TV Shows Uncategorized Pop Culture

Netflix’s Sex Education does better at teaching sex ed than most schools

Netflix’s comedy Sex Education, now in its third season, is centred around a group of students and teachers at a British high school. The show aims to teach its viewers about sex, and sexuality and, often does a greater job than most schools sex ed classes.

The premise of the show is that students at Moordale High are not receiving satisfactory sex education programs, so Otis (Asa Butterfield) and his classmate Maeve (Emma Mackey) set up a sex therapy service for their peers. The young teenagers seek out material on how to improve one’s love life and overcome sexual problems. The two find often correct and honest information, that they give to those asking for advice.

In the first episode of season three, we see Dr Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson) do an interview on her new book, Uneducated Nation: A Sex Education Manifesto for Our Youth. When the host asks her to speak about the book, she replies by saying she was, “shocked at the ineptitude” of school sex ed classes. So, she wrote a book that is an “easy-to-read manual to help empower our teenagers, and their parents, as they become sexually active young adults.” The interviewer responds to her, “Sounds a bit racy.” Dr Milburn replies, “Well, if, by racy, you mean highly researched and completely essential to the health and well-being of our children, then, yes, I suppose it is.”

Milburn’s response could be used to describe the series itself, racy but essential. Sex Education could also be a mirror to how school-based sexual education curricula could advance the communication of pertinent material to curious and impulsive teenagers.

Sexually provocative, but educational, Sex Education is one show that exemplifies how narratives in popular culture can represent teenage sexuality positively. Often the positive aspect of sex is left outside of the classroom. Teenagers are sexual beings too who desire and deserve sex-positive information.

For instance, in the first episode of season three, the opening scene is lively, teasing, and sexy. The scene moves between various moments of sexual pleasure. From heterosexual sex to masturbating while watching porn, gay sex between young men, gay role-playing sex between young women, online sex, virtual reality sex and, the pleasure of reading a book while indulging in cheese puffs. This series of sexual arrangements not only shows a range of desires across ages but sexualities and body sizes.

One of the things to note about the show is how it does not have any messages or hints about abstinence, fear that is related to representations of teen sex, or timidness around what sex is. Instead, it portrays a very open, bold, and authentic truth about what relationship teenagers have (or should) with sex.

Sex Education also debunks misinformation about sex, such as the idea that pornography is only harmful to teens. Watching porn can be “a bit of fun,” to quote one of the characters. In addition, Sex Education debunks another assumption where one of the characters falsely believes that a large penis guarantees one sexual satisfaction and, another thought that her labia should be tucked in.

The quality of sex education differs from one education system to another. However, it is clear that the need for more conversations centred around pleasure must be prioritized instead of focusing only on reproduction. Sex Education contests a commonly held perception about teenagers that they should be sheltered from the ills of sex and sexual material. A narrative portrayed by teens and about teens can bring about crucial tools to invite conversations between children and adults about sex.

The discussion brought by television shows like Sex Education emphasizes and highlights the need for more comprehensive sexual education not only in schools but in cultures and in family homes themselves.

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Dear Madame Lestrange Sexuality Love + Sex Love

I don’t know how to masturbate

Dear Madame Lestrange is The Tempest’s love, sex, and relationships advice column. Have a question? Send it to Madame Lestrange here.  It’s anonymous!

Dear Madame Lestrange, 

I haven’t really masturbated before and I am a little bit nervous!

How do you masturbate for beginners and what apps would you suggest to help? 


Dear Clueless,

Being nervous is completely normal, it’s a new experience!

More so, because we’re taught that our intimate areas are off-limits and that only adds to the stress involved.

But let me tell you, there’s nothing to be nervous about! The first thing I would suggest is: explore, explore, explore. See what you like and what you don’t. There isn’t a set way to masturbate, some people prefer to use toys whilst others can get off using their hands alone.

The only way to know the best way for you is to try out a bunch of different things. You might find that you are a bit dry or, if you have a penis, lube might help.

You can buy this from any sex shop and it makes it all the more enjoyable and definitely easier. 

For apps, there’s a range of exciting ones, it depends on what you are looking for!

I’ve added a few below to start you off (and get you off):

Dipsea: This app is a lot like guided meditation but it helps to get you off. It’s a collection of short audio stories and is for people of all genders. 

Happy time: This app is primarily for people with a vagina. The aim is to get people educated about masturbation and be comfortable with pleasuring yourself! This app is free. 

Sex positive: This is about counteracting the fears and misinformation about sexuality. It gives information about what happens when a part of the body touches another and so you can always be informed!

I’ve linked an article written by one of our writers about apps to help you further. You can find it here.

You’re welcome,

Madame Lestrange 

More Dear Madame Lestrange

I’m planning on having sex with my boyfriend soon. It’ll be my first time but not his and while I’m very excited, I’m also very nervous. I want to make this a pleasurable experience for us both and I have no idea what I’m doing. I gave him my first handjob too and while he did cum, I feel like I could’ve done better. Do you have any tips?

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TV Shows History Pop Culture

I love history, but I can’t stand historical TV shows

I’m a big history nerd. I’m not only a history major, but someone who collects and wears historical clothes, who owns figurines of historical figures, who collects books on my favorite parts of history, and who played history games throughout my entire childhood. Studying history has always been a huge part of my identity, and one I’m still happy to include in my life today. But it’s probably time to admit it: I hate historical TV shows. As a history geek, I should love them, but it’s hard for me to stomach a single one.

These shows forget that people in the past did, in fact, have fun.

I have one main reason, and it’s that these shows are straight-up boring. The lighting is too dark, the costumes too beige and ugly, and every word of dialogue is spoken in a raspy whisper. Everything is so bleak it’s almost impossible to follow. Try watching The Medici or The Tudors. I have difficulty figuring out anything that’s going on. And don’t get me started on the lighting in The Crown. 

A disheveled white man with a beard and a loose top.
[Image Description: A dark-haired white man in a dark shirt] via BBC. This is how Da Vinci’s Demons dresses its protagonists — in dull, disheveled, and downright ugly clothing.
And trust me, I won’t hear the excuse that real life was just as bleak back then. As a keen student of historical costuming, I know that a lot of historical clothing was bright, extravagant, and sometimes just ridiculous. I admit it’s not the biggest issue, but it still rubs me the wrong way. I feel like these shows forget that people in the past did, in fact, have fun occasionally. You rarely see any entertainment or festivities in these shows, unless they’re doomed to go horribly wrong. You almost never see any characters genuinely laugh in these shows. Sure, living in the past was terrible in a lot of ways, but people still retained a sense of humor.

