Peak inside any woman’s DMs on Twitter, and you’ll find some scary stuff. Not just dick pics, my friends. I’m talking detailed descriptions of what some guy would like to do to us, or one of our body parts. Full on nudes from strangers. Booty calls. Honest marriage proposals. Messages like, “You’re beautiful. Where do you live?”
These messages clutter up our inboxes, too. And it happens in real life. Especially if you’re open about your sexuality.
Many of these dudes use our openness about sexuality as a pretext. You talk about your sex life. You write about it. So you must obviously be having sex with strangers all the time. Right?
You must be a loose girl. Up for anything.
When you clarify, they act like you’ve cheated on them. They call you a hypocrite. A slut. Or they make you feel guilty.
And you actually believe them for a few minutes. Are you leading on thousands of thirsty fellas by writing about your orgasms? No. And you’re not going to stop sharing just because of a few weirdos. It’s important for women — and men — to open up a little. A healthy sex life doesn’t happen if you don’t communicate, sometimes even with strangers.
Almost everyone fakes a so-called normal sex life.
We fake a sexual status quo through lies of omission. By not talking about sex, we let everyone assume we’re normal. Whatever that means. We hide our sex toys. We keep our porn in secret folders labeled “Bills.” We pretend to have intercourse every Saturday.
Or if we don’t look “normal,” we slouch into another stereotype. The crazy cat lady. The 40-year-old virgin. The preacher’s wife. The porn addict.
If you don’t look like someone who has sex, then apparently you’re not allowed to enjoy it at all. Those are the rules someone made up.
We act like everyone can have an orgasm. That everyone can get an erection whenever they want. That everyone can find the clitoris. Or that it’s just funny if a man can’t, because a woman’s pleasure only kinda matters.
We have to talk about sex.
Some of us talk about sexuality for our own sake. We’re exploring our dark sides. But the payoff goes well beyond us.
We live in a really screwed up world. A world where politicians increasingly decide what happens in our bodies and our bedrooms. A world where your gender and sexuality limits you.
A world that wants to silence our sexualities.
The consequences aren’t sexy. Unhappy relationships. Divorce. Teen pregnancy. STDs. Sexual assault. Cyber-bullies. Incel rebellions. Suicides. All of this gets worse when we don’t talk about sex. So we have to. Sometimes, we try to make it pleasant. Even funny.
You have to practice vulnerability.
Most of us don’t even approach normal. When we actually talk about our sex lives, we figure out the big secret.
Normal doesn’t exist.
A bunch of Hollywood producers packed their fantasies into a barrage of movies in the 1980s and 90s. We’ve been trying to live up to white cisgender men’s expectations ever since.
Until recently. Now we’re seeing another sexual revolution. More people are taking the microphone. They’re sharing their experiences.
Moms are talking about their sex toys and porn. We’re discussing sexuality on a spectrum we didn’t even know existed.
Letting thousands of people into your bedroom isn’t easy. Even metaphorically. Not everyone needs to go that far. But most of us don’t share with our partners, let alone the Internet. But you have to try. That’s what helps you discover who you are sexually. And what you need.
Talk about sex with a partner.
So you’ve just started having sex with someone. Or you’ve been married for years. Either way, you need to communicate. Don’t let them assume your sexual identity. Don’t make them guess.
And don’t make assumptions about them, either.
Give your partner a sexual history. Tell them what you like, what you don’t, and what you’re curious about.
Maybe butt plugs have turned you off since your 20s. But now you can’t stop thinking about them. Or maybe you want to dress up like a pirate. Or maybe you’d like to share that weird sci-fi porn from the darkest subfolders of your computer. Hey, maybe you even want to make a porno.
You don’t have to tell them everything.
It’s possible some of your sexual desires just won’t fit your relationship. Some of my fetishes live only inside my head.
That’s fine, too. Your partner doesn’t need to see absolutely every crevice of your desires. You can keep some secrets.
You don’t have to open up every subfolder on your porn drive. But you don’t have to keep them password-protected, either. You just have to decide. Give some real thought into what you’ll share, and why.
Talk about sex with your friends.
You don’t need to broadcast your sex life to everyone. But it’s a good idea to find a few people you trust. Open up. Find the right time and place. Preface your discussion. Give them a chance to back out.
Brace yourself for a range of reactions. If you think they’ll freak out, or judge you, maybe those aren’t the right people.
Do you have any weird friends? They’re usually a safe bet. If you don’t have any weird friends, get some.
Talk about sex online.
The Internet offers so much more than porn sites. And you should take advantage. Anything you’re curious about, there’s a website for it. An organization. A discussion board or three.
A community lives somewhere to help you figure out your junk. Most of them even let you do it anonymously. As long as you don’t harass anyone.
You can even write about your sex life. Either a blog. Or maybe just fan fiction. Tons of people explore their fantasies through amateur erotica. Your nighttime hobby does more than provide cheap entertainment. It might double as sex therapy. So don’t feel guilty about it.
Vulnerability comes with risks, especially for women.
Someone will always judge you, no matter what you’re into. Someone will always use your openness as a pretext for unwanted advances. A part of humanity thrives off hypocrisy and fear.
You can’t let anyone shame you. And yet, you have to protect yourself. Decide who deserves to hear about your sex life. If you’re going online, educate yourself. Learn how to protect your info. The last thing you want is someone threatening to dox you.
There’s a reason some of us don’t write about sex (or work) under our real names. Reprisal. Shaming. Stalkers. And there’s a reason we exercise a lot of caution about our personal information.
You don’t always know who you can trust. Even a nice person with good intentions can screw up. They can accidentally share your details with someone planning nefarious things. All of a sudden, you’re online stalker knows what street you live on. Great.
Opening up about your sexuality comes with all kinds of risks. Proceed with caution. But it can pay off. Even if you’re not looking for advice, just understanding yourself feels pretty damn amazing. Finding out that someone else dresses up like a space alien in bed makes you feel less weird. Less alone. You don’t have to have sex with that person. Just talking is enough.