Prudes or ignorant? This is the question Julia Sloane, cast member of the Real Housewives of Auckland, seeks to answer. After her co-stars find a vibrator in her draw and are subsequently mortified, Julia starts educating them on sex toys. Over the course of a 75min long documentary, Julia explores sexuality within New Zealand. Including how we talk about sex, how our youth are educated and the vast safe spaces there are for people to explore sex.
Let’s Talk About Sex premiered at Miramar’s Roxy Cinema, and Funhouse’s Madam Mary was kind enough to invite me, Jordan, along for the viewing. “It won’t be anything shocking to you” Mary proclaims with a bit of a wink. While it didn’t shock it did make me think about how I viewed sexuality pre-becoming a sex worker. So, the following blog expresses what I took away from the documentary.
Sex Through the Ages
You just know what to do don’t you?
Did your parents ever talk about sex? Were your parents or your grandparents of an era when you got married young and stayed with the same person for all eternity? Sounds familiar, right? Sex and virginity were held up as this sacred entity to be shared by a man and a woman on their wedding night and then only to procreate. Sex education for the older generation was non-existent, “You just know what to do don’t you?” explains Julia’s father during filming. So, it’s no wonder why the topic of sex and sexuality would be ill-received by a generation whose exposure has been limited, and very sheltered by upbringing, family or religion.
I most definitely never spoke of sexuality or sex with my grandparents, and very little with my mum or dad, how embarrassing is that! My sexual education by my mother was a book depicting the inevitable bodily changes and the words “if you going to play do it safely and tell me so I can put you on the pill”. It was the sex talk by my boyfriend’s mother that felt more traumatizing. I’ll never forget being cornered at the breakfast table to have the birds and the bees talk. His mother knew full well there would be no stopping two randy teenagers. She made sure my boyfriend’s sock drawer was well stocked with condoms!
You said Penis!
I was under the impression masturbation was just for boys
As for sex education in schools, did any of it sink in? Was any of it of actual value? The handful of interviewees Julia speaks with overwhelming feel the answer is – no. Sex ed was too short and not in-depth enough.
I remember feeling so embarrassed that the teacher wanted to discuss sex! SEX! The class would erupt with laughter at the words penis and condoms. No one was brave enough to ask a serious question for fear of being laughed at, so the discussions went nowhere. The overall conveying messages of disease and pregnancy were heavily drilled into us, while topics such as consent and differing forms of sexuality were barely touched on enough.
It was Rae, a Funhouse escort, who summed up sex education in schools perfectly – “Boys masturbate and girls get periods”. The lack of education for girls around sexuality didn’t faze me back in my high school days. I was under the impression masturbation was just for boys. How wrong I was!
Sex in Culture
For so many of us, our sexual education has been gained by fumbling around in the dark, gossiping with friends, or watching porn. Sex in the media has been and still is portrayed as taboo. As Jane McPherson – a sex therapist – states: “shame, embarrassment and guilt hinder people’s sexuality”. Especially for women wanting to express and explore their sexuality without being slut-shamed or deemed ‘easy’. It’s this element of our culture that’s always annoyed me most, that men are free to rack up experience from meaningless sexual encounters – legend bro. But, when women do it their deemed sluts? What’s worse is this judgement often comes directly from our fellow woman, but I digress.
For people wanting to engage in sexual techniques and practices that are empowering, positive and free from agenda, there are sex coaches. Such as Ellie Wilde, who understands how negative our culture is about sexuality. “[There’s] such hype around sex, when really it’s crap because there’s such a lack of pleasure … our capacity for pleasure is endless”.
Full Immersion into Sex
There’s no shame in educating yourself on sex and pleasure
I have sex work to thank for most of my sexual education. Sex Work gave me the tools, both mentally and physically to explore my sexuality and gain sexual confidence. My clients taught me about their sexuality, boundaries and turn-ons. They opened my mind to unconventional sexual practices that bring them such pleasure. The adult industry, as I’ve come to know, is a safe space where adults can uncover their deepest desires without fear of judgement or ridicule.
I only wish that I had learnt what I know now earlier. That sex doesn’t have to be taboo and communication around what tickles your fancy is a huge part of pleasure. Do not be embarrassed to express your wants and desires.
There’s no shame in educating yourself on sex and pleasure. Understanding your sexuality more in-depth, being open to other different forms of sexuality or finding safe places to uncover your desires. Communication is key, between lovers, with sexual partners, with yourself and of course with educating the next generation.