let’s talk about SEX

bananas

Let’s Talk About SEX?

Author: Mabel Smith

Whether we love it, hate it, or aren’t fussed either way… sex will usually come up in our lives. Sex is full of myths and stereotypes, but what we must remember is that sex looks different to everyone. Let’s ignore porn or 50 Shades of Grey for a moment– sex is whatever we make of it. Whether we are queer, heterosexual, virgins, or sex workers – our sex and sex lives should always be safe and respected (say sex one more time…). And at mindhamok we think the best way to create safe spaces is by talking openly. Whether we’re talking about dildos, STIs, orgasms, sexual consent, or attraction – it’s out with the taboo and in with a new way of thinking.

So, welcome to the sex ed class you may have never had before – put your mind in a hammock, take notes and enjoy the ride (all puns intended).

*TRIGGER WARNING*

We will be discussing rape and sexual assault at the beginning of this blog post when talking about SEXUAL CONSENT.

So… let’s begin

In our recent Instagram post, we dipped our toe into 4 key themes surrounding sex. So, let’s start with the most important aspect, and what all sex must start with – sexual consent.

Consent

Sexual Consent is the permission or agreement for something to happen. So, in the context of sex – consent is when all people involved in any kind of sexual activity agree to take part by choice. Before anyone engages in sex, consent must be given by all parties. This sounds pretty straightforward, right? Consent is given verbally as well as through body language.

Myth – the “grey area”, these “blurred lines”:

A myth that we often hear is the ‘grey area’ surrounding consent. Consent is not grey, but incredibly black and white. The idea that there is a ‘grey area’ or ‘blurred lines’ (shout out to Robin Thicke for one of the ““most controversial songs of the decade”) encourages people to engage in sex, even when they’re not sure the other person, or persons, want to. If we are having sex, and we get even the slightest idea that the other person does not (or cannot) consent – for whatever reason – we must stop. Having sex without consent is rape. And the weight of surviving rape, or sexual assault, is heavy. There is no ambiguity for survivors, living with that pain is all too real.

As well as this, once someone has consented to sex – they can change their mind at any time. How long does it take to pick something to eat on a food menu? We can be in the mood for one thing, see something else and change our minds. Why are we allowed so much choice with our diet, but the concept of changing our minds about sex is so hard to grasp?

Does this sound scary? Some people think that sex used to be simple, that porn was pretty straight-forward and now all this talk of consent has complicated the process, sucked the fun and spontaneity out of it. Well… no. Consent is reinventing what is sexy. It’s the base that we build sex on. A base made up of mutual trust and respect. Sexual consent isn’t the killer of kinks or fetishes; it makes them more enjoyable with safe words and spaces. CONSENT IS SEXY – and always has been. Tell all your friends. Shout it from your apartment window. Get it tattooed on your forehead. Do whatever the hell you want and change your mind 100 times on the way there – because that’s our right as human beings!  

*ok deep breath*

We just can’t say it enough – sexual consent is KEY. It’s everything. It’s not a myth (like the clitoris) (kidding) – it’s essential. Not a blurred line or grey area.  

Here are some ways of asking for consent: 

  1. Do you want to have sex?
  2. Are you sure you’re ready for this?
  3. Do you just want to cuddle?
  4. How do you want it?

Try these out and find your way with it when/if you have sex – we promise all parties will appreciate it.

STIs and slip-ups

Another way of engaging in safe sex is by using protection. That can be protection from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) or unplanned pregnancies, in the form of contraception or celibacy. Whatever way we choose to protect ourselves (and for whatever reason), it’s important to remember that slip-ups can happen.

According to the World Health Organization, “More than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired every day worldwide, the majority of which are asymptomatic.”[1] And those numbers might scare some of us, but they also remind us that catching an STI isn’t as isolating as it may feel at first. The majority of STI’s, when found early, are manageable. And the best way to get ahead of them is by getting checked regularly.