I’ll give you an example. I once made the horrible mistake of attempting to watch Da Vinci’s Demons, which loosely follows the life of Leonardo da Vinci, and encapsulates everything I hate about historical television. The show portrays Leonardo as a tortured, edgy womanizer, despite the fact that he was almost certainly gay and, by all accounts, a very pleasant person. Throughout the show, he almost exclusively wears dark, tattered shirts and dusty trousers, whereas the historical Leonardo wore brightly-colored tunics and tights. It might sound ridiculous to the modern viewer, but personally, I think we should acknowledge the absurdity of history. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s easier to relate to people who don’t take themselves too seriously.

A brightly colored Renaissance painting of a wealthy, finely dressed family.
[Image Description: a Renassaince painting showing a group of people dressed in beautiful costumes.]This is how people in the Renaissance actually dressed! Short tunics, leggings, bright colors…it may not be as sexy, but it’s way more fun!
There’s also a lot of unnecessary drama in historical TV shows. I’ll admit, this trend strikes me as odd because there’s already so much drama in real history. Shows like The Tudors, The Borgias, The Last Kingdom, and The Medici like to make a big deal out of political battles and sex scandals, and rarely imbue these plot lines with any humor or humanity. Drama is important for entertainment’s sake, but we can still try and make the drama seem somewhat human. Most relationships aren’t built on stolen glances and steamy affairs. Why not portray these love stories with affection, awkwardness, and a tiny bit of down-to-earth humanity?

History isn’t all epic battles and heaving bosoms, a lot of it is everyday life.

Even the grand, epic battles are a little too dramatic for my sake. They ignore the disease, the squalor, and the sheer tedium of real-life battles. It might not be fun to acknowledge the unglamorous parts of history, but it makes for better television. If we’re going to relate to these historical figures, we need to at least see them as human.


Most historical TV shows seem totally unwilling to have any fun with history. They refuse to acknowledge that along with the drama and sadness of history, there’s also comedy and absurdity and awkwardness. Historical people were real human beings. Sometimes they wore ridiculous outfits, joked around with each other, and made awkward mistakes. History isn’t all epic battles and heaving bosoms, a lot of it is everyday life. I certainly don’t think these shows are evil, but they do make history feel so much more distant and detached than it really is.

We should remember that history has plenty of dimensions, some good and some bad, some funny and some serious, some totally normal and some downright weird. It doesn’t help to glamorize or romanticize history, but it doesn’t help to dull it down either. Historical figures were people too, and our television should at least recognize them as such. Besides, it’s more fun that way anyway.

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LGBTQIA+ History Gender Inequality

The history of non-binary genders is longer than you know

When Joan of Arc dressed for church, they wore men’s clothing.

When they took the sacraments, they had their hair short and wore pants.

When they fought for their God, they wore armor.

Many people resistant to cultural change will blame the newness of the terms used to define it. The newness of a label is often used to allude to the idea that it is an invention – something that is not true, but rather made up. This is the criticism that many people are applying to non-binary genders.

However, something that has been around since the 15th century cannot be rejected by society’s supposed perception of its “newness.”

As people assigned female or male at birth celebrate their androgyny, the patriarchy is fighting back, declaring gender identity a new construct that is fabricated by those who strive for a difference. It’s important to acknowledge that the newness of the term “non-binary” is not an indictment on its existence, but rather a celebration of its acknowledgment. 

Many people resistant to cultural change will blame the newness of the terms used to define it.

History is no stranger to the tales of people who are assigned female at birth (AFAB) who dress in men’s clothing to adopt more powerful positions in society.

For many people, the Disney adaptation of the myth of Hua Mulan might be the first time they consider nonbinary identities. While the term “non-binary” is never used in the family-friendly flick, in the title song, “Reflection,” Mulan proclaims, “I will never pass for a perfect bride or a perfect daughter…That if I were truly to be myself, I would break my family’s heart.”

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A 20-year-old movie certainly doesn’t indicate the newness of betraying gender roles, nor does the 1700-year-old source material.

Even earlier, in 1400 B.C.E., Hatshepsut ruled as Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt. Often regarded as one of the few female pharaohs to take the throne, the statues that survive her celebrate the strength of her rule.

She is depicted in a few different ways, from a woman wearing men’s clothing to a feminine face upon a man’s body. Hatshepsut defied the strict gender roles of ancient Egypt, and the statues that still stand are evidence of their defiance.

These examples are anecdotal, and often follow a common theme, of a person assigned female at birth (AFAB) defying the gender roles assigned to their sex to achieve something greater. However, even these examples hardly hold a candle to the rich history outlining people of a third gender.

History is no stranger to tales of people who are assigned female at birth dressing in men’s clothing to adopt more powerful positions in society.

This third gender, sometimes defined as neither a man nor a woman, is present in several ancient cultures, including Mesopotamia, the progenitor of written history.

During that time, people of the third gender, or Hijra, were in service to the gods they celebrated. In various cultures throughout history, from Hijra priests to eunuchs and virgins in the temple of Artemis, holiness has transcended gender.

It’s easy for detractors to rebut this by pretending that nothing of the sort took place in our current understanding of Western society. The notion of a third gender or “Mahu” is part of Polynesian culture. It can mean a gender between male and female, or gender fluid. In Hawaii and Tahiti, the Mahu people were highly respected in the indigenous culture as keepers of oral traditions and historical knowledge.

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Mahu people exist not only in the past but are an important part of queer culture in Hawaii today. 

The Navajo are a Native American people of the Southwestern United States. The Navajo people have a gender category called Nadleeh, which can refer to transgender people who have transitioned in one direction along the gender binary (having been assigned male at birth, and now identifying as female, or assigned female at birth and now identifying as male), gender-fluid people, and, of course, those whose gender presentation falls “outside” of the gender identity norms imposed by society at a large. The Nadleehi have a spiritual function and are inherently respected as tribal members within the Navajo culture. 

This stark difference in acceptance and perception was noted by Anglo-Saxon American anthropologists as early as the 1920s. In fact, Author William Willard Hill was surprised that Navajo society considered a transgender person “very fortunate,” unlike his understanding of Western culture, for which gender fluidity caused anxiety in mainstream society.

Gender has been used as an oppressive instrument for centuries.

It’s been used to highlight the difference between people, rather than highlight the inherent strength in us all. Strength of character is not something that is defined by maleness or femaleness. Strength is an attribute of the human condition to thrive when tested and fight for what we believe in.

The history of defying gender roles is as ancient as humanity itself.

That human condition is what drives people to discover what gender means to them. They are able to transcend the baggage of strict gender roles to achieve greatness.

The history of defying gender roles is as ancient as humanity itself, which leads one to question why people are so threatened by the nonbinary identification overall.

