Health

Decoding Gender

Pronouns Are Important

I’m Chloe, I identify as a bi-woman (my sexuality and  gender), and my preferred pronouns are “She/her”

I like to make sure I don’t misgender the folks I hang around with – so I do try to use preferred pronouns, and be sensitive about making assumptions when I meet people.

Why? What is all of this about you might ask? Well, firstly, it’s because I’m not a jerk, and I think we should all be included respectfully in society. Secondly it’s because I genuinely care about the people I meet, and I want them to feel included, respected, and like actual humans.

Not that hard really.

I think we should all be included respectfully in society. Secondly it's because I genuinely care about the people I meet, and I want them to feel included,

What Is Gender?

Contrary to the popular belief that gender is whether or not you’re male or female (Nup, that’s sex, folks, more on that in a second!) Gender is the feeling of whether you’re a guy, or a girl, a man or a woman, or somewhere in between those two ends of the spectrum.

Gender is diverse, and much more fluid than the black and white definition of “Man” and “Woman”.

Yay for gender diversity!

I’d also like to  bring to the table the idea that gender doesn’t necessarily have to do with sexuality. That’s a whole other discussion! And we’re gonna have that discussion. We’re gonna have these discussions until people understand, accept, and include all of their fellow folk!

What Is “Sex”

No, not that kind of sex, but biology is fun too, mmkay?!

Sex relates to our anatomy. While there deviations of sex that extend beyond male and female anatomy, “male” and “female” are most commonly used terms.

The classification of a person as male or female at birth. Infants are assigned a sex, usually based on the appearance of their external anatomy.

 No problems. You're perfectly normal, acceptable, and magical however you identify, and your'e certainly not alon

What If I Don’t Identify With My Assigned Sex Or Gender?

No problems. You’re perfectly normal, acceptable, and magical however you identify, and your’e certainly not alone.

Some folks don’t feel like they connect or associate with their assigned gender or sex. Some identify with the opposite sex. Sometimes it’s fluid, and it changes, and sometimes folks don’t identify with any particular sex or gender.

I say this with a degree of caution, because I simply cannot speak for each individual experience of gender.

Got more to add? Comments, questions, criticisms? Call me out. I'm learning too, and I want to improve!

Common Gender Definitions

Agender or Gender-Neutral: A term for folks whose gender identity and expression does not align with man, woman, boy or girl or any other gender.

Androgynous/Andro: Identifying and/or presenting as neither obviously masculine nor feminine.

Bi-gender: Someone whose gender identity comprises of both man and woman. Some folk identify with one identity more than the other, but feel that both are present.

Binary: Archaic way of understanding gender as being only man or woman.

Cisgender: A term used to describe a person whose gender identity aligns with the sex assigned to them at birth. E.g. “Cis-Male” or “Cis-Woman”

A number of derivatives of the terms cisgender and cissexual include cis male for “male assigned male at birth”, cis female for “female assigned female at birth”, as well as: cis man and cis woman, and cissexism and cissexual assumption.

Gender dysphoria: Clinically defined as the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as man or woman to be opposite to  or different to one’s biological sex.

Gender expression: How someone chooses to present their gender via their external appearance.

Gender fluid: A person who does not identify with a single fixed gender, and expresses a fluid or unfixed gender identity.

Gender identity: How individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves. Gender identity can be the same or different from one’s sex assigned at birth.

Gender non-conforming: A broad term referring to people who do not behave in a way that conforms to the traditional expectations of their gender, or whose gender expression does not fit neatly into a category.

Gender questioning: A person who may be processing, questioning, or exploring how they want to express their gender identity.

Genderqueer: A term for people who reject notions of static categories of gender and embrace a fluidity of gender identity and often, though not always, sexual orientation. People who identify as genderqueer may see themselves as being both male and female, neither male nor female or as falling completely outside these categories.

Misgender:  Don’t do this! Referring to or addressing someone using words and pronouns that do not correctly reflect the gender with which they identify. We can do better than this, and if you don’t know how someone likes to be addressed, it’s nice to ask what their preferred pronouns are.

Non-binary: Any gender that falls outside of the binary system of male/female or man/woman.