Myths

  1. “You can’t get an STI if you only have oral sex” – False. STIs can be transmitted through oral sex as well as penetrative.
  2. “A condom is 100% effective in protecting you from catching an STI” – False. Although condoms help lower the risk, they are never 100% effective. This is because condoms can break or may not always cover the infected areas.
  3. “Only dirty people get STIs” – False. Like any infection or illness, STIs don’t discriminate. We are all susceptible. We could all catch one. If you are reading this and have contracted an STI before, you know how scary it can be. But you also know how the right support can drastically help. Once we get rid of the stigma that surrounds STIs then we can start the healing process – both physically and emotionally.
[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)

We’re all human – we can get caught up in the moment and forget to use protection. But catching an STI is never the end of the world. Perhaps your results have recently come back positive, or you’re too scared to get tested – and that is ok. Please remember that you don’t have to go through this part alone. There is so much taboo and fear surrounding STI’s, which is why talking about it is so important. Sometimes our minds can spiral and make mountains out of molehills, but we must remember to come back down to reality. And the reality is – catching an STI is not as bad as you think it is. There’s a whole lot of support waiting for you when you’re ready. Whether that’s with family, friends, or with a professional.

It’s not like the movies

Now, representation in media is getting better. But, overall, we see a lot of sex that involves heterosexual, cisgendered couples. We see a lot of penetrative sex; we see a lot of flailing limbs and orgasms and background music that builds with bodies being picked up and placed onto kitchen counters, or desks, with no spatial awareness as crockery or stationary goes flying across the floors. With couples then crashing down onto a bed, having orgasms at the EXACT SAME TIME and then waking up fresh-faced in the arms of their new-found lovers in the morning…

However, the reality is that sex can be messy, and sometimes just a bit awkward. It usually takes a few goes to figure out what makes you tick. And despite what we’ve seen: penis + vagina does not = mind-blowing sex. Sometimes it can, but sometimes it’s also just… average.

Different types of sex

Oral sex, anal sex, sex toy sex, vaginal sex, fingering or hand jobs, foreplay, dry humping, genital rubbing, and masturbation to name a few. Sex isn’t a one-off penetrative performance, but can be whatever tickles your pickles, or flicks your bean… it’s not always just about “doing it”. 

Myths:

  1. Sex involves 1 man and 1 woman – False. Once we get over this outdated narrative then a whole load of doors open. Sex, with consent, is for everyone.
  2. People need to orgasm to enjoy sex – False. Penetrative orgasms for a lot of people are few and far between (if at all). It’s better to look at pleasure being the goal – not an orgasm.
  3. Erectile Dysfunction doesn’t affect young people – False. Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is often associated with cis-men over 40. But it affects people of all ages. It can be linked to heart disease and diabetes but also a side-effect of medication, depression, anxiety, and alcohol/drug consumption. The worst thing that someone experiencing ED can be made to feel is shame. If you are experiencing ED, then talk about it – to a medical professional or someone you trust.
  4. Not enjoying sex is a problem – False. There can be so many reasons why someone doesn’t enjoy sex. Yes, a low libido can be a result of issues surrounding someone’s mental and physical health. Or it’s as simple as: some people don’t want to have sex. Let’s consider asexuality. Asexuality, like all sexualities, is a spectrum. Where some people may not experience sexual attraction to anyone, some may experience it rarely, and some may only experience sexual attraction after a romantic connection. People can love sex, people can hate it, people can feel indifferent to it – and some people maybe just don’t want to talk about it. Whatever the weather – respect it.

 The Climax (Conclusion) Nice bit of wordplay there 😉

So we’ve tried our damn best to cover the basics. And we hope that you learnt something new in this mindhamok sex ed blog. Whatever you think your thing is… get familiar with it! We have no doubt that porn seems like the best place to start – and porn can be great. But we’ve got to make sure that the porn we’re watching is realistic. Otherwise, we run the risk of holding ourselves and our sexual partners to an impossibly high standard.  And that’s why we’ve got to remember that we are always enough. Sex won’t always be perfect – but it can be fun. And it’s even better when you realise, dear reader, that having lots of sex doesn’t make you dirty. Being a virgin doesn’t make you weird. And not wanting to have sex doesn’t make you frigid. Your body is yours. Always. So, take care of it, be soft on yourself and know that whatever you’re feeling – you’re not alone.

P.S. The clitoris is not a myth. You can find it under the inner labia.

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