Tag Archive | sex positivity

Sex is not a magical unicorn, part 3

Warning: Sexy Sex talk.  Read at your own risk.  Also, for some tips on how sex actually can be a magical unicorn, with wings even, please check out this comment on yesterday’s post.  There’s a couple of great links from Hunter on non-intercourse sex.

So, over the last two days I’ve been explaining why sex isn’t the magical, mystical experience we’re often taught to expect.  I’m wrapping it up today with a bit about how we can stop both overrating sex and shaming people about it.

In my quest for information, I watched the documentary Let’s Talk About Sex.  I don’t necessarily agree with all of the conclusions of the filmmaker.  I’m not convinced, for example, that the Netherlands is the country we should emulate when it comes to sex education.  But I agree that we have a problem in the U.S.

Our country is an oddity.  Our culture is saturated in overt sexuality, and we have the highest rates of adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases of any developed nation.  Yet our method of handling the crisis is to yell more loudly and more often that everyone should just abstain until marriage.  The bad news is, the yelling isn’t working.  Upwards of 90% (some figures closer to 95%) of people aren’t waiting.

There is a truckload of guilt and shame attached to sex.  Recently, I heard one (Christian) girl explain the reason why pregnancy is more common among conservatives is that they are taught that everyone makes mistakes.  Therefore, getting caught up in the moment is acceptable.  Only “bad” girls would plan ahead or use condoms, proving that they were intending to sin.  Does anyone else see the problem with this line of thinking?

As several people have commented on this blog, this is something we need to talk about.

I see two places we can begin.  First, we can make sure that within our families, we are providing an open, caring atmosphere where sharing about sex comes as naturally as sharing about any other subject.  Second, we can make public education and religious education two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing forces where one imposes its will on the other.

One of the best ways to take the shame out of sex and sexuality is to speak about it honestly.  Now, I don’t necessarily mean with strangers on your blog.  Well, okay, maybe I do mean that.  But that’s not the only thing I mean.  It’s easier, sometimes, to be truthful about our feelings and experiences when we don’t have to do it face to face with people we know.  But we have to move past that, or we will never see any real change.

As I’ve said before, parents need to take play an active role in their kids’ sex education.  I don’t mean being involved at school or church, I mean being the first person your child talks to about sex.  Parents need to be well-educated on the subject.  Make sure you have accurate information.  I’ve provided many wonderful links you can use to increase your own knowledge, and others have added theirs to the comments.  Feel free to add your own here.  (Please be aware that I will remove anything that has obvious false or intentionally misleading information, however.)

In addition, parents should be ready to be honest with their kids about their own histories.  Don’t lie in the hopes that your child won’t make your mistakes.  If you feel you’ve made a mistake, own it.  If you feel that what you did was right for you at the time, be truthful about that.  You don’t need to volunteer anything you don’t want to, but don’t cover it up if your kid asks.

When it comes to sex education, the church and the school should not be at odds.  The school should provide accurate, comprehensive sex education from a health standpoint.  This should include information about how to prevent pregnancy and disease.  I don’t see this as any different from schools teaching the theory of evolution.  Lots of conservative Christians disagree that evolution is a valid theory, yet it’s still taught.  There is no reason why sex education can’t be improved.

Meanwhile, the church should stay out of attempts at explaining physiology, especially when it’s used to make a point about the “nature” of boys and girls.  I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve seen real damage done with misinformation masquerading as “moral values.”  I’ve seen boys who think it’s excusable to blame girls for rape, and I’ve seen girls who think there’s something wrong with them because they experience arousal.  Leave the physiology lessons to the school and stick with talking about spiritual, ethical, and moral expression of sexuality.

Instead of treating sex like a rather mysterious and wondrous prize, we need to begin seeing it as a normal part of human experience.  Only then will we be able to think and speak of it in a way that is both God-honoring and healthy.

Sex is not a magical unicorn, part 2

Warning: This post contains stuff about sex. Specifically, women and sex. If you’re prone to blushing, don’t read it. Or do and just don’t tell anyone. Or go read 50 Shades of Grey and then pretend you didn’t.

