Writing about sex often comes with its own set of challenges. Go ahead—try and find a fresh angle on something Cosmo’s already beaten to death (twice). How OK is it to use the word ‘fuck’? Is that anecdote TMI? Will this make my editors blush?
Sex columns are hard, but that’s not a complaint. Throughout these past months, I’ve learned an immeasurable amount not just about sex, but about myself and my relationships.
Probably the toughest thing to get used to is that not everyone will be OK with what I do. (And by “what I do,” I mean writing a sex column.) My mother will probably eventually come around; others won’t, and that’s ok. What matters is doing something I enjoy, and writing about sex is one of those things.
As a mostly heterosexual cisgender woman, a particular challenge of writing a sex column is making sure I’m being as inclusive as possible in my writing. Because my sexual experience has been very nearly kept to encounters with heterosexual cisgender men, I’ve had a limited range of experiences. This means I can’t speak to many things, and guest columns should probably have been a more regular thing this year.
All challenges aside, there are many reasons writing a sex column is awesome. As a professor pointed out to me, I work in the sex industry. When he first said this, it stopped my pulse for a second—but this was just because of what society and the media had previously taught me qualifies as sex work. Sex work includes much more than prostitution, stripping and pornography—not that those avenues are to be looked down upon, because they’re not. But it’s important for society to realize just how many avenues there are in the sex industry—it’s an industry I’m proud to be a part of.
But on to the mushy stuff. Personal growth is unavoidable when writing a column like this one. And I’ll be honest—if you’ve written one and not grown as a person, I think you did it wrong. Through all the introspection and straight-up sex journaling that went into this column over the months, probably the biggest revelation was this: nothing can make up for a negative sexual relationship—and a really, legitimately positive sexual relationship is priceless.
Say it with me: nothing justifies a shitty sexual relationship. And when I say “negative sexual relationship,” I’m not just talking about mismatched libidos—although that’s a very common issue, and shouldn’t be overlooked. I mean a relationship where all parties don’t get the respect and pleasure they deserve from the experience. Any pressure to perform acts you’re not 100 per cent OK with? Negative. Pain you didn’t ask for/aren’t comfortable with? Negative. Your partner nearly always climaxes, and you nearly never do? Unless you’re into that or there are underlying circumstances, probably negative.
No matter what’s making a sexual relationship harmful (physically or psychologically), I don’t think other qualities can “balance” things out. Not any number of dinners bought, or flowers given, or unfulfilled promises that things will get better. Spending more time browsing r/sex this year than I care to admit, it became obvious that many people will justify a shitty sex life with “but I really love him,” and “she’s perfect in every other way.” Those people are often pointed to r/deadbedrooms, where it’s made clear what a central role sex plays in most peoples’ lives. For me, the bottom line is this: sex is important, sex is an important part of most romantic relationships, and if that part of the relationship is no good, it matters.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: whether or not you’re “in love” with the person you’re having sex with, it should still be an act of love—an act that brings good vibes and fuzzy warm feelings to everyone involved. That’s what sex should do.
Looking back on the year, I guess that’s really the biggest thing I’ve learned. Sex is for many things, sure. But mostly, I think, it’s for making people happy. So find someone you like banging who likes banging you, be GGG (good, giving and game) to each other and be happy.
The Gazette’s publishing year might be over, but you’ll still be able to find some new stuff at www.that3letterword.com.