Let's Not Talk About It

This is a conversation and podcast transcript of an episode identically named.



"My mother... probably that's what she was trying to do. But it came off as alienating, and it was a little bit of a weird situation. Because our father was there too for a part of it. He just didn't say anything. He was not part of the conversation. It was just our mother coming home with these condoms without first talking about it, or afterwards talking about it."

Lore Blancke

Welcome to the Intimate Breath podcast! My name is Lore and I'm a holistic sexuality and intimacy Coach. In this podcast, we discuss all things taboo, share personal stories and talk about integrating our sexuality in all areas of our life. Today, I'm here with my sister, Joke. And when I say sister, I mean literally my sister: we share the same parents. It feels really dear to me to have her here on this podcast. Recently, she started to also work in a place that is kind of related with the work I do.


Joke (guest)

Just to clarify, that I'm not a sex worker. I work in a sexshop, which has more of the concept of being woman friendly, there's a bit more of an emphasis on sensuality and celebrating of sexuality.


Lore Blancke

So a shop that is more body-positive, women-friendly and with an emphasis on sensuality and connection.


So we have lots of juicy conversations about how it is to be a woman, how it is to have a sex life, and how to relate. And we just wanted to share one with you also! So one of the topics that we recently have been talking more about - and that I feel quite passionate about - is just how it seems to be so obvious, the longer I work in this field and the more I look back to my past and my upbringing: how the topic of sexuality and menstruating is still such a taboo. Even in this western modern world, even with parents that are absolutely amazing. They're open minded. I've just been astonished by how things went. When we were younger, we didn't share as much as we did now. It's just by talking more and more with you (my sister) that I came to realize that it's also for you the case.


I talk about these subjects with all my friends and everyone actually. On the bus, on the train,... And it's not only us, we happen to be from the same family. It's sweet too, to be able to talk about it here with you. And I'm curious: is there some concrete memory right now that comes up for you?


Joke (guest)

Not very long ago, we talked about menstruating for the first time and how that conversation went with our mother. How she explained certain things to us. Yeah, I think we both had the experience that we weren't maybe supported the way we should have been in an emotional way. Because we did not understand what was going. I mean, maybe we had some idea of the biology of it, but not very specific. Just the general: okay, we bleed every month or so. And then our mother - she is amazing, by the way - , the first time we menstruated she explained to both of us how these menstrual pads work, how to use them, ... Or, she did with me.


Lore Blancke

Yes, my story was a little different, but we can come back to that.


Joke (guest)

Okay, but then me about yours then!


Lore Blancke

So I didn't have that conversation with her. And our parents gave me this book. It was called 'Pubers', I think. And there was just all information in, about a body that's growing into adulthood. Hair that is appearing in different places, pads and tampons and stuff like that. So when I had the first time bleeding, I thought ... Well, they gave me this book. I never had a conversation with them about it. So I thought: Okay, this is not something we talk about. So I just went to the shop by myself, and I had my first menstruation, without them knowing,


Joke (guest)

Which is very weird if you look back on it, because it is such a 'big thing' in growing up. That you kind of felt like you had to do it on your own. For me, she did explain it but just the practical parts of it. And she also acted like it was not a fun time. And I think she did with you, too, that you had a feeling like this is not something you want.


Lore Blancke

And I remember asking her the question at some point: "Oh, if you started earlier with menstruation, does it also mean to stop earlier?" So I already had a very negative image of it. Before I properly knew what it meant to be a menstruating woman. And right now I'm just a complete freak about it! And I love it! I love wearing a nice dress when I'm bleeding ...


Joke (guest)

It's just part of it, we have to embrace it.


Lore Blancke

Yeah, I love every part of the cycle and what it does with me and how my mood changes and what my superpowers are in every part of the cycle.


Joke (guest)

Now, also, for me more and more, we have a better feeling with our body. Throughout the cycle, it changes so much that we don't understand it when you're little. And the older you get, the more you feel it. And like you said, it's amazing, your whole body changes so much.


Lore Blancke

It's really magical. And, of course, this is not something you can give as information to your daughter if that's not your own experience.


Joke (guest)

Probably our mother had the same talk with her mother. And that's just something she grew up with.


Lore Blancke

I'm also aware that in a way, we're already so informed. There are so many different places in the world where girls just start bleeding down there and they're thinking that they're going to die, because they have no clue what's actually happening. So in that sense, we're already so much further on the line. In terms of being informed. And still, I'm just amazed by how much there still is to open up about.



