Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton
A book for teens which explains everything you might need to know about sex and relationships with no holds barred. In her book, Hannah attempts to separate the facts from the myths, and offer an informative and humorous guide to navigating the world of sex and relationships, tackling everything from porn to LGBTQ issues, to masturbation and break-ups.
I’m sorry I can’t do a better job of selling this book to you all, especially since it is really funny and honest, but there really isn’t much to say if you’re trying to sum this book up. For those of you not in the know, Hannah Witton is a youtuber whose channel looks at the same issues and offers advice and support to those trying to find their way in this world.
It might be awkward if it weren’t so funny, and I imagine there are probably quite a lot of high school kids who have stumbled across Doing It at a bookstore with their friends, giggled over it, and then come back to buy it later. It’s like having to purchase tampons for the first time after getting your period, that embarrassment which keeps your head down and your cheeks red. But hey, if you’re one of the people who might feel a bit uncertain buying this book, I’d tell you to try and work through it and pick up the book in spite of your misgivings. The humour in it, not too dissimilar from that of Bridgette Jones or Holly Bourne, is funny and honest and it helps with the awkwardness of the subject. Over the course of this non-fic YA, Witton tackles a wide range of issues surrounding sex, and when she can she includes stories and sections from someone who has experienced similar issues. One of the most important sections in the book, and no doubt the most informative, is the section on LGBTQ, which tries to explain complex intricacies society tends to gloss over, including what it means to be asexual, how to receive emotional support if you want to come out to family, and the different genders. I’ve seen some tumblr posts trying to tackle these same things before, but never quite in such a clear and interesting way. For anyone who is trying to educate themselves on LGBTQ issues, or who is maybe exploring a part of themselves, this is definitely a good chapter to look over.
Another chapter that really caught my attention was the very first one, which successfully outlines the differences between a healthy relationship and a toxic one, pointing out that things such as a desire to check your partner’s phone should never be acted upon [since this would be unhealthy] but instead it might help to talk about your concerns. Witton talks about the recipe necessary for a healthy relationship– trust, respect and communication. And when she comes to talking about toxic or abusive relationships, she calls on readers to learn to recognize the signs that it isn’t going in the right direction, offering up a hilarious section from Holly Bourne fondly referred to as the Wormtail test. Here, she’s trying to get people to see how certain behaviours, while they may appear romantic in movies when they’re done by a handsome actor like Robert Pattinson or Ryan Gosling [her examples, not mine] are suddenly much less appealing when carried out by Peter Pettigrew AKA Wormtail, from the Harry Potter movies. It’s funny and amusing, but deep down there’s a really good point being made here. Honestly. I also really like that this is the first chapter, that it comes before any discussions of losing virginity, slut shaming and STIs. It’s really important and a great message to anyone of any age.
Witton doesn’t hold back, offering up her own awkward stories so she can lead by example, and she approaches everything in her book in a non-judgemental way. When she talks about porn, and how the industry often perpetuates the idea of owning a woman’s sexuality so that sex becomes something that is done to a woman rather than something she happily participates in, she doesn’t criticise anyone for having particular tastes in porn, or for choosing to watch it. Similarly, she doesn’t judge when it comes to talking about porn addiction, suggesting only that someone who thinks they might suffer from one should seek advice and help. She has the same approach when talking about sexting. Rather than lecturing teens against sending their partners nudes, or even keeping them on their phone for their own reasons, she merely points out that there are legal laws that must be followed and that, while you have a right to send these pics and it might feel good, there are unfortunately sometimes consequences for it. She doesn’t tell people not to send them, only to be careful.
Which I think is a refreshing change from the school curriculum of talks about contraception, pregnancies and STIs, all of which can potentially leave young people feeling like sex is a huge risk and not worth the danger. Hannah Witton admits that she herself felt like this at school, and so she attempts to tackle it by adding a bunch of pro-sex points to this list too, laying out the benefits of sex such as getting comfortable with your own body, pleasure and relaxation. She also calls on schools to try and add this kind of information into their sex-ed classes, meaning that students are likely to get both sides of the story instead of feeling lost and confused.
I’m not really big on non-fic, so I’m finding it a bit hard to review and rate this one, but I’d give it an 8/10 because it is funny, honest, educational and a useful tool for anyone [of any age or gender] who is curious about sex.