Sex therapists can be mysterious. Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard about them. Maybe Dr Jean Milburn in Sex Education is the first and the only sex therapist you know. Maybe your knowledge about them is based on assumptions, or even imagination.
It’s a phrase that’s all too familiar for women who grew up quickly, matured early, felt ahead of their years as a teenager: “you just need to meet an older guy”. All the shortcomings of the seemingly clueless boys our own age could easily be attributed to immaturity and slower brain development, so the obvious solution for us was to date older. With age comes inherent maturity and life experience and security, they say, and that was an appealing prospect as a young girl whose eyes glazed over at the mention of any testosterone-fuelled pastime. But when the age gap is substantial, is it really all it’s cracked up to be?
Here we are in 2022, and female body hair somehow continues to be taboo. Having permeated gender dynamics for centuries, it’s always been regarded as yet another beauty standard women are expected to abide by, and a lack of body hair in the female-identifying population has long signified the ‘ideal body’. But this has begun to shift. More attention in the beauty industry is being given to gender fluidity, body positivity, and more inclusive messaging. In recent years, norms are finally beginning to shift; almost one in four women under 25 no longer shave their armpits, compared with just one in 20 in 2013.
It seemed like an odd thing to say to me at 15. With a curly bob and a generous spread of bulging pimples, I was in the low-risk category for an unplanned teenage pregnancy. But still, here I was watching my GP write me a script for Femme-Tab ED 20/100.That story was the same for my sister a few years later, who was also put on the pill to help with her skin. Then a friend. And then another. It seemed every second girl was on the pill before they left high school, and almost all of us had an alternative reason for being on it rather than preventing pregnancy.
I think it’s safe to say that we’d all be horrified if sex wasn’t a part of our futures. The thought that, at the ripe old age of 65, I might no longer be having sex, makes me shudder. We twentysomethings are expected to be crazed hornbags (sorry, I hate that expression too) and a lot of the time, we sure as hell live up to it. But do we really want to get shacked up, be intimate for mere procreation purposes, create a sex schedule (read: only Wednesday nights at 9pm) and then eventually just never have sex again? Dearest reader, I know our answers are both a firm no.
Much had changed when the world witnessed the closing of the early noughties. It was an era of anticipation for transformation. On the internet, in music, on television: the zeitgeist of the 2010s ushered in something different — something reminiscent of love, transformation and yearning for tolerance and acceptance. I saw it first on MTV. Gaga, in a bright blue swimsuit and a blond bob singing ‘Poker Face’. The theatrics of ‘Paparazzi’,and then came ‘The Fame’, in which she coins the famous line “obsessively opposed to the typical”. I saw the outlandish outfits, chiffon and latex, shades and long trains — how camp and how strange. I was thoroughly intrigued. With ‘Born This Way’, I began to realise my uniqueness and accept that it was in many ways, totally okay.
When my girlfriend and I walk through town holding hands, we turn a lot of heads. I joke that it’s because they’re wondering how a beautiful woman like her ended up with an average Joe like me. Though underneath the humour, we both know why people are staring. She’s Black, and I’m White.
There are some things that are way more embarrassing than having an STI. Like shitting your pants twice. Thankfully, Azithromycin, a common antibiotic used to treat chlamydia, exists just to remind us how much worse it can get. Azithromycin causes side effects in about 1 in 100 people including diarrhoea, vomiting and thrush. And like Lady Gaga says, there could be 100 people in the room, but only one (me) will shit their pants after getting chlamydia.
I remember clearly when the Year 12s of a nearby all-boys school sprawled sexist comments across their school uniforms. Or when boys in my year created a ‘Holy Trinity’ of the ugliest girls at my school. Or nicknamed girls a ‘bike’ based on their weight or looks. I remember when boys I was forced to go to school events with proudly shared a video titled “Jordan Peterson destroys triggered feminist” on social media. For so long, there has been denial of a clear cultural problem in all-boys schools that is obvious from every angle.