Why is it that the rich history of gender fluidity needs to be constantly torn down by censors and patriarchs of today’s “binary” culture, and rejected because of its newly-found public acceptance?

Perhaps, Joan of Arc and Hatshepsut knew something that everyone else did not.

Perhaps it’s important for us all to remember the wisdom they passed on through their life stories:

That to transcend gender is to harness the power of the gods themselves.


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History Historical Badasses

This gynecologist was Auschwitz’s only salvation

Editor’s note: The content below might be graphic and disturbing.

From a young age, Gisella Perl lived on a different path. Born in Sighet, Hungary, Perl was the only woman and Jew graduate of her secondary school class before later traveling to Berlin to study medicine, where Jewish medical practice thrived before World War II. Returning to Hungary, she became a doctor alongside her husband, Ephraim Krauss. Together, they had a son and daughter, Gabriella, who would be torn from her in 1944 when the family was sent to the Siget Ghetto. Later, Perl was stuffed into a windowless cattle train bound to Auschwitz. 

In Auschwitz, she was one of several doctors under the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele, a Nazi physician and captain who was known in the camp as the “Angel of Death”. If a prisoner was sent to Mengele because they were sick, weak, or for any other reason, they never came back. Mengele was known for gruesome human experimentation. At first, Perl had the standard duties of bandaging wounds and treating broken ribs. Over time, her work became harrowing, both physically and mentally.

Dr. Mengele had ordered Dr. Perl to inform him of any pregnant women in the camp so that they would be sent to another camp for “better nutrition”. However, Dr. Perl quickly realized that there was no separate camp for pregnant women and that they were being used as research subjects. Eventually, these pregnant women would be thrown into the crematorium, sometimes alive. After that, Dr. Perl decided to ensure that no women would become pregnant ever again in Auschwitz. In a 1982 interview with The New York Times, Perl said “The greatest crime in Auschwitz was to be pregnant.”

Rape and violence ran rampant in Auschwitz, despite Nazi taboos surrounding sex with Jewish women. Sex was often used as a commodity by women to trade for essential goods within the camp. Dr. Perl recalled being raped by a male prisoner in exchange for shoelaces, which she needed to walk to the hospital every day. This is how most women found themselves pregnant in Auschwitz, which was a death sentence.

After learning of a pregnant prisoner, Dr. Perl would explain the consequences of pregnancy to the expectant mother. If the mother consented, Dr. Perl would quietly perform an abortion to terminate the pregnancy in the middle of the night in the barracks. These abortions were performed without medical tools, anesthesia, antibiotics, or bandages. In the rare cases that a woman gave birth, Dr. Perl would silently take the newborn’s breath away to save the mother’s life. Aside from her surgeries on pregnant women, she would also treat women’s laceration wounds from S.S. whips, rashes, and sexual infections.

Eventually, Dr.Perl was moved to a different concentration camp, which was later liberated by the British. For another month, she remained behind at the camp to treat the sick and dying. After that, for 19 days she walked on foot across Germany in search of her family. Her husband and son died soon after they were taken to the concentration camp in 1944, but her daughter, Gabriella, had survived the war while being hidden by a Protestant family. It wasn’t until 1978 that Perl would reunite with her daughter and move to Herzliya, Israel to live with her. But before that, at the recommendation of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr.Perl specialized in infertility at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan after meeting First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and eventually being granted special U.S. citizenship by President Harry Truman.

Perl never forgot the horrific experience of having to kill babies in Auschwitz in order to save the mothers. Every time she walked into a delivery room, she would say the same prayer: “God, you owe me a life, a living baby.” God answered her prayers, and she delivered over 3,000 healthy babies. 

In 1948, her memoir I Was A Doctor in Auschwitz was one of the first books to detail sexual violence in concentration camps. Throughout her career, she also co-authored nine academic papers on women’s and children’s health. 

As an aspiring gynecologist, I aim to walk in the footsteps of Dr. Perl, a woman who continuously risked her life to save others. Each time she held a newborn in her arms, memories of Auschwitz probably haunted her…and gave her the resilience to continue to deliver babies. Today, healthcare workers on the frontlines remain society’s greatest heroes, and it was people like Dr. Gisella Perl who paved the way for good in a world of hopelessness that we have to thank. 


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TV Shows Sexuality Love + Sex Love

‘Too Hot To Handle’ season two had just as many blue vulvas as blue balls

Too Hot To Handle season two is a ride! It starts with tricking contestants into participating and somehow manages to escalate into even more debauchery from there. Namely, almost every contestant stuck up their middle finger to Lana and her rules, resulting in the loss of a record-breaking amount of money from the prize fund.

A round of applause for the casting directors, who succeeded in finding the horniest people alive. While this did make season two more jaw-dropping than season one, it also meant we were reminded that some men still think blue balls are the best way to convince women to sleep with them.

If you try to make the jump from the Love Island franchise to Too Hot To Handle or vice versa, fair warning you will get whiplash. While Too Hot To Handle has been called the bootleg Love Island by some, the only similarities between the two shows are that they both lock hot singles in a villa with hopes someone falls in love — or lust.

The premise of Too Hot To Handle is that couples are restricted from any sexual activity in favor of sparking a real, emotional connection. Lana didn’t ask, and yet the season two cast still made a case for what I’ll call the twofer: building an emotional connection while engaging in sexual activity. This made the second season far more entertaining because it meant the cast could care less about winning $100,000 — a fact much more scandalous than the rampant under-the-covers action.

At one point, couple Cam and Emily decide they will try to abide by Lana’s rules after being the biggest rule breakers in the villa. Immediately, Cam complained of having blue balls with hopes that Emily would give him a handjob. Thankfully, Emily declined, providing people everywhere a blueprint on what to do when someone tries to use blue balls as leverage for sex.

Honestly, when Cam first said the words “blue balls” unironically, I thought I had fallen into a wormhole that dropped me into the year 2005. I thought we had evolved away from using blue balls as a way to manipulate people, primarily women, into having sex. And yet, Too Hot To Handle season two featured Cam, in the year 2021, blue-balling it up, much to the chagrin of the season two cast and viewers everywhere.

Ultimately, Cam decided to take matters into his own hands, literally. But he didn’t have to do that. According to Healthline, blue balls, medically known as epididymal hypertension, are not that serious and can be solved via various nonsexual, nonarousing activities. In the villa, Cam could have pumped some iron, taken a dip in the pool, or even gone for a chat with a friend. Basically, the pain of blue balls can be alleviated by any activity that keeps you busy. This means if you or someone you know is struggling from blue balls, encourage them to treat it like a personal problem they are in charge of solving.

