I was always afraid to ask questions about sex.
As a teenager, it seemed that girls that dared to explore their sexuality, no matter how tame, were always punished. I didn’t want that for myself so I never asked questions. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t have them. In the recesses of my mind, they would push up against ‘cleaner’ and more acceptable thoughts. They were always there.
To satisfy my curiosity, I started reading my mother’s romance novels.
Those books by Harlequin lined every bookshelf of my childhood. Three solid blocks of older red books and newer, slimmer blue books. I never had any interest in those books as a kid. The painted pictures of a muscled, stoic man embracing a slim-hipped heroine seemed silly to me.
I never had any interest in those books as a kid. The painted pictures of a muscled, stoic man embracing a slim-hipped heroine seemed silly to me.
Occasionally, glancing at the (always) white couple staring at each other did absolutely nothing to garner my attention. However, a changing body led to a changing mind.
Before I knew it, I had devoured entire shelves of different Harlequin series. While I look back on that time with fondness, it still didn’t answer the questions that I had. The more I read romance novels, the more I realized it wasn’t romance I wanted to learn about. I wanted to learn about sex.
So my search began.
I scoured the web for my education. Porn didn’t do it for me, although I learned a lot about how flexible the body can be.
I also read a lot of bad erotica. I’d lie belly down on my bed and marvel at how some of these stories get published. Once, while scrolling through another bad story I came across an ad for a website. ‘Literotica? That’s quite catchy’ I thought to myself. I clicked that link and in doing so my relationship with my sexuality was forever altered.
The more I read romance novels, the more I realized it wasn’t romance I wanted to learn about. I wanted to learn about sex.
The front page of the site doesn’t look like anything special.
Even ten years ago, when I first discovered it for myself, it looked retro, to say the least. Looking at the discovery page, viewers are welcomed in by a woman glancing over at us coyly, I assume. It’s impossible to tell because the photo is extremely blurry. I had never seen so many options for erotica. From horror to non-human and everything in between.
My head spun at the possibilities and also the creativity.
My favorite author was a writer under the pseudonym sush_taco. Her stories which reimagined the marriage of the Hades and Persephone was a revelation. It married the tender and sometimes introspective nature of traditional romance novels while being sexually explicit.
I also came across another author, silkstockinglover, whose stories were shockingly explicit and ran the gamut of just about every single fetish known to mankind. Although these stories and fetishes could be problematic, they also taught me my desires weren’t ‘deviant’ or wrong.
It married the tender and sometimes introspective nature of traditional romance novels while being sexually explicit.
My favorite section was the Illustrated stories. I loved not only reading about sex but the drawings.
In the Humor and Satire section, I learned about how funny sex and stories about sexual pleasure can be. About how to relax and enjoy yourself and not worry so much about weird sounds or awkward positions.
Many stories on Literotica.com taught me about myself and how intricate and interesting sex can be. This website taught me about how to be vocal but what I want and to embrace being adventurous before I had ever entered into a sexual relationship. I still have so much to learn about sex and I suspect I will never stop learning about it.
But Literotica was the first time I immersed myself in my sexuality. Where I didn’t push it to the back of my mind or read things that were of no interest to me. I still read stories from the website, partly from nostalgia but mainly because so many of the stories are engaging.
Through this website, I learned to destigmatize the ‘bad’ words used to describe women who enjoy sex. Literotica celebrated its twentieth anniversary this year. I can’t help but think of all the people who not only write the stories and create a community around those stories but the people who read them.
The people who fantasize over them, who learn from them, share them with their friends.
The people like me.
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