The woman formerly known as Karrine Steffans pulled up on MADAMENOIRE for a segment of I GOT QUESTIONS to discuss, among many things, a name change which threw many people off, and had both the latter alias and the former moniker back in peoples’ mouths. Of course, we got into the scorn she received being a young Black woman with sexual agency and bodily autonomy, and the backlash that came with telling her truth about sexual abuse and the entanglements she’s had with men in the hip-hop and entertainment industry, but neither was the highlight of the conversation. Elisabeth Ovesen, as she now answers to, lent herself to a two-part conversation that touched on gender politics, misogynoir, relationships, healing and the current wave of feminism and sexual freedom. –And no matter what name she chooses to go by, she has and always will eat, sleep, write, love and fuck on her own terms.
MADAMENOIRE: I was watching that interview with Tyra Banks, and it still makes me cringe to this day and I felt like in that moment, she wanted to shame you so bad, and you were so poor, poised and firm, and you stood your ground. And like you said, and you said it many times in that interview, and I’ve seen that interview many times, this is about my story. You are ignoring all of this stuff that I talk about to kind of get into the salacious thing. And the salacious thing was just a vehicle to tell the whole story.
Elisabeth Ovesen: What was interesting about that time is not only with Tyra, her full misogyny was on display as a woman who also has–Tyra herself has a past that is well known among certain circles. I found it to be strange– but what I found even more telling was after I left the show, she had Dennis Rodman on to talk about his memoir which included all the sex he had with Madonna and Carmen Electra and all the women. I remember Tyra being like, so, tell me all about it, right? And I was like, wow, look at this. This man does the exact same thing that I just did, almost. But she’s not upset at him for telling.
Not vilifying him for talking about his sexual experiences as well as other things in his life. But I was the villain at that time. Very interesting time to be alive.
Very interesting time to be alive. So, how do you feel about that type of misogyny? Well, I’m going to call it misogynoir because I’m talking very specifically about Black women that hasn’t disappeared. We saw that with the me too movement, the Mute R. Kelly Movement. [Folks] kind of like dismissing victims–because sexual assault is present in a lot of women’s lives. –And there were a lot of women who were rallying around the R. Kelly and just like male perpetrators. How do you feel about that dynamic?
I think that it makes it so evident how traumatized a lot of us are and how many of us have sexual trauma that we haven’t healed, dealt with. It made it obvious, and still makes it obvious to me, how many of us need therapy. How many of us are focused on [the] external. And we’ll have a showroom full of wigs and costumes and shoes and bags to make us presentable on the outside but on the inside, we are decaying and not taking care of our mental health and well-being.
I think that anyone who, and a lot of us have sexual trauma–some of them based on things that have happened to us, some of them are based on things that are mothers, parents, grandmothers, cousins, uncles, everybody else had on them that they taught us. And these little things we heard growing up–”you fast and don’t be nasty.” And all these things, these traumas that we had, how many of us have been sexually assaulted by family members? Thing that we didn’t think of as sexual assault? Every time your uncle commented on how big your breasts were getting or how maybe the women in your family even touching your body when we didn’t want them to and things like this? There’s a lot of sexual assault and sexual trauma, especially in Black families, that’s not being discussed. And what happens a lot of times, a lot of times when you’re traumatized, is you become the perpetrator. You become the person who is doing harm.
Yeah. And so I saw a lot of women. I still see a lot of women doing harm, not just to themselves, but to other women by supporting perpetrators, by supporting and backing up men who are evil, who are sexual deviants, who are raping, molesting, downgrading and abusing women on a daily basis. Show me an abuser and I’ll show you a thousand women behind him saying, “yeah, I know that’s,” right? That’s those women who have not healed their trauma as well. Those are especially the women whose demons are always disturbed by me because I wasn’t ashamed, not ashamed still, not afraid still. I realized that it aggravates. It’s trauma demons that want them to remain afraid and ashamed that they never talk about it either.
Right, cool. So, we got really heavy, so we’re lighting up the space a little bit, moving away from trauma and continuing to have sexual agency and true pleasure and things like that. Has that been difficult, or can you express how someone can still love themselves sexually?
Do you mean like after trauma?
Oh, therapy. It’s going to be therapy first and foremost for me. Like, it’s always a therapy for me. And secondly, I think it’s important for us to learn to love, to be with ourselves. I think it’s important to be alone. I think it’s important to understand that you don’t need people in the way you think you need people. You don’t need to go to lunch with somebody. You don’t need to have people in your home and in your space. You don’t need to have sex, especially while you’re healing. You don’t need these things. Thinking that you can’t be alone, or you can’t go without sexual intimacy, you can’t go without having people shows trauma to me. It shows that you don’t love yourself. I think that in moving forward sexually, it takes a detox. You’ve got to be able to detoxify from the friends, the family members, the ex-lovers and partners that you’ve had. Sit with yourself for an elongated period of time. You and your therapist really dig deep into the forensics of your life, really start healing and mucking up in there and upturning some things. You’ve got to make some serious changes and serious shifts in your life, including physical shifts, picking up and moving.
