Six Things I Wish I'd Known About Sex
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Politics and Activism

Six Things I Wish I'd Known About Sex

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Six Things I Wish I'd Known About Sex

Most of us were given some version of a sex talk by our parents and/or some rendition of sexual education at school. For those of us not blessed with the opportunity to watch some adult stretch a condom onto a banana, you've most likely gotten the general gist of the horizontal tango at this point.

Lately, I've been thinking about how much our perceptions about sex change after becoming active, compared to how they were prior. This prompted me to do some research about sex education in this country. I already knew it was a laughing stock. We've all seen "Mean Girls." We're all familiar with Coach Carr.

On a more serious note, I never realized what a political satire this scene really was until I did some reading. According to the National Congress of State Legislatures official website, as of January of 2015, only 22 states and the District of Columbia require sex education to be taught in public schools. Only 33 receive information about HIV/AIDS. Here's the kicker: only 19 of our 50 states require that the information given be medically accurate and unbiased.

I'm, honestly, appalled. While I am not a certified sex educator, it is clear to me that resources given to our younger generations are seriously lacking and it made me want to write a list of things I wish someone had told me about sex when I was younger.


1. Virginity is a myth.

Hear me out on this one. We don’t consider learning to read as “losing our illiteracy,” but rather the beginning of a lifelong self-educating, enlightening skill. Why not look at sex the same way? If you’re like me, you were probably taught that becoming sexually active meant you would lose a part of yourself that you could never get back and, if given to the wrong person, this sacred vagina gift would haunt you for the rest of your life.

Girls, you were probably taught that the first time you had sex would be bloody and painful, without question and that exploring your sexualities would make you sluts. Boys, you were probably taught that popping a girl’s cherry qualified your masculinity and that having tons of sex would make you a stud.

In short, virginity is a social construct fostered by our species-wide fixation on other people’s sex lives and -- based on my experience -- it has become a vehicle for society to shame girls for having sex and boys for not having sex. Not only this, but since most people tend to view virginity as something to be lost via heterosexual intercourse, the term excludes the large population of non-cisgender individuals who may never have a heterosexual encounter. So, idea: let’s stop perpetuating the idea that something is lost once we engage in the forbidden dirty acts; let's consider it the beginning of something great.


2. You never owe anyone sex.

I can’t stress this enough. Internalize this. You. NEVER. Owe. Anyone. Sex. It doesn’t matter who paid for dinner. It doesn’t matter how many dates you’ve gone on or for how many months you’ve been involved. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex before. Consent – in this case, voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity - can be rightfully revoked at any point in time and no one should ever be made to feel at fault for that. I can even extend this point to say that you should never do anything sexual just to prove something to someone else or make someone else happy. Have the right intentions going in and make sure you’re doing it because it will make you happy.


3. IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT USE 50 SHADES OF GREY AS A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BDSM.

Honestly, I could go on forever about my mixed feelings towards 50 Shades. At first, I was really excited that a BDSM erotica hit the shelves and became part of mainstream contemporary literature. I think that BDSM (bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism) is highly stigmatized, misunderstood, and even condemned due to a lack of general education on the topic. However, upon reading the books and seeing the movie (don’t judge me), I was disappointed. The plot relies on tired stereotypes about the BDSM community, such as the emotionally disturbed yet darkly dashing dominant and the average virginal submissive with no apparent personality. It then portrays Anastasia Steele’s attempt to “cure” Christian Grey of his single hamartia: his taste for kink. This all perpetuates the idea that only abused and mentally unhinged individuals will be inclined to practice BDSM and, more troublingly, sends the message that it’s an illness the right person can cure with persistence (doesn’t this sound like abuse victims who claim they can change their abusive partners?). Not only is this all completely false, but the BDSM scenes detailed throughout the saga demonstrate encounters that lack consent and other essential dynamics for healthy BDSM relationships.

I won’t rant anymore about the story, but the ideal BDSM scenario involves all parties being fully informed, eager, and safe. The key is communication, careful exploration/respect of boundaries, and trust between partners – not passive-aggression, contracts, pressure, or helicopter rides. There is also a lack of aftercare provided, which is necessary in the real world since BDSM scenes are often physically and emotionally exhausting.


