Sex, Shame, and Secrecy

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Tonight’s blog post is entirely about sex. I’m telling you upfront that if you blush easily, or feel uncomfortable talking about sex openly, you should probably just close your browser window and move along. Scratch that – reverse – if you feel that way, then you are like me and you should definitely read this post.

I have been contemplating writing about this, but certain things always gave me pause. What will my parents think? Their parents? My friends? What if someone “important” comes across this blog post and judges me for being so open? On and on my mind went, considering this and that. Finally I decided that I can’t say I believe in something if I am unable to post it publicly with pride. On the other hand, just because I believe in something doesn’t necessarily mean I am comfortable with it (more on that later) – so this journey will be just as uncomfortable for me to write as it may be for you to read it.

I came across a YouTube channel a few months ago that inspired me and also horrified me. A very brave woman named Laci Green has a video series all about sexuality. She talks about the stuff that no one wants to talk about: masturbation, foreskin, losing your virginity, anal sex, body image, relationships, periods, pubic hair, the list goes on. Even more amazing, Laci is so incredibly frank in her videos and unapologetic. She says the word vagina without blushing and doesn’t seem to mind openly discussing these things as if she were discussing the weather. Her videos are as supportive as they are informative; she easily answers questions about sex and helps us feel that talking about these things is okay. My first inclination was to give this resource to my 17-year-old sister, who may have questions about things that she doesn’t want to talk to adults (read: my parents or myself) about. Since I personally know what’s on the internet (Yahoo questions is a scary place, people), I wanted her to have this tool.

Exploring sexuality and sexual essence is a journey. It begins when you discover that touching your genitals can produce a wonderful feeling. You may have heard about it at school, or read about it on the internet, or just happened upon it by accident. I don’t quite remember when I figured it out or why, but I remember that I wanted to do it again. First message of this blog post: masturbation is not only completely normal, but it is also completely healthy and virtually EVERYONE does it.

We never talk about this. At least, most women don’t. I don’t know about men, but I think most women generally don’t talk about masturbating. Even the word masturbation sounds disgusting… something about the “tur” part of the word. I don’t really care what it’s called… private time, alone time with myself, me-time… no matter how you slice it, it’s important. There is something very important about discovering who you are sexually. If I could go back and do it all over again – I would have spent more time asking questions or researching just this thing before having sex. Don’t get me wrong, I was doing it all the time, because an orgasm feels amazing. But, instead, I supplemented my routine pleasure with sex with a partner. I would have been better off spending the time to explore my body. Where are my erogenous zones? Where do I like to be touched? Where don’t I like to be touched?

Where do we learn these techniques, anyway? Mostly through self-exploration or articles, but also through pornography. Message number two: pornography is a powerful erotic tool for pleasure and you should not be ashamed that you watch it. Let me tell you something. Nearly everyone (and because I am taking a statistics class it is important that I not generalize for there are several outliers that can skew the data set) has watched or currently watches or plans to watch porn. Ladies – if a man tells you that he doesn’t, he is lying to you, probably because he is afraid of how you will react if he tells the truth. Let’s face it – we put our own insecurities on our partners. Gentlemen – if a woman tells you that she does not watch porn, she is lying. I don’t know the statistics, but I know from my own conversations that it is a lot more common than women care to admit or men know. We do it too. We also masturbate on a regular basis, and we also like sex.

Pornography is a great tool because it creates a safe environment for you to explore different erotic areas without fear of judgement or embarrassment. Let’s face it – how many of us wouldn’t necessarily mind if our partner knew we looked at porn, but we definitely don’t want them to know the KIND of porn we watch? I know I don’t. I don’t mind telling people – it seems any chance I get I proudly pronounce (with a hand in the air) that I watch it. But if someone asked me what kind of erotic material I liked? Well that’s just too personal a question, now isn’t it? But why? Because sometimes I am ashamed.