I want to make a little jump here from the topic of menstruation to sexuality. When I was in my grandparents house on holidays, I had the first moment where I discovered that there is pleasure between my legs. So I was just in bed, I was just... I don't know what I was doing. But a stuffed animal was pressing against my vulva. And I discovered that: Oh, this feels nice! It was completely innocent. I had no idea what it was and I completely also linked it to this particular stuffed animal (haha). It's just quite significant to notice that I didn't go downstairs and just like I would have shared anything else that I discovered in excitement - that I kept it a secret. I never mentioned it. Somehow as a little child, it was already clear to me that this is not something you talk about. Even though I didn't have any cognitive understanding yet of what was actually happening.


What's the place in your sexual history where you wish you would have had more information or more transparency?


Joke (guest)

That actually gets me thinking about a situation where our mother came home with a pack of condoms that she bought for the two of us. I don't remember actually having conversation about safer sex.... or maybe we just knew and she kind of assumed that we're smart girls. That we know that you have to be safe. But I don't remember actually having the conversation. But then at some point she brought home these condoms for us to share with the idea behind it that we're growing up and we better be safe. And if you go to a store.... well, we don't have to go through the embarrassing experience of going to the store buying condoms. We have them at home. And she also told us: "I won't look there. If hey're gone, I won't notice." But it was a weird experience, because there was just one pack for the both of us. I was not sexually active. Maybe you were starting to... ? I don't remember. You never used them. I never used them because they were also these ecological, biological brands of condoms that we... I didn't trust them very much. If I were to have sex, I don't think I would have used those condoms just because you would have seen it. She could have seen it. I think I just would have gone to the store and bought them myself because I would be embarrassed about it. I think if you're embarrassed to go to the store to buy condoms, maybe shouldn't have sex. I realized that we were brought up with these assumptions and ideas. And I know that somebody can be ready but there's just this whole taboo of shame and guilt. Also surrounding buying condoms. So that's maybe a harsh statement. But you know what I mean?


Lore Blancke

Yes. You're just saying that for you, it was as embarrassing to take it out of that closet, in our home, as to go to the shop. What stands out for me is that I imagine our parents made that decision, because they wanted to have that be something acceptable in our family and something taken care of. (Yeah.) And it didn't feel like that to us.



Joke (guest)

Yes, I think our mother ... that is probably what he was trying to do. But it came off as alienating and a little bit of a weird situation. Also because our father was there too for a part of it. He just didn't say anything, he was not part of the conversation. It was just our mother coming home out of the blue with these condoms without first talking about it, or afterwards talking about it. I think I were to have the same conversation with my children, I would try to make them feel like they can always talk about it with me. And that I can say sex is important. And I want to buy condoms for them, but also that buying condoms is just a smart and safe thing to do. That it's also not embarrassing to do it yourself.


Lore Blancke

And for me, I would have loved to have more conversations about it. Not only about condoms, sex is not equal as condoms. We grew up with these cartoons about sex in the bathroom when we were very little. They were more like comic expressions of ... it was laughing with different stereotypes.


Joke (guest)

Which is the only message we got about sex as young girls.


Lore Blancke

They also made some jokes about it, here and there. Very, very little. Bu there was never just a serious or a normal conversation about sex just at the table with our parents. So for me, there was just this lack of trust about the topic already and for talking about it. And that makes it hard to suddenly be in a situation where they're giving us condoms without any other conversation before.


Joke (guest)

For me, that just felt like they understand we knew some things already. That they just trusted us and they didn't have to explain it. The whole growing up without the conversation just felt to me like they don't feel like they need to. So they're not doing it, which is in itself also a message of: 'if it's not necessary, do not talk about it.' Which is also maybe something they grew up with and didn't understand that that's something now that we would do differently.


Lore Blancke

For me sex is just such an important part of my life. I can't imagine not ever talking about it with anyone (haha). To grow up ... I mean, I have a really good relationship with my parents. But it's still not a topic that we can comfortably talk about. More and more. Better and better. I realize that you might have had very different needs and longings in what we both in that process and the initiation of becoming a woman. I want to come back to that later. But for me, I definitely found it a pity that there was this one moment where I was cleaning together with my mother. Somehow I hinted that I was having sex with my boyfriend. And she said: "Oh, are you having sex already?" She sounded kind of surprised. I'm also still wondering: was it really negative tone? I'm not sure.


Joke (guest)

Which is also kind of naïve, because he was sleeping over. I think even I knew!