When the cast found out Cam’s blue balls lost the group two thousand dollars, Chase exclaimed in a confessional, “He is so obsessed with his blue balls. All of us have blue balls, Cam!” This is probably true, in more ways than one. The women on this season’s cast were just as horny as the men, which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone was sporting a blue vulva.

Just like blue balls, blue vulvas, a.k.a. blue uterus and pink pelvis, happen with vasocongestion, which is when bodily tissues swell as a result of increased vascular blood flow and blood pressure. Sexual arousal is one cause of vasocongestion, which can result in the vulva (or balls) taking on a blueish tinge. Again, an orgasm or a nonsexual activity are easy remedies.

My biggest problem with blue balls is not the balls themselves. Historically, men have less of a problem finding release with a partner than women. In addition, women’s sexuality is still taboo, while men are expected to be and accepted as sexual beings. Both of these facts coupled with how blue balls have been used as a manipulation tactic continues to imply men’s sexual release and satisfaction is more important than women’s.

Cam from Too Hot To Handle has become the target of my anger not because he had blue balls. Anyone can have blue balls or blue vulva. It’s how he handled his blue balls that enrages me. His actions showed that not once did he think of Emily’s need for release. He only cared about his own blue balls, which speaks volumes of his character as a lover and person.

It goes without saying that any allosexual person, whether they have balls or a vulva, can still have a high libido. Sexuality isn’t confined to just one gender.

One person’s blue balls aren’t more important than another.

Here’s to hoping Lana is already planning a seminar on this very topic for season three of Too Hot To Handle.

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Sexuality Love + Sex Love

I can’t believe it took me this long to talk to my friends about masturbation

The first time I masturbated I didn’t know whether I had orgasmed or not. I come from a conservative family in a conservative society. I did not grow up hearing about masturbation or sex at all. What I knew about orgasms was only what I had read in romance novels. And honestly, mine was kind of underwhelming compared to what I had read. “Is that it?” I wondered. I wanted to know how an orgasm is supposed to feel, how it feels for other people. Do they also take ages to reach climax? Is it kind of disappointing for them too?

(This piece is going to be littered liberally with rhetorical questions, much like life.)

But I didn’t feel like I could ask anyone. I knew a couple of my college friends would be willing to tell me, but for some reason I was hesitant. It was a combination of a deep hesitance to bring up the topic at all and the slight shame of being so inexperienced that I didn’t know what an orgasm should feel like.

I had a vague conversation with one of my school friends (who was also my roommate in college) once, on a rooftop bar two drinks in. Let us call her Rhea*.

Rhea is a part of my school friend group. We have known each other for 10 years, some of us even longer than that. Rhea and I discussed how it took me a long time to reach orgasm while it took her only a few minutes. This was my only point of reference – I wondered if there was something wrong with me.

And somehow even in that open and trusting environment, with one of my best friends in the world, I could not ask about her orgasm.

As I write this article, I am a little surprised at myself. I know she would not have judged me. We knew everything else about each other’s lives. I also considered myself to be a liberal, well-read, and worldly person, someone who understood the restrictions placed upon me by the conservative society I lived in.

I thought I had moved past these restrictions in my head, but now I know that that was not true. Even when we were already on the topic, I hesitated.

A couple of years later, I was drinking tea with another friend from the same group. Let’s call her Luna. I don’t remember how but the topic turned to masturbation. Maybe it was because I was older, or that Luna and I had been getting closer over those few months, but I mentioned something about not knowing whether what I feel are “proper” orgasms or not.

She matter-of-factly told me what it feels like and I felt a rush of affection for her. It was literally that easy. (And yes, my orgasms were fine, I was worried for no reason)

“How come we haven’t talked about this before?” Luna asked me, amazed. She told me that masturbation has a way of stimulating her and making her feel more alert after climax.

I told her that it’s the exact opposite for me – I just feel pleasantly tired and ready for bed. If you had asked me before that conversation I would have told you that of course orgasms are different for different people! But it was more theoretical in my head rather than from any actual knowledge.

The conversation was pretty fun and we decided we should talk to our other friends too, to find out how it was for them. On our next video call with the whole group, Luna brought the topic up again. There was a moment of surprise, followed by a very fun and open conversation. Everyone expressed the same surprise that this was the first time we were talking so openly about masturbation. One of them pointed out that it was probably because we had known each other when we were children – it is difficult to change the tone of conversation when you’ve known each other for so long.

Whatever the reason was, I am glad we had that talk. It was funny and supportive and made me feel closer to these girls that I already felt incredibly close to. Talking about masturbation not only helped me learn more but also helped reduce the taboo and shame I felt about it. It was a healthy conversation to have with friends and I could not recommend it enough!

*Names are changed for anonymity.

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Sexuality Love + Sex Love

I learned about sex through fanfiction, and it’s a bit questionable

I love fanfiction. I think there’s something about it that you can’t find in published novels or tv shows, it’s unique and hard to explain. And while it might sound odd, there’s a lot you can learn from fanfics.

Most people don’t realize what’s out in the vast web to be discovered. For example, you might be scrolling through the works of your new favorite tv show and finally decide to brave the uncharted territories of mature-rated fanfics. You’ll click on one with a funny summary and then fall down the fascinating rabbit hole to continue reading more. And in doing so, you might actually learn about sex through fanfics.

That’s what happened to me anyway. You see, I never really had the opportunity to learn about sex in my family. My culture treats sex as taboo and then expects girls to grow up wanting to have babies and get married into a life of pleasing their husband. And all this without telling girls about potential dangers that come with sex or trying to make sex sound appealing.

I went through the basic sex ed in school, but that didn’t explain a lot. Most of what I remember was the teacher telling us to use birth control if it came down to it, but we should abstain from sex. Senior year Biology was where I learned about my body properly; I was finally told about the many changes that the body goes through due to our hormones. But most importantly, I learned about male anatomy. At no point before this had anyone explained what sex is. I knew it was performed between males and females, but not how. Before that class, I thought it was code for lying in a bed with a member of the opposite sex. 

And all this without telling girls about potential dangers that come with sex or trying to make sex sound appealing.

And while that class helped clear up some of my more significant questions, it wasn’t enough. But I had nowhere to turn to for learning more. My parents weren’t an option, and asking someone seemed awkward. So I turned to the internet. For the first time in nearly four years of exploring fanfiction online, I dove into what I thought was the dark side and looked at the selection of M-rated fics. 

Thinking back on it, they weren’t even particularly spicy fics that I stumbled across. I was jumping back into the PJO (Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan) fandom for like the third time, and I had exhausted my supply of tried and true teen and lower fics. These fanfics primarily served as a way for me to learn specifically about sex and what it was, how it worked, in a setting that wasn’t overly scientific. It was all very vanilla, but that was fine back then.

