The clitoris contains an incredible 8,000 sensory nerve endings, nearly double the amount found in the penis. And yet, historically, the female body has remained a taboo topic, one that falls subject to countless misrepresentations, usually due to lack of open dialogue and education. Enter actress-turned-author Isabel Losada, who, with the help of her new book ‘Sensation’ hopes to encourage readers to learn about the female body, by demystifying some of the taboos stuck to it.
Part diary, part educational documentary, ‘Sensation’ chronicles the year Losada - in her own words, “dedicated to learning everything I could about the body and its relationship with sex, in the context of a long term, mongamous, hetrosexual relationship (because that’s the group I am in).” Losada explains: “I wanted to write about this in a way that was fun and relatable – it’s not a ‘self-help’ book, but something that should make readers laugh, as well as be a useful tool.”
Below, Losada shares what inspired her to make “a book about sex, not a sex book”, the most surprising facts she learned during her 12-month research period, and why proper sex education is paramount to health and wellbeing.
Why do you think the female body still faces such impossible beauty standards?
“There are many reasons aren’t there? I guess, because we have all allowed ourselves (regardless of our body shape), to be influenced by the forces that tell us we are not good enough. That we need to buy this product to make us a different shape. Join this gym, try this diet, have this surgery, use this makeup, buy these clothes – it’s endless isn’t it? And, I’m not saying I’m immune from it – even after a year of working on this book I’d still love my stomach to be flatter and my breasts to be a bit larger, to correlate with some crazy fictional body shape, but at least I recognise the absurdity of this.”
In the book, you talk about the increasing number of women opting for labiaplasty. Do you think this is response to body-based clichés?
“Different societies have different beauty standards when it comes to labial lips. The tragedy here is that women have taken in so many notions of ‘perfection’ and now labiaplasty is the fastest growing form of cosmetic surgery. Women are opting for labiaplasty to conform to some mythical ‘norm’ – whereas our labia is supposed to be as varied as our faces are. Any woman who thinks that she isn’t beautiful for any reason should follow @the.vulva.gallery on Instagram, they feature paintings of different women’s labia every day and they are all so different and beautiful – it’s a real education.”
Do you think sex education, or lack of, plays a part in continued cultural misrepresentations?
“Yes. I am 100% certain that I received zero education about female sexual organs in school, other than in the context of the reproductive system. I took Human Biology and loved it so much that I still have my old school biology book, ‘Vines and Rees.’ In it, the clitoris is described as ‘a tiny protuberance which is a vestigial penis.’ There is no mention of the fact that it extends internally nor of any possible purpose it may serve.
“My only experience of seeing another woman’s labia would have been through seeing porn magazines as a young teenager. As women who are employed in these magazines often have no visible inner lips I assumed (as many women do quite absolutely incorrectly) – that there was someone wrong with me. I honestly do not remember any education about the clitoris from any source at all.
“When I was on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’ last week, the presenter said: ‘You talk about men not knowing where the clitoris is, let’s be honest – most women don’t know where it is either.’ I hope that’s not true. It is possible though that we may not understand our own clitoris in any detail – which is a little crazy as it’s designed exclusively for our pleasure. So we could learn a little couldn’t we? Especially about the internal clitoris.”
Do you think there is a relationship between sex and wellbeing?
“I believe sex education is important for human happiness. The major influence on happiness, for most people, is the quality of the relationship with their partner - if they are fortunate enough to have one. Happiness lessens greed, cuts down competitiveness and generally makes us all better and more loving people. Your body plays a very important role in your health and wellbeing. Make your body happy and your body will help make you better and happier.”
Do you hope ‘Sensation’ will inspire women to explore and become more comfortable with their own bodies?
“I’m delighted to say that ‘Sensation’ seems to be being read as much by men as by women and I’m happy about that. Yes, I do hope the book will play a part in enabling women to see that all our bodies are fabulous. What I really hope is that the book will repair some of the damage done by ‘50 Shades of Grey’ as it played into what is known as ‘The Cinderella Complex’ whereby a woman just waits for a man to come along who will be able to understand her better than she knows and understand herself.
“I hope that readers will decide to make 2018 the year where sexuality becomes a priority for them and that it will inspire more people to make quality sex their favourite subject. This isn’t easy always easy but it’s a very enjoyable adventure and what more important investment could there be in a relationship?”
If you haven’t signed up to Pink Parcel yet, it’s time to start enjoying your period! Subscribe here and you’ll have everything you need (and want) sent directly to your door.