When I think back to our sex education lessons at school, they don’t half make me shudder. I’m never sure who was more embarrassed, us or the teacher.

Although times have changed over the 25 years since then, they’ve still not progressed as much as they should have done. And it’s why people such as Debbie are on a mission to educate, support and empower us all.


  • When I was around nine, I was asked at swimming training if I was a virgin? “No!” I responded indignantly. (I’d never heard of a virgin let alone be one.) Fits of giggles ensued from others and I was left feeling confused and isolated.

  • Later, after changing, I found my mum and, in front of some of the other waiting parents, asked her: “Mum, what’s a virgin?” Her face filled with red. She stuttered: “Errr, I’ll tell you some other time” and we suddenly rushed out of the leisure centre.

  • Once again, I was confused and felt alone. I sensed the embarrassment radiating from my lovely Mum, the awkwardness, and glances at other people. Had I said something wrong? What was all this about?

  • And this was when it began…

  • Now I was at primary school in the 90s and started secondary school in the millennium. Those that grew up with that dial up connection, slow websites loading line by line, Ask Jeeves etc, you guys get me. Access to information was not both instant and constant like it is now.

  • Also, viruses with pop ups were common if you dare searched the wrong thing. These viruses left a huge red flag waving at any parental gatekeeper of the internet, almost jumping from the screen shouting ‘someone’s been looking at something they shouldn’t.’

  • They hadn’t taught us private browsing and internet history alongside the beautiful WordArt & paint creations in primary ICT classes. Nor were instructions found in the wonderous depths of MSN messenger which later followed.

  • Believe me! I tried searching naked men & penises once purely out of curiosity. I hadn’t accounted for the viruses and internet search history. And had to end up blaming my brother for the situation when confronted. (Sorry Anthony). Parental controls and antivirus were swiftly installed!

  • So, I took my investigation offline. It started in the local library, and then one day I discovered MORE magazine, which I somehow convinced my parents was suitable for 12 year olds. With it’s position of the month, agony aunt pages on sex and relationships this was a haven for me. I tore these pages out and kept them in a ring binder. Fully prepared that when these circumstances came my way, I would be ready, informed and perhaps even good! Because apparently that was a thing – to be GOOD at THE SEX!

  • Sex education in school was awkward and technical. The teacher-pupil dynamic switched and although everyone was trying their best, there was no comfort or ease. Someone brought in to perform a workshop about consent and teen pregnancy. But it was a middle-aged man acting out a scenario and humping a chair. The creative direction was there but the message just did not translate to the real life that I felt.

  • And then there was the intricate social dance of sex and relationships amongst friends.

  • Who had done what? Who knew what? Attempts at flirting. Rogue hormones. Fitting in. A whirlwind of awkwardness and embarrassment. Surrounded by people, having friends but also feeling so alone.

  • Not realising that so many others felt this way as well.

  • I’d never want this experience for anyone else. But also, I didn’t know how to escape it.

  • I wanted to talk about sex and relationships and shout it from the rooftops. Deciding early on that I wanted this as a career.

  • But societies judgement of a teen girl that talks about sex and relationships all the time is not so great. Or at least it wasn’t then.

  • From around the age of 15 I learned to wear the invisible badge of ‘slut’ or ‘slag’ with some sort of pride and figured if this was going to be my label I may as well dive straight in and go and find out for myself what all this was really all about.

  • I blame nobody for this categorisation – we are fed a script by society that boxes people into different roles based on sexuality and gender. Women within these realms of gender norms are really just objects for male sexual pleasure.

  • So many years were spent thinking male attention was the holy grail. To be wanted by a man was the aim.

  •  I loved dancing with, playing with, flirting with boys.

  • I was by no means the most ‘attractive’ girl. But I made myself the most available.

  • Societies messages tell us that to get a man is winning. I was getting them. But not keeping them.

  • Sex was a performance (A bit like my A-level Drama). Something to perfect and ‘be good at’. This could be my thing!