I know that we live in a society where men are characterized to be crazy horny carnal creatures that always want to have sex. From my extensive research among men throughout the years, this seems to be more or less the case. They are not one-dimensional, but they love sex. Women, on the other hand, are pressured by societal expectations to be lady-like. We are not to be slutty, we are not to be dirty or skanky, and we are certainly supposed to cherish our bodies and treat them with respect. What makes the famous novel Fifty Shades of Grey so appealing? Well, it allows women to experience – almost firsthand – the kind of naughty erotic stuff that ladies are not supposed to be into. This is a truly disturbing phenomena. Why is it that men are celebrated for embracing their sexual essence whereas women are taught to subdue it? Sure, we like to wear revealing clothing to accentuate our features and seduce men into bed with us… but then what happens?

Honestly, I am not sure about the rest of you, but I am pretty vanilla. Or, at least, I want to seem vanilla. There is some powerful stuff going on inside my brain that tells me that “nice ladylike women” do not say the kinds of things featured in “filthy” pornography. Women are meant to be submissive and soft and sensitive. They are not meant to take charge in the bedroom or communicate about what works and what doesn’t. For me, at least, there are some things that I want to do and some I don’t, but then there are other things that I want to do or have done to me that I am ashamed to admit, only because it doesn’t seem ladylike. And I gotta tell ya – I’ve seen a lot of different stuff and my wants look tame compared to the wide spectrum of sexual indulgences.

As far as talking about sex, I don’t know how men talk about it, but women seem to talk in detail. I have a limited number of friends (maybe two) that talk about sex in detail. We talk about positions, sounds we or our partners make, new things we try, and how it makes us feel, etc. It’s hard to initiate a conversation about it because some people are just private, but I find myself wondering why.

For example, a package came in the mail yesterday. I toyed around with the notion (no pun intended) of upgrading my current pleasure device, and I was just wondering what would happen if my father asked me what came in the mail. Would I tell him that I upgraded to a new vibrator because I am a grown-ass woman who needs a real toy? Would I tell him that he “doesn’t want to know”? Turns out we had a nice long chat about this very subject this evening, because I have the coolest dad ever that is so progressive he makes most liberals look conservative.

Message Number Three: toys are a great way to give something back… to yourself. Also, they are not a substitution for a man (or woman) in your sex life. You work hard! You are tired! You are stressed about all kinds of stuff! My recommendation is spend a solid twenty minutes (or however long it takes) just taking time for yourself. It’s relaxing, indulgent, and fun! A friend of mine once told me… I don’t have a vibrator and never have tried one. Ladies, if this includes you, you gotta trust me. There is nothing else like it, and it’s awesome. They make similar products for men that simulate the feeling of penetration in all kinds of places. Every man I’ve talked to that uses one endorses it completely. You are missing out if you don’t have this particular tool in your tool box. For that matter, you should have a variety. These tools help you to locate spots that you didn’t previously know were there. They help you get used to the sound of your own voice when you are in a happy place, and they teach you how to orgasm properly. Ladies – if you aren’t having an orgasm during sex, try this out. See what it takes to get you there, and talk to your partner about it.

Like I said before, this is not a substitution for actual sex. Sex is great, making love is great, all of it is great. There are so many ways to do it and so many new things to try – it’s fantastic. But time with yourself is purely selfish in that you hone in on only your own needs. It’s so healthy and so empowering. No one is there to judge you and you can build confidence and feel sexy knowing that you can fulfill your own needs. It’s not gross, it’s not un-ladylike, and it’s not abnormal. Everyone is doing it, and you should too. This is the one time that you should do what everyone else is doing. If you try it and you truly don’t enjoy yourself… well, I won’t even make a wager. I know that you will.

