I Refuse to Be Embarrassed When Talking about Sexual Things

Ooh, yes, I DID just write that title. And why? Because why the fuck not?

I’ve learnt everything about sex, my body in TERMS of it and about other people from the Internet. Sex education in my school was terrible; the last teacher I had for PSE was the only one that told us useful things. The rest of the teachers said, “Don’t get an STI, this is how you put a condom on, bye!” Nothing about how to deal with feelings, physical intimacy, or that pressure to do things does exist.

So, I decided to find out about it by myself, before the last teacher came along and told us that we shouldn’t have to do anything we didn’t want to do, and that saying no was okay. I used youtube, older people I knew, but I could never ever ask my parents for fear of embarrassment.

Even now, I’m telling myself that making this post is stupid. That NO ONE will want to read it, because it’s been somewhat drilled into me that talking about sex should be done in a whisper. Bullshit.

You might be wondering what the aim of this post is? It’s to show you that asking advice from people is totally fine, and that you should. You’ve heard it before, I know, but I want to discuss my experiences of talking to people. If you want me to, at some other time, I’ll continue the discussion with other topics (you can even email me to ask me to cover something).

At the moment, I’m 16. Up until a year ago, I was basically told, “DON’t HAVE SEX!” which made me worry. When I THOUGHT I was ready, I was told I wasn’t. I want to tell you that there is nothing wrong with doing anything you want to do, and that people who discourage you should think: is that them worrying for you, or just pushing what they think onto you?

I’ve been in 4 “relationships” – two of them official, and the other two very small things. Well, the thing with Jasmine wasn’t so small, except for the length of time (about three weeks in total).

With all but one, I’ve discussed sex. Physical intimacy. And with every single one, there’s been a recurring theme: “Don’t do ANYTHING you’re not comfortable with, okay?” from both sides.

I won’t talk about the specifics of each, not because I don’t want to, but rather because I literally can’t. At least one of them reads this, one doesn’t know and I doubt the other two would be okay with me saying exactly what went on.

Setting boundaries is so important. All of the people I’ve ever done anything with were respectful, and we never forced each other to do anything. I had a couple of instances of fear where I thought I’d overstepped, done something they didn’t want, which caused me to get so paranoid. After talking it through with them, they assured me that it WAS okay, and that they didn’t feel rushed. In the situation with Jasmine, where she was worried that I was getting too nervous, I told her I was okay: communication is something that’s pretty much essential, if you want to feel comfortable.

I wouldn’t say I’m experienced, but I’ve had physical experiences with both guys and girls. I remember feeling, one time, like I was trapped: I enjoyed it at the time, but afterwards, I felt so sick and worried there was something wrong with me. It took me a while to realise that it was okay NOT to be attracted to someone, but that I should never force myself to do anything just because I think it’ll make me more attracted to them. If I’d have talked it out, without being embarrassed, not as much fear would have been in my mind.

The most valuable source of knowledge came from my friends. Robin, especially, has given me so much advice. After I became comfortable with asking her, we sat in the bar in Italy this summer and just chatted about sex, what to expect, how to handle certain situations and the most important thing: things might be awkward sometimes, and you won’t know what to do, but you have time to work it out. I didn’t feel very embarrassed, and the questions eventually came to me easily.

I’ve talked to my other friends too, but not as much. Jasmine always made me feel very inexperienced and a bit stupid, but people like Wren – who understand my fears – I can talk to. There aren’t many people, besides those on youtube and the Internet in general, that I can ask about non-straight sex, so for all of that, I had to wing it. Oh NO, that makes me sound like I’ve done more than I have!

Again, I’m not exactly a bloody Guru on this. I’m still learning, and I will make mistakes with who I trust and who I get physically involved with. Even so, there are some things you should remember:

• If you feel awkward talking to your family, talk to your friends about this
• Don’t think you’re too young to ask questions – it’s better to know now, rather than get anxious later that you know nothing
• Asking about sex doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to do it right then; only do physical things when you feel comfortable
• If you’ve never felt sexual attraction, there is nothing wrong with you
• If you feel attraction to a lot of people, there’s nothing wrong with you either; don’t be afraid to explore that, as long as you’re safe
• If you don’t rush it, and you’re ready to deal with any consequences, then go for it. Don’t let anyone else judge you

I don’t want you to be in a situation where you can’t speak up. If you have questions, if you have CONCERNS or if you’re just worried that you’ll be too embarrassed to do physical things with your partner, find someone to talk to. Whether that be friends, family or someone online, don’t think you’re too immature or that you’re wrong for asking for help. Sex can be shitting scary, and also if you think you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, it can stop make you even more terrified.