Queer: A broad term to describe non-binary gender, and genderqueer has been used as an adjective to refer to any people who transgress distinctions of gender, regardless of their self-defined gender identity, or who “queer” gender.

Transgender: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural and social expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth.

Transitioning: The social, legal, and/or medical process folks may go through to live outwardly as the gender with which they identify. Transitioning can include some or all of the following: telling loved ones and co-workers, using a new name and pronouns (he/she, him/her/ etc), dressing differently, changing their name and/or sex on legal documents, hormone therapy, and possibly gender reassignment and or cosmetic surgeries.

 

Got more to add? Comments, questions, criticisms? Call me out. I’m learning too, and I want to improve!

Your Sex Life

Are Millennials The Hookup Generation?

Are We Actually The Hookup Generation?

The age of Tinder, and the casual hookup has given Millennials and iGens the reputation of being all about the bone.

But according to this study it seems that my generation is doing anything but the horizontal samba with frequent and multiple partners.

What’s driving this sexual dry spell?

Why Is It Happening All Over The World?

Around the world iGens, particularly women are just NOT  having sex. To the point where it’s reached crisis point in countries like Japan.

The aging population and declining birth rate in Japan has literally had the government intervene in the sex lives of it’s younger generation. To encourage them to not only shag, but also make babies.

The Swedes are taking one for team orgasm and are organising studies into declining sexual satisfaction. And even America is encouraging university students to go on dates. Well, SOME of America that is.. <side eye at the deep south>

Are We Smarter? Is It Sexual Freedom?

Does emotional connection play into quality sex?

According to some who know far more than me, great sex can happen in hookups but sustainable, frequent, soul satisfying banging happens over time as the emotional connection grows.

Perhaps our liberated sexual freedom actually tindered our sexual burn  out (see what I did there).

Love and emotional connection *can* keep the fire burning, but certainly aren’t necessary for it.

Are We Lacking in Education?

There are progressive countries leaping forwards  with sex positive education, and teaching their youngsters about safer sex, gender diversity, and pleasure and consent. Then there’s well, everyone else.

The country I reside in is divided as to whether or not we should be speaking to children about their genitals, and horrified at the concept of genderless bathroom stalls.

And yet, we also have ridiculously high rates of STIs.

Maybe the nihilism and dark humour we’ve all adopted has affected our sex drives to the point where we just literally cannot even anymore.

Is it education or is it that we’re all dipping our bits in the petri-dish of social shagging with abandon? If you ask me, it’s both.

Survey a bunch of 30 something women, and it’s alarming the myths, mis-truths, and old wives tales that still perpetuate our sexual knowledge. Survey a bunch of 30 something men, and it’s even more alarming.

Can We Blame The Baby Boomers?

I’m a Gen Y, and everything that is wrong with the world ever, is clearly the fault of the boomers. We revel in a destroyed economy, watch as the planet shrivels, and our politicians argue about money instead of effecting real change, and get blamed for wanting, craving, just needing a piece of gorramed avocado toast.

Is it the Boomers to blame?

Let’s run with maybe.

Let’s run with the collective depression of a generation left to clean up the mess of our predecessors in a way unprecedented throughout history. This shit is huge.

Maybe the nihilism and dark humour we’ve all adopted has affected our sex drives to the point where we just literally cannot even anymore.

 

kink
Your Sex Life

Here’s What To Do If You’re Worried Your Kink Isn’t Normal

So you have an interesting kink…

I went to dinner with a date just recently, and we ordered gelato for desert. I ordered vanilla, he ordered some delicious concoction with brownies, coffee, and hazelnuts… His gelato choices are vastly different to mine, but they’re still gelato. They’re still valid, and they’re very, very much normal. He’s not weird for his differing tastes, and I’m not boring for mine.

Are Your Sexual Thoughts Any Different?

A recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Health found that BDSM and kink are a huge part of mainstream life, with over 46.8% of people surveyed having participated in some type of BDSM act.

Here, we encourage an open minded approach to the things that turn us on and make us hot. Sexual fantasies? Oh my can they make us hot.

