Sex 101

We’ve had a few questions from one of our young commenters about sex and dating, and I thought it would be a good idea to throw them out there to the commentariat, since you all have such great ideas when it comes to stuff like this.


— What is a good resource for basic sex, reproductive and anatomical information geared to young women and girls?

— What’s a good resource for young women who are virgins who want to get frank answers about sex, sexuality, and dating (including how to deal with pressure when one is not ready for sex) that doesn’t fetishize virginity or engage in pearl-clutching about women who do choose to have sex?

— What’s a good, non-judgmental resource for young people who have questions about some of the more advanced forms of sexual expression?

Thanks much!

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90 comments for “Sex 101

  1. Fab
    April 9, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    — What’s a good, non-judgmental resource for young people who have questions about some of the more advanced forms of sexual expression?

    wikipedia and maybe porn.


  2. April 9, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Scarleteen is one of my all-time favorites.

    Porn is a bad idea. Sex is not all that much like porn, at least not 99% of the porn you’ll find on the internet, which is dependent on humiliating and dominating women. Porn is fine in theory, but in practice it’s usually very bad news, and you really should not be getting your sex education from it.

    Obviously there is some decent, pro-feminist porn out there (although you’ll find feminists who would argue even that point). Mainstream pornography, though, is definitely not particularly good for women, and doesn’t present a particularly healthy or realistic view of sex.

  3. Fab
    April 9, 2007 at 11:08 pm


    wikipedia’s good though, IMO.

  4. zuzu
    April 9, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    Fab, you’ve already demonstrated you either don’t know the difference between an orgy and an orgasm, or at the very least can’t credit anyone else with knowing it. I’m not sure you’re the best authority on this issue.

  5. Fab
    April 9, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    it was an attempt at humor that failed.

    but okay zuzu.

    feel free to dismiss all future posts because of my previous gaffe.

  6. zuzu
    April 9, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Well, we certainly won’t be making this thread about you anymore.

    Back to topic.

  7. Fab
    April 9, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    why do yo hate wiki, zuzu?

  8. April 9, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Because Wiki has an entry on pilots, and if there’s one thing zuzu hates, it’s pilots.

    Zuzu, why are we talking about sex on a feminist blog? Please explain yourself. And is that lipstick you’re wearing?

  9. zuzu
    April 9, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    Shit. And I was about to post another Xtina video.

    Dammit! You caught me!

  10. Fab
    April 9, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    would it now be inappropriate to link to some porn sites?

    (just joking, relax please. i promise i’m not screwing with you guys/girls/women/etc)

  11. rachel
    April 9, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    the answer to all of your questions, zuzu, is scarleteen, as jill already mentioned. there’s also though it’s a pretty heavy on technique and tips and suggestions than learning.

    until i started stumbling upon (read: intentionally looking for) porn, i didn’t know that you could perform oral sex on women and if it did ever cross my mind, i didn’t think any man would ever want to. porn has a lot of things wrong with it, but i do credit it for correcting my teenage assumptions that men don’t care if women get off.

  12. April 9, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    Not to change the topic of all of this.

    The best book I have ever read is “The Straight Girls Guide to Having Sex With Girls.” There is a lot in there about the female body in general and masurbation and some non-lesbian spacifics about sex. It’s also funny, has some good illustrations, and I’m sure you can tell by the title is not clutching any pearls. There are also some good internet sites. I will try to find them and link later.

  13. Katrina
    April 9, 2007 at 11:35 pm
  14. rachel
    April 9, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    note: by porn, i’m talking about written words. our slow ass modem in the 90s wouldn’t have been able to load visual porn until it was actually legal for me to see it. i think there’s a world of difference between pictures of sex and descriptions of it.

  15. Sarah S
    April 9, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    In all seriousness, regular reading of Dan Savage’s Savagelove columns helped me immensely through the 18-21 set. I was in college, away from my first and only high school boyfriend, coming out as bi, and worried I was a freak for being a woman who couldn’t get enough sex. Dan can be kinda a dick sometimes, but I think his personality failures (including his stubborn inability to admitt he’s wrong or offensive at times) are dwarfed by the frankness, intelligence, and passion in his advice. My worn copy of the book that collects his older columns has actually been passed around to my younger brother and step brother because I wanted them to have that voice in their life at that age.

