Paisley Gilmour, Cosmopolitan Senior Sex & Relationships Writer

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“I’m from Norwich, in Norfolk. To be honest, I’ve been super privileged growing up; my family are very open, very liberal, and very sex-positive. I think that’s made me into the freak I am today…!

I look after the Sex and Love section at Cosmo. I’m the only one on there; it’s a big responsibility and can be difficult because you want to cover all voices, so I try and commission other writers so it’s not just me – a cisgendered, white woman – talking.

I’ve been doing [this job] for a year now. I first trained as a journalist down the route of newspapers and magazines. I worked at a press agency, then got a job at Reveal magazine. I was writing features while I was there, but then I persuaded them let me start a sex blog on the Reveal website! Then after that I went for my current job at Cosmo.

I wanted to work in this field after interviewing sex blogger Girl On The Net for Reveal about her book – that was when I first learned about sex positivity. I’d never heard of it before?! And I thought – this is what I want to do. It’s so important. I wanted to bring sex positivity into focus.

A lot of women’s media is not sex positive. Some of them, the way they talk about sex is so messed up, and I wanted to change that. I think the media generally shouldn’t cover sex topics if they’re going to do it negatively!

A few weeks ago, I hosted a sex education class for adults. That was a big achievement for me, and also something I was quite scared and anxious to do, because I hate public speaking, but I did it because I felt it was really important…and obviously, our sex education is terrible in this country.

I know from our data, that so many people come to our website through searching questions, like ‘how to put a condom on’ or ‘how to masturbate’ – just basic stuff. It’s not their fault that they don’t know, obviously!

It was great to be able to talk about that with adults. Being able to do something like that was definitely a high point in my job.

I’m bisexual, but it’s hard for me because there’s still a lot of hate towards and misunderstanding about bisexuality – even in the LGBTQ community.

I’m currently in a relationship with a guy (long-term, living together and monogamous), and so whenever I tell someone I’m bisexual their response is ‘but…you’re with a guy?’ [My relationship] doesn’t change my sexuality.

You get so many annoying questions, like, ‘have you actually slept with a woman, though?’ and it’s like…would you say that to someone straight?

I feel I always have been [bisexual], but didn’t recognise it as that until recently – maybe when I started my job? Although I’d dated women, I didn’t really think anything of it.

Learning more about sexuality and the spectrum that it is has helped me be myself. It’s not talked about much, when you’re a teenager. I didn’t know [bi] was a thing – I thought I was gay, because I liked women, then thought ‘oh no, I like men too, so maybe not…’ Sexuality is not black and white.

I’m quite insecure and have a lot of hang-ups when it comes to sex; I was trying to combat that, and decided I’d have one night with my boyfriend being dominant – which is totally not me – and I just completely froze. I think I got swept up in the idea, like yeah, powerful woman! …but it wasn’t me.

I think a lot of people don’t realise that sex positivity is not just about being mad and kinky and shagging everyone – it’s about having the choice and not judging others if they want to do this or that.

When asked what I can’t live without, I wanna say chips…? But seriously, maybe time alone? Of course, being in a relationship requires you to be with the other person a significant amount…it’s really easy to forget how important it is to look after yourself, and to have time your own space to do your own shit. I couldn’t function without that.

I think [sex positivity] definitely has changed, but there’s still a long way to go. The main thing for me is the change in women having and talking about sex – not just pleasing men. Doing it for themselves and not for their partners. We’re finally embracing the fact that women like sex, too! We don’t just do it to please men…or make babies.

I first found Scarlet Ladies when I went to one of their events with the adult star and mistress Zara Du Rose, while working at Reveal and wanted to write about it. I Googled ‘sex events in London’ and they came up!

Actually, that’s what inspired me to try that with my boyf…!

Giving advice to other women…I think any exploring of sexuality should start with masturbation, and getting to know your own body first. And whatever you find out that you like, it’s cool, it’s not weird. As long as it’s consensual, safe and not illegal. Never be ashamed of what you enjoy and what you find pleasure in.

Sex toys? I have loads! I would say I have at least one of everything…I feel like I’ve tried everything. It is my job; I get them to review etc. For clit stimulation/masturbation, Moregasm Contour Rabbit Ears Vibrator this is my absolute favourite. Better than any bullet vibe I’ve ever used.

For coupled sex with someone with a penis, Rocks Off Union vibrating cock ring can be so good – good if you’re on top and having penetrative sex because it vibrates against your clit, and has nice little silicone nobbles which add stimulation too. There’s also a bullet that vibrates against the penis-owner’s shaft, so they can feel it too.

For penetration while masturbating OR for pegging with a partner, I love Sh’s handmade dildos. Try Wirly Girly 6 Slim Dildo, and if you’re using it for pegging, you can buy Rubber Deluxe Strap On Harness to go with it, and it’s just as pleasurable for you because it kind of rubs against your clit.

Liquid Silk Lube is my all-time favourite classic lube because it works for everything (anal, oral, vaginal penetration etc.). It’s in just the most convenient pump of all time, and it’s water-based so can be used with condoms and all sex toys.

Oral sex simulators are a bit of a weird one, and not everyone loves them. But they’re great if you’re after a totally different sensation, as it doesn’t actually come into contact with your clit, just sends pressure waves out. Try Satisfyer Pro2 Rechargeable Clitoral Stimulator

I would tell my teenage self…nothing is weird. But the main thing is every time you have sex, you don’t always have to have penetration. It’s okay not to! It’s not the end goal. It’s not always needed, and it’s not always good.

I refuse to use the term ‘foreplay’. I hate it so much; it implies that it’s what happens before the penis goes in?! It depends how people define it themselves.

Thanks for having me!”

Photos via the author.

– As told to Scarlet Ladies.


About Scarlet Ladies Talks to…
We talk life, work and sex in our ultra-personal blog series: the most sex-positive women out there invite us beyond the bedroom door to share the stories of what shaped their journeys to discover and embrace their sexuality.

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