In honour of my trip to speak at the inaugural Love, Sex and Intimacy Fair this weekend; I decided to revisit one of the most impactful stories from my book.
In today’s sexualized culture, I find Diane’s story more prescient and visionary than ever. Born in 1946, Diane lost her virginity to her next-door neighbour in an incident that had me mentally clasping my legs together as she recounted the story. It was fast, furious and lacking any form of enjoyment whatsoever. It was to kick start a journey, not to mention a pregnancy, that would take her somewhere she never expected to go.
Now she dedicates her life to teaching others what she has learnt along the way. She should be on the national curriculum. When you consider what a critical role sex will play in our lives, it’s astonishing that we still haven’t fully grasped the concept of sex education.
'I don’t need to talk about my sex life!’
Really? You could have fooled me. Ok, I know. It’s too close to the bone or too personal a discussion for lots of people and I respect that. But going over my notes for my talk, I am reminded of the sheer volume of people who, given the opportunity, men in particular, to talk to me about their sexual lives, grabbed it with both hands. Talk? I could hardly shut them up and nor did I want to.
The issue is this. Sexuality is ever present in our society today. Its everywhere you look. But rarely in a way that reflects the sensuality, intimacy or earth shatteringly leg shaking way that we’d like to experience it and, once we’ve got over the awful realisation that our children are also going to be sexual people one day, when the time is right for all concerned, it would be nice to think that they might experience this too. And not assume that sex is all about having your hair pulled whilst five men come on your face.
Blunt, I know. But what else are children and young people to believe? The cat is out of the bag. Unless you can police your Internet connection 24 hours a day, and even if you do, most young people share content on mobile phones, you can’t stop them from digesting a wide range of ‘influences’.
Its not going to stop so we may as well offer up something to counterbalance that. A place where young people can find measured, honest, sexy even (?!) information about something that will occupy a large amount of head space throughout their collective times on this earth. Cindy Gallop works tirelessly in this department with her Make Love Not Porn website. Bish Training do a sterling job in UK. And now this, the Love, Sex and Intimacy Fair presents its first event in Hove.
I’m British. The title still makes me want to titter ‘oh er missus’ every time I say it. We are after all, mostly descended from Benny Hill and Barbara Windsor. I don’t think that’s a bad thing but I do think its time we manned up, got over ourselves and started dedicating ourselves to promoting more useful, uplifting and healthy messages around sex for the younger generation.
Here then, to kick-start the proceedings is Diane’s ‘journey from ignorance to completely understanding’. In particular, I have always loved her description of virginity loss, which she defines as ‘being a person who makes love or becomes intimate because they choose to, and not because they have to’.
Diane, born 1946, lost virginity in 1963.
‘I didn’t know anything about sex. When we did get television, which was probably about 1953, anything on TV that even faintly hinted at anything sexual, I knew that I had to be sent out of the room. You know that it’s something that’s not right.
There’s a lot of stuff been written about this. About what you know, and what you are told. Because as a child, you have a very deep, inner knowing. And what happens to us is that our intuition is denied and that’s why we get so fucked up, because we don’t trust ourselves. Because the authority, parents, teachers, whatever, tell us that what we’re feeling is wrong. And that’s the journey really, to get back.
I’ve come full circle. I do a job that feeds me, nurtures me. I teach women and I teach men how to have pleasure. That’s my group work; my private work is giving people pleasure from a Tantric perspective. I’m very generous with my body. Because I think that sexual energy is the best thing there is for health. I teach them how to relax into pleasure. We’re not taught that in this society. We’re taught to go for more and more materialistic stuff, you know, which doesn’t satisfy, because it’s an endless journey. You can never have enough.
When I was about fourteen, some boy kissed me and got spit on me and I was terrified I was going to get pregnant because I knew nothing. And neither did my friend Carol. We were both anxious about this, and I think she started to get into self-pleasuring, as we call it in Tantra. Exploring herself. I think I probably started to do a little bit too, but feeling really guilty about that.
