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How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Threesomes and Love SpunOut

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Last weekend, Ireland was consumed by something terrible, something dark, something that could tear the fabric of Irish society apart as we know it. Yes, Ireland has been struck dumb by the menace of threesomes.

Don't laugh, it's desperately serious. Soon this menace will spread and before you know it, the whole of the British Isles will be overrun with sexy pairings cornering poor impressionable others to fulfill their unquenchable threesome lust. I haven't been able to leave the house since the story broke, for fear I'd go out for a carton of milk and be jumped by two women desperate to have sex with me. I won't lie, it's been hell.

It's a well-worn old trope, but Ireland's Passion of St Tibulus Sydnrome has relapsed in a big way. The more Government backbench TD Michelle Mulherin fulminates with "Down with this sort of thing" impotent outrage, the more the Minister for Health goes "Careful now", the more people flock to Ireland's national youth website SpunOut.ie to see what the hell all this threesome fuss is about. And in spite of the surreal, archaic, narrow-minded backlash, people of all ages logging on to SpunOut.ie can only be a good thing, because it does so more than give TD's with vulnerable seats a soapbox to sound off on.

In the interest of all cards on the table, I am incredibly biased. Not just ideologically, but personally. I've actually been involved with Ireland's national youth website before it was even a website before becoming a writer, editor and eventually one of its directors. In 2004 I met Ruairi McKiernan, activist, social entrepreneur and now a Counillor of State to the President of Ireland. He had an uncompromising vision of how Ireland could be made a better place, and an unshakeable belief in Ireland's young people ability to be a vital part of that. He was planning on starting a website that would be a haven for young people, that would be a place where they could find information about whatever they wanted or need that was 100% factual, reliable and most importantly non-judgemental, and opinions from like-minded people, and indeed the perspective of those that couldn't be more different. And I knew I wanted to be a part of that.

In the time since SpunOut.ie has helped thousands and thousands of young people in so many ways. I know this because the site is consistently festooned with tributes from the young people who actually use it. Some of them have found the advice and support they provide on mental health issues a godsend. Some of them really appreciate the focus the website puts on positive mental health, to say nothing of positive physical health with healthy eating and exercise drives. Some of them have found a cause they really care about through SpunOut, and now influence others through activism and advocacy. Some of them found it an oasis of calm from exam pressure. Some of them have found their inner artist through writing articles or opinion pieces for the site, or writing poetry, or making videos. Some have found the site's work and consumer consumer advice and tips on how to make an attractive CV infinitely useful. And some have just been glad to have a place where they feel they belong. But whatever the provenance of their use of the website, the invariable common denominator phrase is "I don't know what I would have done with SpunOut". And all the while SpunOut has done this with relatively little money, but incredible heart and character.

The last few days we've seen people castigating SpunOut who had, to their compelling shame, never heard of or looked at the site hitherto last Sunday. Bizarrely, some of the critics hadn't even seen the website after they criticised it. Among the main charges were that "orgy tips" are "normalising" behaviour that isn't normal. Firstly, a) What exactly does the tip of an orgy look like? and b) The implicit notion from detractors that young people and their opinions are so hopelessly malleable that any sex education is tantamount to license to do anything they want is exactly why SpunOut needs to exist in the first place. There were too suggestions that the site was too "right on" and "down with the kids" for its own good. Fair enough, but SpunOut has always valued above all else that their actual audience of 16-25 year olds be the ultimate arbiters of their content.

But for all the wrong-headed hand wringing it's been gratifying to see that many many more people have spoken up for SpunOut, defending their openness, their value to 16-25 year olds and their resolution that facts and information for all to see is an inherently better starting point for discussions than creating a vacuum for surreptitiously bad role models to fill.

In spite of the hoopla, in spite of the fuss, in spite of the BAN THIS SICK FILTH! histrionics, there is a positive to be taken from it: people are talking about sex. We've been terrible at that in Ireland for a very long time, and that reticence has been a comprehensive disaster. In a world where rape is still apologised for, where gay people are treated like partial citizens (if acknowledged at all), where teen pregnancy and STI rates are staggering (especially where abstinence is law) , Ireland and indeed everywhere else really need to grow up when it comes to tackling big issues around sex and sexuality. It's striking that it's our young people, and their services providers like SpunOut, have the most mature attitudes of all.