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‘The Sex Book’ by Leeza Mangaldas — Unpacking Lust, Lube, And So Much More

Leeza Mangaldas confesses that her attitude towards sex and sexuality was enabled by supportive parents who were open and honest on the subject, always entertaining her questions. In the Indian context, this is rare, even today.

‘Imagine a world where all sexual experiences are consensual, safe and pleasurable.’ – The Sex Book, Leeza Mangaldas

This is Leeza Mangaldas’ vision for a sensual utopia: where people know what they want, communicate with each other, and are generous while mindful of boundaries. As a sex and pleasure-positive content creator, Leeza has spent the past five years building her knowledge-sharing and myth-debunking platform that includes a YouTube channel, an Instagram page, and a podcast. Now, she is also a published author.

‘The Sex Book: A Joyful Journey of Self-Discovery’ is Leeza’s first book. In here, she shares facts related to sex & commonly asked questions along with reassurances on insecurities related to our bodies, sexuality, and sexual capacities. The book is easy to read with an introductory glossary, bite sized topics in each chapter (The Human Body: Vulva, Vulva hygiene, The clitoris…). Leeza makes it fun by sharing her own personal takes and experiences – her first encounter with a pair of testicles and the shock of its glaring disparity from textbook visuals is hilarious and relatable, especially to those of us who grew up in a time when exposure to pornography was limited.

Leeza is mindful of the binary, heteronormative lens of viewing sex and sexuality and uses the terms vulva owners and penis owners to stay true to gender fluidity. At every opportunity, she emphasizes the importance of meaningful connection through intimacy and honesty and how we must never feel pressured to do anything we don’t want to in bed.

What works well

Leeza maintains a steady, non-judgmental tone throughout the book, even when confronting some questionable enquiries that have come her way. The language is simple and there are neat illustrations used in a very non-Bio textbook format.

‘The Sex Book’ makes no assumptions about what you may already know: from foreplay to sex toys, from the intricacies of the vulva to tips on positions for mutual pleasure, from how the mind is such an essential part of the arousal process to personal hygiene and protection. I wish teenage-me had access to a one-stop-shop sex resource like this so I wouldn’t have had to piece together scraps from naughty scenes in Sidney Sheldon novels, midnight masala videos and snippets from friends’ older sisters or brothers.

I liked the way she navigated the ‘consent versus being perceived as easy’ factor. For vulva owners, there is little escape from being labelled as frigid or easy. Leeza talks about how she has held herself back to avoid being perceived as loose and how patriarchy continues to put desire in boxes. There’s also a simple and effective consent checklist which breaks down the obvious and not-so-obvious assumptions into clear points that can help if you ever find yourself in the grey area.

Pleasure, safety, and comfort are the cornerstones of good sex. Leeza shares insights on how to get to the big O.  ‘This is why external clitoral stimulation and internal vaginal stimulation—both at the same time—can feel ahhhhhmazing.’ For penis owners, she addresses common concerns about size and performance, persuading them to be more mindful of shared pleasure and all forms of sex, not just penetrative. There are some great tips on oral sex, fingering, and masturbation! Here’s a nice one – “For many people, a single movement repeated consistently is more effective than a jumble of different types of moves.”

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Is it all so simple?

Leeza confesses that her attitude towards sex and sexuality was enabled by a set of supportive parents who were open and honest on the subject, always entertaining her questions.

In the Indian context, this is rare, even today. It would be fantastic to be able to talk openly about sex with our children but for desi parents, the sex discussion(if any) is centred around information and safety rather than pleasure. I am a fairly liberal-minded parent but the thought of my adolescent experiencing the incredible sensations of her body through sexual liberation gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Leeza tends to over-simplify sexual relationships without getting into the messiness of it all. Honesty and communication when it comes to sex sounds great on paper but in real life, we’re all going to be faking it at some point. Mutual pleasure is the dream but what happens when you’ve lost your mojo for a while and your partner is frustrated? Isn’t it possible for the constant drive for pleasure to turn into pressure? What of the people who have partners they aren’t attracted to anymore but are bound to by duty or familial obligations?

I also wish there was more material on the impact of mental health on libidos and sex after pregnancy.

Come as you are

“I’ve found myself being honest and sexy and open about what I enjoy and I have, finally, after a long time, asserted my right to sexual pleasure.”

Asserted my RIGHT to sexual pleasure. This journey from sex as a basic human need to a journey of sexual fulfilment with others and ourselves is one we deserve. Each time we choose to identify and articulate a desire, we honour our bodies.

The book works as an introduction to the subject but plays safe without exploring any of the tougher, more debatable bits in detail. Leeza’s social media content has better game – it’s more fun and personal. As an author, she tried to translate some of her successful posts into chapters in the book and it doesn’t always work well.

Overall, ‘The Sex Book’ felt a bit like digging into a plate of bhel puri: there’s a little of everything, it’s spicy, sweet, and satisfying. But in the end it is still a starter, and you want more.

Want a copy of this book?

If you’d like to pick up The Sex Book: A Joyful Journey of Self-Discovery written by Leeza Mangaldas, use our affiliate links at Amazon Indiaand at Amazon US.

Women’s Web gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!

Image source: leezamangaldas.com and book cover Amazon

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