OUR READERS TELL US WHAT THEY HAD TO UNLEARN ABOUT SEX
In the leadup to our third issue, we launched an anonymous sex survey. We wanted to hear from you about your experiences with sex, your thoughts and feelings and your best stories. And you told us! We’re so grateful for all the incredible, honest answers we’ve received, please keep them coming. The survey is still up and running, and there’s still time to submit. As we had a lot of responses to this question, we’ve split it up into two parts: this is Part One.
Check out the whole Open Secrets series here.
We wanted to preserve your voices and the spirit of your answers, so we haven’t edited any of the responses.
Here’s the question we asked:
What were some misconceptions you had about sex when you were younger? How and when were those myths blown?
- I was deeply sceptical of the notion that a penis could fit into a vagina and that this was the first step towards pregnancy. I believed firmly that my parents and books were lying, and that the way that someone got pregnant was by sharing a wash cloth or loofah with literally anybody else. I was very protective of my wash cloths and loofahs.
- I used to think monogamy was the same as commitment and that I was bad at commitment because I was bad at monogamy. Now I have a partner who trusts my commitment without needing it tied to what I do with my body.
- I don’t know why, and I’m embarrassed about this now, but I used to see orgasms as my sexual partners’ obligation to me. I think it was a misguided attempt at sexual liberation. Because I enjoyed sex, and would rarely turn down an invitation to have sex, and because I assumed all my (cis) male partners would come every time we had sex, I thought these sexual partners were obliged to make me come, too. It never really occurred to me that there were other ways to have intimate, pleasurable sexual experiences. It never occurred to me that it was ok to make myself come while with another person. It never occurred to me that sometimes we’d have to stop and no one would come and it would still be nice.
These myths are still being blown.
- Girls slept with a lot of boys.
I have only ever slept with one and I still do and I love him a lot.
- I thought my first time would be incredibly painful, like being stabbed with an umbrella.
But it wasn’t, it was very enjoyable.
I also learned to recognize which partners, particularly guys, had watched too much porn and were now trying to recreate these scenes with me. Once I addressed it with one of my partners, we were able to talk about it and deal with it.
I also learned it’s my right to say no to someone. I listened to stories from friends who did not consent to sexual acts with someone or were exploited in a sexual way and began to recognize situations that I thought were okay at the time but in retrospect were not okay or comfortable for me. I wish I had known this or realized this at the time and confronted that person or said no.
- Based on a youth full of successful masturbation, I expected intercourse to bring me to orgasm really easily.
Thankfully I knew what I was capable of and realized early that vaginal intercourse is not the be-all of sex. Losing virginity was therefore basically a non-event, which is NOT what the myths had told me.
- When I was younger boys were extremely frightening individuals and I couldn’t cope with my own sexuality. I was deeply repressed having been brought up by a Victorian mother, even though I was born in 1948. My father however had a more enlightened view. Sadly he couldn’t help me either. Now I am free to masturbate and write lurid stories happily about sex jealousy and revenge. I belong to a group of women writers who appreciate my skill.
- Growing up transsexual I had many misconceptions about sex, many based on what sociatal expectations were for who I was percieved as. Confused by my own identity and very unsure about my sexuality and social expectations of sexuality left me very unsure on what to do and who to do it with. This made for many sexual insicurities that exist to this day.
- One of my girlfriends in the 9th grade told me that cum was thick and stringy like chewing gum. So I pictured a pink wad of double bubble. I was surprised to discover something a lot more like Buckleys the following year. Also,
it never occurred to me that it was possible to have sex without kissing. The WHOLE time. Holding true to that would have really limited future sexual positions.
- I thought sex was only penetration between a man and a woman after they were married, it was always consensual and that is how kids were born. Then in university I was attracted to someone who was still in the closet as a gay person and my myth of sex was only penetration between a man and woman were blown when I realized he was in a physical and sexual relationship with another man.
- Before I had sex for the first time I believed that it was the way to a mans heart.
- “Sex is the ultimate personal connection – the be all and end-all. – It is a great connection, but not necessarily the pinnacle.
“Sex is saved for people you love”
These and other ‘conceptions’ (as opposed to misconceptions) continue to grow and change as my perspective on life evolves.