And that’s what a sexual fantasy is; a thought that leaves us aroused, turned on, sexually heightened, or feeling very, very lusty. Some of our fantasies might leave us feeling naughty, shameful, or embarrassed… Some of our fantasies might tie into our traumas and hurts.

Am I Normal?

Whips and chains, leather and pain? Or darkly devious, and delightfully unbridled? Soft and silky? Furry and fluffy? Fantasies make our sexuality interesting..

So when your fantasy borders into the dark, the extreme, the tentacle infused, slimy, slippery non-consensual, hard core realm of imagination, is it still normal?

Pfft, yep!

We all have delicious thoughts that we like to entertain to get ourselves off. Some of us have kinks that involve bondage, some of us like to imagine being taken by aliens, some of us like to fantasise about being caught having sex in public places the list goes on, and on, and on..

They’re Fantasies

They’re fantasies.  Creative kinky thoughts that get us off, turn us on, and maybe leave us lusty, and tantalised. They make our sex lives exciting, they make us individual, they help us delve into the more interesting and intriguing parts of our sexuality. Humans are wonderfully creative creatures by nature.

Whips and chains, leather and pain? Or darkly devious, and delightfully unbridled? Soft and silky? Furry and fluffy? Fantasies make our sexuality interesting…

The Human Brain is a Marvelous Thing

Fantasies are delightful little brain trips that we may or may not indulge in real life.

The wonderful thing about the human brain is that it’s endlessly creative. Fantasies are delightful little brain trips that we may or may not indulge in real life. (Safe, sane, consensual indulgence only, please!!)

We can add fantastical elements to our sex play. Costume, toys, bondage, role play, and other more specialised kinky elements can bring parts of our fantasy to life.

Quick questions, quick answers:

Q. Am I weird?

A. Possibly. But that’s not a bad thing. Our individuality is something to be celebrated, not denied.

Q. Are my feelings deviant or wrong?

A. Nope. Fantasies on their own are just thoughts at arouse you. Just thoughts. Explore your fantasies with costumes, consenting partners, toys, role play, and kinky play – and if you’re always practising safe, sane, consensual sex – we say celebrate your fantasies.

Q. But they’re really out there thoughts… I mean REALLY out there.

A. It’s pretty normal to have far fetched fantasies – rape scenes, pain, non-human, and other fetishes are still just fantasies, but if your thoughts are really, really concerning you, speak to a professional therapist.

 

Health

Were the 70’s onto something with mirrors on the ceiling?

Mirror mirror, on the wall, who’s the sexiest of them all?

Mirrors in the bedroom might be a 1970s porn cliche, but they also just might be scientifically proven to add some spice into all things sexy and nice.  A study published in the Journal of Sexual Health sought to find out whether body awareness improved sexual function  in women.

Mirrors, Erotica, and Electrodes, oh my!

Participants in the study placed electrodes on themselves in front of a full length mirror, to ensure they were aware of their bodies, then they were shown erotical to measure their physiological responses and arousal.

The experimental group demonstrated that body awareness does  have an impact on sexual arousal.

So what does that mean for sex?

You don’t need to re-plaster the ceiling just yet. Body awareness means being visually, and physically aware of your body. Play such as blindfolds to enhance physical awareness, or mindfulness and meditation can be super sexy all while increasing awareness of your body.

And of course, you can always use a mirror and watch yourselves do the wild thing!

 

 

 

Your Sex Life

Can Chocolate Improve Sex? The Answer May Suprise You

Wouldn’t it be nice…

Just wouldn’t it be delightful if there were a delicious, magic, fix all for sex… Something that so many of us enjoy and crave, and love. Chocolate does contain a number of chemicals that produce mood lifting endorphins namely phenylethylamine, the chemical associated with falling in love, and serotonin, the feel good hormone.

But can chocolate actually improve sex?

Does Chocolate improve sex?

Well we think the answer is duh, chocolate improves everything. But in a study published in the Journal of Sexual Health, it was found that there was a correlation between women who ate chocolate and their sexual satisfaction in younger women. (Salonia et al, 2006)

So so I need to eat more chocolate for better orgasms?