  16. Katy
    April 9, 2007 at 11:44 pm is a great site which is administered by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. It has sections entitled “Masturbation”, “Sex Education”, “FAQ”, “Date Rape: It can happen to anybody” etc. It is women positive and friendly. It is also available in French. Seriously check it out!

    For a list of resources the Kinsey Institute page can be really helpful, they have an excellent page that has all the questions people have asked them and the answers but I can’t find it right now. For the meantime check out
    which has good links divided into different sections.

    For those in the Kingston Ontario area I want to put in a plug for the Queen’s University Sexual Health Resource Centre (where I volunteered for a few years!) Great resource by phone or by visit, the website tends to crash… googles us!

  17. April 9, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    I second Sarah S.’s suggestion–I’ve learned a ton from Savage Love.

  18. April 9, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    In Australasia there is a book called You’re Gorgeous, which is by cartoonist Kaz Cooke and is a good resource for younger women about their bodies, including some good non-judgemental stuff on sex.

  19. Elimy
    April 9, 2007 at 11:56 pm


    Run by Planned Parenthood, it’s got tons of articles covering sexual anatomy, pregnancy, birth control, STI’s, intimate partner violence, LGBT and intersex issues, plus body image/self-esteem/other stuff like that. Plus, one can submit questions to be answered by the staff.

  20. April 10, 2007 at 12:05 am

    This is second-hand, but bloggers I read have recommended Cycle Savvy by Toni Weschler for basic information.

    review here:

  21. April 10, 2007 at 12:16 am

    Wow, am I just the oldest person in the room when I say The Joy Of Sex and Our Bodies, Ourselves?

    I guess so. I remember them as being non-judgmental, chock full of information, and not especially titillating.

  22. April 10, 2007 at 12:26 am

    I’m not a young woman or girl, but nonetheless I found Em & Lo‘s The Big Bang quite a useful reference. It covers a lot of ground, from kissing to toys to safe sex, and in a style that’s cheeky and not even remotely intimidating. It also has tastefully naughty pictures to get you in the right mindset for reading about sex. ;)

  23. MyFireElf
    April 10, 2007 at 12:58 am

    I’d recommend the Guide to Getting It On by Goofy Foot Press.

    I was very impressed with its frank discussion of sex on both a physical and emotional level without judgment or prejudice. It examines everything from masturbation techniques to gender roles to emotional growth to talking about sex with your kids.

  24. prairielily
    April 10, 2007 at 1:01 am

    You’ve all made some really great suggestions! I wish I’d had you guys when I was younger.

    I thought I’d add this Youtube video of the internal structure of the clitoris I saw on Feministing, because I think it would tickle Kaitlyn’s curiosity bone.

  25. prairielily
    April 10, 2007 at 1:02 am

    I guess I should have remembered to include the link.

    The Internal Clitoris

    And zuzu, if I become a pilot, will you hate me?

  26. LS
    April 10, 2007 at 1:04 am

    In college I stumbled across JanesGuide, which is a review/link site for porn, erotica, sextoys, and a whole host of other sex-related things. There’s a section on sexuality resources, and the sites reviewed run the gamut from straight vanilla to various permutations of alternate sexualities and kink/fetishes. I’m not sure I would recommend the site to a very young teen (they do place an under-18 divert to Scarleteen on the entry page), but for the older teen-into-early20s set, it’s great. It’s also very female-postive.

    Main site:
    Sexuality resources:
    Safer sex info:

  27. twf
    April 10, 2007 at 1:11 am

    I second MyFireElf. The Guide to Getting it On is great.

    It’s very complete though. It might be a bit scary for newbies.

  28. April 10, 2007 at 1:13 am

    I’m a big fan of Scarleteen. Heather Corinna, the founder of Scarleteen has a book coming out soon which will most definitely be worth checking out.

    I think everyone should read Our Bodies, Our Selves. I remember reading my mom’s copy, which was the 2nd edition, and very out of date, as in pre-HIV/AIDs. It covers pretty much everything, including anatomy, safer sex, emotional/mental wellbeing, and queer stuff.

    For younger teens, I might recommend Deal With It! from the editors of (before it was bought out by iVillage).

    A New View of a Woman’s Body is pretty neat, especially for those that are self conscious because their vulvas don’t look like the vulvas they’re seeing in medical diagrams or porn.

