Monday, February 1, 2010

How did you learn to fuck?

There isn't really a good way to learn sex. Sex ed in school covers the "Tab A, Slot B" basics and hopefully some of the safety measures, but you're lucky if they admit oral sex exists, let alone get into the intricacies of foreplay and kinks and social nuances. Parents, unless you grew up in of those weird "we're just very open" families, probably were even less help. So where do you learn these things?

Peers? Maybe it's because I hung out with a seriously nerdy crowd, but in middle and even high school my peers didn't know much more than I did and they spread ridiculous misinformation about sex. This is why "can you get pregnant from giving a blowjob" is always in my Google search terms.

Porn? Porn doesn't depict sex. Mainstream porn tells you nothing about foreplay, nothing about how to get someone in bed if just showing up wasn't sufficient, nothing about how sex is positioned or how it will go, and absolutely nothing about what women or men actually enjoy.

Reading? Eh, some. I read a bunch of sex advice books and websites before I had sex, and I guess I learned some things, but it was hard to sort out the misinformation there as well, and a lot of it was about the controversial and difficult aspects of sex, not the basics that they assumed everyone already knew. I could read "how to give an excellent blowjob," but I couldn't read what exactly a blowjob was supposed to be like in the first place. It took me some time to understand that you don't just stick it in your mouth and suck.

In the end, it's 99% on-the-job education. Which, as on the job, is a euphemism for "learning by screwing up." Everything I know about sex, I learned by making some poor guy go "ow!" or "what the heck?" or "uh, honey, that's not doing it for me." And the guys in turn didn't really know what they were doing. I bumbled around for about five years before becoming remotely competent at sex. And I'm not talking fancy moves here, I'm talking stuff like how to move my hips and how to tell if a guy is close to orgasm.

The weirdest part is, because sex "education" is so private and haphazard, it never really gets standardized. I've run into a lot of people who thought they were bizarre because of something that was very common, or who had bizarre practices they thought were standard. If your education is all from women's magazines and personal experience, it's easy to come to believe you're the only woman on earth who comes in less than twenty minutes. Or, conversely, that every guy comes in thirty seconds and that's totally normal when you're young.

Some of this is the joy of discovery, and most of it gets sorted out by age thirty at the latest, but I do wish there was a "Sex for Virgins" book that went through all the basics of "after he gets all panty and his dick gets sorta extra hard and purpley, about a tablespoon of white stuff will come out in several diminishing squirts" and so on. It would have been fantastically useful.


  1. Two great things Kinsey gave us was, "Oh, you like that too?" and "Normal is a BIG tent."

  2. Write one. Seriously, I'm pretty sure you'd do a great job.

  3. How did I learn? Initially porn and Dan Savage. Mostly experience though.

    The next post down in my RSS reader is headlined "Question I wish I could ask my parents".

    Thing is -- and this is what I learned from Dan Savage -- people are unique. I don't know if I, at least, could get a whole book out of "yes, you're normal" and "people are unique" and "porn is like a Picasso: you can tell that's supposed to be sex, but sex doesn't actually look like that," which I think is as far as you can generalize. Anything beyond that is "ok, now here's how you should have sex with him" and has to be learned anew with each partner anyway.

  4. Hershele - Yeah, people are unique, but there's still a lot that I've learned that I've found I could cross-apply. I don't know if there's enough for a book--I'm not sure exactly what would be in that book and I feel like I still don't know enough about sex to be authoritative--but there's a lot.

    perlhaqr - Hee. Good point. (I was on the Ren Faire committee in college. No, I mean I was on them...)

  5. Yeah, I'd second porn and Dan Savage and getting over my good girl Catholic school shame training enough to actually talk to my boyfriends about sex and how it felt for me and what I wanted ( THAT is huge...amazing how when you communicate and no one has to try to mind read, you converge on the stuff that works much faster). That and at least one totally wrong for me/psycho boyfriend who I will hate forever for causing me the most emotional hurt I have felt but I will also be forever grateful to because the sex was such a breakthrough that I was able to really find and claim my sexuality. Most things in life are a mixed bag like get some shit and you get some good stuff, and a lot of the time they are all tangled up together, so this idea of being able to safely assess and wait and choose only "good" stuff is a crock.

    I also asked a lot of questions of my friends, gay and straight, and got a lot of misconceptions cleared up quickly that way, from people who had actually done stuff...and I got the message that there's a lot of variability in any pairing and no "one right way" to do anything. That was a relief! My family was zero help...they are still operating on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and we do not talk about sex, ever.

    About half of Dan Savage's calls/emails are people asking "Am I/is this normal?" Seems like a better idea of "normal" is necessary!

  6. I'll be a better blogreader. You made a really good post, and I was sort of excessively flippant, and it does a disservice to my friends at the time. :)

    I was a 15-16-17 year old SCA nerd / Mormon boy who was rapidly coming to the conclusion that I didn't believe any of that bullshit, but hey, there's a lot of "tradition" in who you were as a kid when you're that age.

    I was fortunate enough to have a group of people in my SCA household who actually cared about me turning out as a better person, and so even though I was half on the "no, I can't have sex" line (which ended up leading to it "just sort of happening", but thank you Mary) I was still intensely curious, so I got a fair amount of hypothetical instruction from both women and more experienced men. (Lesson I have only sort of managed to incorporate into my subconscious at 33, desperation is not attractive.)

    So, I lost my virginity at 17 with a member of my household, and then had a number of experiences with people who knew I was inexperienced, went out of their way to comfort me about that, and to teach me how to be a better lover. Including explicit instructions like "Listen to the words coming out of my mouth, when I tell you to put your tongue there.".

  7. My first boyfriend/sexual partner and I were both virgins. All of my knowledge about sex came from rated-R movies and an illustrated book called The Birds and the Bees. All of his knowledge about sex was based upon a LOT of porn viewing, and stories from his older friends.

    The two of those combined... ugh, it wasn't pretty. Or particularly pleasant. He seemed to want a porn star in bed, and had a weird skewed view of what a "sexy" woman was. Which led to me having a weird view of what "sexy" was.

    My next sexual partner kind of cured me of that, though. He went to initiate sex once, and I said "NO! My legs aren't shaved!" and he very patiently explained to me that it is quite possible to have sex without shaving ones' legs first.

  8. Minion

    Hi, I lurk on your blog a lot. I just have a question for the comments, What is SCA? I tried to look it up, but I can't figure out which one is being refered to here.

    I learned everything from fanfiction (which has led me to rather firmly believe that love/sex are kinda similar and should be with someone you like)
    and very good friends (they cleared up so much misconception that resulted from public school teaching (though my public school was fairly liberal in its approach) and giving me very good books and advice)

    the rest, experimentation, though not yet with the opposite gender. I'm working my way there.

  9. From context, I think the SCA they are talking about is the Society for Creative Anachronism. Its a medieval history research/reenactment group. Among many other things, some of them put on armor and beat on each other with rattan swords. I was never a member but I used to hang out with them and went to a few events in Ansteorra.

  10. What I've learned by experience is that, it's how much you love the person that matters and of course if both want to participate. Anyone saying "I'm Mr mucho macho, screwing every piece out of them" is probably more concerned about their own part of the act than the others. I wish you could learn to do it right, and feel comfortable and totally secure and do it right when you meet that one important person. On the other hand, routine sex might kill it very fast and if you really love each other, it can be just as important to hold on each other and cuddle and last nothing is the right way, even the fastest gunner can learn to be slower or do pleasure other ways