I’ve just realised how far we are as a nation from being really comfortable in talking about sex.  Fair enough, when you write a book with sex in the title, you can expect a little shyness about the content — but not from presumably hardened hacks. In a series of BBC radio interviews last week it became increasingly obvious that some of the presenters (all male, by the way) weren’t at all comfortable with the idea of talking about sex —  and especially not with a sex therapist. They introduced the item with comments like, ‘We can do this, can’t we?’, ‘We’re all grown ups on this show’ and ‘I’m sweating a bit here’ — as if they were about to be put through some hideous ordeal. So stressed had he become, in case I mentioned something ‘inappropriate’, that one guy even cut the interview early,  though we were discussing some dull statistics rather than anything remotely racy.

I blame Meet the Fockers. Ever since Barbra Streisand’s wonderfully funny portrayal of the sex therapist for geriatrics, the view that we are comically out of control has lingered. Even so, it’s hard to believe that talking about sex can still send grown men into a cold sweat. Or, rather, is it the idea of talking sensibly about sex that makes them freak out? I hate to sound so sexist, but I’ll bet they don’t have the same difficulty in making a smutty joke with their mates in the pub. Interestingly, the female presenters didn’t seem to have the same issues at all…

That blokey sex talk is OK, but serious discussion is scary, shouldn’t come as a shock, I guess.  The internet is packed with stories about the Brits being buttoned up, and the (spit) Daily Mail even published an item quoting research which said it’s easier to ask someone for money or to talk about death than it is to discuss sex —  and death and money were considered pretty darn tough to talk about too.

What’s more, the ultimate point of the interviews was that not talking about sex, and thinking about it in the same old ways, is what can actually stop people doing it. If it is only considered in sensationalist or smutty terms, we will never rid ourselves of the huge pressure to have amazing, swinging-from-the-chandeliers sex. A nice cuddle and a cup of cocoa just doesn’t get a look in because the humdrum doesn’t sell newspapers or lingerie.

We need to stop beating ourselves up about what we think we should be doing sexually, stop being scared of speaking about what we like and want — however unexciting we may think that is —  and start talking about what is actually possible and pleasant. So there.

Why Sex Is Important
The Relate Guide to Sex & Intimacy