#JustLikeYou: Dini on Female Genitalia Mutilation and growing up Muslim

#JustLikeYou: Dini on Female Genitalia Mutilation and growing up Muslim

In our #JustLikeYou series, we interview people from different backgrounds on sex, intimacy, and relationships. We hope these stories can help you navigate your intimate lives  – We’re all #JustLikeYou. 

Dini Lestari Vice Female Genital Mutilation Hijab Intimacy Destigmatize Taboo Islam and intercourse circumcision

 

Our guest today is Dini, a global multi-hyphenate creative for Virtue Worldwide, the agency born from Vice. We’ll talk about female genitalia mutilation, growing up Muslim wearing hijabs and how she overcame shame to reclaim her power. Dini loves to raise conversations around sexual wellness on her platforms so that everyone, especially women, can feel more connected to their bodies and achieve pleasure whenever and in any way they want.

Watch our interview or scroll for the written interview ⤵️  

 

 

Dini, Where are you right now? 

Bali, but I divide my time between France, Berlin and Singapore. It depends on my job as I travel to shoot videos.

Dini Lestari Vice Female Genital Mutilation Hijab Intimacy Destigmatize Taboo Islam and intercourse circumcision

 

Have you tried our toys out yet? 

Yes! I've been trying it out, by myself, with my partner and it's been really amazing! It fits perfectly and I love how you can use it together or by yourself. 

Describe your sexual self in three words. 

Playful, explorative (because I get bored so easily) and fluid.

Where did you grow up and how did that impact your view on sex, masturbation and intimacy? 

I grew up in Indonesia, Jakarta. My environment is very religious and conservative. As young women we cannot really show our sexuality. 

I actutally just found out a couple of week ago that my mom performed a really small FGM (Female Genitalia Mutiliation) procedure on me when I was a baby. Both female genitalia mutilation and male circumcision are very normal here. One of the reasons they perform FGM here is to repress your sexual desires and make sex less pleasurable for women. People think “Oh, males get it, so females should too”.

“One of the reasons they perform FGM here is to repress your sexual desires and make sex less pleasurable for women.”

For me, I can still feel most of it, it's just sometimes ‘hard to find’. They only took a very tiny  tip of my clitoris – I’m relieved that I didn’t get the full procedure, I know that there are more invasive ones. 

Dini Lestari Vice Female Genital Mutilation Hijab Intimacy Destigmatize Taboo Islam and intercourse circumcision


How did you discover you underwent FGM?

 

I was working on this project for Vice on FGM survivors and I read that it’s very common in Indonesia, the Middle East and in Africa. It got me wondering because sometimes during sex with my partner, it could be hard to find my clit. I felt like something wasn’t entirely right.

“I wondered about it because sometimes when I have sex with my partner, it was hard to find my clit”.

When I asked my mom about it she was like “Yeah you had it as well, but it’s nothing big, the doctor just poked you and there was very little blood!”.

We read that when people have less sensory feelings on their clitoris, they actually feel more in other parts. Deeper vaginal sensations, and it could befor instance  A-spot, G-spot, O-spot. Does that happen to you too?

I think I experience both vaginal and clitoral senstations. If clitoral sometimes doesn’t work and she hides a bit, I go for the other spots. That's why I love to explore and try out everything: if one way doesn't work, I will try the other way. As long as I feel good and my partner feels good about it, we’re good.

“If one way doesn't work, I will try the other way”.

How did you feel after you found out? 

At first, when I heard her answer, the room was spinning. I couldn’t believe it. I was working on this project for a while and I had been reading up about it. And then it turned out I was one of them! It hit home very close. I also discovered my sister underwent the same procedure. It’s such a normal thing here. They’re really just outdated religious practices. 

Are they opening up this conversation now in Indonesia? 

Not really, but FGM is not happening that much anymore because it’s starting to become outdated. Thank God. 

The conversation around sex, masturbation and intimacy are not that common here. My parents are very strict about religion: I wore a hijab for six years, it’s mandatory in my family. When I started to live by myself, I started the realize they couldn’t control me and that I needed to live on my own terms. 

Now you're a “free independent woman”. What is their view on that? 

It was a long fight for sure, the long mentally and physically heavy type of fight. But I’m glad I went through it, it has shaped the person who I am today and this ride has been amazing so far. 

I want to use my experiences to inspire young women, especially in Indonesia,  to just own their sexuality and believe in themselves, no matter what society tells them. Just do whatever you want.

“I want to use my experience to inspire young women to own their sexuality and believe in themselves, no matter what society tells them.”

