In my college courses and personal reading, I’ve found sex education books to be a bit tedious, often written in a textbook style. Doing It! by Hannah Witton is not that book.
This book is well-organized, humorous, and full of the same personality that shines through on Witton’s YouTube channel. Witton mindfully includes disclaimers here and there to let the reader know that this is how things are for her, or ‘this is a generalization,’ but let’s her audience know it’s okay that everyone is different. The icing on top of the cake that is this book is the Harry Potter references included in one chapter (#Potterhead).
Hannah Witton is, first and foremost, a Hufflepuff (we Hufflepuffs are the best house, obviously). Witton studied at the University of Birmingham, where she specialized in sexual history and wrote her dissertation on Victorian sex manuals. She’s been making videos about sex and relationships since 2011, and added ostomies to her conversation material after her ulcerative colitis led to emergency surgery in January 2018.
I get the feeling that Witton and I definitely have best friend potential.
Witton’s writing style is very casual and conversational, turning potentially heavy topics
in simple, easy-to-read parts that avoid the monotonous style of many textbooks on the
same topics. Each chapter is broken down and organized into sections, and each section is no more than a few pages. This makes it very easy to pick up the book and read any single part, without worrying that you may have skipped over something important that builds up to that particular section.
I would have loved to have this book as part of my own sex education curriculum. Geared to a 14+ crowd and easy to navigate, Witton breaks down ideas that seem (and are) incredibly complex to growing minds. Addressing topics like relationships, singlehood, virginity, consent, porn, LGBTQ+, and many other important topics, Witton covers a vast area in a relatively short span. She comes from a place of privilege in her sex education and personal life, and she acknowledges this by stating that her own experiences shouldn’t be generalized to others, and invites her friends to lend their voices to the book as well, in order to address experiences that Witton has not had, such as being genderfluid, transgender, and polyamorous.
While I already knew 90% of the information presented in this book (due to my academic and work experience in the field and my fascination with sex in general), I still had something to learn from it. Besides learning simple ways to explain things to those I
talk with, I had a revelation in the contraceptive chapter. Witton stated that using birth control made her feel static, not experiencing libido changes, among other things. Reading that made me think about my own experiences with birth control. When I was on the pill, I got VERY horny during my period. Since using the IUD, I don’t feel those hormonal changes anymore. While I like not having periods, I do miss the libido changes. My mind tells me I want to have sex, while my body is a neutral ground these days. This also goes to show that you should be aware of your body and how it works, so you can recognize what changes occur while using the birth control, or transitioning, and can find out what you are and are not comfortable with (for more information on bodily changes with birth control, check out Witton’s Hormone Diaries).
While this book was absolutely fantastic, there are some things that Witton does not address. While she mentions kink shaming, she does not go into detail about kink, which could be it’s own chapter. This is understandable though, due to the age at which the book is geared. Ironically enough, Doing It! is missing a chapter on sex and disabilities. Just a few years after beginning the book, and less than a year after it was published, Hannah underwent emergency surgery for ulcerative colitis that led to her getting an ostomy.
However, Witton directly addresses these exclusion in her series of YouTube videos focusing on her book. Want to know about what she would do differently (talk about disabilities), and why certain topics like puberty and kink were excluded? Check out video 6: “Things I Would Do Differently.” Curious about her book writing secrets? Check out video 1: “Book Secrets.” You can also view her library of sex books, learn about her friends whose voices were included in the book, learn about recording an audiobook, and hear all about her tour rehearsals. Witton discusses hopes to add chapters to future editions, or to perhaps write an entire second book to include disabilities and more mature topics like kink.
The only thing I would change about Doing It! that Witton didn’t address would have been that she add in information in the section on faking orgasms. I loved Artemisia Femmecock’s article on faking it, how it’s okay to do in specific situations, and how faking it can be included in sex without giving a partner the wrong idea.
Overall, I adored this book. I love it’s simplicity, and Witton’s upbeat writing style. I highly recommend this book for sex education courses, in place of dreary texts that make sex into a topic you could sleep through, or scare-tactic classes that instill fear into their audiences.
Doing It! can be purchased online or from your local bookstore. I received Doing It! from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Curious about what else I’m reading? Check out my Goodreads profile and my bookshelf.