So, the other night, I checked out the documentary Orgasm, Inc. on Netflix. (For the record: It’s not about porn. Also for the record: I wouldn’t have watched it if it had been.) Let me tell you, I had no idea that there was this entire medical thing going on where women are being told that they are “sexually dysfunctional.” Apparently, though, this really exists.

One of the reasons that has happened is that we’re all taught that sex is so special and awesome and fabulous, but we have no idea (outside of the basics) about how it really works and what’s normal. Or, at least, we don’t know what’s normal for women.

That isn’t surprising to me. Up until fairly recently, in all areas of health and medicine, research was based on men. One glaringly obvious example is symptoms of a heart attack. It turned out, after some research that actually involved women for a change, that women don’t have the same symptoms as men. This is true in a lot of other ways, too. For years, even doctors didn’t know much about the female body and how it responds sexually.

Some years ago, the big statistic floating around was that 43% of women had some kind of sexual dysfunction. Now, if you’re like me, when you hear that you go, “Say what?” Because 43% sounds like either an epidemic or (more likely) the result of really shoddy research.

After that, the race was on to find a treatment. No joke, pharmaceutical companies invented everything from testosterone patches to pills to surgically implanted nerve simulators (yes, really). Not surprisingly, everything was fairly risky and there were no consistently observable benefits.

Guess why that was?

Maybe it was because 43% of women are not dysfunctional. We just don’t understand our own bodies. We don’t hear it from our mothers, who either don’t know themselves or are too embarrassed to talk about it. We don’t hear it at school, where teachers are prohibited from talking about anything but the basic mechanics. We don’t hear it at church, where 9 times out of 10 it’s either men dragging out tired phrases (“men are microwaves, women are crock-pots”) or little else besides “Don’t do it unless you’re married!” Along with that, advice for men on how to help their wives in bed isn’t, well, helpful. It ignores basic biology. I’ve seen everything, including claims (always made by men) that it’s “all in our heads” if we aren’t fully enjoying sex (FYI: It’s not). Even our husbands can’t really help!

So where are we supposed to learn about our bodies?

You know, I made it through adolescence, nursing school, and well into adulthood before I had any idea what was truly normal. And trust me, none of it lined up with anything I’d heard before. I’m guessing that this is probably true for the majority of the women who are “dysfunctional.”

If you have Netflix, I recommend the film. It was certainly enlightening. Because I don’t want to turn this blog into a lesson on Female Sexuality 101, I’m going to link to some great resources. Please don’t be put off just because there may be things you morally disagree with (such as whether or not premarital sex is sinful). Don’t throw out the stuff that you can use within marriage just because someone else chooses to use it outside marriage. Also, this is not just for women. Men, I promise that learning about your wife’s body isn’t going to lead you into some kind of porn addiction. Porn is really different from an anatomy lesson. Believe me, if you learn anything about women’s bodies, your wife will be thrilled. (Probably, if you’re married, your best bet is to read these things together so that you can talk about it.)

Innies & Outies: The Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus and More
Yield for Pleasure
Sexual Response & Orgasm: A Users Guide
Female Orgasm May Be Tied to ‘Rule of Thumb’

I can’t orgasm from intercourse and it’s ruining my relationship!
A Critic Takes On the Logic of Female Orgasm
CLIT-ICAL THINKING!
How To Find the Clitoris
You Can’t POP Your Cherry! (HYMEN 101)

Join me tomorrow when I wrap up with part 3, where we put this all together and consider how we can talk to our kids without fear that we’re inciting them to behavior we don’t condone.

Sex is not a magical unicorn, part 1

Warning: Sex stuff inside. Open at your own risk. It’s a rather touchy topic and it might be a bit hard to wrap your hand…er, mind around it. This one might arouse your interest. You should read something else if you don’t want to penetrate the depths of this subject. (Okay, okay, I’ll stop.)

