Talking about sex isn’t as easy as it seems, even in a laid-back town like San Diego. I mean, I’m a grown, almost-married woman who engages in the act quite frequently, and yet I still feel awkward as I sit in front of this computer screen typing, despite the cloak of anonymity.
That says something about the American culture, doesn’t it? It’s no secret that people have sex. Right now in San Diego, for example, there are countless people doing the deed. But, shhh! Sex should be kept behind closed doors at all times!
It really shouldn’t though.
In a world where schools are trading in sex education programs for prayer and leaving teens to glean whatever (mis)information they can from MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, it’s time to get the word out. And it’s time to take the stigma out of words like penis, vagina and clitoris.
I don’t plan on writing scientific articles full of medical jargon, or making sure everyone knows how many anatomical structures make up the vulva. I promise. Instead, I’m going to write about whatever real-life sex stuff I can think of. The when, what, whos and whys of my personal experiences.
Other San Diego writers will share their perspectives, too. Because if we can’t talk about it, then we shouldn’t be doing it, right?
We didn’t talk about sex in my family. I remember when I was about eight, I asked my mother what sex was. She offered up some awkward, stick-figure explanation by making a circle out of her index finger and thumb, and then sticking her other index finger through it. That was intercourse. And that was all there was to know.
I asked her to walk me through it again—not because I’d missed any critical part of the 10-second, PG-rated visual, but because it made her so obviously uncomfortable and made me laugh like a hyena. I can’t say much has changed, really. I’ll still sometimes giggle like a nervous child when the topic comes up.
But that’s exactly why I’ve decided to start talking about it.
In other cultures, people walk around topless without anyone batting an eyelash. The theme of sexual intercourse, infidelity and promiscuity is central to Greek mythology, and it wasn’t that long ago that humans had no idea what modesty was. So how come, in the modern era, a mini-skirt can get a woman kicked off a plane?
I don’t remember learning about sex in school—elementary, middle or high. If it was taught, it was probably snuck in under the guise of “health.” So, despite my history of academic excellence, this honors student stepped out into the world with a big “F” when it came to knowing anything about the opposite sex. Or my own sex, for that matter.
I guess the “powers that be” believed that if they talked about it kids would no longer be able to control their inner bunny rabbits and start having sex all over the place. As if many weren’t already.
I’ve literally been attracted to the opposite sex since I can remember. When other kids were concerned about cooties, I was concerned with kissing. I remember falling all over myself trying to get the attention of a little neighbor boy, and how he would not-so-subtly always push me away. Sadly, that trend continued through most of my dating life.
Given my proclivity for the opposite sex, it wasn’t that surprising (to me, at least) that I lost my virginity at a young age. (Let me get to know you first before I spill the details on that number.) I remained sexually active through to adulthood because I thought it would fill a void I knew nothing about—other than the fact that it was there.
I also very foolishly thought that sex meant love. As I got older, I realized that’s a common misconception among women of all ages, though it’s especially devastating as a young person when there is no one you can really talk to about it.
But please don’t get me wrong. I don’t blame my mother for not talking to me more about sex. It’s a product of how she was raised, and we all can only go so far outside our comfort levels. She made up for her frigidity elsewhere, making sure that I had access to Planned Parenthood and understood the importance of birth control. We just didn’t talk about it beyond that.
Looking back, there are specifics that it would’ve been nice to know. For example, the fact that for many women losing your virginity is an excruciating experience. I’m not going to bother to sugar coat it, either. It’s not a subtle soreness that one can overlook, but rather a mind-bending pain that you should never suffer for the average, unworthy Joe. (Men, think anal sex with a blind man who didn’t apply lube.)
It also would’ve been nice to know what an orgasm was, or how to achieve one. Much of my early sex life had very little to do with me, but instead was more about making sure the other person was satisfied. That does very little for the self-esteem, and should be unacceptable to any woman who has some.
It would’ve been helpful to know that many men will say literally anything to get into a woman’s pants—even “I love you.” And they can say that like they mean it without even thinking about it.
It would’ve been nice to know more about pregnancy in general. I was never naïve enough to believe in the cabbage patch theory, and the idea that some bird with a samurai sword for a beak could be trusted with a baby never made sense. But if you were to ask me exactly how the sperm entered the egg and gestation occurred, I’d tell you what I learned from Look Who’s Talking.
Even when I was younger I knew I wasn’t making the best decisions, but not having a clue didn’t stop me from experimenting. And if that’s not reason enough to open up a dialogue about sex, I’m not sure what is.
Sex in San Diego, a column appearing every Friday here at The OB Rag, explores topics related to sex in America’s Finest City. To encourage openness while still respecting privacy, some authors will use pseudonyms.