Women struggle to say what satisfies them: Dr T talks sex in new book
Sex expert Tlaleng Mofokeng tells Jennifer Platt about her passion for changing misconceptions about sexual health and pleasure
Our indomitable sex columnist Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng - affectionately known as Dr T - is passionate about making sexual health and wellbeing services available to all.
You can access her advice in her book
Dr T: A Guide to Sexual Health & Pleasure (Pan Macmillan, R290). We asked her some questions:
Did you always want to be a doctor?
Yes. My earliest memory of wanting to be
a doctor is being interested in the latest band aids when I was shopping with my mom.
I was also obsessed with making my own medical kit at home.
Why did you become a sexual-health expert?
During my community service year, I worked at different clinics every day. I met lots of young people who asked for information ranging from vaginal health to tips on how to break up with their partners.
Many felt that they didn't have anyone else to ask, so I became the person they could trust. Later I decided to go into radio and use social media to provide information to a larger audience.
What's the most common misconception that women have about sex?
That it's something that's done to women - many women have internalised this idea. So, lots of women don't participate in the sexual contact that they initiate, and they're often not able to communicate what's pleasurable for them during sex.
And men's common misconceptions?
The biggest misconceptions about sex and women's bodies are perpetuated by men. Ranging from vaginal discharge and what different types signify to how soon a woman can have sex after delivering a baby. Men tend to focus on the quantity of sex. Some men will use harmful methods to improve libido or increase penis length.
What work do you do for the government?
I've been appointed as a commissioner to the Commission of Gender Equality by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The term of office is until 2024. I am also involved in the drafting process to produce the National Strategic Plan for Gender-based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) arising from the Presidential Summit in November 2018. The work is ongoing and the finalisation and adoption of the plan is urgent.
You presented a keynote address in Washington to more than 350 delegates. How do you build your confidence?
At the time it was the biggest crowd I'd addressed and although the number sounds intimidating, it was easy because I was sharing my experiences with like-minded people. My TV and radio experience also came in handy.
Some men will use harmful methods to improve libido or increase penis length
The address came at a time when the global community was awakening to the detrimental impact of some foreign aid funding models and principles used to determine which communities and programmes in the Global South receive funding.
I was asked to speak because I had been working on the issue of the Global Gag Rule and knew first-hand its effects on women in SA.
Who should read the book?
It's for anyone who wants comprehensive sexual health information inclusive of anatomy, physiology of different bodily functions, medical conditions and discussions and tips about ways to have safer and more enjoyable sexual experiences.
Did you do a lot of research?
The research started years before writing the book. My expertise and the fact that I stick to medicine helps. Added to that, I bring my own experience - what I wish I'd known growing up, what my peers and I used to chat about and, of course, my experience with my patients at the clinic.
If you could tell your 18-year-old self one thing now, what would it be?
As James Brown said: "Our crown has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do is wear it."
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