BOOK REVIEW: Doing It by Hannah Witton

Have you ever wondered why sex is such a taboo? Youtuber Hannah Witton has. Her new book, Doing It, is a bold rejection of the secrecy surrounding sex and similar topics. Not shy of discussing sexting, masturbation, porn, or even her own messy breakups, Hannah offers answers to questions we’ve all thought about but perhaps been too shy to ask.

‘I want this book to educate you, I want this book to feel like your friend gossiping with you, I want this book to make you feel normal, comfortable, empowered and in control of your body.’

Hannah has quite the online presence. Since starting her YouTube channel in 2011, she has gained 350k subscribers and won multiple awards for her vlogs, including Cosmopolitan’s Best Sex and Relationships Influencer in 2016. Although I’d never watched Hannah’s YouTube videos before reading this book, I really did feel like we were two friends gossiping over coffee. With her casual and humorous style, Hannah doesn’t position herself above readers, but next to them.

Doing It, despite its snappy title, isn’t all about sex. There are chapters on virginity, STIs and contraception, but these are preceded by everything from first crushes to the inherent sexism of porn. To give you a taster, some of the chapters include: Healthy Relationships, Consent, and Sex Shaming. Take this as the sex and relationship education class you might’ve missed at school. It won’t tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know, but it’s a great place to start.

‘If there’s anything I want you to take away from this book, it’s that you deserve and you are entitled to healthy relationships. Whether that’s with your romantic or sexual partners, your friends, your family, your colleagues, your peers or, most importantly, yourself.’

Although you’d expect the book’s target audience to be teenage girls and young woman, the material in here applies, and matters, to everyone. Boys can learn a thing or two as well, even if no more than seeing issues from a girl’s perspective. One of the most impressive parts of Hannah’s writing is how inclusive she is. The best example of this is the LGBTQ+ chapter, one of the most empowering sections of the book. Although she herself identifies as a straight female, Hannah makes sure to address people of all genders, gender identities, and sexualities. No matter who you are or how you view yourself, you’ll feel like your concerns are being heard and addressed.

‘LGBTQ+ is wonderful, beautiful, diverse and loving. You are normal. You are not alone. And I know I’ve said it a million times but I feel like it’s important to remind everyone again: love is love.’

Hannah certainly knows more about sex and relationships than the average young woman does, which puts her in an excellent position to write this book. What she doesn’t know, however, she doesn’t pretend to. Instead, she reaches out to others to share their personal experiences or professional expertise. Particularly in the LGBTQ+ chapter, Hannah includes stories from transgender, gender fluid, and asexual vloggers and activists, giving a voice to stories that aren’t always allowed to be heard. In the chapters about consent and rape, Hannah includes words from Kate Parker, a criminal barrister who founded and directs the Schools Consent Project, which raise awareness about consent and sexual offences amongst 11-18 year olds. Hannah doesn’t throw around big words absent-mindedly. She takes care to define the terms she uses, keeping everyone on the same page.

‘Sex where there is a lack of consent is not sex. It’s sexual abuse or rape.’

If you’re looking for a detailed biology lesson about the ins and outs of intercourse, this isn’t the book for you. Although there are a few useful diagrams and the science behind Hannah’s words is accurate, this book is much more about generating discussion, raising awareness, and boosting one’s self-esteem. Her aim is to reassure readers that, not only is it normal to have questions about sex and relationships, but it is even more normal to discuss them with others. While some portions read as a little preachy, Hannah’s likeability and honesty save her. When she does choose to include personal stories, she is candid about her experiences, giving readers a genuine insight into her own life.

Doing It is a bold step in a much larger movement to encourage teens and young adults to be more open in talking about issues and experiences that affect us all. So let’s talk about it. All of it. Sex, being single, sending nudes, watching porn, getting checked, coming out, using condoms, saying no, saying yes, and loving every single little part of yourself in the process.

Hannah Witton

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Hannah Witton is a twenty-something YouTuber who spreads positive messages to young people about sex, relationships, body image, gender and sexuality.

Doing It candidly and openly explores topics like masturbation and puberty, slut shaming and consent as well as how to maintain healthy relationships in a digital age.

Order Doing It now and enter into her world…

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Doing It was published by Wren & Rook (Hachette Children’s Group) on 6th April 2017.

You can purchase a copy of Doing It from FoylesWaterstones, or The Book Depository:

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To discover more about Hachette click here

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Review by Alice Kouzmenko

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