Sadly, the study also found that when the statistics were adjusted for age, there was no difference between the group who ate chocolate and the group who didn’t. Infact, the older the woman was, the less likely chocolate would have any effect at all on her sexual satisfaction compared to women who don’t eat chocolate.

Damn, so Chocolate doesn’t actually improve sex?

Well, the science says that it may, a little, if you’re a younger woman, and even then the science is correlated at best. Sadly, it seems that chocolate isn’t the panacea that we were all hoping it would be. That doesn’t mean that we can’t pretend and enjoy a square or two….

 

 

References:

ORIGINAL RESEARCH—WOMEN’S SEXUAL HEALTH: Chocolate and Women’s Sexual Health: An Intriguing Correlation Salonia, Andrea et al. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 3, Issue 3, 476 – 482. Retrieved from: https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(15)31344-8/fulltext

 

 

Your Sex Life

Can Exercise Give You Better Orgasms?

We all know that we should be getting regular exercise for our health. But did you know that exercise is great for your sex life? A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that regular vigorous exercise really helped put the boom boom back in the bedroom.

Cardi-no to Cardi-oh-oh-oh!

The study found that increased cardiovascular exercise, in men and women improved perceived sexual dysfunction. That is, it made desire, arousal, orgasms, and the recovery from sex better.( Fergus KB, et al, 2019)

So that means that problems like low libido, decreased sexual pleasure, and difficulty becoming aroused are actually improved by cardio exercise.

That’s Running, Dancing,  Skating, and having fun, right?!

Absolutely! Cardiovascular exercise is exercise that requires your body to to pump increased levels of oxygen around it. Any activity that increases your heart rate up, gets you out of breath and a bit hot and sweaty is perfect.

  • Brisk walking
  • Running
  • Dancing
  • Skating
  • Playing sports
  • Swimming

The list goes on…

So How Much Do I Need?

The Australian Physical activity guidelines state that:

  • “Doing any physical activity is better than doing none. If you currently do no physical activity, start by doing some, and gradually build up to the recommended amount.
  • Be active on most, preferably all, days every week.
  • Accumulate 150 to 300 minutes (2 ½ to 5 hours) of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes (1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours) of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities, each week.
  • Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.” (Australian Government Department of Health, 2019)

So basically, 30 minutes of huffy puffy activity 5 times a week can improve your sex life!

 

 

References:

Australian Government Deparment of Health, 2019 Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines and the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines. Retrieved from https://www1.health.gov.au

Journal of Sexual Health, 2019. Exercise Improves Self-Reported Sexual Function Among Physically Active Adults.  Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31155388

 

 

Education

We’re sex positive, smart, and we want pretty condoms!

Dear condom companies,

We totally get it. Condoms are marketed to men as your primary user base, and we women are just expected be along for the ride. (pun not intended)

We had an inkling that condoms might be letting us down, so we surveyed a bunch of women, smart women, intelligent women, and we found that condoms come up lacking in the marketing department.

Now for those of us who don’t use online shopping yet, we need to stand browsing the condoms between men’s hygiene products, and pregnancy tests, and I’m sorry. I’m a thirty something year old woman, I still feel the embarrassment of appearing to pick out a pregnancy test. I’ve got four kids, go figure.

And frankly, while buying condoms isn’t particularly embarrassing, the marketing on them can be. Do I buy extra large fit? What if I don’t? What am I implying about my partner… Do I go for the extra strong versions? Am I rolling the fertility dice if I don’t buy an extra strong condom? Ribbed? For his pleasure or mine… and who came up with the name “Rough Riders” jeez.

So I get that this marketing is targeted towards men, but you know what… I’d TOTALLY buy and carry condoms that were marketed towards me. A 30 something, sexually active, happily non-monogamous, condom using, woman.

And maybe the blokes won’t buy something that is marketed at women, but frankly with the rise of STIs, and things like antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea on the rise, I really do want to see more women taking control of their sexual health.

My little survey suggests that we are definitely responsible.

It suggests that we are SMART!

Half of us are responsible for purchasing condoms…

But we think the marketing could be done better…

Virtually every other product on the market has some degree of pink washing- but why not condoms? I’m not suggesting that they need to be packaged with ribbons, nor am I suggesting that they need to be pink. I’m suggesting strategic marketing campaigns targeting women.

