Alice Catherine Alice Catherine

After writing a few (very open) posts last year regarding my female health – I wasn’t quite sure when I’d be ready to write about it again. At this point, I’ve had a couple of operations and I’m still seeing my Gynae to try and figure out what’s the best direction for me next. I promised myself that this would be the year I’d really focus on all aspects of my health, and work less hours if need be. So far, so good! I’m working out regularly again, eating well, and booking in those appointments that we all tend to put off…

The dreaded dentist, the boring eye tests, the Gynae check up…

I’ll be honest with you, this post was very much prompted by a recent Netflix binge watch – Sex Education. I originally planned to watch it merely because it stars Gillian Anderson – I’ve been obsessed with her ever since X-files, and quite frankly, the woman is just all kinds of amazing. However, what I didn’t expect to find was a show that was equal parts silly and heart-wrenching. It made me laugh out loud and then sit up straight and concentrate again. It won’t be for everyone, but there are a few very important reasons that I’m passionate about it’s arrival in the world.

1) It deals with so many issues that so many people are privately struggling with – LGBTQ+ issues, abortion, revenge porn, drug use, racial diversity, consent, sexual anxiety, female masturbation, the list goes on and on…

2) It features a non toxic male friendship – something that was heartwarming to witness between two of the main characters (a straight white male and a black gay male). Their love and support for one another is the kind of friendship that everyone craves in their college years and beyond. It’s a time when you’re discovering so much about yourself, and this kind of unconditional love really makes the whole process a lot less painful.

3) It briefly mentions Vaginismus – I sat up in excitement when this scene happened. At first, they were doing what many series/films before Sex Education have done and played out the whole ‘I’ve just got anxiety surrounding sex’ scenario. I’ve always wondered why the writers of these shows never delve a little deeper into these issues and look at why people behave like they do. I recently watched the film Chesil Beach on the plane home from New York – the main female character appears to have a total aversion to having sexual relations with her husband, yet this is never properly explored. Could she secretly suffer with Vaginismus that’s undiagnosed? Has she been abused in her past? Is she Asexual? I remember taking out my earphones and feeling a little cheated by how everything had played out on screen – the book definitely hints at more than the film does, so why are so many on screen adaptations becoming lazy? This is why Sex Education stands out to me and gets a gold star for effort and recognition. They crammed so much into a short series, and I really hope they get a series two to continue their important work. So many young people will watch this series and hear words they have never heard before – they may even find a diagnosis.

Ultimately, if we aren’t prepared to start the conversation amongst ourselves – media is great at doing that for us. I know that if I had had this show when I was sixteen, my journey with Vaginismus would have been a lot different. It took me years to even hear that word, yet alone for me to be comfortable with it in my vocabulary. It took me years to trail away from the idea that I was some kind of freak. Don’t get me wrong, I often feel alienated on a very large scale – sometimes unimaginably so, but that’s when I remind myself that there are so many people out there feeling the same at some point…

It’s okay if your sexual experience doesn’t look quite how you want it to. It’s also okay if you have no sexual experience at all – whatever you’re dealing with is nothing to be ashamed of, and just because other people have seemingly normal sex lives, it doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer in other ways. If there’s one things that’s massively helped me mentally heal from the trauma of having such alienated teenage years – it’s sharing more of myself as a woman in my Twenties.

The more I grow and understand about my body and why I act the way I do, the more I feel strong enough to share the vulnerable parts of me on here. Not because I feel like it might be an interesting read (to many it won’t be), but because it gives my journey a purpose. Knowledge really is power, and the more we talk about sexual taboos, the less people will suffer in silence, and the more people will be able to just enjoy their bodies. It makes me sad how riddled with self doubt and insecurities so many of us are. As much as I preach about confidence on here, my own sexual issues are something that have always held a part of me back – a part of me that I feel like I’m constantly trying to fight for and reclaim.

This is the reason I’m so thankful that we are living in a time where life changing conversations are happening every day of the week. It’s a scary time in so many ways, but I strongly believe that so much of that fear marks the beginning of a massive shift in society…

I also wanted to highlight that the concept of normal isn’t always worth chasing – normal doesn’t always mean better than what you have now, and it doesn’t really even exist. I see normal as average, and what’s so great about average sex? It’s much healthier to work with what we have and let go of what we think normal sex lives are. If you’re working towards a better standard of life, don’t forget you can still work with what you have in the meantime. You are enough just as you are. Even if it feels like parts of you are missing.

