Each issue, Benjamin Law and his mother Jenny dispense advice on sex and friendship. The longest-running regular column in The Lifted Brow, since 2011 the ‘Law School’ column has been offering stern warnings, enthusiastic encouragement and sage (and not-so-sage) wisdom to desperate lovers and sexual adventurists alike.
Dear Ben and Jenny,
I moved states for uni and thus haven’t lived with my younger brother for a few years. He’s about to finish school and has decided he wants to come to Melbourne too. One of my housemates is moving, so it seems convenient he move in with me next year. Convenient all for the fact we might end up fucking in bedrooms next door to one another! Ick. I slept in a shed out the back of our family home during high school – no chance of him bumping into his sister’s post-sex partners there. Plus he was around fourteen when I left home, so I’ve never really considered him a sexual being before. Is this going to be too weird?
BENJAMIN: So my siblings and I don’t have hang-ups talking about sex. But for some reason, if the conversation veers to our own sex lives—personal, specific details—we immediately shut that shit down. The moment we see/hear/smell any evidence, we basically just scream and scream and scream. But you don’t need to worry: no one wants their sibling to know they’re fucking someone in the next room. Scope the possibilities of sleeping at your respective dates’ places, and if that ain’t possible, give your date the heads-up and give your sibling the same. (This might also be the time to invest in earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.) Also: don’t be hung up about the inevitable breakfast table meetings: the joy of this situation is you can happily milk that awkwardness for all it’s worth. It’s your job as a big sister.
JENNY: If you decide you want your younger brother to move in with you, then you should expect that all these “sexual things” will happen. With all the sex culture in Australia (there’s drink culture; sex culture) I don’t think it’s a big deal, is it? Will it be awkward and embarrassing? It depends on the other person’s personality – the sex partner’s personality, especially at the breakfast table. “Oh you’re the one fucking my brother/sister the previous night!” How they react might actually be a good test in terms of their character! Still, I understand. Ben’s baby sister was at our sex advice book launch and said, “I’m scarred for life” even hearing the smallest details about his sex life. And that’s just listening about his sex life, not hearing the sex noises. (Ew. Ugh. Ooh.) It really depends on how close you are with your brother, but I guarantee you’ll hear all the noises. But remember: you can both fuck at your partners’ place too!
Dear Ben and Jenny, I’d really like to start experimenting with sex toys, but they’re all so expensive! Further, most of them are manufactured unethically, right? Is it okay to shoplift from sex shops? Is it okay to reap the benefits of sex shops at all? Do you know of any cheap and ethical manufacturers of sex toys…? Probably not.
BENJAMIN: It’s true: decent-quality, ethical sex toys are expensive. You know why? BECAUSE YOU’RE GONNA PUT THEM INSIDE YOUR HOLES. If you wouldn’t put cheap, factory-made, ethically dubious, nasty-smelling, chemical-smeared food in your mouth, why would you put a $25-made in China novelty dildo in your ass? Ethically made sex toys can be bought at online retailers like Vavven (vavven.org) and Ethical Sex Toys (ethicalsextoys.co.uk), and in Australia, Mia Muse – a Melbourne-based sexologist and educator – sells terrific toys for women and men. You’re right: they ain’t cheap. But if you have a partner, find the toy you want and demand it next Valentine’s Day. If you’re single, look at your calendar now and mark out your next birthday or a work milestone. Work out how many weeks are between now and then, and how much money you’ll need to put aside each week. Treat yo’self to that obsidian hand-crafted dong. Then celebrate, knowing you’re caring for the earth, human labour laws, as well as your cooch.
JENNY: Ooh, I recently watched a documentary about sex toys on SBS, about this company started by two guys in America. You can go online and look for it. FYI: sex toys can be recycled. Are you surprised? I was! The machine will chew them up into fine particles and they go back to make more sex toys. Ai-ya, the documentary is very informative, educational, and so much fun to watch. Everyone should watch it! Anyway, I think you should enjoy sex toys to the max-lah. And go hunting far and wide: you never know – the price might surprise you! This day and age you can find anything online, correct? Ask family and friends. Ask your grandparents. Okay, maybe not family. Just kidding. Oh dear. Also, my god: never shoplift from sex shop. I am shocked you asked me this. Never shoplift from anything, not even lollies, not to mention sex toys. You want to get famous on the front page or on social media … HOLDING A SEX TOY?
This piece is published in full in The Lifted Brow #36. You can purchase a copy here.
You can also purchase Law School: Sex and Relationship Advice from Benjamin Law and his Mum Jenny Phang from the Lifted Brow's book publishing imprint, Brow Books.
Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based TV screenwriter, journalist and newspaper columnist. He is the author of two books, The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012), both of which have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards. The Family Law is now in its fourth reprint, has been translated into French and is now a major SBS TV series.
Jenny Phang was born in Ipoh, Malaysia, and is the mother of five children, including The Lifted Brow writers Michelle and Benjamin Law. She lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.