When you are having sex, there are a lot of really important things to know. You know, things like how to prevent pregnancy or STD transmission, what enthusiastic consent is and whether or not you have both given it, etc. However, along with all the really essential rules about sex that you should never forget, there even more outdated, and often deeply sexist, sex "rules" you need to unlearn, like immediately.
What I am talking about are all myths and and expectations around sex that are actually harmful, ignorant, or just plain ridiculous — things we've had drilled into our head that are based in misogyny and misinformation and that stand in the way of becoming the fully realized and satisfied sexual beings we all deserve to be, in whatever form that takes for you.
But the first step to getting there is by shedding and unlearning all the nonsense that's been engrained in us along the way, no matter how pervasive the messages that uphold those outdated ideas are in our society. It’s not easy, but it is doable. The first step is to identify the sex "rules" you need to ditch, which shouldn't be too hard since they tend to hide in plain sight. But once you see them for the nonsense they are, there is no unseeing it, and that is a beautiful thing.
Sex "Rule" #1: "Never Sleep With Someone On The First Date"
There's no doubt you've heard this rule before, but it's time to unlearn it. Having sex on the first date (assuming you and your date both want to) doesn't mean anything except that you had sex on the first date. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you or that you will never find love because you're giving the milk away for free. Plenty, and I mean plenty, of relationships have started with sex on the first date. And if that person wouldn't want to be with you just because you are sexually liberated enough to follow your own needs and wants, then you don’t want that fool anyway.
Sex "Rule" #2: "If You Have A Lot Of Sex, Your Vagina Will Get Loose"
Yeah, um, that's not how vaginas work. “Many people falsely assume that women who have less sex have ‘tighter’ vaginas, and women who have more sex have ‘looser’ vaginas — but this is just a complete misconception,” women’s health specialist Jennifer Wider, MD, told Women's Health.
Your vagina is an extremely elastic muscle, and it's not going to change shape because of one D or 10. Honestly, the ego on people who think they can loosen a woman's vagina with their pen. Hello! A baby can come out of that thing, so yeah, your D ain't makin' a dent.
Sex "Rule" #3: "The Man Should Be In Charge Of Providing The Condom"
Have you been told it’s unladylike or slutty to carry protection? That it’s the guys responsibility? Yeah, no, that’s some BS. There is no shame in being prepared, taking control of your birth control destiny, and taking care of your sexual health and safety.
Sex "Rule" #4: "You Owe Other People Sex"
Say it with me: You. Don't. Owe. Sex. To. Anyone. Not even if they are really nice to you. Not even if they bought you lobster. Not even if they did you a favor. Not even if they bought you a freaking car. You do not owe anyone sex, nor does anyone owe it to you. And anyone who tries to make you feel that way? Well, show them to the door.
Sex "Rule" #5: "You Should Be On Birth Control, So Your Partner Doesn't Have To Wear A Condom"
Only you get to decide when and why you go on birth control. You don't owe it to your partner to take the pill just so they don’t have to wear a condom. If anything, they get to wear a condom because they are getting the honor of having sex with you. That being said, going on the pill as a backup plan is not a terrible idea. (Also, before you even consider ditching the condoms, make sure you both get a full STD screening.)
Bottom line? If you're going on birth control, make sure you're doing it because you — and only you — want to.
Sex "Rule" #6: "Changing Your Mind About Having Sex Makes You A Tease "
Nothing makes me angrier than when people call a woman a tease, especially if a woman changes her mind about having sex. The level of entitlement in that word makes my teeth chatter. This person doesn’t have the right to your body, ever. When and if you have sex is your choice, and changing your mind at the last minute or even in the midst of the act itself is your prerogative. It doesn't make you a tease, it makes you a sentient and autonomous person who gets to choose when and how they do or don't have sex.
Sex "Rule" #7: "Don't Be Bossy In Bed"
If your natural inclination is to be a pillow princess, go for it, your majesty. But never think that it’s the only role you can play in the bedroom. You're allowed to speak up in bed about what you want, how you want it, and for how long and how hard, too.
Sex "Rule" #8: "Women Who Have One-Night Stands Are Sluts"
Just... nope. This idea that only men can have one-night stands without it saying something about their morality is sexism of the highest order. Anyone is allowed to have a one-night stand if they want to (and the person they're doing it with wants to). No, that does not make this person slutty, promiscuous, or anything similar. Let's just move on, shall we.
Sex "Rule" #9: "You Should Be Able To Orgasm From Penetration Only"
Listen, we are all beautiful, unique snowflakes down there — every one different and amazing. So is it really that much of a surprise that some of us might require a little more imagination to come than the jackhammer drill of every boring, straight porn film? You should orgasm however you do — or don't. There is no "right" way in bed, except the enthusiastically consensual way.
Sex "Rule" #10: "It's OK To Be Talked Into Having Sex"
OK, folks, this one is the biggie. There are so many societal pressures coming together around this idea that it's basically the superstorm of outdated, sexist rules. We’re taught that girls aren't supposed to want to have sex, but they secretly do, and it’s up to guys to push and prod them until they give in to what they "really" want. This is absolutely gross and must stop immediately. If you say no, it’s not OK for your partner to keep pushing and vice versa. Reluctant consent is not enough. Enthusiastic consent (without any trace of coercion) must to be the bare minimum.
These outdated rules are really just the beginning. But here is a basic rule to follow that will cover the things I haven't mentioned here: If it feels uncomfortable or not exactly what you you want, or it makes you feel badly, stop. You do not have to do it. Period. Point blank. Your body, your rules — and yes, that includes the unspoken sex rules, too.
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