Emma Barnett’s period sex story is hilarious, but the subtext is worrying

Posted by for People

Speaking at Stylist Live LUXE on Saturday (9 November), Emma Barnett shared a story that raised plenty of laughs – but there was another, darker, meaning behind it.     

Radio 5 Live broadcaster Emma Barnett has no time for taboo topics. After she was diagnosed with the debilitating condition endometriosis during IVF, she realised it was her own body that remained the biggest taboo of all. So, earlier this year, Barnett published her book Periods. Her mission? To change attitudes around discussing female bodies. 

Taking to the stage at Stylist Live LUXE, Barnett gave a Strong Session on why every woman should get to know more about her body. As part of her hilarious, informative and thought-provoking answers, she shared a brilliant period sex story that every woman should read. 

“One of the funniest revelations when writing the book was how much thieving women do when they are on their period. If you leak on someone else’s sheets, you steal it,” Barnett told Stylist’s editor Susan Riley, before sharing the tale.

“My favourite story in the book was about an actress in America. I’d heard about her and tracked her down so that I could tell her story. 

“So, at the end of a play, she gets together with one of her hot co-stars – [let’s call him] Jeffrey. And they go back to Jeffrey’s to have sex but she realises she’s on her period. But he was like, ‘I’m fine with that’.

Emma Barnett
Emma Barnett talked about women's bodies and periods at Stylist Live LUXE.

She continued: “And they have sex, it’s great, he gets up to go to the shower. She turns on the light and it’s like a fucking crime scene. There’s a bloodied hand print on the wall above the bed. And she’s like, ‘What the fuck should I do now?’. So she does the most natural thing in the world – she steals all of his bed linen and puts it into her rucksack. And she leaves without saying goodbye.

“Now that would be a great story, but it gets better…

“She goes on the Subway in New York, and it’s just after 9/11, so they’re doing random security spot checks. And the police come up to her and ask her to open her bag. And she’s like, ‘No, no, no’. And they say, ‘Open your bag’.”

With the audience on tenterhooks, Barnett continued: “And at this point, she’s genuinely considering whether it’s worth going to jail for having sex on her period. So, [the police officer] drags her off the Subway, pulls out the homicidal scene that’s in her bag and says, ‘Do you want to explain?’. 

“And she goes, ‘Mmm’. She then silently walks him back to Jeffrey’s apartment. Jeffrey opens the door in his towel and says, ‘Yeah, we had sex on her period’.

Pointing out the worrying underlying message of the otherwise hilarious story, Barnett continued: “He [Jeffrey] can say it! But she can’t. And she doesn’t go to jail.

“I just think that story, although it’s brilliant, and it’s funny and it’s horrendous, points to this thing – why can’t women, and sometimes men, deal with this very regular thing? It’s not like it happens just every five years.”

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