Talking About Sex Helps Keep You Safe
In this session of Let's Talk About Sex, Rowdy talks post-sex conversations with your partner, friends and (eep) parents.
( Valerie Muzodi / Rowdy Magazine Art Director)
The idea that sex should be kept private is an outdated concept. Open communication about sex with your partners, friends and even family can be beneficial to everyone involved. Post-sex conversations can help reduce the stigma around sex, help you to connect better with your partner and your friends, and can ultimately make your sex life better.
If you feel like you’ll be the only one wanting to talk about sex, you’d be sorely mistaken. In fact, 57% of women talk about sex with their friends. But here at Rowdy, we think that number should be higher.
It may be difficult to get started or feel comfortable talking openly about sex, but we’re here to help. In a roundtable discussion (over Zoom), Rowdy staff writer Rachel Kutcher, campaign strategist Sol Wemen and editorial director Ava Loomar discuss the importance of post-sex conversations (juicy sex stories included).
[Trigger Warning: the following article contains discussions of sexual assault. Please read with caution. If you or someone you know is struggling with sexual assault. Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.]
Another aspect of this is post-sex conversations with your partner. There was this dude that I had been dating forever and freshman year [of college] was when we got really serious and had our first “adult relationship” because we were living alone. We had a lot of sex. The sex was good, it wasn’t that good, but whatever. I remember one time specifically: I was about to get my period — your uterus shifts lower and expand or something, so there are certain positions where if it goes in too deep, it hurts like a bitch — and we had sex.
I was in so much pain but I wasn’t saying anything. It was like an out of body experience where I was like why the fuck are you sitting through this. I was clearly in pain and not having a good time and I just started crying.
He was like, “Woah, what the fuck. Are you okay? Did I hurt you?” I told him I was in a lot of pain and he asked why I didn’t just tell him. Like bro, I don’t fucking know. After that, I questioned why I was sitting through sex that I wasn’t enjoying and didn’t feel comfortable enough to communicate with my boyfriend. Now every time I’m having sex and something’s not good I’ll stop it: either get out or let’s switch it up.
I think talking about sex like you said Sol, helps to keep each other safe. I know so many times that my friends have come home from the club and told me about things that happened, where I have to be like, “He sexually assaulted you. You didn’t consent to that.”
I don’t think half of us would realize that some of the experiences we’ve had were hurting us if we hadn’t talked about it. Communication is obviously the most important thing in and out of sex.
Consent is really important every step along the way, especially because I’ve had sexual assault experiences before. I try really hard to talk about it with my friends, for sure, because I have done a lot more than some of them and I have been in dangerous situations before that I wouldn’t have wanted to be in if I had known and had someone to talk to about it. It just keeps us safe and makes us process what sex we do or don’t enjoy, and helps to make sure what we enjoy is what happens.
You bring up a really great point. This is going to sound terrible the way that I phrase it, but it’s like r*pe validation to an extent. I think, unfortunately, when a lot of women experience sexual assault they need to have it validated by their friends so they can understand that what happened to them was actually r*pe.
They need to be able to process it — sometimes it’s alone, sometimes it with someone else — so they can put that final label on it. This summer, a Twitter exposure page came out of nowhere from my hometown and all these guys from my high school started getting outed as rapists.
One girl anonymously posted her story on there calling out this guy, and I remembered she had told me about a similar situation, but the level of comfort to discuss sex with somebody wasn’t really there. She had mentioned an iffy situation, didn’t really go into detail, and I asked her if she was OK. She was like, “Yeah it’s not a big deal. It’s not like it was rape or something.”
Later when she was finally able to process it herself and realized what happened, being able to have a conversation with someone else who had been sexually assaulted helped her to realize she had the same experience.
I don’t know if it’s the same for men and women. I know within hegemonic masculinity, men use sex and sex stories more like conquests. They use them to hype themselves and their friends up. But for women, I think it’s more of a learning experience with each other and validating what’s happened to one another and helping them get through it.
I sometimes won’t even realize what my issue is with something until I talk it out with my friends. I’ll tell them what’s going on and they’ll be like well it sounds like this or that. Like woah, you’re right that probably is it. Then I go back in with my partner and I discuss those things with him, and we fix them. So it’s kind of like a group experience.
Everyone’s so quick to tell their friends about fights with their partner like he did this, she did that. But, why isn’t it like that with sex? That’s such an important aspect of relationships, and to an extent I understand privacy within your relationship, but you have to tell your homies sometimes. It’s such a crucial part.