Because women are primary users of condoms, too. For contraception and for sexual health. I suggest marketing messages that speak to women. Address the health concerns, address the pleasure concerns, and help us make smart, sexual decisions to buy and use your products.

Make condoms cool for women, and make it easy for us to buy.

Education, Relationships

Tumblr, Facebook, PayPal and the big bad ban on Sex.

I’ve been writing as a sex and body positive educator on Polkadotsi for five years now. It’s been an interesting experience finding space to share ideas, content, and spread the idea that bodies are neutral, sex is positive, and talk about all of the things that we should have been taught as children.

It seems however, that there’s a section of humanity that is hell bent on not only repressing the predatory side of human sexuality, but all of it.

That movement is seems to be gaining steam and it’s quite terrifying.

I was reading Hey Epiphora’s great piece When Will We Stop Fearing Sex, and I got to thinking. We need to do something, and our industry is smart, empowered, and incredible enough to do so.

Tumblr and the big bad sex ban

The recent Tumblr decision to remove all  adult content from their site (despite having safe search filters available, despite having really good reporting and response mechanisms in place, and despite their community reacting vocally and negatively to the decision) is the latest in a slate of oppressing, silencing, and shutting down sex related content on social media sites.

Tumblr’s decision seems to be a commercial decision after the app stores pulled their app for implications in child pornography.

But the consequences of silencing and removing adult content are a public health issue. How can we possibly have great conversations about human sexuality, if the places we explore our desires, our proclivities, and what makes us tick are consistently being removed?

How can we have positive conversations about our bodies and their quirks when we are told that anything related to sex is a negative, or shameful thing.

Tumblr’s position on adult content came with the statement “We’ve given serious thought to who we want to be to our community moving forward”

Who is that exactly?

While I understand that there are most definitely individuals who live asexual and non-sexual lifestyles – and that is obviously totally okay; the vast majority of human adults are sexual creatures.

Facebook and Sexual Solicitation, including, wait for it “Sexual Preference”

Arguably there ARE spaces on the internet where sexual content is acceptable and common; however the creeping scope of silencing normal human sexual behaviour on social media sites is distressing.

Take Facebook’s new community guidelines, that state that sexual preference is unacceptable content.

The broad and  vague nature of Facebook’s new community standards give space for basically anything to be deemed sexual and therefore unacceptable by their rules, but where does this leave activists in the LGBTQIA community?

How do we have conversations with the broader, general public about their sexual health and the issues around human sexuality.

Sex isn’t just pornography and titillation, it’s a huge part of public health and as such the suppression of information, and the censoring of issues pertaining to vulnerable communities is utterly unacceptable.

And is this a war on sex? Or is it a war on the LGBTIQIA community and women??

Financial service providers like Square and PayPal are denying and shutting down accounts of female and queer entrepreneurs working in the sex industry including sex workers, film makers, erotic writers, and performers, citing excuses from credit card companies and banks not approving on NSFW content, to violations of terms of service.

But the buck doesn’t seem to stop with anyone, and business owners don’t seem to have a place to repeal the shutdowns, bans, and seizing of funds.

What is behind the push to suppress sexual conversation?

I question if this is due to political or religious pressure.

In my opinion conservative voices are losing their space in the political sphere, as the world is slowly electing more liberal and left leaning political leaders, so when lobbyists cannot lobby politicians, they need to hit businesses where it hurts them; their bottom lines.

Pressure to comply or face financial loss is a big deal. And while it’s disappointing, frustrating, and frankly, terrifying it’s almost expected.

So here’s my hopeful conclusion

The sex industry is a blooming, growth industry. 

Which obviously comes with both positives and negatives – as the industry grows, great conversations grow with it, and while I’ve been working at Polkadotsi, I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of reading and speaking with some of those incredible people having those conversations.

If we keep pushing foward and making sex work, sex creativity, and human sexuality a mainstream thing – I firmly believe it diminishes the spaces where crime and exploitation can occur. Knowledge is power, and knowledgeable consumers are empowered to make better choices.

It’s up to those of us working in this industry to create those spaces, have those conversations, and shine light on the wonderful things our colleagues are doing.