    There are also some excellent lesbian sex guides, like The Ultimate Lesbian Sex Guide by Felicia Newman.

    I haven’t read either of these, but have heard only good things about Big Big Love by Hanne Blanke and The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disabilty by Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg, and Fran Odette

    Not sure what you mean by more advanced sexual techniques, but there’s always guides like A Hand in the Bush: The Art of Vaginal Fisting, or SM 101: A Realistic Introduction.

  29. Abbey
    April 10, 2007 at 2:06 am

    Dang, this is perfect timing for me! I’ve been looking for good sex ed. websites to list on flyers that a group of my friends and I are planning on distributing in the school. Our school has pretty sucky sex ed (though not abstinence-only, fortunately), so a bunch of us decided to covertly organize a group dedicated to educating the student body about issues like this.
    If anyone is willing to help me out a little bit, too, does anyone know of good sex ed. sites for (probably straight) boys specifically, LGTBQ, or other minority groups? I might be willing to pay (a small amount, unfortunately) anyone who speaks both Spanish and English to translate a flyer into Spanish; my school has a fairly large Hispanic population, and none of my friends who are in on the plot speak Spanish fluently.
    I would GREATLY appreciate any help in this area!
    My e-mail is marzipan882ATyahooDOTcom

    I have a few links of my own to share, but the ones that fit the bill have already been mentioned!

  30. April 10, 2007 at 2:39 am!!!!!

  31. April 10, 2007 at 2:50 am

    Changing Bodies, Changing Lives – put out by the Our Bodies, Ourselves gang, but geared specifically for adolescents.

  32. April 10, 2007 at 2:51 am

    Thanks for the links and titles!

    I can’t believe I made you start a topic about it, but hey, it’s centered here.

    And like I said, this place seemed frank and open about sex, so why not ask here?

    I know the basics, just like I know *how* to drive a car and all the rules of the road. Doesn’t mean I’m ready for either, but why not learn as much as I can?

    Though don’t get driving lessons from an asshat traffic cop or a former paramedic. My mom was a paramedic, and, just like sex, answers every question I have about driving while we’re out. Usually, it’s “Why did…?” or “What is…?”

    My sister, getting her license in May (the day after school gets out, stay off the streets memphians!), asked no such questions before driving.

    I wrote down a few of the titles, and I’ll check out some of the links. Today, I called Memphis’s Planned Parenthood and left a message with someone’s manager asking about volunteering there in the fall.

    Female sexual desire needs to be more mainstream. How do I know what I want? You never see horny women on tv besides sex and the city (I read the mad parody) and we’re never told when we get the flowery handbook on periods and tampons anything. of course, that was in 5th grade. But sex ed in our high school was just ‘WEAR A FUCKING CONDOM’ I believe, no discussion of sexuality.

    I’m sure my libido is out of whack from all the medications I’ve taken over the years and am currently on.

    Thank you so much Jill and zuzu. Thank you to everyone who is responding with information. Thank you to everyone who acted like my questions are completely normal.

    Seriously – mom had no resources, she couldn’t even ask her mom about her period! (her dad had just died) She got married at 22 to my dad.

    So I want to insulate myself with information and not marry at 22 and 2 weeks.

  33. April 10, 2007 at 2:54 am

    prairielilly, I’ll check out your youtube another day – I have to upload a video to the internet and I have dial-up and I doubt it’ll support two at once.

    I had “here comes the rain again” loading along with the video when I realized it was a bad idea, but so had my ISP and it said, “I’m kicking you off.” And I said, “I will chop you into itty bitty pieces if you do that again.”

  34. April 10, 2007 at 3:39 am

    I’m sorry for diverting the original thread, but you should take it as a compliment – I felt comfortable enough in this environment to ask such personal questions about a subject that is so shameful and hidden. (I mean, my mom only had sex twice. She has 2 kids and I know how babies are made and why else would she have sex? She’s a mom.)

    (That’s the immature teenager speaking, she won’t shut up. It’s a great way to abstain – you parents did it and may still do it! Your grandparents even!)