Lore Blancke

I replied: "Yes." And that was it. I certainly wished that I could have just talked with her about it beforehand. I could have maybe been curious, shown my excitement, have some questions. And I just went to Google. And I just tried to talk about it with a neighbor of ours who now and then talked with me. That's me personally.


Joke (guest)

I got the same reaction of her. I didn't have a boyfriend who was sleeping over, but nevertheless my first time had happened. And it had been a few months and she couldn't have known. At one point, I just decided to tell her not because I had to, but I just felt like she had the right to know, as my mother. I think it was kind of the same reaction of: "Oh, okay, who was it with?" And not much more. I think she also said: "Okay, I'll tell your father." Because she knew I wasn't going to tell him. And that was kind of it.


Lore Blancke

That's also something that's standing out here: we're talking only about our mother. We're not even considering that our father could have been the person to go to. That might be very different in other families, of course.


Joke (guest)

As we are talking about sexuality: is there something you would have done differently? Something you would like to say to your younger self, that you know now that you wish you knew then?


Lore Blancke

What comes up first for me when I hear the question is that I zoom out completely. And I just want to see things different in our culture at large and our school system.


I feel like the last years, the more I became myself, the more free I have been feeling to be myself and to do what I like and to have the pleasure that I want, has been breaking free from being the good girl that I was thought to be. And there's never really an emphasis on.... For example, in school, they don't ask you: "What do you want? What are your dreams?" They don't teach you to say 'no', to speak up. I mean, in some ways they do but there's a lacking of it in my opinion, when it comes to the relational and when it comes to personal boundaries. That's the biggest one for me. And I felt very alone in that (personal boundaries). I felt like I was just not resourced at all when I started being sexually active. And it has been such a difficult journey for me the first years. To find my voice and to start learning what I like and what not. And that's a journey that everyone has to make, of course. It's just an exploration of your own body that everyone has to do. But to feel alone in the communication part towards lovers, towards the people that I was interacting with. To not have had a fully supportive environment, already from when I was much younger. Just to be able to talk about these things and know that it is okay to rock the boat, to say 'no' when something doesn't feel good.


So how about you? What do you wish you would have done differently or wish you would have known?


Joke (guest)

In general, I've become just so much more confidence and more trust in what I want, what I need. And that I can decide that for myself. That's just a teenager thing: there's this whole pack of hormones rushing through your body. There's so much going on, you're overwhelmed by everything or at least: I was. So I think I would have liked to trust myself a little bit more. That I would have just known that it is a journey. And I was just going through it the best I could. I was just learning to trust myself, my body.


Lore Blancke

So feeling supported or having gotten the message that it's normal.


Joke (guest)

Yes, that's very simplified. But yes.


Lore Blancke

I also like that you mentioned the hormones, because I learned about the fact that young men, when they go into puberty, their testosterone level is suddenly seven times higher than before. And it goes very quickly. When I heard that, I just felt so much compassion for all these young boys that suddenly feel so much more energy in their body. There's not really a lot of support in that. And then all these young girls that are relating with these young boys and haven't been taught to first explore their own body and to find their voice in the way that I would have liked to see. I just feel a lot of compassion for us.


Joke (guest)

For the young girls and boys growing up because it's the hard thing.


Lore Blancke

Definitely, it was a hard time for both of us.


Joke (guest)

Yeah. For different reasons.


Lore Blancke

I'm really glad that we could talk about this.


Joke (guest)

Yeah. I think what really stood out in this conversation is the communication on your part. And just the general culture and shame and taboo surrounding just talking about it, whatever it is.


Lore Blancke

I think what I also take with me from talking with you is that regardless of any messages or information or knowledge that I would give or not give to my children, I would love to have them grow up already knowing that this is just a normal part of our life. It's integrated, it's accepted, I celebrate their pleasure and I celebrate them following their joy.


Joke (guest)

Which it is, it's an essential and natural part of life. And it's so ridiculous, if you think about it, how much there's not being said!? And also, can I just say: this conversation between us, I feel like I could have it with any friend. This is just such a shared experience of women, right now I was especially talking about women. But I think just young boys and girls in general, this experience of: "What's happening? I don't know. I don't understand. I'm so confused."


Lore Blancke

Let's talk about it!


Joke (guest)

Let's talk, yes!


Lore Blancke

Thank you for listening (or reading). I am so happy for everyone who is just engaging with this content. If this is in any way valuable for you, please share it with your friends, on social media, or just let me know in a message.


#Letsnottalkaboutit


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