When I was 11 years old, copies of the now defunct Australian teen magazine Dolly started mysteriously showing up in my family’s living room. At the time, I thought my mother was buying them for her own entertainment, and passing them on to me when she was done the way she did the other magazines she read. But with a couple of decades hindsight, I now realise the magazines were purchased for my benefit.
At that point, I was already educated in the basics of sex and puberty. But the magazines provided answers to the questions that would plague my adolescence. How to a form a relationship? When was the right time to have sex? What did it mean to desire and be desired, and how did I fit into that? What is love? (Baby, don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me…)
The answers the magazines gave me weren’t always the most constructive, but their presence in our house sent a clear and important message: that in our family, sex and relationships were subjects that could be discussed openly and without fear.