A Singaporean podcast tackles questions that would otherwise go unasked in Asian communities – from the best way to deal with menstruation cramps to whether women should take birth control pills. Something Private seeks to shed light on sexual health matters relevant to the Asian woman. “Women’s health has always been a topic that I’ve been very invested in personally,” says the podcast’s founder, Nicole Lim, 24, whose friends and relatives discuss a range of “taboo” subjects on Something Private . “It has to do with upbringing and the people I surround myself with. I realise not everyone has the privilege or access to that.” Realising that some women might have limited access to such information, and that there was a dearth of it in Singapore, Lim became determined to dive deep into the subject. “The market is saturated in terms of beauty, fashion and lifestyle-related topics,” she says. “There is a very obvious space for more conversations to come in.” Working with a team of editors and producers from the Singaporean media company Our Grandfather Story, Lim hosts and produces the podcast, which has covered a broad spectrum of subjects relevant to the modern Asian woman. As well as episodes on health and wellness, it has dealt with subjects including love, work and gender, race, and society. Guests have included influencers, celebrities and health care professionals. I do not gain anything from sharing my sex life with the world, but I know that it might help somebody else, especially if they do not have anyone to share their experiences with Nicole Lim The most notable episodes so far have included a first-hand account of rape, a candid discussion of female masturbation, and a conversation about polyamory – wanting, or having, intimate relationships with multiple consenting partners. Of the 33 Something Private episodes released to date, Lim says her favourite is the 12th, when she spoke to HIV awareness advocate Caitlin Fernandez. “I talked to someone whose partner is an HIV-positive individual,” Lim explains. “It was for an episode on unique stories about love and how, although they [Fernandez and her partner] have an active sex life, it is safe. “I thought it was interesting because I think there is very little awareness about HIV in Singapore and the region. We also had a good conversation about society, stigma, love and gender.” It is common to hear Lim relaying scientific facts and medical statistics on the podcast, which she says entails extensive research. Experts invited to speak on the podcasts add credibility to their storylines. In one episode, Lim spoke to gynaecologist Dr Liana Koe, who shared data about sexually transmitted diseases. Tackling the stigma associated with these diseases, Koe advised listeners when and how often they should have their sexual health checked. “If you think you are at risk, then just get a check because it is harmless. Things are now done very privately, so there’s no need to worry. If you have any issues, get it checked. It is better to be told ‘hey everything is OK’,” Koe says. “And if something is wrong, then all the better as you are going to get treated immediately.” Lim is also not afraid to discuss her own experiences – and open up about her sexual adventures. “I do not gain anything from sharing my sex life with the world, but I know that it might help somebody else, especially if they do not have anyone to share their experiences with,” she says. A significant factor in the development of Something Private was the April 2019 introduction in Singapore of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine programme for all 13-year-old schoolgirls, to ward off cervical cancer. Public reaction to the announcement was mixed, mainly because HPV is a sexually transmitted infection, and some thought the vaccinations would encourage girls to become sexually active. Lim, whose mother told her to get the vaccination, thought it was crucially important to explain the programme on social media. “I reposted a story about the HPV jab, and people were very interested in it,” she says. “Many girls replied to me to ask more about it, and it signified an interest, but they did not know where to get the information. Sure, it is easy to google, but would it be digestible and easy to understand?” Listeners have turned into friends. A couple of people have told me that they are interested in starting their own podcasts Nicole Lim She says the most popular episodes of Something Private are still the first few – on menstruation, female masturbation and sexually transmitted infections. “These are topics that sit better with the audience. It makes them feel less alone and [they] learn more about themselves through this,” she says. Lim has appreciated the podcast medium since she graduated from Nanyang Technological University with a degree in multimedia and broadcast journalism. The Something Private podcast has been heard by about 40,000 unique listeners so far, and has a rating of 4.75/5 on iTunes/Apple Podcasts. Despite the podcast’s occasionally controversial interviews and discussions, Lim has never had any criticism or pushback from the more conservative elements of Singaporean society. “It is either nobody dares to flame me or that my content is OK. I want to believe that it is OK. So far, it is only positive,” she says. Lim likens podcasts to listening to the radio. She has been able to condense stories to make them bite-sized yet intimate. “Podcasts are usually intimate and conversational, and very personal between you and the host; it is a very interesting format for storytelling,” says Lim, who calls the Something Private episodes cosy “3am sleepover conversations”. Listeners have started to share their own experiences with Lim, connecting with her on the podcast’s official Instagram page. “Listeners have turned into friends,” she says, and provide feedback on what they want to hear. “A couple of people have told me that they are interested in starting their own podcasts.” After the third episode, which featured an anonymous recall of a sexual assault, several women messaged Lim to thank her. “Quite a number of girls reached out to me after that. I received a lot of DMs [direct messages] from girls telling me that they cried after they listened to the episode. It helped finally confront what happened to them.” Surprisingly, as many as 20 per cent of Something Private listeners are male, she says. The podcast’s production has been on hold during the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine, but Lim continues to brainstorm new topics and reach out to followers to hear their suggestions. The team has also crafted comics and videos to post on their social media pages to connect with the growing community. Lim and her team aim to make more episodes on gender politics and identity, specifically among LGBT individuals. She intends for the podcast to expand outside Singapore and to feature empowered individuals and change-makers across Southeast Asia. The Something Private podcast is available on multiple streaming platforms including Spotify, iTunes, Google Pod, and Anchor.