Myth One: Only Certain Types of Sex Are Real Sex
There is a ridiculous idea that certain types of sex are real. Or, at least, more valid and preferable to others. When we think of “real sex” we usually think partnered penetrative intercourse. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE ACTIVE AND FULFILLING SEX LIVES THAT DO NOT ENGAGE IN PARTERNED PENETRATIVE INTERCOURSE? Or, for that matter, all the people who have a lot of partnered, penetrative intercourse who have epically miserable sex lives. So what actually IS sex?
Myth Two: Sex is Intuitive and Natural
We have this idea that sex should be all spontaneous. And we just sort of “get” what our partner wants. That we are going to run across a field of flowers in slow motion to each other. What complete bullshit. That everything should be spontaneous. And free flowing. And it will be amazing all the time forever with the right person.
Oh, please. I can vouch for all my years of clinical experience (never mind all my years of, um, experience) that that kind of sex generally happens with the people that are the worst possible matches and in relationships that are completely unsustainable. As in…relationships where you are hanging on for the ride as long as you can, but this ain’t someone you bring home to momma.
Sustaining an enjoyable and long-lasting sex life with long term partners takes fucking WORK, y’all. And communication. And effort. And yes, calendar management. You don’t spontaneously run into the dentist to get your teeth cleaned right? You make a plan. Making space for sexual intimacy is often also going to require some planning for execution. Not having a slow-motion field of daisies experience doesn’t mean your relationship is a sexual failure.
When I did my TedXSanAntonio talk “Sex, Shame, and Silence” back in 2013, someone complained on Twitter about my definition of sex (the same one I used above). They were upset that I didn’t include the word “natural” in my definition. Now sexual interest may be natural (unless your ace/demi/grey, which makes it definitionally unnatural) but how we have sex? NOT THAT NATURAL. We are inventing ways to make it weird, and interesting, and complicated, and technologically advanced all the time. Even professional perves like Kinsey (who was known for tying up his nutsack with a cord and jamming a toothbrush up his dick) would be all “Damn, y’all” if he saw what we were up to now. Sexual desire may be natural. Expecting sex itself to fit some category of natural means we are setting up ourselves for a lot of stigma and shame. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Myth Three: Sex Education Isn’t A Universal Necessity
We are the most sex obsessed country that never talks about sex in pragmatic ways. It’s everywhere. Every car ad is PervyAF. Your steak dinner. Sex was used to sell it in some way, shape or form. But sex education itself? Not acceptable. Just writing this column for the past three years has gotten me in hella trouble with the academic establishment. If there is so much out there that isn’t so natural and isn’t so intuitive, then we need to have those conversations.
And you know who we need to have these conversations with? EVERY-FUCKING-ONE. People with intellectual disabilities. People with physical disabilities. People with severe chronic mental illness. Kids. Parents. Older people with changing bodies. LGB people. Trans folx. Poly peeps. Kinksters. We all need access to the information about safe, healthy, and fun sex that meets our needs and our desires.
Myth Four: Sex Is Not That Important In The Grand Scheme of Things
Ok, actually it isn’t. IF EVERYTHING IS GOING WELL. If the sex is good, it’s 10% of your relationship. If it’s bad, it’s like 90%. Is sex the most important thing in the world? Of course not. People in Flint, Michigan are still in need of clean water. But I bet they also still care about their sex lives and don’t like it when things aren’t going well.
Sex is important to most people. It’s an important part of how we connect. And communicate. And it often operates as the sparkly glitter-glue that helps keep relationships together.
If it’s important to you, it’s empirically important. Don’t let anyone diminish that for you.
Myth Five: Certain People Are Fundamentally Undesirable (And You Are Probably One of Them)
Thank you, media for continuing to perpetuate the myth that there is only one kind of attractiveness. And everyone else is just destined for misery and solitude.
Unless you’re an epically unbearable asshole, there’s someone out there for you. Your quirks and flaws (whether real or perceived) do not make you unworthy of great sex and wonderful love affairs.
I don’t care how long you have been under the impression that you are an ugly duckling. I promise you that there a decent number of people out there with a duck fetish. And there is nothing sexier than someone who loves their life and is out there enjoying it. That’s how all us regular, flawed people find their partners. Or on OKCupid. Semantics.
My mission in life is to battle these myths in all the ways, shapes, and forms they show up in my clients lives and in society. Kinsey was with me. We may have differing opinions about where a toothbrush goes (FFS DUDE, IN ONE’S MOUTH) but whatever. Opinions differ. Sex lives differ. And that’s what makes it all sex fascinating and so fun.