As teen and young adult, so much of sex always seemed like a mystery. The way many Christians speak of sex is like it’s the most incredible gift, just waiting for the right moment to be opened. It’s like knowing your birthday present is sitting, wrapped, on a shelf in your parents’ closet. You don’t know what it is, but you know it’s there. Its presence looms over you. You know you’ll find out what it is on the big day, but you’re not allowed to peek. Except, not only are you forbidden from sneaking a look at the gift, you are also not even supposed to think about opening it, because thinking is the same as unwrapping.

And then, when the moment comes, all this build-up has led you to believe that you are about to open the world’s most amazing gift. This is it, the moment you have been waiting for. You are tearing the paper off a present that should have all the eye-popping, heart-stopping, mind-blowing glory of a magical winged unicorn.

But what if it turns out not to be as awesome as you imagined?

On our wedding night, I was expecting this:

but it was more like this:

It was a lot more Charlie than Princess Celestia. It was okay, but nothing like I thought it would be. It was disappointing. Opening the gift didn’t reveal what I’d longed for. It was like anticipating a diamond bracelet and getting a silly band.

I absolutely do not blame my husband for this. There is no way he could have anticipated that. And I had no idea how to tell him. I didn’t know how to talk about sex. Sure, I’d read some magazine articles, all of which suggested that couples should tell each other what they like in bed. But I didn’t have the words to express myself, nor the courage to admit that anything was wrong. I felt like a failure.

The weird thing is, going into marriage, I thought I was completely prepared. I thought we would just kind of know how it worked and it would be awesome and special and holy and perfect. Not one person explained reality to me, other than that nearly everyone said it would hurt the first time but I would “get used to it.”

Wow, “get used to it” is kind of a crappy way to view sex.

There was a lot no one told me. No one explained that being on oral contraceptives can kill your sex drive and mess with your body, making everything more painful. No one said that it’s best to use lube or lubed condoms, especially the first time. No one clued me in that it’s possible to prepare your body before you have sex so that it doesn’t hurt. (If you want to know how, message me and I will link you up with a great video in which a sex educator explains it.) No one shared that I would have to know my own body so that I could help my husband learn.

Nothing.

Heck, I didn’t even know that I was actually supposed to like it, even though I’d heard it was supposed to be life-changing. I had heard all about how “the world” had perverted sex and how an “unbiblical” view of sex had taken all the joy from it. I never once heard an adult woman talk about it like it was something she enjoyed. Most of the sex talks I heard were from men, and there was definitely a fixation on porn addiction and “lust” (translation: if it makes you hard, you’re lusting). Basically, it sounded bad and scary, yet that was all supposed to change when I said “I do.” I was terrified that someone—including my own husband—might find out that I wanted to enjoy it.

I am fortunate that I have a patient, loving husband who was willing to walk through this with me. We’ve been married for 15 years now, and we’re still finding our way. I don’t think this happens for every couple, there are plenty who have different experiences than we did. But for too many of us, this is what has happened as a result of uptight attitudes and purity initiatives. I hear from friends (and strangers, via Twitter or this blog) that they feel as though they’ve been let down, usually by the church or by Christians. They suffer in silence, believing they’re the only ones who think of sex as their “duty” or who feel shame about their sexual history to the point of being unable to enjoy intimacy with their spouses. They keep hearing that sex is good, sex is beautiful, but their personal experiences say otherwise.

Sadly, many women can’t even talk about this with friends. When the topic of sex comes up, there is always at least one person who blushes furiously and admonishes the others to stop talking about it so casually. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s always one who brags that she and her husband have the best sex. Both of those things cause women who are struggling to shut down.

Maybe this is you. Maybe you’re married and you’ve carried fear and shame around with you. Or maybe you’re not yet married but you are having trouble making sense of the conflicting messages you hear. You are not the only one, and you don’t have to walk this road by yourself. If you feel you can’t talk in “real life” with anyone, you can message me. You can post a comment and hear what others have to say. Or you can be brave and share with your friends. Be the first to confide, to be real, and see what it leads to.

You’re not alone.

Join me tomorrow when I continue this topic. Up next: My thoughts on the documentary “Orgasm, Inc.” (Yeah, that title sounds really porny. Trust me, it’s anything but.)