Everyone knows that sex is where a man puts his erect penis inside a woman’s vagina and moves it in and out until he ejaculates. Millions of sperm cells are released from the man’s penis and they race towards the woman’s egg cell which has been released from one of her ovaries. When the sperm and egg cell meet, they fuse together and will then develop in to a baby.
Wrong… This is not sex, this is reproduction.
The experience of sex education for many young people takes place as part of science lessons. Sexual reproduction, STIs, contraception and condom demos are usually covered – it seems risk is certainly on the curriculum. Unfortunately, I think young people deserve better. This is not sex education – this is reproduction education.
Sex is quite different.
Sex is kissing, cuddling, holding hands, stoking each others bodies, lips, tongues, hands, fingers, boobs and bums. Sucking, licking, kissing, touching, rubbing, getting sweaty, sticky, wet and messy, nobs, cock, pussies and fannies…oh, and definitely more kissing.
Many people make the assumption that what you do in bed depends on your sexuality. Men and women do it like this – lesbians like that – and everyone knows gay men like it up the bum.
But no; sex is never that simple. The majority of sex education focuses on normal sex, i.e. vaginal sex between a man and a woman, making babies and STIs. When any other form of sexual contact is mentioned it seems to be as a scathing remark about gay people. Unfortunately, by doing this we miss out of talking about all the other stuff that is part of a normal healthy sex life, many acts which can be as pleasurable and fulfilling if not even more so. In addition, this attitude contributes to the terrible pressure many young people feel to ‘lose their virginity’ , to rush to do it… rather that spending time enjoying getting to know their own and their partner’s bodies; often leading to unpleasurable, and unfulfilling sex.
Indeed, a mistake a lot of sex education makes is assuming that sex is always about a man and a woman. It seems to gloss over the fact that many men like to have sex with other men, and that many women like to have sex with other women and some people like to have sex with both. Throughout history it has always been this way – and it will continue to be so. Statistically speaking, every classroom will have at least one young person who doesn’t identify as simply CIS.
The fact is, regardless of whom you happen to be in bed with, people generally have sex in four similar ways:
- manual sex – using your hands;
- oral sex –using your mouth;
- penetrative sex – putting things inside someone;
- and tribadism/frotting (or dry humping as it is also known when fully clothed) – which is basically rubbing your bits together without any form of penetration.
However, even this glosses over the many other things that people do whilst having sex, all of the kissing, touching, stroking, cuddling, licking, biting, making out and general exploration that tends to be filed under the ‘understated’ heading of foreplay, like it’s not important.
Unfortunately, ‘sex’ (penis in vagina) seems to be regarded as the ultimate prize. When we ask our friends “have you had sex yet?” we tend to be thinking about vaginal sex like it is the be-all-and-end-all – when actually penetrative sex can be a disappointment. If we think about the anatomy of boys and girls’ bits, many of the most sensitive parts of a girl’s body especially are neglected during vaginal sex as most of the nice bits are on the outside and not inside her vagina.
Indeed, foreplay can be the most exciting and best bit, as it builds up the anticipation and is quite often the intimacy. Foreplay should never be seen as simply the warm up for the big match, instead it should be enjoyed and revelled in for what it is – a chance to explore each others bodies, make each other feel safe, adored and to get each other really turned-on.
Ironically the other thing we never talk about as a really big part of having sex is talking itself. And I don’t necessarily mean, talking dirty to each other, (although that can be fun) but instead the importance of communicating constantly with your partner.
There are two important parts to this, the first is about telling your partner how much you fancy them, how much you love their body and how they touch and make you feel. Getting intimate with someone can be scary; letting someone touch you in places you have never let anyone touch you before, let alone getting naked with someone – is likely to make any one worry and feel self-conscious. Being told by your partner how attractive they find you, is a big reassurance, it might be a bit narcissistic, but it is also a big turn-on too – the more comfortable you feel the more you will relax and enjoy yourself.
Secondly, if you don’t tell your partner what you enjoy, what you like or don’t like – how can they be expected to know if what their doing is right or not? Again, being intimate is scary! Everyone wants to be good in bed – but you can never be sure how it feels for the other person. Communication is key.
At heart we are all nervous and anxious to please. No one wants to be thought of as a bad kisser, we all want to be found attractive and we all have insecurities. A lot of the time it is these insecurities, feeling out of your depth or very self conscious that gets in the way of people actually enjoying sex. Talking and more importantly communicating with your partner is one of the best skills you can ever learn to have a fulfilled sex life.
How on earth do we expect all young people – regardless of their sexuality – to be ready for sex if we aren’t prepared to talk about it honestly. Why even bother calling it Sex and Relationship education if we are always going to default to the position of only talking about reproduction? And regardless of our own sexual values, it is difficult to deny that sex has a massive part to play in how healthy all our relationships tend to be…
The following pages contain a guide to a variety of different sex acts and things to consider: