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Let's talk about sex
Author and sex therapist Pamela Stephenson-Connolly talks about her new book, Sex Life: How Our Sexual Experiences Define Who We Are.
Anne Sexton, 23 Jun 2011
Pamela Stephenson-Connolly is behind schedule. A former actress, telly shrink, sex advice columnist with The Guardian and wife of comedian Billy Connolly, the release of her new book seems to be causing a bit of a media scramble. The fact that she is rather glamorous doesn’t hurt either, but it perhaps belies the seriousness with which she takes her work.
Stephenson-Connolly spent a year-and-a-half interviewing hundreds of men and women, married, single, old, young, gay and straight about their sex lives and experiences. These stories have been collected in Stephenson-Connolly’s Sex Life: How Our Sexual Experiences Define Who We Are, a book exploring human sexuality from infancy to death.
Asking people to discuss their sexuality honestly can present some challenges.
“Once I got them there, it was fine. I’m used to talking to people about their sexuality, I know how to do that, but just getting them in the room was a bit harder,” she explains.
But once that threshold had been crossed, people were eager to open up. This, says Stephenson-Connolly, is that many of us need reassurance that our desires are not abnormal.
“That’s the biggest thing that people worry about sex. People suffer in silence all the time,” says Stephenson-Connolly. “The letters I get for The Guardian… So many people are unhappy with some aspect of their sexuality and a lot of them I can’t help with a column. There’s only so much you can do.
“But here, I wasn’t offering them help, I was asking them to tell me about their sexuality. In organising it this way, across your lifespan, I wanted to illustrate that sexuality is an ongoing process – it begins before we are born and can last until the day we die – which is not a notion that is commonly held. I also wanted to illustrate the diversity of sexuality, whether that’s our orientation or behaviour.”
While many people are uncomfortable with the thought of older people having sex, others are unwilling to admit that sexuality is present in children, and that this aspect of being human does not arrive at the onset of puberty.