What 5 Industry Professionals Wish You Knew About Sex
“Sexperts” weren’t born knowing the clitoris is an entire complex or that the perineum in a woman contains erectile tissue just like a man’s. Even those we look to for advice and a little validation when trying out new experiences were once awkward first-timers. We asked a few friends who know their way around a butt plug (or flogger or masturbation sleeve) what they wish they had learned in high school Sex Ed and it sparked an interesting debate about self-love in classrooms, self-love practices, STI myths and just what the hell is “normal” (spoiler alert: there is no “normal.” You are perfect the way you are).
Here’s what they had to say…
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU LEARNED IN SEX ED?
Goddess Aviva Diamond: I wish there had been more of a focus on female sexual pleasure. Instead it was all about sex as a way for a man to cum in a woman and get her pregnant or spread disease. So many women don't realize that sex is supposed to be pleasurable for women just as much as for men.
I also would have loved for less abstinence-training and more safer sex practices. Teenagers are going to have sex, we should be teaching them what they can do to prevent pregnancy and STDs/STIs and normalize those practices.
Oh, and one more thing: Sex Ed is very hetero-normative. More education on queer sex is necessary.
Goddess Lola Jean: Let’s talk about foreskin. Let the American boys know that their cut pee-pees aren’t the norm worldwide. No one should be ashamed of their junk, regardless of gender.
[Also], instead of treating STIs like leprosy and scaring kiddos with gory pictures, can we talk about how to have safe and healthy sex with someone who has an STI? Talk about herpes. Educate on when a human with herpes is actually contagious. Share statistics of those who have herpes and the estimate of those whose herpes is dormant. Talk about how it can be contracted orally if someone has a cold sore. Not enough people know this.
Candice Leigh: For one, the only Sex Ed programs I received in middle school and high school were abstinence-based that my mother taught. (laughing) It would have been such a positive experience to learn about empowerment when choosing partners, the way arousal works, replace joy instead of shame and fear, to celebrate one’s “first time.” I think I was grounded when my parents found out I was having sex which was a really mixed and confusing message.
Zachary Zane: I wish I learned that if you’re sexually active with a number of people, no matter how safe you are, you will inevitably get an STI and it’s not the end of the world. I wish they destigmatized STIs, but that doesn’t mean don’t try to protect yourself.
SHOULD SELF-PLEASURE BE TAUGHT IN SEX ED?
Goddess Lola Jean: I really wish this could happen, but I don’t see it being something that could be incorporated into schools. Self-pleasure can be discussed, but technique is where it gets tricky. Ultimately we’re putting a bit too much on the shoulders of the school system on this one. Parents are responsible for teaching their little ones how to be good and respectful lovers [and] for not shaming masturbation. If they don’t, trust me, they’re probably going to develop some kink because of it. Most kinks are formulated from childhood experiences, especially experiences that go unexplained. Masturbation is about self-discovery, so it’s difficult to provide a blanket “This is How You Do It.” Mostly, it should be emphasized that masturbation is healthy and an indoor activity, i.e. in privacy.
Bryan Stacy: Yes. Most people masturbate, so let’s stop pretending this isn’t a topic we shouldn’t cover in Sex Ed. Self-pleasure is often our first sexual experience, and it can come with a lot of anxiety and feelings of “I’m doing something wrong.” Especially for men, trying to “sneak in a quickie” is often enhance by outside material like porn, leading to additional shame and bad habits. What we aren’t taught is how this unconscious behavior can lead to poor sexual performance in the future, desensitized or injured genitals, and a dulling of energy we lose when we ejaculate.
Conscious masturbation on the other hand is healthy, helps us to understand our own body, flushes sexual organs, lowers blood pressure, releases tension and can enhance our own sexual creativity. This can and should be a great practice when done correctly.
Candice Leigh: I think talking about it makes sense or I could see the world of sex education moving completely digital where kids could watch videos at their own time [which] would also be helpful for agenderd, intersex and asexual [people]. I don't know why it would turn into how to pleasure others, but I certainly think that would be a helpful course too. I think a lot of these skills are less about technique and more about communication; listening; being present; and the difference between selfish sex and selfless sex and how to find balance.
