My name is Avory, and I am here to convert you.
No, no, not like that, though I can see why you’d get that idea from my picture. Queer I may be, but I could care less about your sexual orientation. Straight girls, I’m fine with heterosexuality. What I’m not fine with is how many of you seem to be having lousy sex because you just can’t seem to do it the way you’re supposed to.
So here’s my advice: just give up already. Everyone is trying to have sex the way they do on TV, or the way their best friend describes it, or how their mom said it would be. But let’s face it. 1) A lot of people are lying. 2) Pop culture is usually trying to sell you something. 3) Keeping everything nice and binary and normative is a lot easier and a lot less messy for everyone.
And the truth? Sex is better messy.
Since I discovered my genderqueer identity, sex got a hell of a lot better. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen pretty quickly. Suddenly, I ran out of these handy “sex scripts” that friends, the media, and my mother were feeding me.
Nobody gives non-binary people sex advice. There are no non-binary people having non-binary sex in the media. I pretty much had to make it all up, from what I wanted to do in bed to what gender and sexual orientation my partners would be.
Straight girls, you can do that too, and as a bonus, I’m going to be nice and let you keep your gender. We’ll start today with some sex myths:
1) Intercourse is fun for all straight people.
2) There is a “better” orgasm, reached through either penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex or oral.
3) Women love oral sex. If you don’t love oral sex, you’ve got the wrong man.
Now before you get angry, I’ll add the disclaimer that some of these myths are true for some people. There’s always going to be the college roommate who comes so hard it gives her muscle injuries when her boyfriend fucks her. There are many women who love oral sex. But I’ve been hearing a lot of frustrated questions from friends, colleagues, and random people who read my blog that indicate not all women experience sex this way. Also, these tips are principally for cis women, though if you’d like to read tips for straight trans women in a future post, let me know!
I think those of us who are feminists, or at least identify with the “girl power” movement, tend to know intellectually that there’s more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. And yet, those pesky myths tend to plant seeds of self-doubt that pop up whenever we’re at our most vulnerable: for example during sexytimes.
The good news is, it’s not just women who can be afraid to admit that silently following the script isn’t all that enjoyable. Men have the same problem, whether it’s feeling bad that they can’t figure out on their own how to arouse a female partner, having trouble getting and maintaining an erection, or feeling that sex could somehow be better for one or both partners.
If you can summon the courage to open your mouth about these things, there’s a very good chance your male partner will laugh in relief, or start confessing issues of his own. And if he doesn’t, he very well may be feeling positive about your speaking up and willing to talk through things to make the experience better for the both of you.
Let’s start with the three myths above. (We’ll discuss some others in the weeks to come.)
Intercourse is fun for all straight people.
This might be the myth you’re most likely to know is bogus, but humor me, because I’ve learned from talking to straight and bisexual women friends that some of you are still concerned about it. Intercourse is fun for some straight people. It might be for you, or for your partner. If it’s not, it may be time to have a chat and talk about why you want intercourse, or whether you do.
By the way, this is a good rule of thumb for any sexual act. Go ahead and think about why you’re interested. Then share that with your partner. If you’re both into it and really want it to work, then you can address any problems with that in mind. But if one of you is doing it for the other, or neither want it, then it may not be worth solving technical issues.
There are a lot of reasons why intercourse might not be ideal. Sometimes a penis is uncomfortably large for a woman’s vagina, or there may be reasons related to the shape of the vaginal opening or the qualities of that tissue that make intercourse uncomfortable or painful.
You can try lots of lube and clitoral stimulation before intercourse, and see if this helps. It’s also common for a woman not to orgasm from intercourse, in which case clitoral stimulation during might be a good idea, or communication about how it makes you feel when he comes and you don’t. Another common issue is erection difficulties or premature ejaculation, which may be extremely embarrassing for your partner.
Fortunately, there are many solutions to these problems! You can try stimulation with the head of the penis around the vulva (that’s the whole genital area including vagina, labia, and clitoris) or directly on the clitoris. If he likes thrusting and you don’t like intercourse, he might like rubbing between your thighs.
If you’re feeling frustrated because of orgasmic inequality, talk about the sequence of things--would it be better if you come first, or many times during a sex session? Of course, you may decide that intercourse isn’t really your cup of tea as a couple. And that’s okay.
There is a better orgasm.
There might not be.
Some women enjoy coming in a particular position, with a partner, without a partner, through a particular type of stimulation, or with a particular rhythm. But not everyone does. A lot of young women grow up assuming that there will be a type of orgasm better than masturbation when they’re with a partner. Maybe that’s through intercourse, or through oral sex, or something else. If you’ve found that this is not the case, don’t despair!
Again, it’s time to communicate with your partner. Let’s say you enjoy masturbation, and you’re very picky about the rhythm. Tell him how sexy it is and how much it turns you on for him to watch you masturbate, or to kiss you and touch you while you’re taking care of business.
If you’d like him to do the work, give specific instructions. If you feel more comfortable talking in the light of day, rather than in the heat of the moment, explain that you need a very specific stimulation and tell him what that is before you even hop into bed. If he’s concerned about not giving you the orgasm of your dreams, explain that there’s no such thing--but tell him what you do enjoy before, during, and after orgasm so that he has a sense of providing the things you want.
If you’re with a new partner, whether one-time or starting a relationship, it may be helpful to be very clear about what gets you off as you’re negotiating sex. Since a guy might assume that you’re in the mood for intercourse, just go ahead and lay out what you’d like tonight, and some options that might bring him pleasure as well. This rarely goes wrong.
Women love oral sex.
This is a big myth not only in the mainstream, but among feminists and sex-positive folk as well. There are so many jokes that wrap a male partner’s sexual worth up in his ability to perform that a lot of women who can take or leave oral are doing it expecting fireworks, and a lot of men are assuming that oral should be first on the menu.
Not everyone likes oral. Particularly if you’ve tried it with different partners and techniques, and found it boring or painful or too sensitive or just not that helpful, it may just not be your thing. You can of course try the tips you’ll find in almost any sex manual to improve things, but you don’t have to like it. You can have a perfectly satisfying sex life without oral!
The easiest thing to do is simply to say thanks, but no thanks. Either mention it up front, or if a guy starts going that direction, stop him with a simple “actually, that doesn’t do much for me. Could you touch me with your fingers/put your mouth here instead/etc?”
For all these problems, honestly, simple and upfront communication is a huge plus. It may be surprisingly daunting if you’re used to relatively silent sex, but it will do a lot for your sex life. If a guy can’t warm up to communication, disses your personal preferences, or refuses to budge on things that are important, then it’s not saying that your methods are bad--it’s a big red flag that there’s something bigger going on with him.
Got a question for Avory? Ask in comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org!