26 June 2020
Me, writing for ellaOne: “I write about sexuality because I’m passionate about championing pleasure. Sex positivity has defined my life and choices, but it often felt so absent from the cultural narrative while I was growing up.”
The ‘Letter To’ series from ellaOne sees writers address our younger sexual selves now that we’re grown women forging our own paths.
Other contributors include Writer and Broadcaster Kieran Yates, Cosmo Sex & Relationships editor Paisley Gilmour and author and Journalist Yomi Adegoke among others.
My piece has been published at a time when there has been a global awakening regarding structural inequality race. However, the mainstream has been slow to make the connection that the oppressive structures that disempower and endanger Black and Indigenous People of Colour (BIPOC) worldwide are the same systems that ban abortion, restrict sex ed and contraception and deny LGBTQ+ rights. During our talk on structural oppression for Sexplain, Gayathiri Kamalakanthan and I discussed the importance of intersectionality not only for propelling anti-racist efforts but for sexual equality too.
Within the Sex Ed sector, we’ve all been banging on about the new Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education curriculum launching in September. It’s a big deal as it marks the first time the subject be will become compulsory in all UK secondary schools. But you know what, despite the three-year drafting process – which saw input from a public consultation where over 40,000 people contacted the Department for Education – the new curriculum still lacks comprehensive information regarding the full spectrum of sexuality and gender and the range of different family structures.
Sex positivity has defined my life and choices, but it often felt so absent from the cultural narrative while I was growing up
I reported on this new curriculum a few times in the national press in 2019: ‘Depriving children of access to LGBT-inclusive sex education isn’t protective – it’s destructive’, Independent, July 2019; ‘These Sex Educators Want to Teach Schoolkids About Porn’,VICE, June 2019; ‘Primary school children are already accessing pornography – pretending it doesn’t exist won’t help them’, Independent, June 2019. I’ve since discovered the catalyst for its update was a campaign run by Laura Bates (of Everyday Sexism fame) who’s one of the most vocal UK voices on sexism. However, having looked into her background, her activism really only centres voices like hers: privileged, white women. I can’t help but imagine what the curriculum could look like if alternative sexual identities and sexual experiences weren’t minoritised by the elites.
Frustratingly, there is no provision for decolonising any parts of the national curriculum. If we look back, it was colonial ideas of gender binaries that wiped pre-existing fluidity within gender presentation and sexual practices. In many pre-colonial cultures, trans people were seen as spiritual guides and leaders.
The history of humanity itself has been distorted by the perceived cultural necessity of monoheteronormativity. A vocal acknowledgment of this – all year round, not just during Pride Month – can help ensure we all develop full acceptance of the spectrum of sexuality. And express ourselves in ways that feel true to each of us as individuals – not just how society has pressured us to conform. Understanding historical attitudes to gender identities and sexual practices is essential.
With that in mind, I’m actively seeking a literary agent to help bring my extensive research on the topics above (and more!) to a wider audience. Publishing professionals hit me up!
Book your spot on one of my developing sexual expression and understanding intimacy workshops this July. Partnering with The Candid Collective. 😀 Tix via EventBrite: eventbrite.co.uk/e/developing-sexual-expression-and-understanding-intimacy-tickets-105629494662
Many, many months ago I pitched a piece to Campaign magazine on what the complaints about “too much diversity” on our screens tells us about the current state of identity politics in the UK; as many people had alerted me to certain sections of society spewing dangerous rhetoric in response to the recent uptick in People of Colour featured in ads.
I spoke to many industry trailblazers and had filed the piece by early April. The Campaign mag editorial team decided to dedicate the June 2020 issue to the #BlackLivesMatter uprisings and the publication of my 2,000-word piece serves to highlight the many issues that D&I initiatives haven’t yet been able to solve.
I conclude: “Diversity does not always mean complete immersion and assimilation into a homogenous Western culture. There is currently little attention being paid to specific cultural heritages and the contribution this has made to modern Britain […] Ultimately, the diversification of the ad industry is a complex issue. It will take some time for the sector to handle the stories and lived experiences of the multitude of people of colour who live in Britain, with accuracy and authenticity. But in the here and now, the industry needs to be more aware of its biases and strive to become more inclusive.”
The fascist rampage we witnessed in London earlier this month is proof that we must guard against tolerance for a right-wing backlash. The fight for equity will be long and exhausting but many of us have been interrogating the system for a long time already. And have been emboldened to hold everyone accountable. I’m optimistic that a more just world, one in which all might thrive, is not out of reach.
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