Thursday, 12 October 2017

I love sex. And what?

If you follow me on social media, or read this blog regularly, or have ever got a coffee with me IRL, you'll know that I cannot not talk about sex. Why? Because I love it, quite a bit.

But when did I start loving it?
Well, to be honest, I think I always did. Even at a young age, even before I started having it, I loved the mere idea of it. That humans could do this amazing thing – they could strip down and cuddle up and make magic happen between them. At 13 years old, that seemed totally, like, mental to me... 

 
Photo: Erin Veness @ms_veness / erinveness.com.


Sadly, I never learned all that much about it at school – save for the standard cold and clinical 'this is how man and woman make the babies' talk. I never learned about orgasms – my form tutor once quite accidentally touched on the fact that women can come in two different ways, and despite the girls in the class then shrieking and begging to know more, she quickly pressed on with the heteronormative shit. I never learned about intimacy, respect, consent, masturbation...none of it. All we were allowed to know, it seemed, was:
- men wank, women don't.
- women want intimacy, men don't.
- sex ends when a fella squirts his juice everywhere (but preferably inside the woman, because you gotta make those babies!)
- condoms are essential if you don't want babies or diseases (good) and it's a man's job to bring them to the bedroom and put them on himself (ermmm, not good).

Then of course there was the playground babble that seeped into my poor, tender teenage brain – women instantly fall in love with any man they shag, sex while a girl is bleeding is GROSS, men are allowed to sleep around but their girlfriends mustn't, Herpes happens when you hold hands after going to the toilet (?!), virginity is sacred and a girl needs to hang onto it forev...but a boy needs to ditch it, PDQ.

Luckily, I was fortunate in that my early romantic and sexual experiences were mostly positive, so those toxic rumours and the stale, ancient drivel teachers had to overload our young minds with were soon put to bed (literally...?!).
I was 16, almost 17, when I commenced my first sexual relationship (wow, that sounds insanely formal). It wasn't mind-blowing, shall we say, but it was safe, comfortable, and a bit of fun. I may not have got mine...ever...but I definitely enjoyed myself regardless. And actually, as is sadly the case with many women, I didn't really know for sure that I wasn't getting my lot. It wasn't until a few years and several partners (!) later that I realised what I'd been missing. 

Yes, I liked sex. I loved the feelings it gave me; immense confidence, warm intimacy, power...mmm. My very best friend at the time was the same. We'd often swap stories over lunch in the college canteen – she'd giggle as she told me about the time she abruptly mounted her boyfriend on the sofa while he was watching the news, I'd confide in her about the first time a guy went down there with his mouth and how weirdly nice it was...if brief. We'd go shopping at Ann Summers together, try things on and ask for the other's opinion; we swapped tips on the train home that varied in their success, tbh ('if you wear a tampon right up til just before sex, it should stop any bleeding during!') and of course, when anything went wrong in either of our relationships, we'd go round each other's houses and give/get advice while watching trashy TV and drinking rose. We were totally comfortable, with each other and our sexualities.


Photo: Erin Veness @ms_veness / erinveness.com.

So then one particular night at my then-bestie's house, we had a group sleepover with the other girls we'd hang with at college. We ate too much chocolate and put Destiny's Child on loudly so her brother couldn't eavesdrop from the hallway as we discussed the other girls in our classes...and the boys we were like, totally fancying at that point. This of course led to sex-related chatting.
One of us then said, very casually, that she 'didn't really like sex' and 'only did it for [her boyfriend]'.

...she didn't like sex...she only did it for him.....she didn't...like...sex?! 

But also...was her boyfriend aware of this? Was he consciously take-take-taking?! Or did he think she was just as psyched for sexy time as he was? I wasn't sure which was worse...actually, I know which is worse. The former. I mean, it's one thing to do bonks not knowing the other person is as ecstatic to be there (in which case, guys, TALK. VERBALISE. But also ASK your partner. They might be all for it all day every day, but it's always worth asking right up to the last moment, because you never know when they might change their mind, trust me), but to know full well that you're effectively taking something from your partner and they're not getting anything out of it...that's evil.

