Photo Credit: Colin Bartlett
Sex is part of our everyday lives- quite literally the reason life exists, so we should be able to talk about it more without feeling embarrassed or awkward. It should be taught to be both safe and enjoyable. - Hannah Money
Talking about sex
Written by Hannah Money
Let’s face it. There’s no such thing as the perfect first time. A lot of films and TV series suggests this moment is something special, which it is, but they never show the whole picture. Just two beautiful actors perfectly happy and finishing at the same time. All done, now onto the next scene. But what about the aftermath and the anxiety of missing a period, or the frustration of that experience not meeting up to these impossible standards?
This can leave young people wondering what they did wrong because if it didn’t feel right then the problem must lie with them, right? Wrong. It’s just that our expectations have been raised too much so achieving that so-called perfect first time becomes impossible.
Now I don’t want to go too much into the media’s role (Georgie’s got that covered in her next section), but there is some irony in how sex is promoted and yet the people we turn to for advice try to discourage it.
Say a young person is thinking about having sex but wants to know more so goes to their parents or a similarly trusted adult figure for advice. There are a few possible outcomes I can think of:
1. They will get a brief rundown of the birds and the bees talk and that’s it.
2. If this isn’t the case, then they’ll get a response like "I'll tell you when you're older", “I’m not comfortable talking about this” or "Why don't you ask someone else?"
3: They have a good open discussion about sex and answer any questions the young person may have.
What tends to be the most popular options are the first two; resulting in the young person feeling embarrassed for bringing up the subject - and, most damaging, learning nothing. They will be less likely to ask for help again which breaks trust. Instead, they turn to the internet and learn unhealthy or inaccurate expectations of what sex should be like. This is especially damaging as the young person, having not been properly informed, could contract something or have an unwanted pregnancy. We need to create a safe and helpful environment when these so-called “awkward questions” come up and go through them together. Keep in mind these early conversations stick with us for the rest of our lives so what advice is (or is not) given will have a lasting impression.
And then there’s school. While it is important that they offer sex education, this is often condensed into a day or two of what STDs and STIs are out there and a glance over some forms of contraception. All of this is of course useful information but there is still so much more to be covered. Wear a condom they say but little is mentioned of them breaking, coming off or not always guaranteeing safety. What about combining contraception or how to talk to your GP about which would be better suited? Also, many people are unaware of the multiple uses of the pill. The assumption that all contraceptives must link to sex means girls using them for medical reasons like irregular periods are shamed. These are all things that need to be taken into consideration as well as constantly updating these lessons to better reflect the young people of the present. What about advice for the LGBTQ+ community?
The main thing I took away from these classes was how scary sex can be. Fuck, I thought sitting in that cold classroom staring at the PowerPoint listing everything that can go wrong during sex, I don’t want to get pregnant or contract anything. And yes we must be aware of the risks but what about the other side of the coin? Sex can also be something fun that you can share with your partner or whoever you’re with. We shouldn’t shy away from this fact but embrace it.
In fact, I feel very passionate about sex- see that’s a pun, a joke. It’s OK to laugh about it. Sex doesn’t always have to be seen as some hideous alien in a test tube held at arm’s length. Why then after these lessons is it still talked about in whispers or not at all. The only other example of sex being mentioned in school is in biology textbooks (which likely feature graffiti from the kids in the previous years. See, they get it). Why when teachers discover these doodles do they get offended? (aside from the obvious destruction of property of course). How inappropriate, they may think. More like how ironic.
Sex is part of our everyday lives- quite literally the reason life exists, so we should be able to talk about it more without feeling embarrassed or awkward. It should be taught to be both safe and enjoyable.
Do you remember the time?
Written by Georgina Bartlett
Right lovelies, this is about to get up close and personal. So, grab yourself a cuppa, a glass of wine or three shots of tequila chased with some lime wedges and get comfortable. If you know me personally as a friend or family member and you don’t want to read about my experiences with sex, I would skip this one.
Ok ready, then let me ask you -Do you remember that pivotal moment in your teenage youth when you started to think about sex? When you wondered what it would feel like, how would it work, would it be with a person you love, would it be with a girl or a guy?
For me, my pivotal moment was when I first saw Dirty Dancing. Patrick Swayze knew how to move his hips and I wanted nothing more than to be as in love as Baby was. When Johnny danced her into bed in his cabin, I couldn’t wait till I found the person who would dip me like that and make sure that my sexual creature was awakened. What I didn’t know was, Hollywood is a dirty, stinking liar! I got an inkling of it being untrue when I started dating and my secondary school boyfriend kept trying to pressure me into sex because, in his words – “Everyone else was doing it.” Thankfully, I had a great role model in my Mum, who taught me to stand my ground and never let anyone force me into an uncomfortable situation, sex would be on my terms.