We can and do change the social standards around sex and sexuality, and we NEED to keep pushing forward.

How can you help?

  • Share the work of the amazing people in our industry.
  • Buy from our affiliate links.
  • Support us and subscribe to us.
  • Pay for your darned porn!

 

 

 

Education, Relationships

I Lost My Virginity to Rape

I lost my virginity** to non-consensual sex. It’s taken nearly 15 years to  call it rape.

It was summer, I was a teenager and I thought I was in love. He was charming, sweet, as sexually inexperienced as I was – and looking back; equally stupid. We had dated for a few hormone driven wonderful months and had at length teasingly discussed sex. (2021 edit, I wasn’t stupid, I was really naieve.)

He had delightful, charming, disarming brown eyes and was forever telling me to be more self assured.

One February afternoon in the summer holidays we were making out and things were getting intense. As we fooled around and explored each other he rolled on top of me. At that point, I said no. I explicitly and clearly said no. I told him I wasn’t ready.

I told him I wasn’t ready. I was three months shy of my 16th birthday, and I actually wanted to wait until the age of consent. We had spoken about this at length, in several conversations, and he had verbally supported and encouraged my wishes.

He rolled off and we went back to making out, for a little bit. The next thing I knew, he was on top of me and penetrating me. I remember it hurting, and I remember wriggling away, putting a quick end to our steamy interlude.

He didn’t hold me down.

He didn’t mean to hurt me.

But he did rape me.

When Rape Isn’t Violent It’s Still Rape

After the fact he recognised what he did was wrong. He wrote a long and detailed letter explaining that he should have listened to me, that he should have respected me, and that he should have stopped when I said stop.

 

And he should have.

He wrote a long and detailed letter explaining that he should have listened to me, that he should have respected me, and that he should have stopped when I said stop.

And he should have.

As with most teenage romances, we broke up shortly after and both went on to see other people. I stashed the letter in a box with other letters from him, and hid it in the back of my wardrobe.

His name is Benjamin Walker, or Ben to those who know him and he’s a constable in the WA Police.

Slut Shaming and Naughty Boys

My mother “stumbled across” the letter (read, hunted it out and found it when she was rifling through my private things!) and proceeded to tell me that if I was going to have sex I shouldn’t lead boys along, that boys were driven by hormones and that essentially it was my fault that I was raped.

Because I wasn’t hurt, because I wasn’t beaten, or left bleeding and injured, it couldn’t possibly be rape – and I must have been a wiling participant in the entire sex act.

But I was hurt. A boy I put my trust in with my most intimate experiences exploited them and I learned as a naïve 15 year old that boys have all the power in a relationship.

I’ve spent the better part of 20 years taking that power back.

I’ve spent the better part of 20 years taking that power back.

From Bad to Worse

My next relationship re-enforced those learnings, and I was violently held down, my arms wrenched behind me, breath restricted and raped by my “boyfriend”.

Again, he was charming, and verbally respected my boundaries. He said all the right things. He was charming to my parents and friends.

Several times throughout our “relationship” I turned him down for sex, and he ignored my no’s and went ahead and fucked me anyway. On some occasions, I lay, passively waiting for him to do his thing. On others, I was forcibly engaged in the act.

Several times throughout our “relationship” I turned him down for sex, and he ignored my no’s and went ahead and fucked me anyway. On some occasions, I lay, passively waiting for him to do his thing. On others, I was forcibly engaged in the act.

Even today, nearly 20 years later I can’t talk about it without feeling scared,  triggered, and sick to the stomach.

His name was Tim Booth.

He moved on with his life, unaffected by his actions, not accountable for them – and I’ve had to live with the trauma and damage for each day since.

Just because rape doesn’t leave a woman (or man) injured visibly does not make it less damaging. Rape is rape, and rape is wrong.

Rape Apologists and Social Pressure

One of my abusers was a naïve 16 year old boy, who had self entitlement issues, and meant no real harm in his actions. He was remorseful, and deeply apologetic – but he raped me, and society essentially permitted him to do it.

I sought help from my school psychologist, and police officer, and my situation was largely dismissed.

According to them, he was just a naughty boy who was overcome by his teenage hormones.