Then I jumped into some Yu-Gi-Oh fandoms and looked around at the selection there as well. And that was the first time I learned about sex being possible between same-sex couples. Then I switched from my usual fanfic website to a more known and better one, Archive Of Our Own. And this was where things got interesting because there were tags for everything. If I wanted to explore a specific kink, I could check the tag for it and look at all the options in every fandom. 

And I did exactly that; I jumped through different fandoms and checked out every type of M or E rated fic that was unique and then added the new knowledge to the ever-growing list of things I knew about sex. I explored lots of different kinks. When Fifty Shades of Grey was coming out, and everyone was complaining that it didn’t show BSDM accurately, I went to fanfics to learn what they were all talking about. I’ve read many an ABO fic and several femdom stories. And I thought by reading all these fics; I suddenly knew everything there was to know about sex.

Then one day, an online friend talked about a time that she was sexually harassed and how some of these fanfictions we read lead her to think that it was normal. And I started to rethink the fics I was reading. 

It occurred to me that a lot of the stuff I’ve been reading wasn’t always safe or consensual. These were works of fiction, and therefore not always meant to be an accurate reflection of reality, but I had spent years normalizing the lack of consent that came with some of these stories. I didn’t even realize until a month ago that it isn’t normal for someone to cry during sex or for most people to get off to that. Many of the kinky fics I read also never really detailed much about the relationship outside of the sex, which made for a very twisted view on things. 

None of this means that I plan to stop reading smut fics. I’ve come to recognize that most of what is in these stories is simple fantasy. I should have never expected it could replace the learning that comes from talking to people about their experiences or having sex myself. 

But if anyone else out there is like me, then now is as good a time as any to look a bit more critically at the fics you read and made the conscious distinction between them and reality. I know it’s awkward to talk to others about sex, and let’s not lie on the internet, it can be dangerous

I don’t claim to know all the answers, and there’s no right way to learn about sex. But at the very least, I think it’s better not to put all the eggs in one basket. When you want to learn about something you should look at several different places. I’ve begun taking a more thorough route to my own learning, one which involved properly researching whatever sexual topic comes to mind in fanfics but outside as well with the help of google or asking some very close friends who I can trust.

This new system has been working so far, and I find myself enjoying some of the conversations I can have with people about these topics as well.

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Editor's Picks The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love

All the words I wish I could have told you

I got rid of my last photo of you, and I immediately regretted it. I realized that I will never be able to use the photos I took, documenting our love, as a bookmark.

I regretted that on any suspecting afternoon, with the sun gleaming just right twenty years from now, one of those photos will never fall out of an old book in front of my children and they won’t ask about the boy in the picture with curly hair and reddened cheeks.

I regretted it because you are – you were – my first love. And a person only gets one of those in a lifetime.

When I finally left I reacted curt toward you, almost passive or indifferent, because I didn’t want you to know that this was killing me too. Because I wanted to be strong – because the alternative was weak. Because we met un-intentionally and you immediately became forever etched into my soul.

I regretted it because we were damned from the start – because I found happiness in you before I found happiness in myself.

But, the reality is that I didn’t even know that I was looking for someone like you to save me from my misdirection. In fact, all I knew was that I liked the feeling in my stomach when your bright smile landed in my direction. I liked the comfort I felt in your eyes, I liked being desired. And, I liked how the beginning of our love story sprouted as if it were straight out of a Nora Ephron film.

The thing about those movies, however, is that they always ended just before the story actually began and reality set in.

For whatever reason, I thought myself righteous enough to pop our bubble. To be the one who decides that there is something better, grander, more extraordinary beyond the story of us.

So, I let it go. I convinced myself that I needed to get away so that I could start feeling again.

But seared inside my mind, hidden behind my self-proclaimed and glaring passions for the best love story known to man – and my belief that you couldn’t possibly give it to me – are the photos of you that I took in sepia. My hand on your chest. The back of your head against a sunset. Our hands holding one another. A kiss stolen in a gas station parking lot. Your eyes meeting mine with affection from the driver’s seat when we stopped at a red light and I told you to smile.

I regret that I didn’t give us the chance to seize just one more moment together. I regret that I didn’t give us a chance.

I know that you broke my heart in little ways for a long time, but I broke your heart in a big way all at once. One does not cancel out the other.

I loved you unconditionally. You knew it, too, but you lost me. I waited until I had enough and I left.

I realized that it is better to be single and search for myself, then to settle for something I feel insecure in.

Don’t get me wrong though. Our ending wasn’t nearly as tumultuous as I am making it out to be, nor as I would have liked it to be. One second we were, the next we were not. And that was it. We just ended. There was no thunder, no lightening. Nothing.

Even now as I am sorting through what exactly happened, I still can’t help but think that if you loved me the way you said you did you would have treated me the way you said you would.

I wouldn’t have had to beg.

Even when we did eventually try to talk about us, instead of ignoring the elephant in the room with banter or seduction, I’d be speechless. I didn’t know where to start.

But, please don’t mistake my silence for indifference. I do still love you. I always will, except it’s not the same. We spent so much time together and I know that I am saying so little right now to make up for it. I know that this is unbearable, but I promise you that every word I wish to utter to you is in my mind. I just can’t bring myself to speak when you look at me like that. When you draw yourself closer, it is a bribe which I can’t commit to. So please take a step back, I’m so tired of this. I am drained. If I stayed, I would spend a lifetime choking on words I wouldn’t ever dare to say.

I invested in you and I lost myself. I became dependent. And to be honest, this was the last thing I wanted. I spent close to a year relying on someone I didn’t want to rely on – nor could I. I knew it was the end long before you did, and I held on anyways, just in case, because I have a drastic fear of letting go and moving on.

But how can I reconcile breaking your heart and leaving everything we had together in just a few short minutes. You say that I took you by surprise, that you didn’t see it coming – but I don’t know how. I gave you all of the signs. You saw my silent tears. I always knew I wanted more. I was destined for something different. I felt it, deep in my bones, I just never faced it until I was forced to. I was able to ignore my confusion because we laughed with one another. We couldn’t take our hands off one another. We ran home in the pouring rain together, stopping only to kiss.

We experienced the best of one another for a short period of time, and I know that our relationship lasted as long as it was meant to. We loved each other until we couldn’t. We chewed us up and spit us out. We got everything we needed to get out of one another. We fell in and out of love from worlds apart. But I still feel terrible. And I feel like I should be feeling more even though I have been overcome with intense conflicting feelings every day since we said goodbye. Every day for close to a year.

