SH:24 Book Club: Doing It by Hannah Witton

At SH:24 HQ we’ve long been fans of YouTuber, Hannah Witton. She’s entirely sex positive, funny, and super knowledgeable about all things sex and relationships. We were recently wowed by her  vlogging of her first experiences with a menstrual cup (from mid torso up). Yesterday, her first book, Doing It, came out *WHOOP*, we got our hands on a preview copy and are reviewing it...

Hannah has been very fortunate in that she had parents who talked openly with her about sex and relationships from an early age. Couple this with a bit of an attention seeking streak and Hannah became that girl with her hand up in sex and relationships classes challenging what she saw as a lack of information on the aspects of sex that aren’t simply avoiding STIs and pregnancy. She’s been making YouTube videos on sex, relationships since 2011 and has now amassed a whopping 330k subscribers! But enough background, onto the book...

Who’s it for?

It’s aimed at anyone aged from 14-25, although Witton acknowledges it could be used by anyone who has a question about sex and relationships, or even teachers or parents looking for ideas to help them talk to young adults about these things.

What does it cover?

From the essential starting point of what constitutes healthy versus unhealthy relationships (both in long term and briefer encounters), the book covers all the basic things about sex and relationships a young person might want to know including consent, porn, masturbation, body confidence, contraception, slut shaming, sexual health and how to navigate a break-up as well as LGBTQ+ issues. One of the great things about Hannah’s approach is that where she doesn’t have the experience or authority to speak about something, she brings in a friend who does, many of whom are from the super collaborative YouTube community, so there are a number of diverse LGBTQ+ voices throughout this section. The copy we read was a preview and sadly didn’t include the resources section - Hannah is an ambassador for the marvellous young people’s sexual health and wellbeing charity, Brook, so we’re fairly confident if you need help beyond the pages of the book, you’ll be signposted to a good and trustworthy place.

Is it any good?

Why, yes. This is the sort of book I wish had been around when I was in my, sadly very long ago, teen and early 20s years. It really does fill a portion of space in the sex and relationships vacuum left by our current education system. A book cannot replace having someone to actually talk to but Hannah Witton is most definitely worth listening to. She is also able to say some of the things some educators perhaps can’t, particularly in relating her own experience, but does so in a responsible way. We love how honest she is - there’s one bit where she describes a conversation with a former partner and refers to her STI status as clean. She then takes time to explain why that isn’t a useful term to use and that she regretted that aspect of what was otherwise a super healthy and mature conversation. She didn’t have to tell readers she’d said that. It would be very easy to gloss it over but that honesty shows just how pervasive ideas of ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ are in relation to sex and STIs. We can all benefit from thinking about the language we use and how this can help us retain a judgement free attitude to all things sex and sexual health. Hannah sums this up brilliantly herself towards the end of the book:

There is no right or wrong kind of sex life, there’s just whatever works for you. There’s no hierarchy in sex - who’s doing it right, enough, with the right people. But no one is in a position to pass judgement on anyone’s sexual preferences, sexual behaviour, the way they dress, how they look etc. It’s really none of our business

Quite.

You can buy the book at major book stores across the UK and online. We’ll also be taking samplers to events and our partner clinics so come try before you buy!