For this week’s #JustLikeYou column, where we interview all types of different women who are #JustLikeYou, we had a little chat with Yanyie: Kinkraise founder, sustainability advocate, and freelance marketer. Yanyie shares her journey growing up as a third cultured kid, why she started Kinkraise, and how her upbringing has influenced her understanding of sexual wellness.
🎧 If you'd like to tune in instead of reading:
Video Interview with Yanyie
Podcast with Yanyie
Hi Yanyie! Welcome To The Oh Collective Just Like You Series! Can you tell our readers and listeners a little bit about yourself?
I was born and raised in a small village in Germany with my dad from Vietnam and mom from Malaysia. Both my parents are ethnically Chinese. I’ve been living in Shanghai for more than 9 years now working as a freelancer in the event and advertising industry. 4 years ago, I had an epiphany where I became more aware of the current state of our planet and started my journey and interest in sustainability. Since then, I co-founded a sustainability platform and after that I’ve been looking for fun ways to raise awareness!
Wow. You’re so diverse and multicultural with a mix of third culture upbringing! How did it feel for you growing up and what did you identify as?
Growing up, my identity had always been a big question for me like “Where do I belong?”. When I was younger, I was always looking for that sense of belonging. By getting older, I am starting to feel proud and feel lucky that I have such diverse cultural backgrounds because it taught me to see things from different perspectives. In terms of my gender identity, I think I’m quite hetero. Although being hetero, I am curious to try things out with girls. What’s funny is that I have been dreaming about having sex with girls but I’ve never actually had one in real life! *maybe it’s a hint to try in real life!*
Growing up in Germany and now living in Shanghai for over 8 years you definitely have all a broad spectrum of different cultural insights and experiences. Can you share a little on how you grew up and got in touch with intimacy, sex, and relationships?
Growing up in a Chinese family, sex and intimacy were never a topic. It created a lot of conflict in the family because what I learned at home and what I learned outside from friends, school, and TV were the polar opposites.
Germany is such an open country where sex is a highly accepted topic and my friends had sex at a young age and for instance had boyfriends staying overnight at their homes. Back then, my parents didn’t allow any of that! My parents believed that since I am a girl I had to “maintain and preserve myself. ” My mom used to tell me “You want to be silk, not cotton.”
I received most of my ‘knowledge’ of sex through what I hear and talk about with friends. My first sex education class was in fourth grade. Also, in Germany there were enough sex programs on TV post 10pm! So I was exposed at a young age and I have always been super curious about it. With masturbation, I already knew it felt good to masturbate before understanding what the word actually meant. It might’ve been in kindergarten already actually.. I knew it felt good, and it made me fall asleep quickly.
Did your parents ever catch you masturbating?
Do you talk to your parents about sex and intimacy?
Not with my dad but sometimes with my mom. I tell her how sex is important. But usually the conversation dies there. I think our Asian parents feel very awkward once we hit the topic of sex and intimacy. Not even just talking about it but even a slight touch of your parents or hugging your parents is already a lot for them!
Funny story, when I was young, I asked my mom “Why do women scream when they’re having sex with men?” She answered “because it hurts very much, so don’t do it.” She would say these things to scare me off from doing it.
Can you tell us a little bit about Kinkraise? Why and what inspired you to start it?
Kinkraise started from a birthday party. Fundraising for causes had been a big thing for me a couple of birthdays before, so instead of asking friends to give gifts, I would ask them to help fundraise for a cause we liked. For that birthday we wanted to raise money for an organization that plants trees in China to battle climate change so we began brainstorming for a theme.
That same year I went to a club called KitKat in Berlin. It’s a sex club where they have many different rooms, most people are naked and the environment was extremely open and sex positive. It was eye opening for me because I was exposed to so much nudity and sexual freedom- I saw so much sex and different kinks. Everyone was just open to do anything they wanted sexually and non-sexually. Everyone was so confident and so comfortable to express themselves in any way they liked and not feel judged.
That experience inspired the theme of our birthday fundraiser! Of course, in Shanghai we can’t do exactly the same as in KitKat but we create an environment where people can show off their body and feel good about it. It was that feeling of safety, comfort, and a non-judgement environment we wanted to recreate. 90% of attendees came dressed in their own interpretation of kink and more guys came in high heels than women!
The first party turned out to be a success and that’s how Kinkraise came to be. For me, the most important element is still fundraising and raising awareness for different causes in China. The other important part would be creating a safe environment of freedom of expression with creative costumes!
(This was the amount from one of the events. They have now raised ¥51,000!)
Do you see people in China interested in Kinkraise? What about the Gen-Z community?
Definitely! There are already parties that promote kink and freedom of expression across different places. Once more people are exposed to these environments, they will understand that they also can freely express themselves.
The kink community is also a very respectful one. For example, sometimes I feel less safe going to a ‘regular party’ because there aren’t any “underlying rules” or they are not respected as much as in the kink community. In the kink community you first have to have or give “consent” before doing anything or saying anything to anyone. There’s a process behind it. Understanding each other’s consent and boundaries is incredibly important because you’re pushing barriers of each other’s space.
We also started to prohibit people from taking photos at our parties. With that, I saw even more freedom of expression and people just doing what they wanted and what they liked instead of being afraid of what was being captured.
So Yanyie, you were raised in Germany and grew up as a third culture kid similar to us. You’ve experienced a lot from a sexual wellness perspective and you have been organizing Kinkraise now for a period. How has your view on sexuality changed versus when you were a bit younger?
I was conflicted about sex growing up thinking I had to preserve myself for a man. But my inner desire had always been curious about sex! Now I feel way more comfortable and accepted. I know that it’s ok to have sex and it’s ok to enjoy it with no stigma. Sometimes, “You’re cotton” still pops into my head from time to time but I try not to let it affect me too much.
How will you raise your future kid around the topic of sex and intimacy?
I will let them know that sex is totally fine and have as much of it as they want. It’s normal to masturbate and there should be no stigma or shame. I’ll teach them about responsibility and protection as well. I will have a real conversation with them instead of treating sex like a secret thing. I think secrecy will only lead to more curiosity.
I will NOT be telling my kid about being “cotton” for sure!
If you find Kinkraise interesting, watch this space and follow the account below! We will announce an upcoming event with Kinkraise very soon.
About the Oh Collective
The Oh Collective
The Oh Collective wants to inspire all women to be confident and happy with their intimate selves by recognizing their physical needs and their own definition of "pleasure." We believe you don't need to be ashamed or shy to explore your body. We are here to provide our sisters with safe and reliable products, a trusted community and content that offers 100% good vibes only!