  • At 17 I made myself homeless – sofa surfing. Constraints from my strict conservative parents getting tighter and tighter. Desire to do nothing but fight against and break causing them to tighten more. Pushing against one another for dominance of emotions and control.

  • The fear of a daughter that is obsessed with sex.

  • A teen that runs away in pursuit of the next night out and potential relationships. But then didn’t come home.

  • My parents are both from very different backgrounds. My Dad had strict parents, his dad (my grandfather) a teacher not afraid to hit. My Mum was pretty much raised by nuns in convent boarding school from the age of eight thanks to her middle class, social elite parents.

  • These, my grandparents, whom I love, all with their own best intentions for raising good kids. Just as my parents had for me and my three siblings. All very different products of this environment.

  • No doubt my children will have their own way of looking at how I parent and want to do things differently. This is only natural.

  • Despite my turbulent home life, I managed to scrape through with some A-levels. So, I picked the furthest university I could think of to escape my family and find my freedom.

  • Sexual study subjects were few and far between. So, I settled on Criminology and Sociology, moulding it to fit my intentions by selecting every Sex, Sexuality and Gender module going. Finally completing my dissertation on the effectiveness of sex education in schools.

  • I worked for Ann Summers whilst at uni as a Party Host. Selling toys and lingerie. Explaining how to use things and inventing fun games for girls’ nights in. This was a little earner to cover ‘beer money’.

  • I’d later be selected through a process to go to London as part of an Ann Summers and Channel 4 documentary about making a new sex toy. We each had to take an item that made us feel sexy. Most took underwear, a toy, lube etc.

  • I took a picture of a brain. Because to me understanding sex and discussing sex was what helped improve sexual enjoyment and intimacy.

  • I wasn’t invited back.

  • (This is something Ann Summers have corrected more recently with their Pleasure Positivity Project.)

  • Now graduated and with a long-term partner I moved back to the Southwest. My family had moved elsewhere, and our relationship had improved with the distance.

  • I started looking for work.

  • Relate told me I was too young to be a sex therapist and go through their training. I needed some life experience if I was going to sit opposite a couple and tell them how to improve their relationship.

  • I poo pooed this then. But totally see why now.

  • I am not sure many in a long term relationship which they are struggling to maintain, want to have someone with perhaps an air of youthful inexperience telling them what to do.

  • So, I went into schools to deliver some sex education. Prepped with a plan of action, the alternative sex ed I hoped to deliver approved by the staff, I somehow found myself doing a full 180 and giving the traditional don’t get pregnant, don’t get and STIs narrative I was trying to avoid.

  • Nothing sex positive came out.

  • This showed me that the messages I had absorbed throughout my lifetime were stronger than the academic study I had done. And it was fighting against these societal expectations that I needed to challenge.

  • So, I settled for a quiet little council job. Keeping my hand in with a bit of sex ed at the local youth centre and secondary school within a youth voice initiative.

  • I married. Had two boys.

  • I found my peace but I was not fulfilled.

  • Finally I left my council job and completed a Psychosexual Therapy with (Distinction) with a thesis on the impact of heteronormative social scripts on sexual enjoyment.

  • And I hit the sex ed world again. Fully invested. Fully prepared. Fully supported. And Fully ME – Sex Debbie.

  • This sex education is not just for young people. But for adults, parents, all. Learning about sex in a safe, non-judgemental space.

  • Online through my social media, through my website sexercises or blog.

  • Or in my workshops. These could be talks to groups of adults at a ladies nights or new parents from an NCT class. Sometimes they are in educational settings for staff or pupils. They are flexible, bespoke to the setting and never ask for personal information from participants.

  • I just want to talk about sex!

  • Now perhaps controversially. I have always enjoyed sex, the anticipation the rush and thrill. But was I experiencing sexual pleasure in my early sexual encounters?

  • No.

  • I wanted sex but I also wanted good sex and an equal balanced relationship.

  • Causal sex does not tend to serve women in terms of sexual pleasure. This is because there is no such thing as ‘being good at sex’. There is no level to pass. No quality control.

  • Sex is so subjective, what works for one doesn’t work for another.