Also, gentleman, please do no feel threatened by your partner’s use of a vibrator in private. You do masturbate, don’t you? Don’t tell me that because you are a man you have different needs than a woman does. Everyone needs to orgasm to keep a balanced and healthy center. Just because we are ladies does not mean that we don’t have needs, too. And just because we fulfill our needs alone does not mean that we don’t need you. We love you, we love your body, we love having sex with you. But sometimes we just want a little r&r. If you really want to impress your woman, invite her to use it during sex. The reality is that a vibrator moves about a million times faster that you can make any part of your body move. It is a unique sensation that only belongs to the tool. It is certainly not as satisfying as actual sex or any kind of foreplay, and there is no emotional connection involved, but it is utterly satisfying. Imagine if you had trouble climaxing quickly… now imagine that something existed that took that problem away. Many women struggle to orgasm during sex, and a vibrator can really help,

Message number four: for some women, climaxing during sex is hard work. Not only that, but many women feel embarrassed at their inability to climax at all. The phenomena of women “faking it” during sex likely comes from the pressure from the partner (which is often self-imposed – not your fault) to climax. I, for one, refuse to fake it. If your ego is so delicate that I can’t tell you that I didn’t, that’s on you – not me. I am always honest with my partners, and I can typically tell why it didn’t happen. There are many ways a woman can achieve climax. For some women, simply stimulating an erogenous zone for an extended period of time can cause them to orgasm, even if it’s not around the vagina. For other women, the erotic feelings take time to coax out. We know how long it takes, and we feel bad for you working down there for so long. We don’t want to let you down, so we fake it (we meaning some women, myself not included). Although orgasm is not the most important part of sex, it is a piece that everyone seems to focus on, especially the men (or so we feel). Ladies – if your man seems like he wants you to orgasm because he wants to feel good about his manly powers – red flag. Pleasuring one another should be about reinforcing the bond that you have, or simply having a good time. The famous line “was that good for you” is too often used to restore self-confidence. That question is okay to talk about the sex in an exploratory way, but when it’s laced with all that insecurity – we can tell, and we will lie because we are kind creatures. Except for me, apparently. I do make it a point to say that I really enjoyed it (when I really do, which is almost always) to soften the blow.

But, as a tip, most women need at least clitoral stimulation in order to achieve orgasm. That means that forty-five minutes of pounding away isn’t going to get it done. Some women do have a g-spot, which is on the inside of the body, but it can be hard to climax that way alone. The outside must also be stimulated in order to climax. This is a crucial piece of sex that most men are not aware of. And please, guys, don’t feel bad that your penis isn’t enough. It’s just the way we are wired. Just like certain types of stroking get you to climax, we need stroking too. This is a great way to incorporate a vibrator into the bedroom, especially if it is a small clitoral stimulator. It saves your hand from getting tired and works must faster. You can use it on your partner, or if she is very brave, she can use it on herself while you are having sex.

That brings me to the next point – message five – if it turns you on, let it turn you on. I can’t speak for other women, but there’s no getting away from what you find sexy. It can be silly to admit or feel embarrassing, but if you really like someone talking to you in a dirty way so you can feel like a dirty girl (or naughty, if you prefer) that doesn’t mean you are actually dirty in a bad way. It’s just what you’re into. In contrast, if you’re not into something, you’re not into it. The “right” kinds of women aren’t the ones that just LOVE threesomes or anal sex or any of the things that men are rumored to love. There are some men that love those things and some that don’t, but only go where you are comfortable. That may change over time, but it is certainly a journey that you need to take at your own pace. Men, that goes for you too.

Message number six! The number of sexual partners you have DOES NOT MATTER. Seriously, this one bothers me the most. In my opinion, two consenting adults having safe sex… nothing wrong with it. Nothing at all. Slut shaming is HUGE in our society. There is so much pressure for men to have a high (but not too high) number and women to have a relatively low number. Why is this? Do I think it’s dangerous to have unprotected sex with strangers? Yes. STDs and STIs and unwanted pregnancy and all that. Do I also prefer to make love rather than bang away? I guess it depends on my mood, but for the most part I am pretty emotional and like it to be a special magical thing. Will I judge you if you tell me that you prefer safe-sex hookups rather than enduring relationships? Of course not! Will I be offended if you judge me for the number of men I have slept with? Quite offended indeed. The reality is that we are all on a sexual walkabout of sorts and it takes all kinds of things to figure out who we are. Just like with food – it is best to try everything once. I typically say I will try everything once, but because I am who I am it has to be with a person I trust. Not all women have that requirement, but I certainly do. But if I say no – how will I ever fill in that piece of the puzzle? How will I ever check off the box that says “incorporated food in the bedroom” or “experimented with someone of the same-sex”? Sure, some things just seem bizarre to me personally, but that does not mean they are not bizarre in general. Just not my taste. But, by and large, it takes a lot of different partners to figure out what it is you like. Different people make love in different ways. I have been with men that are completely silent and men that are very expressive. I have been with men that are very aggressive and men that are rather tame. I have a better understanding of my needs and erotic desires from the last four sexual partners than the ones before that, because I am finally learning that it is okay to experiment as long as I make good choices.

