The Sex Lives of English Women by Wendy Jones

What does sex mean to me?


The subtitle of this book – Intimate Questions and Unexpected Answers really sums this read up. Wendy Jones interviews twenty-four women about the rarely discussed topic of desire, and delves into the often unanswered question – what actually turns women on?

The beauty of the answer of course is both individual and universal, but also challenges the idea that English women are all stiff upper lip about sex, inside and outside the bedroom. I loved the honesty in this book, the authenticity and the openness which I can only assume means that Wendy Jones approaches these interviews with the inquisitive and listening ear that they deserve.

Conversations about sex never fail to spark interest; and there will always be a human curiosity about what goes on behind other peoples’ closed doors, but this book invites you in. You get to know the characters and the women that they are. Wendy Jones heads the book up with a strong statement about understanding who and what women are rather than telling them what they should be. This is not a literal analysis of what and when women have sex, but an in depth understanding of why and how. We know that people have sex for more reasons than just to procreate and here we find out some of them. From discovering masturbation, to going through gender confirming surgery and looking down at ones vulva for the first time – each story really is as unique as the women who tell them.

This book tells the reader about love, of passion, of intimacy and of not just the having sex and all the physicality that goes with that, but of the emotional, psychological and spiritual experiences too. It truly approaches sex with the idea that is it is just so much more than something that we do. It also reminds us that sexuality is not a static part of our lives, and recognises that once we discover our sexuality and the ways that we enjoy expressing it, that it doesn’t have to stay that way. Sexuality can be fluid.

The chapters throughout this book are the stories of different women – a mother, a sex addict, a Muslim, a nun and we can go on – but better if you just read it.

Although there is common understanding about how our identities impact our sexuality and vice versa, The Sex Lives of English Women really shows us how. It tells us about perhaps one of the most important aspects of sex, the meaning that it plays in our lives. It tales the good, the bad, the ugly, for work, for play, for pleasure. Really I felt it made its readers ask themselves one key question, ‘What does sex mean to me?’

katemoyleBY KATE MOYLE