We should just all talk about sex more. Everyone wants to do anal, but nobody talks about anal. Nobody talks about whether you should choose a water-based lube or a silicon one because it could hurt your coochie. My roommate told me that she used coconut oil as lube during anal. Like girl no, no do not do that. That is so disgusting, I can’t believe that didn’t hurt you so bad.
We need to talk about these things or else you’re not going to enjoy sex and you’re body’s going to be in pain. If we didn’t talk about it, nobody would know this shit.
I also want to touch on intergenerational conversations. I feel like if our parents had talked more about sex with their friends they probably would be more open to talking about it with their kids, which is statistically the best way kids can learn about sex.
My parents just moved houses so I was helping my mom unpack the closet because she fractured her ankle and can’t fucking move, and I told her the last time I opened a box there were sex toys in it so she should check first. She opens the box, lo and behold there are sex toys in it. There was an unopened vibrator in the box that her friends had given to her as a joke, so I was like, “Can I have it then?”
She questioned it and didn’t really want to know I had it. While my mom and I are very open about sex I still find that — I’m Hispanic and my parents are very Hispanic — the slut-shaming and machisma aspect of it are still there. But, it’s been a process. My minor is in theories and politics of sexuality so now it’s all I talk about with my friends and family, so it’s definitely eased them into it but it wasn’t always like that.
So did you guys grow up talking about sex with your parents?
Yeah I’m extremely lucky. My parents and I have always been super open, less my dad but we’ll get there. I told my mom the first time I sucked dick and had sex.
My parents are divorced and my dad’s fiancé is a sex therapist. Her office is at home in their living room, in a side office. Her office is just full of sex toys, so I went in there to borrow some for the Rowdy shoot for the last issue.
My dad came in as we were sifting through sex toys and was like, “What’s going on here?” And I told him I was getting sex toys for the Rowdy photo shoot and he’s like, “OK, you two have fun.” As he walked out he went, “What about this one,” and it’s like this crazy rabbit vibrator or something like that. I wasn’t like that with my dad when I was a kid, but now with Stacy, who’s so open talking about this shit all the time, they’ll say the weirdest shit to each other that makes even me uncomfortable, and I’m extremely open about sex.
It’s nice to see older people being sexually engaged and fun, but also communicating about it with their children.
Yeah mine wasn’t exactly like that. In the beginning I didn’t tell my mom I had sex because it wasn’t with a boyfriend, it wasn’t even with a guy that I was regularly seeing. I just immediately thought she was going to be like whore. My dad’s gotten better about it, but he was raised in a pretty traditional household. The first time I had conversations about this was definitely with my mom and she did have the slut-shaming default setting. But it’s developed and now we’re very comfortable talking about sex. For my dad it definitely took a longer time. Especially now in college, it’s nice to see his progression. He’ll make little jokes about it. Not that I would feel comfortable talking to my dad about sex, honestly we’re not there, but it’s nice to see him opening up.
It’s good that you guys can talk to your parents, at least sort of. Personally, I did not talk to mine about sex at all. They would make sex jokes growing up to make me and my brother uncomfortable, and it definitely worked. But, they were always super uncomfortable talking about me sexually. I remember when they caught me watching porn for the first time in middle school, it was such a shit show. They took my door off the hinges and I was grounded “forever.” I’ve grown past it, but it was very traumatizing at the time. Through middle and high school I thought sex was dirty, sex was bad, anyone who does it is bad. So being able to talk about it with your parents, I feel is a very good way for you to view sex as a positive.
How did it effect you in your own sex lives to be able to have those open conversations, or semi-open conversations?
I’ve noticed that before when I couldn’t talk at home about sex, I was having a lot worse sex and with people who probably didn’t respect me or care if I was having a good time. As I’ve progressed and been able to talk to my mom about it more, I’ve been more selective with my partners and more assertive with what I want. Before sex was for a man, now it’s for me.
I think my parents did an incredible job at balancing letting us fuck up and still guiding us if we did. Just letting us make mistakes and then having conversations about it, more than just sex conversations, helped me to not be traumatized by bad sexual experiences when I really could have been.
It’s also helped me realize that when I stop talking about sex to my family or friends it’s probably an indication that something’s going wrong in my relationship. You don’t want your friends or family to be disappointed in you for your choices, so that fear is what keeps you from speaking out about things that could be possibly hurting you. I’m just so grateful to have those types of conversations with them because it allows me to have those types of conversations with my partners and with my friends.
Rachel Kutcher is a Staff Writer for Rowdy Magazine. She loves the rain, candles, drinking wine, collecting jars and New Girl's Nick Miller. Her passions include destigmatizing sex, empowering women and sustainability.