It’s only sex: how do we break the stigma? Part 1
I started this blog because of a ‘penny-drop’ moment I had over a year ago.
A good friend of mine revealed one evening, after a couple of wines, that she had started seeing a sex therapist. For the first time in our long friendship, she shared that she was fearful about sex and had started to shun it. She was self-assured and eloquent in her transparently frank confession about her sex life. It felt new. And I admired it.
Whilst sex has always been an approachable and comfortable subject amongst my friendship group — from our pent up, lunch-time tournaments of ‘which colour can you deep-throat to on the Fruit Pastille ice lolly without gagging’ (we went to an all-girls school…) to more recent, whispered calls for advice from within a new boyfriend’s locked bathroom during a particularly bad bout of cystitis — I noticed a small shift in our communication with one another.
One friends’ confidence in speaking honestly and rawly about her sex life suddenly gave us all permission to do the same
We started opening up about our intricate and complex experiences of sex. Our stories were deeper and more fragile than recounting the usual pithy sex anecdote: a dodgy one-night-stand on a Spanish beach, a boyfriend putting it in the wrong hole, discovering a boyfriend’s ball-gag fetish…
We shared things about our bodies in new and vulnerable ways.
We shared how hard it can be to ‘speak up’ in the bedroom and discussed our self-conscious preoccupation with navigating lovers’ egos.
We opened up about our fears about sex, and we philosophised about why we neglect our own sexual pleasure.
We spoke about the implications of female performance in the bedroom, and about the shame and sexual pain women sometimes experience.
We really got under the topic of sex, under its skin, analysing it from a very vulnerable, nuanced and female perspective. It left a deep and profound impression on me, so much so that I decided to start this blog in order to celebrate and encourage these types of frank conversations about sex.
Why does it feel so…unusual?
One of the things that struck me about this confident, open way of talking about sex was how new it felt.
Sex is everywhere.
We are fed a yarn that men think about it every few seconds.
TV shows like Love Island gratify our lust for raunchy narratives and ‘buff bods’ every summer.
Some music videos are so titillating that they are condemned as soft porn.
Magazine covers show off airbrushed and edited images of celebrities posed and dripping with ‘sex appeal’ (depending on your taste…)
Sex is indeed ubiquitous, so why is it still so unusual and difficult to talk about openly?
Illustration by Bronwen Bender
www.brownwenbender.com / @bronwen.bender