Not everyone likes what or who you like.
But almost everyone enjoys sex and we all need intimacy.
Human sexuality is as varied as we are as a species and that’s why there are several sexual orientations rather than just the one. Heterosexuality may be mainstream but that doesn’t make it the default sexual orientation, only the dominant one.
This is problematic because everyone else is still fighting for recognition and validation in a world that often doesn’t cater to them or even refuses to. Not being part of the sexual majority is to walk around with a target on your back in most places, including the US.
In 2019, being openly yourself when you’re not cis, heterosexual, or monogamous still requires courage. If you’re trans, it can get you killed.
And even when you’re cis and straight, having a conversation about anything other than the missionary position can be risqué. Between the prudes who won’t name body parts — and blush at the mere mention of masturbation — and those for whom sex has to be like porn, dialogue is difficult.
It is more necessary than ever to destigmatize human sexuality and accept sex is one of our basic physiological needs, along with food and shelter.
In short, most of us need sex to thrive and lead happy, contented lives.
But how can we ever get our needs met as long as we’re ashamed of them?
Assumption and entitlement seem to be popular workarounds.
Instead of having an adult conversation about what we like and dislike, many of us approach sex as a transaction. A woman assumes she’s entitled to oral sex because she performed fellatio on her partner. That they may not enjoy going down on her doesn’t cross her mind because she did it to make him happy even though she doesn’t like it.
No wonder we’re having bad sex!
Any relationship that allows for pressure and selfishness in the bedroom is a failed ménage à trois with resentment.
While the topic of sex still makes many of us uncomfortable, it is possible to talk about it without resorting to obscene language. Do you derive great pleasure from switching linguistic registers in bed but cringe every time you read copy featuring loaded and degrading terms to drive a point across?
I do, because it isn’t necessary.
Such clickbait does nothing to promote more societal openness. Instead, it provides cheap thrills for clicks and bucks, reads as daring, but only serves to reinforce the perception that sex is shameful.
As long as consent and mutual respect are part of your sex life, there’s zero shame. Not even if your thing is urinating on your partner and having them urinate on you. You like what you like, and as long as it makes you and all those you have sex with happy, it’s not my place or anyone else’s to judge.
Sex between consensual adults isn’t taboo and it’s time we stopped treating it — and our sexual preferences — as such.
How many of us lead very stunted sex lives because we’ve never been bold enough to state our preferences? Or because we’ve never found (a) willing partner(s) with whom to explore our sexuality?
How many of us resort to porn to assuage inconvenient longings and fantasies because we can’t talk to our partner or fear their judgment?
If the person you’re naked with doesn’t enjoy what you do then you probably both should put your clothes back on and have a chat. Assessing whether you’re a good match is a process, something that happens through communication as well as trial and error. For example, if you’re sexually curious and your partner isn’t, chances are you’ll never feel fulfilled. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, accommodations can be made depending on how broad-minded you both are.
Some relationships are open; some couples are poly. Some unattached humans shun committed relationships and prefer short affairs or one-night stands. Some married humans lead completely sexless lives. Some humans prefer intimacy to sex. Some humans enjoy enlisting and paying for the services of sex workers. Some humans earn their living working in the sex industry. And some humans have no need whatsoever for sex.
And none of the above is shameful.
Our sexual appetites and preferences change throughout our life and occasionally our sexual orientation does, too.
Libido, partnership status, and curiosity all play a part in our sexual wellbeing, as does the culture we live in.
Culture isn’t an abstract concept but what we as a society decide make up the tenets of our daily life together. Culture is those attitudes, values, and beliefs we share.
When it comes to sex, our culture is in desperate need of openness but it shouldn’t be up to minorities to do all the heavy lifting.
The more we all talk, the more tolerant we all get as individuals and as a society, and the more fulfilled our respective sex lives.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.