Feb 26, 2021 • 12M

Half the UK is having bad sex - I have a plan to find out why

Open in playerListen on);

Appears in this episode

Franki Cookney
The Overthinker's Guide To Sex is a sex and relationships newsletter written by freelance journalist Franki Cookney. This is the audio version.
Episode details

Okay Overthinkers… I know it’s Friday afternoon and you probably can’t wait to log off so you can log back on for your zoom drinks but I just need to slide into your inbox to remind you that I am crowdfunding for my new podcast series BAD SEX.

The fact of the matter is, for everyone who’s messaged in support, telling me what a great idea it is or that they can’t wait to hear it, this podcast series is not going to get made unless I can raise enough money. I’m talking DOLLARRRRSSS (Well, no, alright, clearly I’m talking about pounds but there aren’t any good gifs for that - apparently sterling isn’t sexy? Who knew. Anyway, make it rain. Please. If you wouldn’t mind.)

British people: notoriously bad at both sex AND money

But guess what! It really doesn’t need to be painful. If everyone who reads this newsletter pledged today, we’d have it funded. Imagine! It really could be that simple.

So come on, pals, it’s payday and if we were able to meet up in real life I’m sure we’d buy each other a drink so before you crack on with your weekend, why not send the equivalent of a glass or two of wine my way?!


Why would I want to listen to a podcast about BAD sex?

Because we’ve all had it. What's more, it’s the side of sex we never really address. We spend a lot of time in the media talking about how to make sex better – usually with “hot tips” and lists of products to “spice things up” – but we don’t spend any time examining why we need those tips in the first place.

We have a global sexual wellness industry worth almost £35bn. We have education, information, and sexual health services in the palms of our hands. We have CBD lube, audio porn, and air suction vibrators. Prospective partners are a mere swipe away. And yet…

Data from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL 3) shows around half of people in the UK report some type of sexual problem, whether it’s a struggle to orgasm or concerns about their libido. I want to find out why.

Over the course of six episodes I will delve into some of the most common issues people face in their sex lives, from dissatisfying hookups, to sexual dysfunction, body image issues, and shame. I’ll piece together the cultural, social, and even economic factors that contribute to sex being bad, hear first-hand stories of “bad sex,” talk to the experts and find out what we can really do about it.

Even if you DON’T want to listen to a podcast about bad sex, maybe you enjoy reading my newsletter and would like me to be able to keep writing it? Maybe you’ve read my published work and think it’s worth supporting critical journalism in the field of sex and relationships? Or maybe you just think I’m funny and slutty and deserve a pint? I am A-OK with all and any of these reasons.


Oh, and did I mention there are rewards? Yep. Everybody who pledges will get early access to the podcast. There are stickers, badges, goodie bags, the chance to get your name in the credits, an exclusive supoprter-only *bonus episode*, and my lovely friends at YES! have donated ten tubes of organic water-based lube to give away.

Where does the money go?

Okay, this is important to talk about because I get that normally podcasts just magically appear in your podcast app so it maybe feels a bit new to be asked to help pay for one. First thing to say is that how much it costs to make a podcast depends a lot on the format. If it’s just two people sitting at a table chatting (and the earliest series of The Second Circle were exactly this) then it’s got pretty low overheads.

But BAD SEX is more ambitious than that and I want to do it properly, with the kind of fact-led reporting and the depth of research that I bring to all my work as a professional journalist.

I’ve been lucky enough to secure some sponsorship from YES! Lube which shows that they believe in this podcast and know that this is a topic that people want and need to hear about. I’m confident that with their backing and your support I can make this vibrant and necessary podcast sound as good in your headphones as it does on paper.

Your money will go towards paying a fantastic audio producer to help me create a beautiful-sounding piece of journalism. It will cover the cost of equipment and recording, studio time and marketing. It will allow me to hire an additional reporter from time to time, not to mention an editor to help with fact-checking. Lastly, it will help to pay me, your host and the lead reporter and editor on the show (not to mention the author of your very favourite newsletter and all-round sexy overthinky pal!)

Here’s how it breaks down:


I’m so excited to get started on this brilliant podcast and I can’t wait to share it with you. I know I’m really hammering it home now but (sorry not sorry) if everybody who reads this pledged we could GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD. So please, please, click the link below and send me the equivalent of a large glass of malbec!



Know anyone else who would enjoy this newsletter or be interested in this podcast? Of course you do! As we already discussed, everyone’s had bad sex at one time or another. That being said, I do appreciate forwarding this to your ex might be a bit on the nose. Then again, maybe it would be kind of iconic?


What’s on my mind this week…

Healthy desire

A friend sent me this TikTok showing a girl having her mind blown while watching a ContraPoints video from this time last year where she talks about the erotic thrill of being desired by men. The entire video, which is entitled Shame, is here or you can read the transcript here.

My mate sent it to me going “saw this and thought of you lol” or words to that effect which was a call out of the best kind because she knows full well that, as a bi woman, I love to spend inordinate amounts of time naval-gazing about my attraction to different genders. I wonder constantly whether they’re inherently different or whether they just feel different because of the different structural power dynamics at play or the way I’ve been socialised to relate to men vs women vs people of other genders. I’ve also wondered – in a separate context – why being desired feels so damn exhilarating, like maybe even more exciting than my own desire which… yikes. 

K but for real, where does Sandy’s horn come from… her desire? Or Danny’s?

As usual, I don’t have answers for these questions but it’s got me thinking a lot about desire and what healthy attraction feels like. Like many people, I'm sure, I've been in relationships that felt thrilling and erotically charged but that made me feel horribly insecure and on edge because their interest in me as a person felt flimsy at best. It occurred to me recently that the best relationships I've had are the ones that felt calm. But "calm" doesn't sound very hot, does it? (Or does it?)

A couple more things to (over)think about…

  • This piece on whether it’s okay for straight people to use the term “partner” makes some good points

  • I haven’t actually read this piece in The Cut on the misunderstanding of kink yet because I’ve been writing about kink this week and didn’t want to confuse myself but it’s on my reading list for this weekend

  • I absolutely loved Shelby Lorman’s take on “love in lockdown” which is one of the only articles on this theme that hasn’t made me eye-roll myself into next Tuesday

  • This review of Katherine Angel’s new book, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again has piqued my interest

  • I’m speaking on a panel next week for the press launch of new sex education and wellness website ShushLife (run by the brilliant team at Sh! Womenstore). There’s also a public event in the evening which you can check out here

Did a friend forward this newsletter to you? Subscribe to it here:

The Overthinker’s Guide To Sex is written by freelance journalist Franki Cookney.
To read more of my work, or to get in touch with me go to frankicookney.com. You can also find me on Twitter, and Instagram.
For the next six weeks, all tips and donations will be going towards my podcast crowdfunder. To find out more and pledge directly please visit crowdfunder.co.uk/the-second-circle-podcast. Or you can just buy me a coffee in the usual way.

Buy me a coffee