To which I say fuck that shit.

The only type of sex that is OK is enthusiastically consensual sex. *

The type of sex where both partners are enthusiastically into it and participating actively.

If you’re not sure – it isn’t enthusiastic.

 

*I wrote this article when I was beginning my career as a sex educator. My position on consent is a little more pragmatic and inclusive these days – largely to recognise that some sexual situations aren’t necessarily viewed as enthusiastically consensual (as in the case of sex work, or consensual-non-consent) but still require consent, respect, and safety.

Consent can be withdrawn, boundaries re-negotiated, and must always be respected, and purchasing the services of a sex worker does not give you the right their body. 

**I genuinely do not believe that virginity is anything of value, and I don’t believe you can lose it/misplace it/ or that it’s any indicator of my worth as a woman.

 

when sex isn't rainbows and unicorns
Education, Relationships, Sex Ed

When Sex Isn’t Rainbows and Unicorns.

Most of us have been sold a lie. Movies, romantic books, and even the social expectations of love and relationships mislead us greatly.

Boy meets girl, girl and boy fall in love, lots of orgasms, happily ever after, right?!

Apart from being particularly hetero-normative (sorry) and simplistic, it’s a pretty common story for what a lot of us are told is the love, sex, relationship model.

A generation of slut shaming, kink shaming, and the repression of healthy sexual education has left us ashamed, afraid, and unable to accept the darker side of our sexual proclivities and desires. Much less realise that love and sex are two different concepts that don’t necessarily co-exist in the same bedroom.

It’s left us unable to communicate our needs, and accept that sex is a normal part of human behaviour and our desires and pleasures come in a mixed bag.

And that mixed bag can look like hookups, relationships, casual dating, poly-amorous adventures, and any number or variations of the above.

So why is this romantic view so bad?

The challenge with a repressed and idealistic  view of sex and love is that so many of our desires and fantasies extend far beyond procuring marriage and producing offspring. Thank you very much, Jane Austen.

We humans are pleasure seeking creatures, and the denial and repression of our basal instincts can lead to shame, pain, and fear.

So let’s take a look at some of those Cinderella stories we got told, bust them wide open, and move forward to accept, and celebrate sex for what it is. Perfectly normal, occasionally mundane, and hopefully lots and lots of fun.

Busting some good sex bad sex myths

Sex and Love Go Hand in Hand

When I first started dating as a teen, I “saved” myself for a boy I fell in love with.  I was pretty devastated when that six month relationship came to an ugly and nasty close.  I’d had so closely related sex with my feelings of love and companionship, and while I’m not suggesting for a second that teens can’t experience love – I was really naive and had no idea how to make a longer term relationship work.

If I’d had the perspective of experiencing sex and relationships in the moment, and let myself be completely in the present, I probably would have had healthier expectations about how my partners behaved, felt, and responded to me.

As an adult in a poly relationship now, love and sex can still be pretty tightly coupled, but I also recognise you can have fantastic, amazing, earth shattering sex without love being involved.

If you think of sex and love as a Venn Diagram, you can see how sex and love are pretty loosely coupled. You can have sex without love. You can have love without sex, you can have sex and love.

There is no hard and fast rule on how how sex and love are coupled, and how that forms a relationship. All are valid definitions.

You can have sex and love that last for the term of the sexual encounter – you can have loving sexual relationships that last a lifetime. You can have loveless sexual relationships that last a lifetime. And sexless loving relationships that endure as well.

In terms of HAVING great sex, choosing to respect yourself and making choices that fill your needs, and respect your partner’s needs seems to be a healthy reasonable approach.

You don’t have to love your partners, and sex isn’t a transaction for love.

You don’t have to love your partners, and sex isn’t a transaction for love.

Sex should be sensual, soft, and kind. Kinks are bad mmkay?

As a young adult, I discovered that the bedroom can be a really interesting place to work out “stuff” It started with experimentation with a particularly enthusiastic partner who loved rougher sex, and was very, very into when I struggled and pushed back.

As someone who’d been raped, and someone who’d had really negative experiences with sex up until that point, it was really bizarre realising that I LIKED being restrained. I ENJOYED the hurt so good, painful experiences that consenting non-consent brought for me, and I really got off with rough sex.

