Gimme the Lowdown on Going Down

I’ve been exploring a bit and I’ve realized I’m realllly into oral sex with partners of whatever gender. This is exciting but I’m kind of afraid to do it as I’m new to this. I’m not sure if it’s safe without protection and I don’t know the right way to ask about a partner’s sexual history, especially if we’ve only recently met. This sort of makes me afraid to use things like Grindr though I’d like to. Your insight would be appreciated. P.S. I think your work on consent is rad!

It’s great to hear that you’re into my consent work, because my answer is intimately tied to practicing consent with your sexual partners — from your LTRs to your one-night Grindr dates — and for all sexual activities from making out to oral sex to hot-n-sweaty bangin’.

Whether you’re eating tacos or hot dogs, being aware of your pornolicious picnic partner’s condiment preferences and current health status is important. Talking about your current STI/STD status is crucial but can also be part of a larger discussion about sexual preferences, triggers, and enthusiastic “Yes”s — all components of practicing consent!

Mass media creates an image of sex as devoid of clear communication, showing us seamless sex scenes of take-me-now, instantly-orgasmic encounters occurring in some parallel universe where people can psychically perfect their partner’s pleasures, wordlessly get consent, and where everyone is magically immune to STIs/STDs.

Here in the off-screen real world, we know better. Or, at least we should, except we live in a society that would rather we get our sex education through these confusing mass media messages than from trained sex educators (but that’s another column). The first thing we need to do is let go of The Movie Sex Scene as the ideal because it’s neither attainable nor ideal…continue reading…

post // Consent Makes You Better at Sex

Never take sex advice from George Lawlor. The 19-year-old Warwick University student made headlines in October when, after receiving a Facebook invite to a campus event titled “I Heart Consent,” he wrote an essay for The Tab Warwick about why he didn’t “need” consent education. He included an image of him holding a sign that read “This is not what a rapist looks like.”

While the essay sparked a massive online debate as to whether or not Lawlor was, indeed, what a rapist looked like (hint: a rapist is defined by their actions, not their appearance) or whether the young man needs consent education (um, obviously), rarely did the conversation include why else one might want to practice consent in the sack.

Beyond the most baseline of, in Lawlor’s charming words, “Yes means yes, no means no. It’s really that simple,” consent can radically improve a sexual experience. Namely, practicing consent doesn’t just make for ethical, safer sex, but when done well, makes for more pleasurable sex, too.

Consent-based sexuality education models, such as the famous Dutch approach, boast overwhelmingly positive results. The majority of Dutch 12-25-year-olds report having “wanted and fun” first sexual experiences; by comparison 66% of American teens surveyed in 2004 said they wished they had waited longer.

Yet efforts to consistently include consent in the sexual conversation have often been met with a similar eye-rolling resistance to the “Just Say ‘No’ to Drugs” campaign.

Practicing consent in your sexual interactions isn’t just about gleaning a mandatory “Yes” to lazily check off that “Not Sexual Assault” box. It’s also about maintaining an ongoing conversation about the sex you’re having, punctuated not only by a singular “Yes” but by a series of enthusiastic, sheet-tearing, dehydrated comments, such as “Yes!!!!,” “F*ck yeah, don’t stop ever,” and “Yes, yes, yes, keep doing that — but lower — yes! Right there!”

Never have I given a partner a mind-blowing orgasm without asking questions, and never have I done so without hearing them yell the word “Yes!” at least once. Consent doesn’t just prevent you from being a bad person in bed; it makes you astronomically better there.

Here’s how:

1. Consent puts it in your mouth.

“Good communication is one of the main building blocks of good sex, and consent is all about good communication,” says Elle Chase, lead sex educator at the L.A. Academy of Sex Education. “Sensual wordplay (a.k.a. dirty talk) makes for salacious ongoing negotiation, without breaking the mood. Saying to your partner in a low whisper, ‘I really want you in my mouth right now’ can feel easier (and hotter) in the moment than ‘Is it OK if I go down on you?’ To give consent, repeat back their words while expressing your passion: ‘Yes, yes, put it in my mouth,’ or alternately, to deny consent, ‘Mmm, I’d rather keep kissing your soft lips.'”

2. Consent gets everyone in the game.

“Practicing consent lets you know that your partner is really into what you’re doing,” says somatic sex educator and relationship coach Charlie Glickman, Ph.D.. “Think about going to a football game or to an amusement park. Isn’t it more fun when you know that the people you’re with are enjoying it just as much as you are? Practicing consent lets you know that everyone is having a good time, which just makes sex better.” … CONTINUE READING…



I Love Anal, But(t) It Hurts

My boyfriend and I have recently started exploring anal play. We’re starting small with just his finger. We use plenty of lube and it goes in pretty easily and isn’t painful at all, but almost every time we’ve done anal play, I’ve bled the next day and been very sore. When I use soap down there it’s very painful! I can’t seem to figure it out. Any suggestions?

You’re off to a great start with your anal explorations with your small penetrative objects, slow pace, and lots of lube (no one’s anus naturally self-lubricates so slather on the slick stuff! My favorite is Sliquid Sassy). So what’s with the next-day butt rut?

