Naomi reckons we're all still sheepish about sex

WE MIGHT talk a big game, but when it comes to the crunch, we're a bit sheepish about our bedroom antics.

That's the assessment of sexologist and expert on all things saucy Naomi Stekelenburg.

MISSION: Naomi Stekelenburg is on a crusade to shatter taboos about sex.
MISSION: Naomi Stekelenburg is on a crusade to shatter taboos about sex. Contributed

The 43-year-old psychologist and University of the Sunshine Coast PhD student is on a crusade to shatter taboos about sex.

She recently completed a mammoth six-year research project on the role of evolutionary disgust in erotic fiction and the way in which we, while often times disgusted, are inherently intrigued about all things erotic.

"I identified that disgust happened as a result of us sensing a contamination," Ms Stekelenburg said.

"Interestingly, I also found there is a second response to being exposed to transgressive or 'disgusting' fiction.

The first is avoidance, but then there's what I call curiosity disgust: where you see something disgusting and immediately turn away, but then you can't help but come back.

"When you do come back it's with trepidation - hands over your eyes, peeking through your fingers - but when that happens to readers there's an opportunity for transformation."

She focused her studies on renowned scribe of all things smut, 18th century French writer and philosopher Marquis de Sade who was famed for his pornographic works.

Ms Stekelenburg assessed how Darwinian disgust played its role in erotic fiction, learning that even the famed author himself had to censor some of his work.

She said the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon had only demonstrated the human fascination with all things taboo.

"It's not a fantastic book but hey, it's shifted cultural paradigms," she said.

In practical terms, Ms Stekelenburg, now a full-time erotic fiction writer, said she believed her learning could help break down the barriers and open the channels for more uncensored, human discussion about sex.

Ms Stekelenburg presented the first ficto-criticism thesis at USC, a combination of critical analysis and her own experiences.

As for her next projects, a deeper look into how men learn to have sex was on her agenda, while the regular Brisbane panellist said she would continue to try and help break down the barriers to broader sexual discussion.

"Australians are pretty uptight about sex, we tend to be far more conservative than we think we are," she said.

And the most important part, she said more frank discussion about sex would lead to fuller lives being lived by those who may have repressed their desires or failed to express themselves.

"You can tell when people don't have good sex lives, they look a bit sad," she said with a laugh.

For more information on Ms Stekelenburg's works, or to engage in discussion, check out her blog at