I guess I just want you to know that I didn’t make this decision in haste. I needed to get away in order to understand more of myself.

I regret not thanking you enough for watching me blossom and believing in me so that I could believe in myself. I should have told you just how much you helped me realize the endless bounds of myself, for better or for worse.

I should have thanked you for letting me go, even though it hurt like hell.

I regret doing this to you because you waited for me. Because I gave you dozens of silent chances in my head. Because you would take me back in a second and I am here telling you that I am confused. That I need more time. That is – time to think. Time to learn and explore and dream. But all you hear is that I need to do all of these things away from you, that I need time alone. That I would rather work on building my sense of self alone than by your side.

But I deserve someone who makes me feel alive. Someone who is generous and who makes my heart jump when I tell people that they are mine. And you deserve someone who doesn’t give you an expiration date.

I am scared that maybe I made a mistake, that maybe I am foolish, or maybe that this is all that my love amounts to. I am having trouble accepting the normalcy of the end of us. The lack of explosion.

I am scared that I will forget. I am scared that after a few months everything we had will feel just like a dream. A dream that is open-ended, a dream that will constantly be on repeat in our respective minds until the end of time. Fated to carry each other’s baggage.

I regret that I now have to give you to someone else. That someone else will nuzzle into your chest, and devour your smell. I regret that I gave it all up so easily and have only in hindsight realized the weight of my naivety. Or did I? Because I also remember being so incredibly devastated, and being met with oblivion, with dismissive niceties. I remember my anxieties being belittled or made to feel small. I remember that I didn’t have the means, or the patience, to heal you.

I remember crying on the dance floor a year ago. Turning around so that none of my friends would see. I was staring at your messages. They were curt, broken and hard to make sense of. I remember being confused, I remember when someone told me for the first time that I deserved a love that was better. A love that nurtured. A love I didn’t have to settle for. A love that swept me off my feet.

I regret that we were different together than we were around everyone else. That no one got a real glimpse of us, in love. I regret being so quiet. I regret that I couldn’t love you like you loved me. I regret that you couldn’t love me the way I needed you to. I regret that we’ve run out of things to say.

I regret that our relationship was already broken even when your fingers were strumming through my hair or when we sat across from each other on the floor in a fit of laughter.

I regret knowing it was the end before you did, and holding on anyways just in case. I regret not telling you just how nervous I was and just how serious I was when I said that I thought we lost our spark. Our magic.

I regret it all because I wish that I held on to those pictures for a little while longer. I wish I studied them. Even though I knew the ending wouldn’t change.

Neither of us can fully heal our heartbreak unless we are apart. We have to heal for ourselves, rather than for the possibility that one day down the line we will be together again.

Seeing you that day, when you came by to collect your things, actually helped me realize that I am better off without you. That I am happy now. Really happy. And I no longer doubt myself. I no longer rely on you for happiness. I no longer get angry or sad because you couldn’t make me happy.

In hindsight I had absolutely no idea who I was when I met you. I still really don’t. I’m not even sure that I knew what genuine happiness looked or felt like.

Maybe that’s what ruined us after all. My indifference. My sadness. All of which at the end of the day amounted to nothing.

Soon I will be able to think about you without ripping my heart out.

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LGBTQIA+ Sexuality Health Gender & Identity Life

Here’s your round-up of 43 gender identity and expression terms

Let’s sit down together and converse about gender, gender identity, and gender expression. Gender is inherently different from sex. Sex assigned at birth is based on biology, while gender identity and expression are complex and personal.

Listed below are 43 gender identity and expression terms with definitions, in alphabetical order. If you are looking to broaden your understanding and knowledge when it comes to talking and speaking about gender, this is a good place to start.

However, it is important to understand these by no means are all the terms that you need to know or all of the terms out there! Also, there are many different perspectives and thoughts about how to define these individual terms. Additionally, many of the meanings and definitions for these terms are always evolving and often overlap at times.

With that being said, here we go:

1. Abigender

Abigender is a gender experience that involves identifying as two distinct gender identities, while simultaneously experiencing an agender identity. Therefore, an individual that is abigender is bigender and agender.


 AFAB is an acronym that means “assigned female at birth”.

3. Affirmed Gender 

Affirmed Gender is a person’s confirmed gender identity.

4. Agender

Agender translates to “without gender.” People who identify as agender do not identify with any particular gender. People also use agender when referring to themselves as gender-neutral or having an undefinable gender.

5. AMAB 

AMAB is an acronym that means assigned male at birth.

6. Ambigender

Ambigender is a gender identity that is under the umbrella of bigender. It is when a person experiences two static gender identities simultaneously and those identities are not fluid.

7. Androgyne

Androgyne is a non-binary gender identity. An androgynous individual is a person whose gender identity has “masculine” and “feminine” elements or qualities simultaneously. An androgyne individual can identify as more “masculine” or “feminine,” it does not have to be equal or stagnant.

8. Bigender

Bigender individuals have two distinct gender identities at the same or different times. These distinct identities are fluid meaning that their distinct gender identities can be present at the same or at different times.

9. Cassgender 

Cassgender is a gender identity that refers to feeling that one’s gender is not important or indifferent towards gender. In other words, indifferent to their gender. However, this does not mean that a cassgender individual lacks gender.

10. Cisgender

Cisgender refers to a person whose gender identity corresponds with their assigned sex at birth.

11. Cisnormativity

Cisnormativity is the assumption that all individuals are cisgender and their gender identity matches their biological sex.

12. Demigender

Demigender is a gender identity that derives from the French prefix “demi,” which means half. Demigender means an individual feels partially connected to a certain gender identity or multiple gender identities. It is also used as an umbrella term for demi-identities such as demiboy, demigirl, demifluid, deminonbinary, and more.

13. Feminine-of-center

Feminine-of-center is a phrase that describes people who understand their gender expression and gender identity as more feminine. However, this does not mean that they identify as a woman and does not mean that those that are feminine-of-center will present or represent themselves in a feminine way. It is an inclusive term that includes a number of identities.

14. Feminine-presenting

Feminine-presenting is a term that describes a person who expresses or presents gender physically in a more feminine way. This can be through style, clothing, hair, appearance, behavior, etc.

15. Masculine-of-center

Masculine-of-center is a term that was coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project. It is used to describe people who understand their gender expression and gender identity as more masculine. Similarly, to feminine-of-center, this does not mean that they identify as a man. It also does not mean that those that masculine-of-center will present or represent themselves in a masculine way. It is an inclusive term that includes a number of identities.

16. Masculine-presenting

Masculine-presenting is a term that describes a person who expresses or presents gender physically in a more masculine way. This can be through style, clothing, hair, appearance, behavior, etc.

