I almost did not read this book because of how it is often referenced on social media. The marketing approach shows itself through Twitter with terms such as “Tlof Tlof revolution” and “Sexual pleasure revolution” often thrown around cheaply when making reference to the book. One immediately assumes that these trendy taglines are probably telling of how shallow or trivial the book actually is. On the contrary, the text proved these preliminary assumptions wrong. After having perused through Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng first offering titled Dr T- A Guide to Sexual Health & Pleasure, I was left thoroughly educated.
Roughly, there are a few take outs that are worth mentioning: Dr Tlaleng speaks from the proverbial and almost academically elusive position of a lived experience. Her accounts both on health and pleasure questions are related to various personal experiences, these include her first interaction with menstruation, to her experiences as a junior medical doctor at a community clinic, and right through into her personal space as a young wife, trying out for a pregnancy shortly after undergoing surgery. The lived experience style of writing draws the reader into appreciating the text not merely as academic but equally as an expression of the personal account; thus making this book a truly liberating engagement.
As you read through the book, you discover crucial insights about the human body, specifically its reproductive system. The first feeling that comes to one’s mind is that most of these things are so important, that they should actually be made compulsory knowledge to all adults. This lends credence to the on-going proposals by the Department of Basic Education to introduce sex education as a compulsory subject in our schools. It would be recommended that the Department should consider prescribing this book to both primary and high school learners.
The book is divided into three sections, the first is about sexual health; the scribe discusses sexual health beginning with physiology wherein the vagina is placed on the table, dissected and interrogated for the truths about its character, the myths about its attitudes, and the superstitions that surround it. The penis is also put under microscope, explaining its physical make-up, including post-circumcision.
What makes this book special and unique from other health books is its glossary of terms. Shortly after concluding section 3, the “glossary with a difference” does not merely explain terms used in the book, but it rather engages in the onerous task of educating the reader, providing them with a language to articulate their sex health and pleasure experiences properly.
Dr T uses non-verbose language to unwrite dominant narratives about sex, pleasure and everything related to it. The author deliberately focuses on the vagina, women’s health and sexual fulfilment, having noted that this is a subject that remains under-researched, even in the MBChB curriculum.