- That men were the ones that wanted sex and that females needed to be on alert. This myth was blown in my mid 30s.
- I got a lot of misleading information from the habits of other mammals. I had this dog-care book with diagrams of reproduction where the boy dog went on top of the girl dog and then his penis swelled up and they just… stayed there… for a while, so I figured that that was the way all mammals reproduced.Then I saw a documentary about the savanna that told me boy lions could go on top of boy lions, girl hyenas had fake penises (it was then that I learned the word “clitoris”), and bonobos just went on top of each other whenever, no babies involved. It was a very edifying forty-five minutes.Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t know humans could be gay until the sixth grade, when a book mentioned a man being late for a date referred to as “he.” I reread the line like 5 times, thought for a bit, and then it was perfectly okay for people to do, and then it was something I did.Oh, and until the ninth grade, I thought having crushes and staring at boys *and* girls (back then I only knew about boys and girls) was perfectly normal. Then I started to think about kissing my music teacher, and thought,
“Shit, I’m not a lesbian… would it be bad if I were a lesbian?…I can’t be a lesbian, I like boys…no, wait, I legit like everyone.” And then I joined the GSA and learned about pansexuality and everything made sense.
- That all sex was pleasurable. This was a problem from soft core porn probably. I think this myth was deflated just in hearing talk, in pop culture and in life, about “bad sex”, enough so that I could begin to imagine how it might be bad against the powerful imagery of scp.
- I didn’t have many really, I kind of approached it from a very science-oriented perspective so I just figured it was a thing that happened. Also, I wasn’t out of the closet and felt very okay with just maturing, observing and learning I guess. I don’t think there were many which is a weird thing to say… maybe that it’d be scary and just incredibly awkward? And that changed once I started having sex, realizing that both of those things are possible but won’t necessarily be a constant and not feeling that way probably means you’re in a better situation than if you did.
- I never conceived of the warmth involved. This was true before I first made out with someone (I was 12) and also (maybe slightly less so?) when I first had sex (I was 16).
As a result, I’ve always loved playing with ice cubes.
- I thought I needed to be in love to have sex. That changed when I broke up with my old boyfriend after three months (no exchange of “I love you” or sex) and after a month of dating someone new, decided to have sex (no “I love you” exchanged).
- That it was only about the pleasure of the other person. That wasn’t particularly awesome.
- I didn’t understand what the end result of sex or anything was… Like if I would hear about someone giving someone a blow job, or a hand job, I would just in my head be like “what’s the point?”. I did not understand the concept of orgasm or ejaculation… I just thought it was something you did for a bit until you were done.I honestly can’t remember how I realized this was wrong, but I wish it was some hilarious story where I got jizzed on and was mega shocked… Unfortunately not. Actually that’s way better than not remembering how, let’s just go with that.
Someone jizzed on me and I was super confused.
- i, like many people born in the 90’s had to come to terms with separating the distinction of sex from gender, and gender from love, and love from sex. i think sex can inform love, love can inform sex, but sometimes these two things do not have to be present to access desire. consent and moving away from the chrstian taught paradigms of sex through practice was important. for a long time, i thought sex was something you gave someone you loved and would eventually marry, now i know that it can happen and be accessed in several types of relationships by many types of bodies in various ways. consent is the most important part, as well as communication and respect, not love.
- That I would only ever have straight sex. That was certainly blown when I started fucking people who aren’t cishet men.
A lot of my misconceptions about sex when I was younger had to do with things that I never thought I’d do or that were considered “gross” by public opinion- like anal sex. Those misconceptions changed when I started being more sex positive, opening myself to new sexual experiences and saying “fuck it” to things that are supposedly “gross and weird.”
- I thought sex meant that you and your partner always came at the same time. like the orgasm was something from the outside that happens to both of you, like lightening hitting your genitals. That was proved wrong to me the first time I had sex. obviously.
- I bought into the emphasis on vaginal intercourse as the form of sex. I wish society and culture didn’t put so much emphasis on this, particularly regarding virginity. In limited terms, I lost my virginity pretty late. But I enjoyed lots of forms of sex before that, and they were a lot more fun and less stressful than my first time having vaginal intercourse.
I remember the first time someone went down on me, and I couldn’t think straight for days. Why don’t we tell girls that losing their virginity can be that?