If I could list my top three favorite hobbies they would be: talking about my sex life, talking about other people’s sex lives and partaking in actual sex. Honorable mention goes to cutting up strawberries and putting the delicately halved-berries into matching tupperware containers as if I’m not going to eat them all in one sitting.
Recently, a friend bought me dinner in exchange for my reassurance that wanting her boyfriend to spit on her during sex wasn’t vile and offensive. I think she was expecting me to be taken aback by her desires, tiptoeing around the topic of her insecurity before giving me a suggestive glance as if to say “do I need to see a mental health professional?” Honestly, the only thing I was taken aback by was the fact that no one had ever wanted to do this to me? Am I a novice? Do men hate sleeping with me because I’m boring?” Kidding…..
But her uneasiness with bringing it up, and her need for reassurance, made me realize that despite the fact we’re all making an effort to be more sex positive, the shame we have is deeper engrained than we think. As far as I’m concerned, as long as you’re enjoying it you shouldn’t feel ashamed about it. Unless it’s like… illegal…then you should be ashamed and in jail.
This is why having conversations about sex with my friends and partners is so important to me. I think it’s the only way we’re all going to eventually chill out when it comes to stereotypes and stigmas surrounding the P and the V. Sex should be liberating, fun and most of all not something to be embarrassed about! *leaps onto my soap box*
I went to a concert in LA recently, and standing outside while my two friends smoked a joint, we found ourselves on the topic of herpes outbreaks in retirement communities. (Yes, I know.. .why don’t I have more friends?) The meat of this topic doesn’t have to do directly with the point of the story, but I’ll tell you anyways because I’m sure I can’t say “herpes” and “retirement communities” in the same sentence without you being like…. “wait can you go back to that?”
So, yes; herpes outbreaks are common in retirement communities because as risk of death related due to old age outweighs the risk of STD complications, and pregnancy concerns are 30 years out the door, retired individuals grow less and less concerned with wearing protection. Hence, stds! I made the point though, that a condom can’t completely protect you from herpes because it’s a skin to skin contact disease. And, it’s way more common than we think—one in four people are affected with genital herpes.
As we were giggling about the thought of grandpas with herpes, a girl in her early 20s walked up to us, cigarette anchored to her lip and her friend clutching her shoulder. Shaken with nerves, she told us that she was diagnosed with herpes a couple of months prior. We were the only people, aside from the friend that stoically stood behind her, she had told. She said she was humiliated because she “wasn’t a slut!” and “swore to GOD she was using a condom!” and it’s “not like she was blacked out when it happened.” She said that she was happy we knew the one in four statistic, but no one else understood how common it is.
I had to remind her that it doesn’t matter how many men she was sleeping with, if she was stone cold sober or a bottle of wine deep, or if she’d made the decision to use a condom. The only thing she should be concerned about post-diagnosis is her health—not the way people are going to perceive her. But even I had to step back and reflect how I would react if a potential partner of mine told me they had herpes. Would I come from a place of judgement or genuine concern for the future of our relationship? That 20 minute conversation we shared was vulnerable and honest, and I think we all walked back into the music venue feeling good about what we gained from one another. She became slightly more confident in her ability to talk about her diagnosis, and I learned to not joke about an 85 year old woman having old-folk-home sex in public.
The shame we hold on to when it comes to sex doesn’t stop at kinks or sexually transmitted diseases. A close friend of mine works as a Women’s Health Educator for a low-income health center in Chicago. She recently gave a presentation to LGBT and queer members of the community about the benefits of masturbation. Think: relief of menstrual cramps, improved mood, enhanced sleep quality. Oh, and also: figuring out what gives you pleasure!! Feeling secure in our bodies and our sexual organs starts with us. But for some reason, we’re even made to feel shame for sexual activity that consists of ourselves and ourselves alone (and maybe an electronic device if that suits our fancy).
I like talking about sex, and I’ll continue to do so—it’s one of the few things we will have in common with every person on this earth. I like the vulnerability I feel with another person when we can talk openly about it. It’s empowering and freeing to learn from one another. And most importantly, when we can feel secure in asking questions and having intimate conversations, we feel less alone in our sexuality. And considering it’s something every human on this earth possesses, it’s the last thing we should feel lonely about.
If you’ve got a burning sex-related (or nonsex-related) question you can email hottestgirlinLA@gmail.com for a judgement free take. I may not have seen or tried it all, but I’m willing to come close. Anonymously, of course.