Recently, I agreed to answer some questions for a journalist who was looking to find some women between the ages of 25 and 30, who would be willing to answer some questions about their sexual confidence for a supplement in one of the UK’s largest newspaper publications, a free magazine targeted at women. The article came out earlier in the week, and suffice it to say, I was bitterly disappointed at being severely misquoted and having my well thought out, articulate and structured answers butchered and spliced to fit the journalist’s true intentions when writing the article. What I gathered from it is that neither the journalist, nor anyone at the magazine, truly cared about the sexual confidence of young women, but, instead, wanted to marginalise these women into certain categories and from my perspective, none of us were shown in a positive light. In hindsight, I realise that the questions were both vague and worryingly infantile for a grown woman to be asking another and instead of putting my faith in this person, hoping to, eventually, find an article that didn’t discuss sexual discourse from an angle consisting of solely demographics, percentages and charts, but instead, highlighting that sexual confidence is something that we should all be aware of and participating in. Needless to say, I was wrong about the journalist and wrong about the publication; instead of championing women who are confident in their sex lives, the article seemingly chastised us for daring to speak so brazenly about our sexual pasts. Shame on us, eh? So, in today’s blog post I am going to write about what I would have chosen, had I, as a decent writer and person, been given the opportunity to do so:
Typically, the concept of being sexually confident is something that is, by and large, considered a taboo topic, even in today’s society. To discuss being sexually confident, perhaps conjures images of that rare breed of woman who has the body to pull off matching lingerie, teamed with suspenders and high heels; Victoria’s Secret models and porn stars, maybe, but not your average English woman, whose underwear drawer consists mostly of comfortable, practical pants, with the odd pair of Spanx in there for when we truly need it; the idea of wearing high heels and underwear and lounging seductively anywhere bringing us out in hot sweats, panic attacks looming above us like death. For a long time, I was part of this demographic; I was ashamed of the way I looked and frightened that I wouldn’t only not look like other women, but that I wouldn’t perform correctly, or that I’d do something that the other women didn’t do, and it hasn’t been until very, very recently that I realised that none of it matters: The concept of sexual confidence is a myth, yet another demographic and percentile mark that we are forced into, in the aid of yet another boring article about sex, that doesn’t help normal people with sex worries at all.
I think part of the reason that articles like this can exist and highlight sexual insecurities is because we all have them; even porn stars, even women so perfect it looks like there is someone photo shopping them in real life: Everyone has insecurities and this is why articles like this thrive, especially amongst British people who suffered the indignity of sex education classes as children. I’m sure I’m not the only person who thought those awkward sex education classes were entirely counter-productive and not at all insightful or helpful when coming to terms with the concept of sex overall. In hindsight, and I’m sure you’ll agree, it seemed less about providing people with sexual education and more an instructional manual of contraceptives and how to put them on; more intent on stopping diseases and unplanned, teenaged pregnancies, from spreading within their school (how embarrassing would that OfSted report be?). But, it didn’t truly educate people as young as fourteen and it didn’t stop them from having sex; it was demonstrably unhelpful in discussing sex in real terms: The emotional implications, the concept of self-respect and not doing anything you are uncomfortable with, or even consent. As a result, I found that a lot of my class mates were incredibly well versed in the Karma Sutra and that none of them truly had any idea what they were participating in: They were just pumping away until the male ejaculated… from what I was informed. Admittedly, a lot of my sex education came from the internet; I would hear terms and Google them, or look up an array of different sexual practices just for the sake of soaking up knowledge, but sex education at school taught me nothing. I didn’t even know that females could orgasm from sex; all we learned is that we need to wear protection so that when our male partner ejaculates; we won’t get pregnant, which is very, very sad.
Even as adult women, which the article I’m discussing proves (I think), is that not a lot of people truly understand sex: To have an article that uses percentages and graphs to outline their target demographic or discuss topics that might not be considered normal within general sexual discourse is entirely infantile to a worrying extent, as I’ve already discussed. It just proves that we’re a society that thrives on these ridiculous articles to feel, I guess, the opposite of validation, to a certain extent, like sex is some kind of secret that none of us are truly a part of and that we’re still not quite there when having sex; we’re ultimately marginalising ourselves and stopping ourselves from experiencing good sex, because we’re too busy concentrating on being like the percentages in the piss-poor articles we’re reading, rather than our partners or our own enjoyment. I think the first question I was asked, do you think you’re good in bed, only highlights the infantile nature of the article and the general childish attitudes that people perceive others to have about sex; there is no such thing as being good in bed – you either enjoy yourself or you don’t and that bares absolutely no relevance on the manner of performance that either you or your partner exude; you simply either have or haven’t enjoyed that particular moment. In the article, sexual confidence implied a sense of superiority over other people, which simply isn’t the point of being confident at all: Sex isn’t a public display for us all to participate in, if you enjoy the things that you partake in sexually and have an enjoyable sex life, then you are confident, there is no in-between.
The questions the journalist asked also involved perceptions of society and that if I, as someone sexually confident, felt restricted by the perceptions society had about female sexuality and, if this would change in the near future. Overall, I think it was an excellent question, but I don’t see it featured anywhere in the article; the idea of encroaching on society’s ideals of how women should behave sexually, still, seemingly too taboo to post, which is so unfortunate and upsetting. I thought I was writing something that would assist the general struggle a lot of women are feeling, that is evidenced on Twitter and within movements such as Everyday Sexism or even my best friend Em over at Any Girl Friday; that women are sexual beings and that it’s okay that we enjoy masturbating or have a right to say ‘no’ when approached by a man regarding sex, but that wasn’t featured in the article at all. Instead, the fact that I had a partner who was into male chastity was featured as though I was some kind of aggressive dominatrix type woman, which wasn’t what I wrote at all. In fact, quite surprisingly to some, I wrote quite nice things about that person and looked at the psychology behind why he might have been into male chastity, which stemmed from his inherent, uncontrollable, somewhat oedipal maternal issues. But I guess the journalist took ‘I don’t do things by halves’ (written in the first paragraph) and the ‘My ex was into male chastity’ (fifth paragraph) and spliced them together to make me sound like I was a heartless, cruel dominatrix, because that’s what sexual confidence is all about, isn’t it?
If you’re a woman and you have worries about sex, or if you’re a man and panic about this too, then heed my advice: Speak to your partner. Sexual confidence isn’t about being able to perform alongside some archaic ideals of what good sex is supposed to be. If your woman isn’t screaming the walls down, that doesn’t mean you’re not doing a stellar job. If your man isn’t ejaculating into your mouth within five minutes of sucking his dick, that doesn’t mean you aren’t awesome at sucking cock. But that’s not for me, or anyone at all to tell you, especially not some piss-poor article written in a magazine.