Now, this friend's boyfriend did seem nice (if a little dull) and I have faith that he wasn't consciously assaulting her. I did still feel very sad later on though, a few days after she confessed her dislike of sex to her gathered friends, that she was so unhappy doing the deed. But at the time she told us, my only feeling was one of horror mixed with confusion – I mean, I'd just started having sex, and as mentioned before, it wasn't screamingly miraculous every time, but I always liked having it, and wanted to have it.
My bestie, the one who shared my positive views of shagging, met my eyes over our friend's head after she dropped this bomb on us – without even meaning to – and we raised our brows in shock at each other. We talked about it later, and of course it made us question briefly if we were those 'Nympho Slut Girls' guys our age always seemed to be f*cking and bragging about behind their books in Sociology – and we decided that no, we weren't and nor is any woman who simply likes having sex. 

I'm so happy I felt this way from a young age, to be honest, and that I always had someone to confide in and share these feelings and values with. Even after the aforementioned sex-positive bestie and I ended our friendship (in a suitably, stupidly dramatic manner – though it still hurts to this day), I found I always had at least one person as I grew up and still do now, as an 'adult', who I could (and can) talk sex with.

I know some others – girls, boys, women and men and everything in between – have not been so lucky. I know that some girls are publicly shamed for expressing enjoyment of sex; I know some men are constantly feeling pressurised to go 'on the pull' each week and gain endless conquests; I know people who have felt trapped within their gender identities or alienated for their romantic preferences or sexy kinks. I even know teachers who have been immensely frustrated with the limitations imposed on them when it comes to teaching teenagers about sex and sexuality.
But I also know that society is changing. The world is changing. Slowly but surely, sex is becoming more talked about and more accepted – yes, it's stupid to even think there was a time or still are some situations in which it's not, but hey, we are where we are.


Photo: Erin Veness @ms_veness / erinveness.com.

There are clubs, societies, communities all over the place that not only encourage sex positivity but provide a place to speak freely about it, about your experiences, and to ask for advice in any area.

I am currently working with Scarlet Ladies, a distinct online presence and excellent club designed to empower women who openly love sex and are positive about sexuality. They put on events every Tuesday evening in London's classiest (and most female-oriented) strip club, 23 Paul Street. The events vary from exclusively members' socials to ticketed workshops and talks; topics covered include self care and wellbeing, life as an LGBTQ person and ally, and of course, all of the sex stuff.
The lovely Fiona Longmuir wrote about a workshop of theirs that she went to, and that was actually how I first discovered the sexy Scarlets.

And then for the younger generation, all over the country schools, colleges and universities are working to create safe spaces for sex talk and student's queries. My alma mater the University of Winchester, for instance, has always boasted a magnificent sex-positive community with an LGBTQ society, on site drop-in counselling sessions and regular health checks, plus their Student Exec Team are second to none. They have a Welfare Officer and an Equality & Diversity Officer, alongside the standard team of Communications, Events and Activities, plus Presidents. 

And the inspiration behind this, my latest sex-related blog post, is Katie Turney – pansexual vet student at the University of Surrey and member of their excellent Student Union Support Zone, who is helping put on a week of awesome events to promote sexual awareness and positivity as well as general good mental wellbeing. What a badass she is. 

The ever-angelic Louise Jones (Editorial at youth charity The Mix, marathon runner, excellent tweeter and blogger at Biscuits and Blisters) has a project going with her work to hopefully reform Sex & Relationship Education in schools - so basically, to end the hideous lack of...well, lack of decent sex ed that I've been going on about in this post. 
If you are 14-18 years old (or know anyone who is!) doing this survey will help immeasurably with this awesome cause. Get on it, will you? 

Right lovelies, you have reached the end of this massive sex-positive post. Congrats! Hope you enjoyed! And I might be shutting up about sex for now, but I'm never keeping quiet.
& Please do comment below or tweet me with any feedback and/or queries, etc. I'm always listening!


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