/ 20 August 2021

The Portfolio: Sex writer Tiffany Kagure Mugo

Tiffany Mugo A Writer Photo Delwyn Verasamy
Magical work: For Tiffany Kagure Mugo, writing about sex has been a journey of learning and unlearning. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

 Sex can sometimes be overwhelming: it has so many ins and out and unwritten rules that we never officially learn, but are somehow meant to know. This is coupled with the fact that we are met with a storm of politics, shame and problematic that takes centre stage when we are trying to see other people nude. 

Writing about sex, for me, has been a journey of learning and unlearning, turning things around in my mind to try to figure out how to do it. As someone who is a nerd at heart, I thought being able to understand the mechanics of the thing would help me do the thing. I was also under the impression one could crash course learning about sex. 

However, the journey has been the equivalent of thinking you are digging in a sand pit and finding out you are actually in the middle of the Sahara desert. When I began, I thought that simply because I knew a little more than the average person about getting down and nasty I could enter this realm and document sex in all its glory. And for a while, as one of the few voices who had the gumption to write publicly about sex, the con worked. 

  Eventually, I realised that this was a marathon and not a sprint. I was always one article/sex story/radio interview away from talking absolute nonsense if I did not keep digging and furthering my understanding. When it comes to sex, sexuality and desire there is always something to learn, someone to learn from and something that has been a core part of your thinking that you need to put down and lay to rest. 

  One of the biggest hurdles around writing about sex has always been the fact that much as some of us can do it, we cannot truly conceptualise it. I grew up with the idea that things would simply fall into place; that with just the right combination of sexual desire, and just a dose of flexibility things will simply happen. Writing about sex caused me to question this, because how do you give words to the acts? Yes, we may know how to perform cunnilingus when in the moment but how do you give a step-by-step guide to someone reading their phone in a taxi? Yes, you know how to go from reverse cowgirl to missionary but how do you write that out in a scene where this is laid out in a series of letters and dashes, when I couldn’t simply mumble “No, no put it there …”

  The focus of the work I produce is to create something that makes you stop and think: not in a way that scares you or shames you, but in a way where you are like “Hmmm, never thought of that.”

  Over the years, writing about sex has become more and more of a thing. The sex positive-movement has seen the rise and rise of bloggers, YouTube channels, social media accounts and all manner of sexperts. Gone are the days when it was simply Mills & Boon that provided us with our sex information in the form of various members that quiver. Now there are a whole host of players, who have entered the space with intention.  

Not to say that the space is perfect. We still have the likes of “50 shades of problematic” roaming the landscape but we also have an avalanche of materials that are helpful and portray sex in a more holistic way. The world of writing about sex is expanding vastly: from erotica anthologies sans the awkward sex scenes to prominent health and lifestyle platforms having actual sex therapists doling out advice (as opposed to your local “married Aunty”), the game is changing. There are people doing the work, which is magical. 

For the author on Twitter here: @tiffmugo