17. Gender

Gender is on a spectrum, and it is not related to sexual orientation. Gender refers to a person’s identity and is independent of a person’s physical body.   

18. Gender apathetic

Gender apathetic is when an individual does not care for or specifically identify as a certain gender. Those how are gender apathetic are typically flexible and do not necessarily care how other people gender them.

19. Gender Binarism

Gender binarism is the belief that the classification of gender is two distinct, opposing categories. The classifications, masculine/male and feminine/female, are determined by an individual’s sex. The gender binary model enforces social structures, ideologies, and stereotypes that dictate gender roles and norms within our society. Gender binarism supports actions and thoughts that promote the gender binary while simultaneously excluding, harming, and perpetuating the eraser of individuals who identify as nonbinary.

20. Gender identity

A person’s gender identity is based on how a person feels, not by their sex or biological makeup. One’s gender identity is based on their own understanding of themselves. Gender is personal and can be complex. There are numerous gender identities. All gender identities deserve to be respected, supported, and valued.

21. Gender expression

Gender expression is how a person outwardly expresses their gender identity. This includes appearances, behaviors, and interests. Gender expression can also be referred to as gender presentation.

22. Gender-neutral

Gender-neutral does not fit within the gender binary and is non-binary. Gender-neutral refers to language, spaces, objects, and other aspects of our society.

23. Gender non-conforming

Gender non-conforming is not adhering to the ideological systems within our society that dictates and influences gender roles. This term refers to gender expression and presentation. Gender non-conforming can be used to describe roles, preferences, actions, and behaviors that do not align with perceived gender norms.

24. Gender normative 

Gender normative refers to behaviors and ideals that align or are compatible with cultural-expectations and norms associated with binary gender roles.

25. Gender questioning

Gender questioning is the process of actively questioning and exploring one’s gender identity or gender expression.

26. Gender Transitioning

Gender transitioning is a personal process to change one’s gender presentation to match their gender identity.

27. Genderfluid 

Genderfluid individuals have gender identities that change over time and are dynamic instead of static. Their gender identity can change over long and short periods of time.

28. Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is discomfort or distress related or associated with an individual’s relationship with their gender identity.

29. Genderqueer

Genderqueer and nonbinary often overlap. Genderqueer refers to a spectrum of gender identities and can be considered an umbrella term for non-normative gender identities and forms of gender expression. This includes nonbinary gender identities, a combination of genders, experiencing multiple gender identities, those who do not identify as a certain gender, and those who experience other non-normative gender experiences.

30. Greygender

Greygender is a gender identity for those who possess mixed feelings about gender expression and identifies outside the gender binary.

31. Intergender

Intergender is a nonbinary gender identity that falls in between the binary genders, female and male.

32. Intersex

Intersex is an umbrella term that is used for a variety of conditions when a person is born with sex and biological characteristics such as chromosomes, genetics, genitalia, hormones, and organs that do not fit or match the conventional definitions of female and male.   

33. Misgendering

Misgendering is when a person intentionally or unintentionally makes an assumption about a person’s gender identity or refers to a person using language that does not align with a person’s gender identity.

34. Multi-gender

Multi-gender is an umbrella that is used for a person who experiences multiple genders. A person can experience two genders or more at a time. A person can also shift between gender identities. It is also used as a gender identity.

35. Neutrois 

Neutrois refers to an individual who identifies as genderless. However, neutrois is often defined and experienced differently from person to person.

36. Nonbinary

Nonbinary individuals’ gender identities do not fall into the binary categories of female and male.

37. Novigender

Novigender is a gender identity when a person’s gender experience is too complex to label or give a singular word.

38. Pangender 

Pangender is a gender identity that is a nonbinary experience that encompasses a wide multiplicity of genders, which can be infinite.

39. Polygender

Polygender is a gender identity that is used when individual experiences multiple gender identity at the same time or at different times. Polygender typically can identify with four or more gender identities.

40. Sex

Sex and gender are often used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. Sex refers to the biological makeup of an individual.

41. Sex assigned at birth

Sex assigned at birth is the label that an individual receives when they are born that is indicative of their biology. This includes your hormones, chromosomes, and genitalia.

42. Transgender

Transgender is when a person’s gender identity does not align or match with their sex assigned at birth.

43. Trigender 

Trigender is a gender identity that means “three genders.” An individual who identifies as trigender experiences three genders. The three genders can be experienced simultaneously or fluidly.

Before you go, let me remind you one more time to remember that these terms and phrases that describe gender identity and expression are not set-in-stone. The meanings are constantly evolving, and new terminology for gender expression is often being created.

Also, this list is certainly not all the terms used to describe gender identity and expression! Most importantly, these terms and gender experiences can differ based on an individual’s perspective with their own gender identity and expression.

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Gender Inequality

Men’s disdain of female sex workers is hypocritical and rooted in misogyny

Much too often people have redundant conversations on social media related to dating between cis-straight men and women. Notably, the most popular and controversial discussion surrounding these hypothetical dates decides if a woman owes a man sex after he spends over a certain amount of money on a date. 

Women tend to feel the cases of Twitter’s conjectural dates are circumstantial, depending on the woman’s comfort level, her relationship with her date, or how long she’s even known her date. Men, however, tend to feel their “investment” on a woman they’ve taken on a date automatically permits them to allot time after the date is over that often emphasizes sexual interactions.

These conversations very clearly highlight men’s feeling of entitlement to women’s bodies, while also exposing men’s hypocrisy surrounding their prejudice towards sex work and female sex workers. Men’s expectation that a woman owes them sex (or anything physical) after spending money on a date directly contradicts their hate for female sex workers. 

Men don’t hate the concept of sex work itself in that the the conversation of what role sex plays in money and time spent on a person mirrors courtship in the very least. Rather, men hate that women who are sex workers have bodily autonomy outside of a man’s influence or dictatorship. Female sex workers set their own terms, rules and boundaries, giving them a certain level of power in a patriarchal society, which is what men are actually uncomfortable with.

That said, the innate power that female sex workers possess in a male dominated society pose these women a great threat. For example, sex work itself is criminalized, rendering sex workers targeted and unprotected from the law. Due to the discrimination female sex workers face on both an institutional and structural level, they experience harm perpetuated by the state- from military personnel, border and prison guards, and police officers.

In addition, female sex workers are exposed to workplace male violence due to misogyny, which is affirmed by the World Health Organization. They state, “Most violence against sex workers is a manifestation of gender inequality and discrimination directed at women, or at men and transgender individuals who do not conform to gender and heterosexual norms, either because of their feminine appearance or the way they express their sexuality.”

