted her to explore the use of podcasts to encourage people to have an open and honest conversation about female sexual health. After graduating from NTU, she joined local production house Our Grandfather Story to start the podcasting arm and has since been putting up new episodes every Tuesday on multiple streaming platforms like Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher and Apple Podcast.
After starting her podcast, Nicole finds that she’s able to talk more frankly about sexual health with her parents and even challenge their perspectives. For example, her mother used to tell her to hide her sanitary pads from her father’s sight as it’s “disrespectful”.
“I do agree that [used pads] are dirty and that it is unhygienic for someone to see my blood,” Nicole says. However, she doesn’t see why she has to be so secretive about a personal care product.
Her podcast has in a way helped her parents understand her perspectives better. They’re also supportive of her career.
Taboos in Society
As to why topics such as polyamarous relationships are “hush-hush” in the first place, Nicole thinks it’s because such lifestyle choices “clash with traditional Asian values”.
In one of the episodes titled “To Love Two Men at Once”, Nicole’s interviewee Jojo, whom she met through a mutual friend, shared how she’s in a polyamarous relationship with two men. It’s a lifestyle that is sometimes frowned upon as it’s seen as sexually promiscuous.
“Nobody grew up being told that it’s okay to have multiple sex partners…it goes against this whole idea of a family unit.”
While those lead alternative lifestyles may fear being judged for opening up, Nicole notes that many people also shy away from talking about menstruation and masturbation, and they have no reason to do so.
She hopes that her listeners will be able to lead conversations about such sexual health topics in their own social circles.
With a new studio and set, Something Private will complement some of its future podcasts with YouTube videos.
Nicole says it’s going to be harder for most interviewees to share about these sensitive topics on camera.
“We would have to be a little more creative with how we film but I really think it’s about cherry-picking your interviewees,” she says.
Nicole does a lot of research before picking her interviewees, looking at not only their credentials but also whether or not the person is personable and relatable to the audience.
“It might be a bit of a challenge, but it really boils down to cherry-picking the correct people to come on to the show,” she says.