  • It is about knowing your own body and being able to freely communicate that and direct your own pleasure in a sexual scenario. This is often more easily done in a relationship. But frequently not done at all. With many just accepting bad sex thinking that perhaps sex is not for them.

  • It’s only by understanding how society impacts sex throughout our lives that we can break down our understanding of sex relationships and ourselves.

  • We really must unlearn our original sex education. Taken from whispers, rumours and hearsay, porn and magazines.

  • And that is really my aim as a sex educator.

  • I want to encourage open communication about sex and relationships.

  • Challenge the taboo.

  • Reduce shame and embarrassment that comes with sex.

  • Make help accessible to all through self help sexercises.

  • Understand porn vs reality.

  • Talk about sex in every aspect with confidence, empowering others.

  • Working together to maintain and strengthen our relationships. Understanding that we grow and evolve as our life goes through its chapters. Thinking about the impact of parenthood, age and anxiety for just a few examples.

  • If we can work on all these things we can find more happiness and comfort with ourselves, and our roles as partners and even parents.

  • Looking back now there were so many scenarios that I found myself in that were unsafe. Because of the shame that was associated with sex and talking about these situations.

  • I have experienced assault and rape (I have deleted and rewritten that sentence several times in this list because in black and white it’s there for all to see and again, pigeon holes me).

  • Sex was a thing that held great power to me. Nights with friends focussed on pulling.

  • Gossip and attention on the latest crush. With questions from friends often focussing about who you seeing now, anyone on the scene – rather than, how’s your degree or is your new job going ok?

  • Thinking they might like me more if I do this….

  • I need somewhere to stay tonight as I’ve told my parents I am staying at XYZ so I better put out.

  • The build up and anticipation has been fun, but I am not sure I want to now….

  • This is who I am now. I don’t know who I am without a partner….

  • I am here to break these cycles.

  • To understand the impact of heteronormative social scripts on us from birth. Reducing our sexual enjoyment.

  • Social messages of shame, embarrassment, class, gender etc prevent us from openly talking about sex and relationships.

  • And without this we derive our information from sources such as media and porn.

  • Scenes where women’s sexual pleasure is minimised. Sex shown as an act for men.

  • Eyes meet across a bar. Kissing. Blow job. Penetration. He comes. Done.

  • No build up. No clitoral stimulation. No sign of female orgasm.

  • Sex is great.

  • Even more so when it is not seen as an obligation or a duty.

  • When we connect intimately through communication. Arousal is heightened. Spending a night talking, learning about each other and being comfortable in each other’s space and company creates a stronger connection than a penis entering a vagina.

  • More on that. Sex isn’t just simply that act of penetration. It is so much more.

  • From a kiss to a dry hump. Sex is an umbrella term for the physical creation of sexual pleasure through touch.

  • This widens how sexual pleasure can be derived and welcomes all who seek it. Whilst also reducing many sexual problems built up from anxiety to perform.

  • Sex should be about play, arousal, and enjoyment for all.

  • Orgasms are great. But not always the aim.

  • Now none of this is to show I know it all.

  • My relationship is not perfect.

  • I do not practice what I preach.

  • Because we are human. We are learning. And most importantly…

  • We are growing together.

  • My view on life is that it is a story that we are writing. Our own novel. Full of chapters.

  • Each chapter sees change, and with each chapter our character evolves. Relationships must grow with this or change. As one chapter ends the next is beginning.

  • Go and write your story.

  • Fully informed.

  • Fully supported.

  • And fully pleasured!


** ‘But why is there blood in the toilet?’ ‘But why do people die and are they just sleeping?’ and “But why do adults drink beer and what does it do?’ are some of the tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to order now  and also on audiobook.**



–  READ Tips On How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex by clinical sexologist, Georgia Rose. It’s an incredibly useful and resource-filled list.

–  LISTEN to Mrs O & Janus on BDSM on But Why? podcast, as they chat about the challenges around maintaining your sex life in the early parenting years and how the principles of BDSM are important for any relationship.



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