Later, I joined some sort of Christian youth club and the boys at the Cathedral school came over and put on a Kung Fu exhibition. This boy chopped a block of wood in half, like they do and I was incredibly impressed. Incredibly impressed at this and it was love, obviously. That was a lovely intimate time, just exploring the body. But we didn’t make love. Because it wasn’t a big thing, like it’s a big thing now, to have penetrative sex. It wasn’t. And that’s the whole perspective of Tantra. People think you’ve got to have penetrative sex to have had sex and it’s not about that, it’s about the whole body. I think that’s probably what we were doing, actually. There was no goal. Which was nice.
I was lucky to have that experience because the next thing that happened was that I was pregnant at seventeen. The guy next door in the electrical shop was the father of my first two children. I used to go out with him delivering televisions and he fucked me, basically, and I got pregnant immediately. Immediately.
It happened in the back of the van, it was really quick and I remember it not being very nice. It was not pleasure. Just sort of when you don’t connect with that part of your body. Because you get into a situation, well, I got into a situation, women get into a situation, when you feel obliged. You don’t want to say no. Because it felt like … I didn’t want to upset him.
Then of course all hell broke loose because you didn’t have unmarried mothers in those days. Got to marry him. You can always divorce him later. What will your father say? All that money spent on your education and now look at what you’ve done. So I was married within two weeks. Top hat, tails, Rolls Royce, the whole bloody thing.
I was with him for two and a half years and it was never like making love, and that’s how we continued until I left him really. After I turned my husband out, I had lots of different experiences with different people, some beautiful, some not and I found myself living in the red light district in Liverpool. I used to watch the girls take the guys behind the lorries from my window. It was fascinating and I became friendly with the women, I thought they were great, so open, great women, you know. So one day, I went down the road and I thought, oh well, let’s give it a go, let’s give it a bash and at the same time, I had a guru, so I had the spiritual stuff but my day job was as a sex worker.
On some levels, it was no different to working in Tesco’s. I mean, I would have hated working at Tesco’s, and on another level, if you’re in your authority, in the place of the goddess, if you like, it can be a beautiful experience. It’s the oldest profession. The sacred prostitute.
The biggest thing I learnt is that it’s not about sexuality. Men are looking to get back to mother. They all come from woman, and they’re looking to get back there. And they think that sexuality is going to do it. And for at least a few seconds, minutes, it does.
For me, it was research, but it was unconscious research. I guess that’s how it is in life. You do this, you do that, and then you look back and piece it all together. For me it’s been a journey from ignorance to completely understanding. And then of course, you teach what you’ve learnt.
I had been invited to a Tantra workshop, which I didn’t want to go to. I’d heard about Tantra in the sixties and I didn’t like the sound of it, obviously because I had big problems around sexuality. But I went because it kept coming up and I thought, well, maybe there’s something here for me.
The first night was horrendous and the second day I had a couple of very strong experiences. We were doing a meditation and I saw this tiny little woman dancing in front of a bunch of women and she was free and I thought, I want that freedom. And then she came really close and it was myself, I was looking in the face of myself. So I thought, okay, this is my journey. I knew it was going to be hard because I knew where I was and how far I had to go but I just did it and I know now that what I do is good. I know that I’m doing my bit for humanity, because I’m giving back what I’ve learnt and understood.
Tantra is a way of using your sexual energy to move into a higher state of consciousness because, I think how you are sexually, is how you live your life. I work with people in groups, teaching them how to self-pleasure. Some people are really quick, can’t be bothered, some people are too finicky, it’s too cold in here, the music is too loud, it’s too this, it’s too that. That’s where they are in life. Some people go on for hours, you know, and really take their time, so you can actually go right down into sexuality, and see what sort of person you are.
To get to that stage, we have to become vulnerable. And everything that’s in the way of that vulnerability has to be looked at, and sorted out. I mean, sexual energy is our life energy; it’s our creative energy. It’s the energy of joy. It’s who we are. But it’s almost like, on top of that very beautiful energy are all sorts of guards and restrictions that hold it down. And the first bit has to be sexual healing.
Ultimately, I think that losing your virginity should be that gateway into pleasure, a gateway into something very innocent and beautiful. It should be about moving from ignorance to awareness, to becoming totally sexually self contained, to being a person who makes love or becomes intimate because they choose to, and not because they have to. Of course that could come years after you technically lost virginity. And for some people, maybe never.’