Today we’ll be talking about sex, a few myths commonly associated with it, and some of the numerous faults in the American public education system’s idea of how sex ed should be taught.
Myth #1: Your first time is supposed to hurt.
People with vaginas hear this all the time; your first time is painful. You might even bleed a little when “he pops your cherry” which is a myth to itself that we’ll get to later.
First times can hurt. If you go too fast, if there’s not enough lube involved, or even if you aren’t aroused enough. When someone possessing a vagina becomes sexually aroused, their vagina will lubricate itself, and loosen up a little. This makes penetrative sex easier and more pleasurable. People often say that if their partner’s vagina was “loose”, they must be lying about it being their first time. This is untrue and in no way backed by science. Vaginas always go back to their original size.
It’s a belief held by some that this myth is propagated by those who are uninformed of these bodily functions, or who simply do not feel the need or desire to make sure their partner is comfortable.
Myth #2: Virginity.
Virginity is a purely non-medical social construct. Before Christianity bastardized the term, a virgin woman was a woman who was not owned by a man. This was often associated with sexual independence, rather than sexual chastity.
There is no tangible value in being a virgin or not. Any value placed in virginity was so placed by oneself and/or one’s culture. Some may argue that when a person with a vagina has sex for the first time, their hymen is supposed to tear. This is otherwise known as “popping your cherry” and goes along with Myth #1. Hymens can tear, but it’s important to remember they are not supposed to.
Virginity as a social aspect often assumes all sex is heterosexual or at least penetrative. This is not necessarily true. Since virginity is not medical or measurable, it can only be defined by oneself. Hand jobs, oral, and anal sex can also count to some as a loss of virginity.
Myth #3: People with vaginas do not orgasm.
This again may or may not be caused by inconsiderate sexual partners.
The Technology of Orgasm: ‘Hysteria’, the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction by Rachel P. Maines is a “history of medical mal(e)practice” regarding female sexuality. In it, Maines discusses a study done regarding female hysteria, which is most known for the medical use of vibrators and the subsequent discovery and dismissal of female orgasms.
There is a small glimmer of truth in this myth. About 75% of people with vaginas do not reach orgasm through penetrative sex alone (sex without use of hands, tongues, or toys), and more than 10% do not reach orgasm at all. It’s definitely something to be discussed with all sexual partners. Communication is important.
Myth #4: Men initiate sex.
While this certainly can be true, it is not always. This myth plays again on the idea that all sex it heterosexual sex. Really, anyone can initiate sex as long as they are considerate of their partner.
And remember: If it involves coercion, trickery, drugs, alcohol, or force, it’s not sex. It’s rape. Sex is a continuous, sober, enthusiastic “yes”. Anything else is rape, and you are better than that.
Myth #5: The “Morning-After” Pill is abortion.
Sometimes unprotected sex happens. Emergency contraception that can can be used to prevent pregnancy for up to five days. The Morning-After Pill (Such as ella or Plan B) delays ovulation so that when the sperm hit the Fallopian tubes, there’s no egg to fertilize. This means no abortion would be necessary.
In America, Abstinence-Only education is a popular method of teaching sex ed. In states where this system is taught to the letter, teen pregnancy rates tend to be higher than states where comprehensive sex ed is taught. In my own experience, and the experience of my peers, the way sex ed is taught now versus how it was taught up to 20 years ago is absolutely mortifying.
“Once in my health class, we had genital maps to label, and a cis girl asked the teacher what the clitoris was. She got sent out of the class because that was an inappropriate question.” Charlie, sex ed 2012
“We were taught everything. Our teacher told us that it was supposed to feel good and if it didn’t feel good make it stop. We talked about masturbation.” Shannon, sex ed 1988-’89
The American Public Ed system has room for improvement. Changing the idea that teaching kids that sex is scary and bad will stop them from having sex would be as good a place as any to start.