No sex books here...
I began reading this book on the train home from Clapham to Eastbourne, and let me tell you, people noticed it. If it wasn’t the very obvious title ‘THIS IS NOT A SEX BOOK’ leaping right out at you, it was the fluorescent orange cover that caught people’s attention. Such was the idea of the famous Spanish YouTuber Chisuta Fashion Fever (real name: Maria Jesus Cama). This self-described ‘manual’ makes no apologies for its honest and realistic views on sex. At the beginning of the book, she warns people ‘who don’t like calling things by their name’ not to read it, but for others ‘who want to know everything about sex’, she ensures all topics are covered in an inclusive and sensitive way.
It’s extremely well illustrated and commendably frank, qualities not always evident in other books of the genre. It eschews euphemistic terms and analogous crap of the kind used by one of my primary school teachers: ‘touching your bits and bobs together’ which seemed even then incredibly patronising. The book is a trailblazer in providing useful guidance in that it is both reassuring and instructive: it passionately dispels myths and misconception on topics ranging from body hair (‘Don’t even start! Where there is hair, there is pleasure!’) to anal sex.
But the thing that struck me most about the book was how inclusive it is, both in its illustrations and in its chapters on sexuality. By contrast, sex education rarely covers LGBTQ+ issues, and although this does not stop people obtaining information on the internet or by word of mouth, it highlights a still ongoing discrimination against queer people, specifically queer teenagers, in education. In a similar vein, the chapter on female masturbation was incredibly affirming. For women and girls of all ages, female sexual pleasure, especially self-pleasure, is still a taboo topic: to see this talked about in a book for teenagers gives me a lot of hope for the future.
True, This Is Not A Sex Book could have benefited from a little more advice, not just on how to prevent STI’S, but also on what they are and what their symptoms can be. When I was 16, the prospect of having getting an STI was quite frightening, and reassurance would have been welcome. Making your students look at pictures of gonorrhoea in an attemptto stop them from catching it may have worked in theory, but no one taught us what to do if we did contract it. If someone like Chusita had explained this in her compassionate, yet pragmatic, style, it would have lessened the negative stigma concerning infections. It might even have made people feel confident enough to seek help when they need it – something that even my peer group are reluctant to do, thus probably contributing to the high rates of infection among young people.
Minor gripe aside, Chusita’s take on sex education is ground-breaking in how well it deals with topics that young people are not only reluctant to bring up with their friends, but also with themselves, instead putting their trust in pornography as a learning resource. Reading it, even while being stared at on the train, brought back all the memories of feeling utterly clueless about anything to do with sex, (despite having Sex Ed lessons since the age of ten) and made me wish, somewhat selfishly, that it had been written back then.