Get out of this space. Sometimes our emotional shifts happen when we move spaces. Getting out of this town, out of this old house, out of these old energies, some place where nobody knows far enough away so you can get some peace. I think that cleansing, that detox, that time away. I mean, I’ve been celibate now for two and a half years. I’m looking forward to my third year. I spent 22 months during the pandemic without any human contact other than my child. And I was on purpose, with purpose. I moved away to a small town in the middle of nowhere in New Jersey, a place I’ve never been in my whole life … in a farm town and just breathed clean air, prayed and meditated and talked to my therapist and really detoxed my entire life. I let close friends go. I let family members go. I let every single lover I ever had go. I ended a long-term relationship. I ended everything and I started fresh. I think it’s important to do so, but I think most of us are definitely afraid of being with ourselves.
And until you learn to love being with yourself, you’re not going to be a bit healed until you can really start your healing process. Having sex will always be attached to trauma, and then having sex will always create more soul ties that you’re going to need to detox from. It’s a vicious cycle. So that’s healing, that’s a healing process–and the healing is never done. Healing is not linear. It’s going to be the rest of your life. You got it started.
So, I want to ask you a pop culture question.
Okay? All right.
It’s totally safe.
You have someone like Lori Harvey living her best and beautiful life, 25-years-old, she just went through a breakup with Michael B. Jordan and there was conversation around her breaking his heart and her not wanting to commit. Any thoughts on that?
Yeah. I think that women can date however the hell they want to. Like, there are no rules. That’s my biggest thing. There are no rules. Date however you feel comfortable dating. Date as many people as you can date not one person. I always recommend dating more than one man at a time until you find a man you want to give some time to. Some of us–a lot of us–spend a lot of time at waste-your-time university, trying to get a degree only to find there is no commencement. You are not going to be graduating. You’re going to have to start all over again with somebody else after four, five, six, seven, eight years with somebody waiting for a ring, waiting for a proposal, waiting for this or that, having children with people that we don’t want in our lives. After a while, some of us are having multiple kids with multiple people that we never want to see again. I think it’s important to slow down.
What I love about Lori Harvey is that she seems to be doing exactly what she wants. She should be exploring as much as she can, doing her sexual due diligence and her relationship due diligence, so that she’s able to better discern what she finds, what she’s absolutely looking for. It’s important to study. It’s important to do the work, to date and to have the sex you want, the dating relationship that you want, and dump whoever no longer serves you and move on to the next one–because time is ticking and none of us are going to be here forever. And live your best life and just go by your own rules. There is no one way to do this. I’m just going to always recommend either you move fast and break things for a while until you find somebody that really catches your attention, like really catches your attention, or date several men at once. Keep your dance card full.
Very old-fashioned thing, actually having a full dance card. There used to be a time where when a woman was seen with just one man, he was expected to marry her.
So, he’s been here twice. You all get married or what? –So, a woman was expected to have many suitors. She was expected to see more than one man at a time. That let people know that she wasn’t serious about anybody. And when that one man comes by once or twice a week, then he’s already the fiancé. Everybody else got to go.
–A lot of people see women who date around as, yeah–which is nuts, by the way– we’re running out of time here, especially for women who want to have children. We are born with all the eggs we’re going to have. Men can take their time and waste their time for as long as they want … He’ll marry an 18-year-old and he’ll go on and have kids. But women are running out of time. Those who want to have children are running out of biological time. So, it makes more sense for us to date multiples than it does men because they’re not running out of time, they’re fine.
So, if we are dating three, four, or five men at a time and we get to rank these men, discard the ones we don’t want, throw back the throwback, move them up in the ranks. It should be like for me, it’s a bracket. It’s a dating bracket, what I call it. You have to have your own dating bracket and put these men in a tournament and see who comes out victorious. Yes. To your point. Yeah, I have three right now. It’s the best way to do it. People were asking about dating while celibate and it’s actually more fun because sex is no longer the prize. Now you’ve got to razzle-dazzle me.
What is Elisabeth doing now? I want to know everything. What are all the hours?
All right, what am I doing? I’m doing whatever I want. I just quit my job, which is great. .
I’ve been working as a senior copywriter in the tech industry for some time. I’ve been a copywriter for many years, but I just switched over to the tech industry earlier this year. But in lieu of the great resignation, I left because I heard something I didn’t like and I was like–you know what? I’m good. I stopped letting people play with me a long time ago. That includes at my job, right? So, I’ll probably go on to freelance.
I am working on a new book called Why Men Love Sluts which I’m so happy about it– “
A Woman’s Guide to Shameless Sex” to talk about what we talked about. Today I’m starting my first novel. I’ve never done fiction before, so my agent is pushing me … all my agents always have.. Now, I’m actually going to try it. So, I’m preparing the first chapters of hopefully my new and next book, well after Why Men Love Sluts, but definitely my first novel. I am coaching. I’ve been coaching since 2013. I coach a small group of women which is always great. I love helping women just find themselves, get over breakups, focus on their businesses, focus on their health and well-being, kind of centering themselves.
I work on personal, professional issues with them, and I love seeing my girls over the years thrive. That’s my big thing with my girls, and I just want my girls to win. So, I love helping women win. And I’m back on social for the first time in many years, so that’s been interesting and just being a mom. My son is 24, but I’m still very much in mom mode.
It doesn’t end.
It never ends. Yeah.
I just want to say thank you for rooting for us Black women number one, and I’d love to have you back for more conversation. I’m really excited about what you got going on. Definitely want to talk about the book once that’s under way, and you’ve been a pleasure to talk to. I’ve been kind of waiting for this for about 20 years.
Thank you so much. This was fun. I appreciate it. Yes. Let’s talk offline and see what else we can do.
Definitely looking forward to more.
Thank you so much.