It messed with my head. But it turns out that it’s pretty normal, and there are LOADS of people who engage in kinky sex.

Do you get off by getting hurt? Love that hurts so bad it’s good feeling?

Desire the feeling of power and control as you inflict pain on your partner?

Leather rings your bell and floats your boat?

Something else? Don’t worry. Your desires are pretty normal. The great thing about the internet these days, compared to what our parents had available to them is that if there’s a kink, there’s a forum/ sub-reddit/or facebook support group for it.

You and your kinks probably aren’t alone in the big wide world, and there are probably others out there who get off on the same interesting stuff you do.

Spend the time educating yourself on safe ways to indulge your desires – and always practise safe, sane, consensual sex.

Sex is always pleasurable…

Ahhhhhh if only sex WAS always pleasurable. The thing about human relationships no matter how long or short, they’re often fraught with imperfection.

And there is such a thing as unpleasurable sex.

That doesn’t mean that the relationship is bad, or that either or the people within it have failed in any way – it just is what it is sometimes.

Unpleasurable sex becomes more of an issue when the partners involved don’t talk about it, for reasons of shame, fear, embarrassment, not wanting to hurt the other person’s feelings or just not being aware of what they want or need.

Don’t fake orgasms. No-one benefits from that!

Don’t fake orgasms. No-one benefits from that!

I’m a huge advocate of knowing your own body, it’s turn ons, it’s turn offs and what gets you off REALLY well. And practising being able to communicate your desires, and show your partner how to get you off.

If you don’t communicate, nothing ever changes, and resentment, failed expectations, and anger can fester under the surface. Communicating your desires and feelings without your partner feeling inadequate can be a tricky territory – speak kindly, focus on the positives, and use “I” statements.  For example “I feel” “I love” etc.

Talk about it in the moment, address it as a debrief, and keep talking. You’ve got everything to gain here.

Good sex results in orgasm

Orgasms are amazing! I love orgasms, and I think we should all be having more orgasms! But sex doesn’t have to culminate in orgasm for it to be incredible.

Heck sex doesn’t even have to involved intercourse – but more on that in a second.

Great sex is about connection and pleasure with your partner (s) (or yourself) slow burning, sensual, loving touch, or rough, limit, pushing masochism don’t always peak with the big O.

That doesn’t mean it’s bad sex.
If you’re both fulfilled, feeling good, and happy with the outcome, that’s totally okay.

Communicate with your partner and find the things that are important to you.

A sexless relationship is a poor quality relationship

Relationships go in ebbs and flows. That early burning, euphoric, sex on tap part of any new relationship eventually runs it’s course, and it can be anything from 3 months to three years depending on you and your partner.

The trouble is that people expect that to be THE relationship.

Oh if only…

After the euphoria, there’s work. There are domestic duties, there are bills, there are illnesses, there are daggy underpants, and sweat pants that you would never parade around in a lover you’re trying to woo.

But there’s also intimacy, connection, friendship, and solidarity that builds as the bright flash subsides. Relationships take work, and sometimes sex is on the back burner.

As life happens, sex drives peak and flow. Children, stress, work, and medications can all impact on our sex drives-  and every individual is different.

Avoiding resentment with communication and really understanding what each other’s needs are is key to helping keep things moving on.

Of course there are other relationship models that you can consider like polyamory  and consensual non-monogamy

But intimacy is a myriad thing, and it doesn’t necessarily come from sex alone.

Cuddles, time spent together, touch, massage, and other acts of intimacy are valid and normal ways to keep connection with your partner.

Here’s to normal sex

Hopefully you’ll see what I did there, in that I think most sex is pretty normal. Obviously we want more of the good stuff and less of the bad.

By accepting reality and facing the fact that sex can be terribly mundane, delightfully pleasurable AND painful if we like it like that we can move past the myths and fables told to us in the movies.

Let’s talk about sex, let’s talk about the good and the bad, (I’m not singing I swear) and let’s talk about how we want it, how we don’t.

This is how we grow, this is how we feel better about our desires, and kinks, and the things that get us off.