Public Service

Let’s Talk Sex: Pleasure to Meet You, Pleasure.

Despite their best efforts in my middle school sex ed classes, I eventually learned The Big Secret Republican Dudes Don’t Want the Children to Know: sex feels awesome. Why else do you think dogs keep humping things long after they’re fixed? Biology shmiology, sex is all about the pleasure for a lot of us.

This brings us to today’s question: When did you first learn about pleasure? From where did you hear/learn about it?

I’m slightly ashamed to admit I first learned about the feel good factor and orgasms from stolen copies of  lady mags from my big sister’s stash as a young’un. “50 ways to orgasm,” “The G-spot secret that will have you screaming,” “Blah blah blah, come 100 times in a row,” you know the drill. While Cosmo may not be the most reliable source for a gal to first hear about orgasms, it certainly was informative for my 10-year-old self. I’m actually really glad I stumbled upon those magazines years before actually having any sexual contact because it made me aware that sex is supposed to feel good for all involved. Without those raggedy lady mags, who knows how long I would’ve gone on believing the abstinence-only sex ed trope of pleasureless, for-babies-only idea of sex. I shudder at the thought.

What say you, Oh Great Commenters?

14 replies on “Let’s Talk Sex: Pleasure to Meet You, Pleasure.”

Nobody in my home community wanted me to know that until I got married. Then my Mom made allusions, because it was okay as a married person. Was let into the “secret” club of hearing gossip about sex, never directly though, was no longer shooed out of the room.

I am the product of old world slut shaming patriarchy no sex education. Still have questions and deep-seated issues about sex in all its forms. It’s par for the course, unfortunately, among my peers–second generation East cost nerds who are older Gen Xers or young Boomers.

Still cannot have a frank discussion with my old girlfriends, the ones I grew up with. Have given up on them.

Wonder what Tiger Mom has discussed with her daughters…

This is the first conversation I ever had with my mom about sex:

Me: Mom, what’s sex?
Mom: (Describes the act)
Me: But why do people do that?
Mom: Because it’s fun.
Me: Like . . .a roller coaster?
Mom:…yeah, pretty much.

So I think I had SOMETHING of an idea even then.

It’s so funny that I was just thinking about this the other day. My mother is a pack-rat type and had boxes upon boxes of old Cosmos and Vogues sitting around our house. I read through entire years of Cosmos that had been published when I was a wee toddler when I was probably 9 or 10. They always had dirty stories in them. That would be how I learned the language of the thing, though I had been masturbating without understanding what it was for some time prior to that.

I don’t know when I realized that, exactly, but I do remember the first time I got felt up. I was surprised that I enjoyed it, since it had always been something to me that sounded like it was a guy wanted to do so badly that it seemed like it would just be me putting up with it. But damn, it was awesome! I was happy to find out I was wrong on that one.

I used to steal my mom’s romance novels when she was at work. I knew that the sex scenes were always in the middle and would sit there and read them all. I remember trying to masturbate when I was 14 but was really naive and didn’t know what to do. I essentially stuck my finger in my vagina and wondered why it wasn’t doing anything for me. I’ve always known the mechanics of sex but nobody ever teaches you about the mechanics of masturbation. About 17 and really 18 when I went to college and had complete freedom (aka didn’t share a computer with my mom who could read the history) I started reading about masturbation techniques and would find short fantasy stories and porn. The rest is history :)

Oh god, when I was little I was terrified that masturbation would somehow get me pregnant, and consequently my parents would find out m horrible secret – not that it stopped me. The worst was that I had to get routine ultrasounds because of a slight heart malformation, and each time I was SO worried that the doctor would find a baby in there (…in my heart).

I started masturbating when I was about four; there was a girl in my preschool who would always masturbate in the playroom, so my mom took advantage of that situation to explain to me that touching yourself like that was totally fine and normal but wasn’t something you did in public.

My parents were quite open with me about sex and my mom taught me all about reproduction and birth control, but she never talked to me about pleasure. I was probably about nine when the subject of orgasms came up; her sister had gotten her a birthday card with a joke about “multiples” and I asked what it meant. She got really uncomfortable and said something about orgasms, but for the life of me I don’t remember what she said, but I was intrigued because it was the only subject that made her uncomfortable.

I learned that sex could be fun from lots of women’s magazines, and I’d always sneak away to look at sex books in the bookstore. Once I had my own computer, I started venturing into porn, though I didn’t find any good porn or watch it on any kind of regular basis until college. I also don’t think I was really conscious of queerness until college, in part because my town was so conservative. I mean, I knew about different sexual orientations but I had not started wondering about my own yet, and I had never heard of pegging or fisting or anything like that, activities that aren’t remotely procreative and are obviously solely about pleasure.

I really think that pleasure ought to be part of sex education. I know that the right would never, ever go for it and I suspect that it would even squick out some more liberal people. But I think Heather Corinna really nails it in this article on Scarleteen: It’s about anatomy and it’s informative, but it also keeps pleasure in mind. I remember labeling tons of diagrams in sixth and eighth grade health classes, but I don’t ever remember learning that the clitoris is full of nerve endings and that many women enjoy stimulation there, for example.

I figured out self-pleasure on my own, but was influenced by some pop culture: Judy Blume’s Forever, Janet Jackson’s janet. album, dark sexuality in hard rock and metal such as Stabbing Westward and White Zombie and Pantera, and the radio show Lovephones. There are probably other things, but all of that turned on my sexuality more at 11 or 12, and encouraged me to explore my own self-love.

Sex, I figured out from books, and in 8th grade, we had a very good sex ed class where the teacher was frank about using condoms and female contraception, showing us a childbirth video to keep us off of having sex, and making jokes about it to be light yet honest. She was a really great teacher, and I’m glad my school didn’t have abstinence-only education.

I learned about the birds and the bees in the first grade from a girl in my brownie troop. She knew she was only to talk about it with family, but thought our Girl Scout bond meant we were family!

When it comes to pleasure, I figured that out EARLY. Can’t tell you the number of times I got caught in the act on the family sofa as a little kid. My parents gently told me it was a good thing to do, but one to enjoy in the privacy of my own bedroom. More experimentation came later, but the question “How do you know if you’ve had an orgasm?” never passed my lips. (heh)

I’m so glad you posted this. The first time I found one of my kids experimenting with stuff like this I had a deer in the headlights moment while I tried to come up with some way to explain that they shouldn’t be playing with their privates in the living room without making them feel like they were being bad. “That’s not really polite outside your bedroom” was the best I could come up with. I’m glad to know other parents have used the same line with no ill effects.

I imagine it would be a tricky conversation to have, especially in the moment! Sounds like you handled it well. Both of my parents, but particularly my mom, were comfortable with me knowing that sex and masturbation were good things. I knew it was private, but I also knew it was okay.

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