Of the number of partners that I have had, I have never had a sexually transmitted disease nor have I ever been pregnant. I’d say that for a solid eight years of being sexually active this is a pretty good feat. And no, I did not accomplish this with one or two partners. More than ten but less than twenty. I honestly don’t even keep track anymore, because the number doesn’t really matter. If I tell some people who, they are impressed. Others seem disgusted. I am not sure why. I am a consenting adult making rational and logical choices. I have only once gotten so drunk that I had sex with a complete stranger, and I must admit that I am proud to say that. It is one of those life experiences that really teaches you something about yourself. Also, much of loving oneself is about looking at the life one has lived and forgiving oneself. Be your own best friend and ally and live free of shame.

Message number seven – talk about sex. All the time, and about all of it. This in particular has always been something I enjoy. It’s not something I had always done, but I picked it up a few partners back and have sort of used it ever since. It really reinforces the bond you have with someone when you can talk during or after sex about what happened. It also helps to LAUGH when something goes wrong. Did you just hear a farting noise coming from DOWN THERE?! Oh god! The embarrassment! First of all, the term is called vaginal flatulence (slang term is queefing) and it’s completely normal. Basically, when air gets trapped there (because the vulva is a body orifice of sorts) it comes back out through a narrow, moist opening and sounds like a fart. It can be terribly embarrassing, about as embarrassing as a man losing an erection (I would imagine) but if you laugh about it, it’s no big deal. Most men know what’s up, and may resist the urge to laugh, but I typically just give an exaggerated sigh and make some offhand comment about how strange that noise is. Or, perhaps a bullfrog is in the room. Either way – when weird things happen, you should probably talk them out. We spend so much time in our own heads, and it’s time to stop wondering and start asking questions. Ask your partner – do you like this? Do you like that? What do you like? Tell me what to do. I find “tell me what you want” to be particularly useful because then I can just follow instructions and let them tell me what they want. Every time I’ve told a partner later – I didn’t really care for it when you did x-y-z, they wish I had told them in the moment so they could make an adjustment. Chances are – your partner is just happy to have someone to have sex with and will comply with most anything you say. Try it out.

Lastly, I would like to reinforce that sex is an important and healthy part of being a balanced human being. We are, first and foremost, mammals programmed to procreate. We have urges that ought not be suppressed because they are there for a reason. Unless you find yourself taking “bathroom” breaks every half-hour at your job to masturbate quietly in the bathroom, you’re fine. Nothing is wrong with you, you aren’t broken. The same goes for sex. If you want to try something, talk it out with your partner, and try it. Open a dialogue. If you want to have sex with a stranger, please do, but wrap it up for heaven’s sake. If your partner wants to do something and you don’t, then don’t! Try to find a way to explain it so they understand your discomfort. If they pressure you further – RED FLAG. A partner should always be on your team, not trying to find a way to push your boundaries to meet his or her needs.

Now go and have some fun. I know I will.

One thought on “Sex, Shame, and Secrecy

  1. A good read. American society is incredibly prudish for some odd reason. It’s even weirder when you consider that American society is infatuated with bloody violence.

    I will say though, that back in my younger days when my sex life was healthy, I didn’t masturbate. For some people, when you’re getting some every single day (sometimes more than once in a day) you find that you don’t have the desire.

    I am continually pleased to bear witness to this more liberated version of yourself.

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