Goddess Aviva Diamond: I think it would be wonderful to teach more about masturbation: normalizing it, and — especially for females — lots of information about anatomy, [which is] all part of wishing more of a focus on female pleasure.
WHAT ARE THE THREE THINGS YOU THINK EVERY HUMAN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THEIR BODY IN TERMS OF SEXUAL HEALTH, SATISFACTION… WHATEVER?
Bryan Stacy: The single most important thing to know is “You deserve the best.” 1. Ask for what you want, and make your boundaries known. 2. Know your partners STD test status before having sex and agree on what protection makes sense for you. 3. Get out of your head and into your body. Stop thinking and enjoy the present.
Goddess Lola Jean: Everyone’s body and genitals are different and that’s what makes them special. 2. Sex and sexual health aren’t something you have to master or figure out in a day, but something you can explore safely and sanely over time at your own pace. 3. Stop worrying what other people think about your body, your sex life, your performance. Once you eliminate the noise, focus on understanding what you enjoy.
Candice Leigh: The more you explore and figure out what you like and pleases you, the easier it will be to either communicate, ask for it or to have sex in a way that you enjoy. 2. Our sexuality is incredibly fluid and our desires and interests will certainly be fluid and change, so exploring it all allows you to have more choices. I've explored having one monogamous partner, three casual partners, having sex with just men, having sex with just women, celibacy for long stretches at a time, sexual encounters only with fellow sexuality experts and researchers (solely for learning), sex with love, sex without love, incredibly creative solo self-pleasuring, BDSM… OMG, so many options! 3. Embodiment practices such as yoga and studying Tantra has been incredibly helpful for me to feel more in my body and to be able to feel more in sex. It has also taught me to trust my body; its instinctual movements help me to breathe and open up to more and more pleasure. It's also given me great insight into how other people’s bodies, movements and breath influence their sexual lives.
Goddess Aviva Diamond: Make sure you are checking in regularly with your body: tracking periods, noticing discharge, checking for breast lumps, etc. Noticing an abnormality early on and getting medical attention if necessary can make a huge difference. It's all about knowing your body and its processes. 2. Play with and explore self-pleasure. Know how to bring yourself to orgasm and practice it regularly. If you can’t get yourself off, don't expect someone else to be able to. 3. Good ol' fashioned diet and exercise! Stop putting toxic shit in your body and expecting to feel good or sexy. You need to eat a balanced, nutritional diet to be in tip-top shape in and out of the bedroom. Exercise also really helps with energy, stamina, flexibility, mood, etc. Taking care of your body is part of taking care of your mind. I always have a higher libido when I'm getting regular exercise. (Of course, sex can be a great way to get the heart pumping!) [Author’s note: It is equally important for those who identify as men to check for scrotal lumps, breast lumps or any abnormality. Get to know your body.]
WHAT ABOUT SOMEONE NOT COMFORTABLE IN THEIR BODY?
Goddess Lola Jean: We’re talking about gender identity at younger and younger ages, which is awesome. We still can’t put them in a box sexually, but we can provide examples and options, [for example] how some trans-men refer to their penis as a clit and stimulate it as so. It’s important to address ALL of these things and normalize them, because anything you omit or leave out is more likely to become playground teasing.
I also teach masturbation and oral sex workshops and when we can co-ed environments we like to remind everyone that even if there are penis/penis or vulva/vulva couples, the types of touch are very similar and can be applied to any genital. The male and female sex organs come from the same part of the embryo so there are many similarities to begin with: shaft, foreskin, frenulum, head…
Bryan Stacy: Ask anyone, “What do you find the sexiest in another human?” Most people say “confidence” or a variation thereof, which is impossible without being comfortable in our own bodies. Forget sex education, and let’s talk about embodiment; let’s talk about getting in touch with ourselves, and learning how we operate internally.
This isn’t taught in schools and isn’t something most people start to experience until later in life. Sex Ed needs to start with embodiment, so we can learn to love ourselves, learn to emotionally connect with our wants and desires, and learn the empathy, respect and boundaries that are necessary to make Sex Ed what it needs to be. Through comfort with ourselves, we can begin to solve the discomfort we have with others.
Without confidence, it’s easy to slip into bad behavior and defense mechanisms like sexual harassment, misogynistic comments, and unhealthy/unfair sexual practices.