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Grown-up Sex

New book stresses the importance of communication, respect and acceptance of ourselves

By Carolyn Pogue

Meg Hickling’s Grown-up Sex: Sexual Wholeness for the
Better Part of Your Life
By Meg Hickling
Northstone Press ($18.95)

Even if you’ve been sexually active for decades, you may be in for a surprise or two in Meg Hickling’s Grown-up Sex. From masturbation to sex shop advice for seniors, from hot tips for retirement home life to how to discuss sex, this little book covers a lot of ground.

Meg Hickling is a retired registered nurse who attends Dunbar Heights United in Vancouver. She began her career as a sexual health educator 30 years ago and teaches students “aged 3 to 100” in North America and in Japan. She finds that many people have similar attitudes and misinformation about sex. Through books, videos and speeches, Hickling chips away at twin icebergs: ignorance and embarrassment. Her early work became the foundation for the B.C. Provincial Family Life Curriculum. She has received the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia and more.

Reading this book, you may be in for some laughs; while the subject is serious, Hickling isn’t shy about sharing her sense of humour.

The book cover — a pair of boxer shorts and a brassiere waving in the breeze on a clothesline — reflects Hickling’s light touch. The amusing anecdotes inside complete the picture. For example, Hickling relates how, early in her career, the proper pronunciation of some body parts tripped her up. Now, she half-jokingly advises adults to practise saying the words over and over, perhaps while vacuuming. “They just have to hope that a neighbour doesn’t walk in unannounced,” she quips.

Hickling acknowledges that corporations play on people’s fear about penis size and happily debunks these myths. She reminds readers that “It’s not the size of the wand, but the magic that’s in it that matters.”

Hickling also shares her sense of outrage. She is livid that AIDS is allowed to kill so many when medicines and education are available. She is angry that homophobic ignorance can lead to shame, violence or death. She is enraged that pornography and sexual abuse poison our societies. She is frustrated that while world hunger persists, unhappy people spend fortunes on cosmetics and surgery, desperate to look younger and sexier.

A couple of times I thought the text wandered slightly off subject — for example, when she offers reasons why people divorce — but it did not detract from the book, which after all, is a book about our whole selves.

Grown-up Sex is a companion to Hickling’s 2005 book, The New Speaking of Sex: What Your Children Need to Know and When They Need to Know It. Communication, respect and acceptance of our whole selves are the underlying themes. I recommend it.
Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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