I recently finished reading Normal People by the wonderful Sally Rooney and this part really stood out to me and seems very fitting for the theme of this post…

“Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn’t know if she would ever find out where it was or become part of it.” – Sally Rooney, Normal people.

I’ve often let myself feel like the romanticised version of my life is happening elsewhere whilst I watch it slip by. So many of us are plagued by this idea that ‘life could be better if we were just different somehow’. We are searching for a sexier more worldly wise version of ourselves with a slightly flatter stomach. The person that’s quicker to book appointments and doesn’t put off check ups, the person that doesn’t fall for the toxic kind of people or get trapped in cycles of guilt and shame…

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a silly TV show or a line in a Virginia Woolf novel – I’m always searching for things that help me connect the dots again and remember that the life I’m living is enough. It’s the same reason I’ll never stop writing about what matters to me on here or chatting to you guys late at night in my Instagram DM’s. Words make a difference, art makes a difference, and so do the small, quiet conversations that we have behind our big cups of coffee…

Let’s be louder, lets be less ashamed

Photographs taken at home in Manchester, in-between trying to write this post…  

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  1. Rose says:

    Thank you for posting this, its honest and just what I needed to hear, all of your ideas really resonated with me. I often read your posts but never comment however today I wanted to just let you know what an amazing job you are doing and that i really appreciate posts like this! x

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you for reading! You’re very kind, and comments like this mean a lot xx

  2. Sophie says:

    Great post. I also really enjoyed Sex Education and think it did a lot of good things but I did find it fed into the really toxic theme of many movies and tv shows that it’s shameful to have no sexual experience. The show does say that trying to do it just for the sake of it to tick it off a list won’t neccessarily work for you but it does still underline a lot of the scenes and the Sex therapy can be seen to be trying to fix this ASAP so you can be normal.

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thanks! And yeah I definitely took it all with a pinch of salt. It’s obviously meant to be quite a comical show too – I mean how seriously can we take a college student giving his friends Sex Therapy? I think that’s kind of the point though. A lot of young people want escapism and something less serious, but they also managed to cram so many underlying messages in which is admirable.

  3. Lisa says:

    Thanks for being so open on here about your struggles with vaginismus! Really refreshing to see it discussed openly. I’m starting physio for my dyspareunia tomorrow after years of doctors not finding any explanations and have no idea what to expect… really hoping to see some improvement in my pain!

  4. Coline says:

    What a wise article! It feels so good to read an article like this. Same for me, Sex education was a real inspiration.
    We have so much “social rule” and “normal behaviors” to apply around bodies, sexuality that we forget to listen ourself and our needs, our feelings. I see a wind of change for the next generation and a real improvement of the sex discussion and body emancipation. For example my cousin who is 15 is so open minded and aware about gender rules!
    I hope my english is good! Kiss from France <3

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you! Your cousin sounds amazing and your English is perfect too 🙂 x

  5. Holly White says:

    Sex Education is next on my ‘to watch’ list. I love reading/watching anything that promotes the idea of doing sex and sexuality more. Growing up in age where it was rarely talked about was confusing so, like you say, to have a more open conversation about it now, is amazing!

  6. Emily Henry says:

    I love how real you are, thank you. We need more people like you online.

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you so much xx

  7. Eva says:

    I wish I had your blog when I was a teenager. I feel like we all seek for someone who have the same issues, insecurities, etc. as ours. In that way, there is no loneliness anymore. It’s good, really it’s good that today we can find that. Everyone is starting to speak up, to talk about subject that are seen as taboo such as sex. It’s simply just sad that it took so long to get here, I’m sure it would have saved us a lot of sad times back in our teenage years.
    Thank you for this blog, for writing your mind and making such inspirational posts.

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Ahh this was such a lovely comment to read – made me tear up! And I totally agree with you, but seeing how much things are changing really helps me stop harbouring as much anger and frustration. There’s a long way to go but I’m hopeful xx

  8. Ailera says:

    You’re one of my favorite blog writets at the moment, always make me think. And I relate to so much of what you’re talking about. Thank you for that!

    1. alicecatherine says:

      Thank you! So kind xx

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