   Dini Lestari Vice Female Genital Mutilation Hijab Intimacy Destigmatize Taboo Islam and intercourse circumcision

 


This is super powerful. What is your advice for other young women to get to where you are now? 

It took me 20 years to get to where I am today. I've been wanting to show who I am since forever, but it's been hard. We live in a society that really cares about what other people think. My mother worries about what other people will say.

“We live in a society that really cares about what other people think.”

You just cannot continue living for other people, it's your life. You just have this óne life, why would you not spend it they way you want? 

Did working at Vice, an independent media company, influence you in any way?

Definitely, I spent the last 5 years with  them and it has shaped the person I am today. I’m surrounded with open minded people and everyone treats each other with respect. It's a safe space and you’re encouraged to explore - from sex, to kinks to anything actually. It's been really fun!

You just mentioned your partner, do you share the same vision when it comes to sex? 

Yes, otherwise I wouldn't date him. It's been pretty fun. He’s 4 years younger than me, very explorative and energetic in terms of sex, toys, and kinks.

What type of kinks?

The relationship is pretty new, so it’s only been talking about the topic till now. We're thinking about exploring pee play. It's nice to hang with somebody with who you can explore your boundaries with, and who's not afraid to ask. 

People my own age or older are more into BDSM, dom-sub type of things. Partners younger than me are not afraid to explore, it’s more diverse. It's super exciting. They’re just less shy about it. 

Dini Lestari Vice Female Genital Mutilation Hijab Intimacy Destigmatize Taboo Islam and intercourse circumcision


Have you dated anyone of the same sex?

I haven't, but I'm very open to the idea. I'm attracted to a certain type of woman, but I haven't found the right one yet. 

Do you see any different views on sex toys among different generations and locations? 

Most of them are very open to trying out sex toys. Even in Indonesia. When I was posting some of my sex-related stories, I got a lot of questions from men asking "Where can I get it? How does it work? I want to buy it for my girlfriend." So I think men are actually very curious about it.

What is the biggest misconception about women and sex?

That women don't feel as horny as men. I think that's really wrong. I made this T-shirt with "Being horny is okay"

Dini Lestari Vice Female Genital Mutilation Hijab Intimacy Destigmatize Taboo Islam and intercourse circumcission

 

Women can feel horny the same way as men, but we cannot really show it as much and that's the biggest misconception about it.

We actually did a TikTok video this week about why you should stop calling female nymphos. If she is openly expressing that she enjoys sex. If you start framing those negative terms on people, then that's immediately shaming them into a place of “Oh, I shouldn't be doing this” “I shouldn't be showing that I enjoy sex”. But we enjoy it just as much as men! And women can even have not just one orgasm as most men do, we can have multiple orgasms, blended orgasms, all sorts of orgasms from all different spots so we can keep on going and going and going. We can also be insatiable and that's completely okay! It just takes time and more people like you, to just say "Hey, I'm horny and I want sex and I want as much sex as possible until I'm satisfied." You're not a nympho you're completely fine. You're a well-respected independent woman doing a dope-ass job and a normal human being.

Actually, I saw on TikTok and Instagram in Indonesia married Hijabi women sharing sex tips. It seems married women get a pass to talk about sex, and it's very dirty!

So women in Indonesia are liberated in their own conservative way?

Maybe after they get married, because you’ll be judged when you talk about sex before marriage. In Islam, if you are very religious, you will be called “Soleh Ha”. They're calling themselves "Soleh Hot", like Hot and Sexy.

We’re cheerleading through this entire conversation. How we're opening up, how you're opening up, but also how Hijabi women in Indonesia are opening up. We love that we see people opening up about sex in general, even if it's after marriage.

I think those women would be also very open about using toys and trying out new things because they're actively finding new ways to please their husbands. 

Is it about pleasing their husband or is it also about pleasing themselves? 

Both. They might not admit that they’d use it to please themselves, but they definitely do.

This makes us think about another misconception: "Women don't masturbate as much as men." Women do, all the time, a lot. Probably even more. 

Actually, this brings me back to your question about what shaped me into the person I am today: “Revolution starts from the bedroom”.

I truly understand my body now and what I need to make myself feel good. I feel more confident with myself, and I bring that confidence into my every day life. It starts with yourself, whether it's masturbation or meditation, it's just getting in tune with yourself.

What is the one big lesson for girls like you out there? 

It is okay to be different than other people! 

Dini Lestari Vice Female Genital Mutilation Hijab Intimacy Destigmatize Taboo Islam and intercourse circumcision



Thanks to Dini - Follow Dini on IG > @thunderdear
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