EVERY so often, Zoe Margolis - aka Abby Lee - sits down at her computer and writes about sex. Who she last had it with, who she’s going to have it with, who she’d like to have it with, or why she can’t have it at all.
Her honest account of one woman’s sexual desires, feelings and hopes have caused an internet sensation, and her blog, Girl with A One Track Mind, regularly attracts more than 100,000 unique visitors a month.
Margolis is now taking her outspoken views on sex one step further and becoming an advocate for sexual-health matters.
A new bill currently being debated in the House of Commons will make sex education mandatory in schools.
Along with Brook, a sexual-health charity for under-25s, Margolis is supporting the development.
The writer says that good communication about sex is key to increasing levels of good sexual health among young people.
She wants to see more people of every age discussing sex and believes that better sexual communication could help reduce Britain’s teen pregnancy rates, currently the highest in Europe.
“We have massive double standards here in Britain regarding sex,” she says.
“We’re either quintessentially British and very tight-lipped about it, or have a Carry On-inspired liberation deal, which came about during the Seventies and Eighties.
“I’m sick of seeing naked women on magazine covers sold to me as liberation. Just because you can make money from your body today doesn’t mean you can also talk openly about sex and sexuality.”
Margolis feels that the mainstream UK media still pushes an antiquated view of sex which keeps both men and women sexually repressed.
This attitude, she adds, is also contrary to how people in modern Britain really feel.
The UK is slowly, but surely, becoming more sexually liberal, Margolis says.
Surveys show that we are now more tolerant of abortion, same-sex relations and sex before marriage than we were 25 years ago.
But despite these shifts, Margolis says that it’s still very difficult for Britons to talk about sex openly – and she has the battle scars to prove it.
NO ONE LIKES TO TALK ABOUT SEX...
Inspired by former prostitute Belle de Jour’s honest accounts of her own sex life, Margolis started her blog in 2004.
Like Belle, Margolis wrote her blog anonymously – not because she was ashamed of her views on sex, but because of the double standards that still existed in Britain.
“We chastise women if they express their sexual wants and needs,” she says.
To call the blog a success is an understatement. It recently ranked 24th in the Observer’s Top 50 Most Powerful Blogs in the World list and has transformed Margolis from a blogger into a feminist/sex expert with two books to her name: Girl with A One Track Mind: Confessions of the Seductress Next Door, and Girl with A One Track Mind: Exposed (written under the pseudonym, Abby Lee).
Although Margolis acknowledges that her success stems largely from the fact that Britain finds her subject matter taboo, she highlights that this means she is constantly forced to defend herself.
The writer describes how she was outed from anonymity by a Sunday national, sent hate mail through her in-box and has been consistently labelled a slut and prostitute by the press.
But all that has just furthered her desire to continue to challenge Britain’s “mainstream media stereotypes” about sex, she says.
One criticism that she finds intolerable is that she is actively promoting casual sex.
“A lot of people have accused me of promoting promiscuity. What I’m actually promoting is freedom of sexual expression – the liberation to express yourself sexually however you choose without fear of judgment or labelling,” she says.
What Margolis is pushing for is greater communication about sex to help liberate Britain from its “outdated views”.
“For example, women need sex just as much as men, and men need and seek love just as much as women. But it’s still entirely unacceptable for either of them to admit that openly in society, and that needs to change.”
She attributes such stigmas to the fact that sex today is treated as a commodity.
“Thanks to men’s magazines, women are seen as sexual objects, while in women’s magazines, articles focus on ‘How to please the man and look pretty’, and not on how a woman can find her own pleasure or self-worth.”
SEX EDUCATION GIVES YOUNG PEOPLE A CHANCE
If Britain wants to reduce its teenage pregnancy rate, politicians would do well to listen to Margolis.
“Study after study shows that the more communication provided about sex to young people, the less likely they are to have sex.”
She – along with sexual-health charity Brook – is supporting the PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) Bill currently passing through parliament which aims to make sexual education mandatory in schools – a bill, she says, which will “get kids the information they need and deserve”.
Brook’s national director, Simon Blake, agrees.
“Young people need to receive good-quality sex and relationships education to equip them with the information and skills they need to form healthy and positive sexual relationships, and delay having sex until they are ready.
“Making PSHE education statutory through the Children, Schools and Families Bill will mean that all children and young people will receive the education and information they are entitled to.”
But good sexual health also needs to be taught at home, says Margolis, whose parents first gave her condoms aged 13.
“They didn’t want me to use them. They just wanted me to be safe.
“But because I was informed about sex, I made the decision to wait until I was in love – and was consequently the last one of all my friends to lose my virginity.”
Research shows that children whose parents talk to them openly and honestly about sex and relationships have sex later and are more likely to use contraception when they do become sexually active.
With a blog read mostly by 18 to 35-year-olds, Margolis is proud of the fact that she has so many young readers talking to each other about sex on her own site.
“It’s great that they’re communicating with one another, talking about things, breaking stereotypes.
“Only by challenging such social conditioning can we encourage dialogue and get people thinking differently.”
And while the media (and some readers) have disregarded Margolis as a “sex addict”, the blogger says she has a “healthy attitude” to sex that borders more on obsession.
“I think we should all be more obsessed with sex,” she says.
“We should all be looking at how we view and portray sex and what imagery we’re providing young people, and what role models they’re looking up to to develop their own sexuality. We need to give them the right basis to start formulating their lives.”