Female sex workers can be exposed to physical, sexual, verbal and emotional violence from men in positions of power or male clients looking to exploit them. And because of how systematically  criminalized sex work is, sex workers are left legally vulnerable.

Ironically and consequently, men vehemently perpetuate all of the aforementioned discrimination towards female sex workers (and more), yet continue to expect sex from women they take on dates. It’s hypocritical. Therefore, it’s time men change their negative perception of women who engage in sex work. It would quite literally save lives and finally grant sex workers the legal protection they deserve and that is provided to everyone else. 

Not to mention, there are a lot of men who treat all women as if their body or time is for sale. Not every woman signed up for sex work, so men shouldn’t treat every woman as if she has. Everyone’s comfort level involving when, where, how and with who they have sex with are different. Women aren’t a monolith. If it’s so easy for men to accept sex work while contextualizing their involvement, it shouldn’t be so hard for men to respect female sex workers and their choice to utilize their own time or body how they see fit.


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Love + Sex Love Advice

8 things I wish I knew before I had sex for the first time

If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about or ready to have sex for the first time – and that’s amazing! You might be feeling nervous and anxious about your first time – first off, this is absolutely normal, you’re not alone in feeling like this.

There’s no right or wrong way when it comes to having sex for the first time, but I wanted to put this list together so you can feel comfortable and relaxed the best you can.

I’d like to state that I’m writing from the perspective of a straight woman having sex for the first time with a man – these points are more related to my experience as a straight woman.

Having said that, I do feel that these points can be applicable to everyone.

So here goes – grab a beverage, get cozy and get ready to learn the things I wished I knew before I had sex for the first time. Enjoy the ride 😉

1. Forget what TV and film taught you about your first time

It’s fair to say that TV and teen movies have given us some pretty unrealistic expectations when it comes to sex and the magical ‘first-time’. Sex is meant to look good on camera – you have steamy make-out sessions under dim lighting as the couple (usually a straight couple) simultaneously take each other’s clothes off and dive into penetrative sex quickly (um, foreplay anyone?) that they miraculously both have orgasms at the same time. I’ll let you in on a secret….this doesn’t happen in real life. 

Sex for the first time can feel nerve-wracking, awkward, and messy – and that’s completely normal! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun, but don’t use first-time sex scenes from TV and film as a model for how your first time should go.

2. Having sex doesn’t change you – virginity is a social construct!

You are the same person before and after you’ve had sex for the first time, you won’t ‘change’ as a person. We’re led to believe that sex will make us different and we’ll ‘lose our purity’ – remember, virginity is a social construct! As the School of Sexuality Education puts it, “the pressures, myths and expectations surrounding the traditional idea of ‘virginity’ are very much the product of norms and ideas created by us humans”.

Have sex when you’re ready, it’s no one else’s business what you’re doing with your vagina

3. Don’t worry about your appearance

It’s disheartening to say, but the Instagram selfie-obsessed world we live in has caused many of us to hold negative thoughts about our own self-image (I can attest to this), which can hamper us from having a fulfilling sex life. Focus on what you’re feeling rather than how you’re looking – if it helps, close your eyes, and enjoy the sensations and explore what feels good and pleasurable to you and your partner.

But believe me when I say this, you’ll look sexy in the eyes of your partner when you’re all hot and bothered!

4. Communicate with your partner – especially when it comes to contraception

Communication is a must when it comes to sex. As sex and intimacy expert, Gigi Engle, puts it, “In order to have good sex, you need to communicate your wants, needs, and desires to your partner.” This includes sharing any concerns or expectations you may have when it comes to sex, the contraception you want to use (the last thing you want to do is worry about STIs and pregnancy during sex!), if this is a casual or serious relationship, or if either of you are seeing other people.

Open up on what’s important to you!

5. Have lots and lots of foreplay to feel comfortable

Foreplay helps to lubricate the vagina, which can make sex more enjoyable – this includes making out, talking dirty, listening to some sexy tunes or podcasts, massaging, dry humping, oral sex…anything that arouses you and your partner. Don’t just consider foreplay as pre-sex activities, but make foreplay part of the whole sexual experience.

When it comes to having penetrative sex, feeling aroused and lubricated can help you feel relaxed, making vaginal intercourse feel more comfortable and less tense.

6. Take the pressure off having an orgasm and enjoy the whole ride

We all know orgasms feel good (I thank my showerhead for that), but climaxing during penile-vaginal sex can be difficult for women to reach, and this is relatively common if you have a vagina. In a 2018 study, 10 to 40% of women reported having difficulty or an inability to reach orgasm

There are other things you can enjoy about sex that takes the pressure off having an orgasm – the close intimacy you have with your partner, exploring each other’s body, enjoying the pleasurable experience, and connecting on a deeper level. 

As you become more comfortable with your partner, you can communicate with each other on how you can reach a climax, with clitoral stimulation for example (whatever you do, DON’T fake your orgasms), but use this time initially to enjoy the pleasurable experience.  

Here’s another way of putting it: An orgasm is the dinner mint at the end of a five-course meal. Pleasure is the whole damn meal — from breadbasket to entree to dinner mint.

7. You might bleed or you might not – and it’s got nothing to do with the ‘hymen’

I was expecting to bleed profusely when I had sex for the first time after I ‘broke my hymen’, and I was pretty surprised that I didn’t. After some research, I found that a vast majority of women don’t bleed the first time they have penetrative sex – some do and some don’t, either is normal. RFSU, a Swedish sex education charity that refrains from the term ‘hymen’ and prefers ‘vaginal corona’ – in order to dispel the myth that a woman’s vaginal opening is covered by a membrane that ruptures on penetration – said that of those that do bleed, few do so because the vaginal corona was tight, but there are other reasons why.

RFSU explains that “if you were not sexually aroused, but rather tense, nervous and too dry, minor ruptures may develop in the vaginal corona and may bleed.” 

8. Don’t ignore your clit!

I really mean it! The clitoris plays a huge part in the sexual arousal and enjoyment of women. The clitoral glans contains 6,000–8,000 sensory nerve endings, more than any other part of the human body (hallelujah!). This sensitivity explains why women enjoy clitoral stimulation – so, to enjoy sensual pleasure with your partner, make sure you both play with your clit!    

So there we have it! I hope you’ve learned something new today and it’s put you at ease when it comes to your first-time.

Do you still want more? I thought you’d never ask!

Check out these other articles from our team:

Five reasons why masturbating is good for women

Let’s dissect the misogynistic arrogance surrounding the clitoris

I found my femininity through masturbation

Here’s how to have sex with trans women

I feel like a feminist failure because I fake my orgasms

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