When I was a little girl, my father warned me of the four pillars of off-limits conversation topics: religion, politics, money, and sex. Unfortunately for him, however, I seem to have constructed my identity around these “taboo” topics. And as the years have gone on, I have become widely known as the highly-political, uncomfortably abrasive, “girl with the sex column” (sorry, dad.) But really, I make no apologies for my reputation. I am what some like to call the Queen of TMI (Too Much Information). I am what my mother likes to call “vulgar.” I am what the internet likes to call “sex positive” or even “slutty.” But I, personally, like to call myself an “advocate.” I have no problem sharing the intimate details of the one time someone, rather horrifically, called me “princess” during sex. At any moment, I could decide that it is a good time to ask you about your recent sexting experiences or how you like your new vibrator. It’s invasive. Sometimes it’s annoying. Other times, it’s downright frightening. But it’s just who I am.
And while my parents and even my therapists have thought this behavior was a subconscious cry for attention, I can assure you that my lack of a filter and downright inappropriate commentary is not for the sake of attention. I don’t share my stories because I love the sound of my own voice. I don’t do this because I operate under the false pretense that everyone is obsessed with the intricacies of my sex life. I do this because I so desperately want people to feel comfortable to share their own experiences. I do this because I want to desperately denounce sex from its title as a taboo. Sex is beautiful and wonderful, and sometimes even casual. And in turn, sex has every right to be a casual conversation topic. Yes, I have sex after I go to the grocery store. Yes I have sex after I make dinner. I have sex on Tuesdays. And yes, I have sex while I’m doing my laundry, and after I clean my dishes. Sex is an ordinary part of my routine, and it’s an ordinary part of all our routines. So no, sex isn’t (and shouldn’t) be a conversation specially reserved for special occasions—even though sometimes it may demand privacy.
Sadly, despite my stance, when I say the words “orgasm” or “penetration” they still echo off the walls, and shoot fear into the eyes of all who surround me. “How dare a 21-year-old, sexually-active woman use such vulgar terms” the look in their eyes seems to spell out. And all too often, when I so boldly opt for words like “condom” rather than “protection, I am wrongly perceived as kinky, when my only intention is to be informative. Because when we talk about sex, even the most minor, and trivial embarrassing stories, we become comfortable with sex, and give it the attention it deserves. Most importantly, when we talk about sex, we learn about sex (which is absolutely vital in today’s political climate). I mean, we wouldn’t throw someone into an upper division calculus course, and expect them to take the final exam without any instruction, so why should be treat sex any differently? Sure, giving head and integrating an equation are vastly different things. Sure, practice makes perfect. But if I hadn’t advanced my own knowledge, I wouldn’t even know penetration was involved—poor little naïve me. And without casually talking about our very “personal” sex lives, who then will be our teachers? We certainly don’t want dear-old mom to teach us how to have an orgasm. We most definitely don’t want our health teachers to advise us on how to give good head. And pornography absolutely cannot be our sexual guide, as it puts male pleasure at its center, promotes unrealistic body image standards, encourages abuse against women for pleasure, and perpetuates the idea that a single touch can send a woman into a raging orgasm. So who better than to consult than our fellow sexually-active friends?
And though we may have to overcome the initial shock of talking about our condom horror-stories with our close friends, there are absolutely long-term benefits that outweigh our discomfort. For example, if we unabashedly tell our friends that we had a difficult time putting on a condom during our “first time,” this immediately sets a precedent. Because you were vulnerable and transparent then, a door has been opened. And when two months later a one-night-stand offers a suggestion for a position you’ve never tried, you now have a trusted sexual confidant to ask the questions you need answered. As for the questions I have myself, I can’t help but wonder why we aren’t talking about sex, when the majority of the population is having it? After all, how are we ever to know all we need to know about sex, if we refuse to talk about it, and hold our privacy more sacred than our educations and sexual health? Though we might never know all there is to know about sex, each crude and “inappropriate” comment or story brings us one step closer—which is exactly why my platform is the way that is.
I am in no way crowing myself with the title of “sex expert.” Just as I am, in no way, forcing women to air their dirty laundry, to put their private lives on their sleeves, to share their “embarrassing” sex stories, nor ask their “embarrassing” questions, I only want to women and men alike to know that you “can” not that you “should” ask these “embarrassing” questions. To some, sex will always be a very VERY private thing, and I will never try take away the security of privacy. But I am here to challenge why sex be private at all, and even suggest that this privacy has detrimental effects, and sustains a toxic stigmatization of sexuality. I am crude. I am uncensored. And I refuse to bleep out my profanities, and soften up my rough edges for the sake of comfort, when it is actually my sexual explicit, rated R, unsuitable for kids commentary that creates a sense of “I’ve been there too” for the most unsuspecting audiences. I am very aware that my martyrdom might be thrown in my face. Whether it happens in a job interview where I have to explain why google has permanently superglued terms like “orgasm” and “blowjob” to my name, or if it happens ten years from now when my mother-in-law stumbles upon my “first time” story online, is unimportant to me. What is important, however, is that we de-stigmatize sex.