4. It's totally okay to be silly during sex.

I really wish someone had told me this when I first started taking sex-ed in high school. At the time, it was portrayed as an intense, serious, and intimidating act that I might never have the correct attitude about or find the right person for. I was terrified of bodily functions not working in my favor, of making the wrong noise, of looking the wrong way, and just not being taken seriously. Honestly? It's way overrated. Can sex be a very intense love or BDSM session? Yes. Is It always? No. Is it wrong to let loose and be a little silly? Absolutely not. Ideally, the person with whom you're engaged enjoys you enough as a person to be intimate with you.

Whether you're romantically associated with your partner or not, laughing, talking, and being yourself will make for a more enjoyable, relaxed, and communicative session as opposed to being afraid to look each other in the eye. Someone farts? Everyone does at some point. Someone's stomach growls? We all need food sometimes. Someone falls off the bed and it's hilarious to watch? Laugh. Sex should be a pleasurable thing and, in my opinion, that extends beyond orgasms. Make yourself comfortable. Don't take yourselves too seriously and have fun with it!


5. You don't have to love someone to have sex with them.

Sex and love are two totally different things. While many think they should ideally coexist, the fact is they don't have to. You can have love without sex and you can have sex without love. In my opinion, a friends-with-benefits situation is looked down on purely because some people can't imagine doing it. Some people can't sexually engage without becoming emotionally involved. This is totally acceptable, as different people accompany different preferences and situations, but on that same note, I feel that we should really stop stigmatizing casual sex.

11 out of 15 people I asked about this topic claim that, while love tends to enhance a sexual experience, it isn't necessary to enjoy an encounter. It may seem a foreign concept to some, but sometimes people feel they are ready for a sexual relationship and not a romantic one. Sometimes people have time for booty calls, but not dates. Sometimes people don't want commitment. There are a million reasons to initiate a purely sexual association with someone without getting feelings involved. In my view, this is not unlike acceptance of different sexual orientations - it's not for anyone else to judge. As long as no harm comes to other people, who cares? It's someone else's personal life and, therefore, someone else's business.


6. There are multiple kinds of sex.

Maybe this was just me, but homosexuality was not covered when I took sex-ed. The class consisted of labeling the male and female sex organs on anatomical maps, then being scared into abstaining with graphic photos of STIs. There was never any dialogue about oral sex, anal sex, sexuality, experimentation and exploration thereof, different sexual orientations, or homosexuality.

Once I got older and looked back, I realized that most, if not all, of what I'd learned about any of the above, I learned from mixed media outside of my high school curriculum. This, combined with my paranoia about losing my virginity and the lack of a well-informed perception of what constituted sex, led to a very confusing few years, to say the least.

The good news is that we define labels, they don't define us. Just as we're within our own right to decide what we call ourselves sexually, if anything, we're within our right to an opinion of what sex is and isn't. Some people don't consider oral sex to be in the same ballpark as vaginal intercourse, while others do. A difference of opinion is great, but I feel we should be presented with medically accurate, unbiased information at an early age so that we know that we are not alone if our urges stray from heterosexuality, not wrong to want to explore and experiment, not oblivious to other sexual acts and orientations and we able to form our own opinions about sex based on neutral facts not filtered by some other agenda.

More than anything else, I wish someone had told a younger, more impressionable, less secure me that whatever I was feeling was fine. That, as long as I didn't have the desire to inflict non-consensual acts on others, or cause serious damage to myself, all was well. I wish I'd known early on that I didn't have to mold myself into anything I wasn't, just to be sexually appealing, or have a healthy sex life. Hopefully as we progress towards a more open, communicative, and tolerant society, we initiate more dialogue with younger generations about the birds and the bees.

Moreover, sex is a part of life. We live in a society that, for some reason, still finds it taboo at times even though it's one of our most ingrained, natural, and necessary urges. As our thinking revolutionizes and our world (hopefully) becomes more tolerant of different sexual orientations, practices, and types of relationships, we become more curious and explorative about sex. More than anything else, I wish someone had told a younger, more impressionable, less secure me that whatever I was feeling was fine. That, as long as I didn't have the desire to inflict nonconsensual acts among others or cause serious damage to myself, all was well.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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