Nwabisa Ngumbela chats to Club magazine’s relationship expert, Dorothy Black, about her take on a subject so many of us shy away from
I love this question. I am tired of topics around sex, relationships and parenting being clumped under ‘women’s issues’. I think the answer is that this is how we have been socialised around gender stereotypes. You know: boys don’t cry and girls are sensitive princesses, for example. The wider assumption is that men don’t do ‘feeling things’ and don’t care about the finer aspects of sex and relationships so they aren’t comfortable with these topics. And the media just emphasise what’s already there.
Although I’ve written from a woman’s perspective in my new book, The Dot Spot has readers of all sexes, ages and identities because it looks at relation-ships and sex as a human experience, not only a woman’s experience.
You’ve been blogging since 2006 and writing your column since 2009. You speak of being trolled and being threatened – why do you think this happens?
I’ve mentioned being thrown some pretty awful comments on one news site when it still allowed anonymous feedback under the columns. People can get angry, defensive and offended when they feel scared or challenged, and frank conversations about ‘taboo’ topics like sex can be very challenging. Especially if you hold very rigid life and moral philosophies. Some people are just bored and ignorant. Fortunately, these comments thinned out when people had to start signing in with their Facebook accounts.
Before you were a sex columnist, what were you writing about?
Well, writing a sex and relationship column is just one of the things I do
as a writer. Before focusing on sex and relationships, I was the editor for a small travel and entertainment magazine. These days, I divide my work time between columns, articles, screenwriting, my next book and, of course, the blog.
What made you become a sex columnist?
I wasn’t planning to write a column that focused on sex and relationships, – let alone become known as a sex columnist. It was really a combination of timing, interest and luck.
Tell us more about your book, The Dot Spot.
The book is about more than ‘just’ sex. It’s about building healthy relationships with yourself and others, and how to navigate dating and being single; it’s about a woman’s body and how to find your pleasure with it – and with others. It’s about sexual health and empower-ment. I want my readers to walk away feeling as though they have options and that they can exercise these options. I want all of my female readers to feel less shame and more self-love; less fear and more curiosity.
What should women do to fully embrace their sexuality?
You must learn to accept yourself – your body, your desire, your pleasure. And then you must learn to love and respect yourself. When you have this power, you will also be able to choose partners who will love and respect you. This is all obviously much easier said than done, though.
What tips would you give women to feel a bit more confident in the bedroom – and in life in general?
Do the above. There is no shortcut to doing the personal work that will allow you to step into your power and feel your confidence. If you need help to delve into why you don’t accept or love yourself, or why you are filled up with shame or guilt or debilitating self-consciousness, then get the help. It is out there.
What do you think needs to be done, in order for our society to speak comfortably and openly about sex?
We desperately need to detach ‘sex’ from outdated taboos and narrow-minded outlooks that it is something dirty, that it’s just about porn or that it’s destructive. Sex is about way more than only the act of copulation; it is about relationships, empowerment and self-knowledge, among other things. While we remain fearful and ignorant, hiding away from these conversations, we cannot get comfortable or confront the issues.