First, I hope you’re not drinking, drugging, or using things like poppers or anesthetic creams like Anal-Eaze to numb your bum during sex. Substance use lessens your ability to feel pain (and, ahem pleasure) and to consent to sex. Further, products like Anal-Eaze cash in on our cultural impatience and lack of pleasure-based sex education to sell us on the ideas that anal sex is “supposed to hurt” (it isn’t), that you should do it now and deal with the pain later, and that the purpose of anal sex is to pleasure the penetrating partner so just numb out the receptive partner because “whatever their pleasure doesn’t matter.”

Anesthetic products do exactly the opposite of promoting pleasure — they cut out sensation entirely, leaving us with an anal hangover the next day like this pain and bleeding you mention. This is sex, not the dentist. You should want to feel it and if you don’t want to feel it then you shouldn’t be doing it.

If you’re being a smart-ass-lover and you’re taking it slow, using small penetratives, lubing it up, and not using numbing products, then I’m left wondering if you’ve got a case of Hemmy-Hiney. Hemorrhoids, or “hemmies” as I like to infantilize them, are essentially cute little ass-vein balloons. Technically, they’re protrusions that occur when the veins lining the rectum and anus become swollen and distended either from too much pressure or irritation. When hemorrhoids start screwing up your sweet, sweet anal-lovin, you’ve got a case of the Hemmy-Hiney. Irritating, yes, but not a reason to pull the (butt)plug just yet…continue reading…


My BF is Pushing for Polyamory

My partner and I have been together for five months. He wants to be polyamorous, specifically to have sex and be in relationships with other women. He recently got out of a long term relationship so he doesn’t really want to be in a serious relationship now, but we’ve grown to be close friends and more. We make each other very happy.

I told him I would bring a third into our relationship, but he doesn’t want that. I’m not just afraid of losing him — knowing that he’s having sex with other women significantly decreases my desire to have sex with him. He’s being very supportive and caring and won’t do anything until I’m truly okay with it.

It’s really hard for me to not see this as a fault of my own. I feel extremely attached to him and feel like I have to detach myself in order for me to be okay with this. I feel like it’s too soon in our relationship, that we don’t have a stable enough foundation to be seeing other people. But knowing he doesn’t want to be in a relationship makes me feel like I’m holding him hostage.

The beginning of your letter includes the phrase “we make each other very happy,” but your sign-off sends a much different message. I’ve had all kinds of relationships from polyamorous to monogamous and each has its joys and challenges. I’ve seen polyamorous relationships flourish with a lot of work and dedication, but never without difficult self-examination. The only healthy non-monogamous relationships I’ve seen survive honor each partner’s needs and happiness, with the benefits outweighing the challenges.

It seems like you have some weighing to do yourself. Neither of you is wrong for desiring a certain relationship style: you’re not less enlightened for wanting monogamy and he isn’t careless for wanting polyamory. But you have to honor each other’s boundaries.

His boundaries include: I want to have sex and relationships with other women. I don’t want to be in a relationship. I want to be supportive and caring of you.

Your boundaries include: I want to feel valued. I don’t want to feel like I’m holding my partner hostage. I have to detach myself from and don’t desire sex with a partner who wants to sleep with others…continue reading…


Lube Love: Your Guide to Getting Wet // Curve Magazine

If you’ve ever choked down a dry, butterless piece of toast, you probably understand the unpleasantness of lube-leIMG_9659ss sex. If you’re like millions of other vagina-owners who’ve spent years wading through the deep waters of sexual shame that say you’re either self-soaking or you’re a useless, dried-up sandbox (ahem, Ms. Rousey), then you’ve probably also choked down that dry, butterless piece of toast with a fake smile plastered on your face all “Mmm, yes, this is delicious — this doesn’t feel like dry-shaving my legs at all….”.

Whether you’re gushing at first glance or squeezing every last drop out of a bedside bottle, wetter is better when it comes to sex. Lubricants reduce tissue-tearing friction, enhance sexual pleasure, and are essential when it comes to sexing with tushies or toys. Here’s how to shop for the best body-butter to slather on your toasty bits:…continue reading…


Seeking DTF on the WWW

I’m seeking out dating websites that have individuals who are thoughtful and open to trying or having more casual sex, but also respect boundaries in sexual exploration. I don’t trust Craigslist, and I’m not really into OKCupid or Tinder.

I would love some guidance as to finding nice people who are, to use a term that was in a recent article of yours, DTF (Down to Fuck), but have that FFR (Feelings For Real) deal going on as well, and who believe in the importance of communication.

Since writing the column you refer to “Can I Be DTF and Still Respect Myself?” (Dec. 10, 2015) I’ve been thinking about this Tinderiffic tightrope millennials teeter on between casual sex for sex’s sake and the acknowledgement of feelings.

In “Can I Be DTF?” I encouraged the question-writer to continue to take pride in her pleasure-positive sex life while eschewing the idea that one must be void of all feelings in order to truly be DTF. In the end, I concluded that one can be both DTF and experience (and express!) FFR (Feelings for Real) simultaneously, but I continue to wonder how this can be incorporated into “Slutever Forever” sexual culture.

I’ve found one thing to be true of all sexual interactions: everything exists on a spectrum. Even in the case of DTF versus FFR. Does casual sex need to be no-strings attached? Can there be like one or two strings? Can our strings exist on a spectrum, too?…continue reading…