Some people are genuinely very uncomfortable talking about it, and that’s okay too. Either because of a bad experience they’ve had, or just because they don’t want to – don’t pressure anybody to talk, or NOT talk, if they don’t want to.

Z you know, I’m always here if you just want someone to chat to. Maybe you didn’t get anything out of this post, but even so, if you find yourself being curious about anything and you’re too afraid to ask anyone else, I’m here. Not that I’m some high-up agony aunt, but I’ll do my best.

Drop me an email if you need to. I hope you didn’t find this post too forward; I want to be as open as possible with you, to show you it’s okay.

From Elm 🙂

We SHOULD Talk about It

I was inspired to do this post by Alex and her amazing post – if you haven’t read it, you really should. I was also inspired partly by a favourite author of mine, Louise O’neill, who often talks about consent and topics such as that.

In this post, I’ll be talking about sex. Consent. Choice. All of that – so, if you feel uncomfortable, don’t read it – though give it a go, because we should talk about this more. I really hope this doesn’t make me sound So pretentious, but here goes.

Unless you’re asexual, at some point in your life, it’s likely you’re going to want to “do things” with someone you’re romantically interested in – whatever gender that may be. If it’s NOW, you shouldn’t be ashamed, or feel like you’re too young to experience this kind of thing. At the end of the day, it’s your body. They’re your thoughts, your choice, and if you’re sensible, go for it. Just ask yourself if you’re sure. THAT’s important.

My mother would say the exact opposite. She tried to talk to me about this, a few months ago, and I listened to what she had to say and then said I knew most of it already from the internet, my friends, or from things my sister told me long before the idea of even mentioning the subject came into my mum’s head. You learn things, whether you want to or not, about people and their bodies and about sex and how it works.

You might be asking, “WHY are you talking about this? You’re not my parent. GOD just stop, you’re WAY too immature for this.” If I was, I’d be quite worried. But honestly? Someone needs to talk about this. The majority of you reading this are teenagers, and teenagers are curious. You’ll probably have got a talk from your parents, or the school (actually let’s face it, sex education in schools only tells you, “DON’T HAVE SEX EVER USE PROTECTION (which you should do) BE CAREFUL OKAY”).

If you DON’T feel comfortable doing something, with anyone, DON’T DO IT. If you’re unsure, or horrifically nervous, WAIT until you feel more sure about what you’re doing. You shouldn’t be stuck in a situation where you feel pressured – by pressure, I partly mean someone asking you over and over to do something – “C’mon, just send me ONE picture; it won’t do any harm!” Or, “Oh, it’s just ONE little thing – you’ve done all these things with me before – don’t you trust me?”

I also mean the unobvious pressure; the pressure from yourself. You might tell yourself that you’re nervous, that you’re going to do it wrong but that you trust the person – or you might be thinking, “SHITSHITSHIT they won’t like me any more if I don’t, I NEED to.” If the person’s decent, they’ll understand you don’t want to send that picture, or have sex with them – to be frank. It’s OKAY to not want to do things, but it’s also okay to do things: IT’s YOUR CHOICE, as long as you’re ready.

It seems quite surreal, me writing this post and talking about such “mature” things, but I think this post is overdue. Not everyone feels comfortable with talking about this – in fact, a lot of people don’t – but TALK. Ask questions, maybe to your friends or whoever you feel you can say the word “sex” to without cringing or screaming in embarrassment.

Another thing is that other people will act differently to you. Some people wait until marriage to have sex because of their religion or beliefs; others don’t see losing virginity as important. Some people are completely confident talking about their bodies; others feel self-conscious and upset. Remember that what people choose to do is their own choice, and though you may act differently, don’t shame someone for having had sex with their partner relatively soon into a relationship – for all you know, they could trust each other completely. As well as this, don’t shame someone for not doing ANYTHING physical with their partner – they might not want to, or their relationship isn’t about the physical aspect.

Recently, I’ve felt much more comfortable talking to people about topics like this, and I can set boundaries about what I am and am NOT okay with doing at the moment, but that’s just because I’ve been more comfortable talking to my friends about it too, so it’s made me feel less awkward bringing the subject up in other places. But that’s just me: you might be completely different.

Should I talk about this more often – about “controversial” topics – or was this WAY too mature? What do you think about the whole topic – whatever age you are? 13, 16, 19 – really, it’s okay to talk, because it’s better to know than to just jump in at the deep end and think “SHIT, what am I doing?!”

Remember: if you ever feel uncomfortable, stop. If something’s wrong – if you feel like the person who you’re with is pressuring you, even unknowingly, STOP. Consent is important, because it’s your body.

From Elm 🙂