I've always known what my mum did. Depending on who's introducing her, she's a sex coach, a relationship guru, or a sexpert. Personally, I go by sexologist. She's made it her life's mission to help people reach their sexual potential. You've probably read her work, heard her on the radio, or seen her on TV at least once. But I've been hearing my mum talk about sex my entire life.
The first really memorable time my mum talked to me about sex was at a sleepover I had in year seven—I had 10 mates staying over. They all knew she was a sexologist, so the bravest one approached her and asked, "what's the motivation for anal?" My mum went ahead and told them, then turned to all of us and started explaining how to masturbate properly.
The way my mum sees it, we're stuck in this very orgasm-driven way of thinking about sexuality
This is something my mum has always emphasised: masturbating properly. I'd say before the incident at the sleepover she'd mentioned it once, and she went on to bring it up eight or nine times after that. She'd talk about taking things slow, because it's never all about the orgasm.
The way my mum sees it, we're stuck in this very orgasm-driven way of thinking about sexuality. Because sex—like everything, is still really patriarchal—so most hetrosexual couples just end up having sex the same way men masturbate. We're just replacing our hand with a vagina. When you think about it, my mum's mentions of masturbation make sense. She didn't want me to grow up thinking of sex exclusively as a means to climax.
That being said, it was all stuff I just wanted to find out for myself. I really didn't want to be sitting there masturbating thinking "what did my mum tell me again?"
My mum's job certainly made our house interesting. We have pillows that are accurate anatomical models of vaginas around the house. When we were all 13 or 14, I'd have friends come around specifically to look at my mum's dildo drawer. There was this one especially fascinating one: aliens wouldn't even know how to use it. It wriggled, it squirmed, it had vibrating prongs on prongs. Unfortunately, there was never anything around that was actually useful to my friends and me.
I didn't want to be sitting there masturbating thinking "what did my mum tell me again?"
Surprisingly, my mum's job has never caused any problems with my friend's parents. She's always been really open about her profession; so if anyone ever had a problem with it, I just wouldn't be friends with them in the first place.
I was raised to be really sex positive. I lost my virginity when I was 15, and despite all the guidance it was still terrible sex. But after that thing got better because I already had so much theoretical knowledge behind me. The first time I made my partner cum, I just had to tell my mum. She was really proud. I think that's true for most people: giving your partner an orgasm makes you feel good, even more than having your own orgasm.
To clarify, my mum has never actually given me "sex coaching". She's never sat me down and walked me through how to have sex with a girl, but she's espoused the importance of changing up the pace and the depth of penetration, things like that. It is weird to think about it in that context—your mum telling you to try something in the bedroom, but it's been pretty effective. My girlfriends always appreciated her.
Overall, having a mum who's a sexologist has been really positive. Right now, at University I'm taking a course that discusses pornographic imagery. People are so nervous around sex, even in the abstract. Our class just gave presentations and everyone else was uncomfortable just talking about sex. In my presentation, I showed a photo of a really intense orgy. I stood in front of it and discussed it without batting an eyelid: I'm pretty proud of that. All I could think was, "well fuck: this is what happens when you're raised by a sexologist."
Told to Isabelle Hellyer. Follow her on Twitter.
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