However, I wasn’t warned about the heart break you feel when that boyfriend dumps you, and anxiety rears its ugly face and asks – if I just did it, would he have not dumped me? But when you’re sixteen years old everything feels so important in the moment, now that I look back at my younger self I praise her for not making bad choices and crying through the rejection instead of crying over a bad decision. Never let someone talk you into something that doesn’t feel right, your virginity is something you can chose to give away on your own terms, choose wisely.
Fast forward to eighteen and I finally found someone who I believed I loved, and he definitely knew how to swoon a woman – I would later find out that he was skilled at swooning, because he did it to multiple people at the same time. But that’s a story for a different day. After a few dates I decided it was time, this would be my magical moment to become a real woman and finally find out what an orgasm feels like…. wow was I wrong.
I can still remember myself under the covers, trying not to shake too much and wondering how his equipment would fit into my petite flower. Wondering is the wrong word, I was terrified. Now, when I watched Dirty Dancing they seemed to have passionate sex all through the night and nothing was mentioned about a cherry pop. (Insert embarrassed face here) When I look back on it now the whole experience left me traumatized and very scared of having sex again, it was rough, pokey, and all over in a matter of minutes. And don’t think I forgot the orgasm; I wasn’t sure it would feel as good as when I was alone, but I was fairly sure I would know if I had one. I really hate that films and television portray women managing to climax as soon as a man’s penis enters her – girls – this is bull. I am in a category of women who find it hard to have an orgasm during sex, I can now say I have been lucky enough to experience them, but not every time. And don’t get me wrong, I have friends who are able to have penetrative orgasms every time – those lucky bitches – but it can be rare. If you find the right person you can work on finding out how to have that O-moment, and that’s a lot of fun! But not everyone is willing to take the time, do me a favour – just leave them to pleasure themselves, they don’t deserve your G-spot.
I guess the big point I am trying to make here is Hollywood have corrupted our minds and brandished sex a certain way and when it doesn’t happen the way you imagined, it can be utterly devastating. And when I say this I don’t only mean for women, yes there is a big issue on how Hollywood promote orgasms. But even though men can have orgasms a lot easier than us it doesn’t mean they can’t have awkward and bad experiences too. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble on what they imagine sex to be like, but I feel we need some more realistic and meaningful representations of sex from Hollywood. Stop pushing ‘Fake Perfection’ in our faces. It’s not fair and its damaging to people – like me – that romanticise what their experiences should be like, when in reality my experience should be just that, mine.
I know you’re probably stuck on the cherry pop, so let’s go back to it. Not everyone has this experience during their first time and if I’m honest I don’t love the name, but yes, it happened to me. It was very painful, and I wished that the bed would swallow me whole. For anyone who doesn’t know a ‘cherry pop’ is when a piece of skin inside of your vagina is pierced and it bleeds, it can be a little or a lot and for me - it was a lot. In Dirty Dancing or American Pie, you see couples lying in bed, in the after-sex glow. I was in the bathroom, crying, wanting to call my mum and ask her what was happening because I was scared I was dying.
Now, I want to be really clear that I am not trying to put anyone off of sex, if you are with someone you trust (doesn’t have to be a long-term relationship) and you are of age and feel ready, I wish you the best experience. Don’t be embarrassed about your cherry if it pops, it’s totally normal and natural. And guys don’t worry about your timing on the first go, you shouldn’t feel that pressure. As a woman who is ten years older now, and more worldly I can tell you I love sex. It can be amazing, it is a great way to feel close to the person you love, and once you’ve been with someone for a while you begin to know what the other likes. But I want to say this, loud enough for the people in the back, you don’t need to be in a long-term relationship to have great sex. You have to know yourself and what you like, make sure you take the time, you’re pretty spectacular and deserve great sexual experiences. I hope everyone has a person they can be frank with and talk to about sex, don’t bottle it up and don’t feel scared about sharing your experiences, if you ever want to talk – my inbox is always open.
Meet the Co-Author: Hannah Money.
Hannah studies full time as an English Literature and creative writing student at the University of Winchester in the UK.
She is a force of nature, using every hour of the day to accomplish great feats alongside her studies. This includes her work as a Journalist for Details Magazine (Detailsmagazine.wixsite.com), editing for her University's student Journal and writing fantastic short stories to enter into competitions. Her writing varies from fiction, script writing and non-fiction.
She is also passionate about reading with her favourite genres being fantasy and horror.
Hannah is also a very talented and accomplished artist, recently she has been illustrating her University's creative writing magazine and enters her annual Christmas card into competitions. If you'd like to see some of her work, you can visit her here: Instagram: Hannahmoneyart
Hannah also has a twitter page dedicated to her writing and future WIPS (works in progress) you can visit her page here: Twitter: @Hannahmoney14
It has been such a pleasure working with Hannah on this piece, her writing is always so on point with the issues of today, and I deeply admire her work.