  35. Carnelian
    April 10, 2007 at 4:07 am

    I have to second (or third) Dan Savage’s column at
    It’s bloody fantastic

  36. April 10, 2007 at 4:55 am

    Tracey Cox’s books are a pretty good place to start – non-judgemental and a good guide to the basics:

    Hot Sex is a good “beginner’s guide” to sex.
    Hot Relationships is very good for answering all those first-time “is my relationship normal?” questions that plague you when you’re a teenager.

  37. April 10, 2007 at 5:19 am

    The best site out there imho, it is sex ed for the real world (yes!)

  38. April 10, 2007 at 6:23 am

    I second Elizabeth’s suggestion of Go Ask Alice. It’s a sexual health education program run by Columbia that provides frank answers to all kinds of questions about sex and health (of course, conservatives hate it because it tells young men and women that it’s ok to have sex).

    Anyway, I think it’s a great site — nonjudgmental and chock full ‘o’ information.

  39. Kate
    April 10, 2007 at 6:53 am

    Definitely not porn. Real women and real sex do not usually bear much resemblance to porn, and if it’s your first exposure to sex, you’ll grow up thinking that men smacking girls around, spitting on them, and cursing at them is okay.

    My favorite site, and my best resource in the years before I became sexually active, is a comprehensive encyclopedia of all things vagina- and sex-related.
    While the site may not be geared particularly to young women, it is well-written, very informed, and very frank while also being humorous. The author, Sarah Mundy, updates the site regularly, and will respond to any questions you send her via email.

    This site was a windfall to me, because it will let any woman or girl know, once and for all, that that are normal. I haven’t found a single site with quite the same positive, humorous attitude as

  40. A Pang
    April 10, 2007 at 7:03 am

    For a list of resources the Kinsey Institute page can be really helpful, they have an excellent page that has all the questions people have asked them and the answers but I can’t find it right now.

    That’d probably be KISISS.

    And hurray for Scarleteen!

  41. car
    April 10, 2007 at 7:33 am

    How about for boys? I’m wondering what to give them when the time comes that they get curious. My style is more indirect; I’d love to have a few books casually lying around the house that they would be able to “discover” and read on their own time.

  42. April 10, 2007 at 8:00 am

    My personal favorite is sex educators Marshall and Dorian who are honest, hilarious, and do a program dedicated solely to the female orgasm. They have a great website, adorable merchandise, and I would highly recommend them to any college or community group that was interested in bringing them. We even managed it at a Catholic school!

  43. michele
    April 10, 2007 at 8:06 am

    Here’s another shout out for . An awesome site.

  44. April 10, 2007 at 8:18 am

    I will bookmark this page for the day when it becomes more than a curiosity.

    Please, keep adding.

    I once bought a trashy romance (around 10) just to read sex scene.

    Kissing scenes in books, as long as they’re between adults and are quite passionate, do get something excited, so all hope is not lost!

    Thank you!

  45. Beeks
    April 10, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Scarleteen, Scarleteeen, Scarleteen.


    I know its been mentioned already but I don’t think there is any other sexuality for teens site on the interweds that is as inclusive, non-judgemental, honest, and with 24/7 answers to all the questions inadequate sex ed doesn’t cover

  46. April 10, 2007 at 9:33 am

    Scarleteen is pretty good, so I second (or fifth, or whatever) that nomination. Also, take a look at San Francisco Sex Information ( which runs a phone and email “hotline” where any and all questions will be answered by trained sex educators. SFSI are big advocates of non-judgmental sex education — they answer the question as honestly as possible without imposing any specific moral judgment of the questioner’s morality, intelligence, or experience. Good stuff.

  47. Elizabeth
    April 10, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Well I’ve got a boob site about what is normal. I think it is just as important as the other sex stuff simply because one of the things that kept me from sex was the fact that I was uncomfortable with my breasts. Of course I got over that one.

    I would also say this is important for guys to see because the media sexualizes breasts so much.

  48. Frumious B
    April 10, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Good Vibrations. It’s not so much intended to be an information source, but you can browse the catalog and find out what kind of stuff is available to people who like toys with their sex. It also has lots of written pron.
    (Sorry if I get that wrong, I’m not double checking at work :) )

  49. Isabella
    April 10, 2007 at 10:07 am

    These are great questions.

    The question about how to deal with pressure when one is not ready for sex is important. I wonder if some of the attraction of the abstince movement is that it provides support for abstaining for young people who don’t feel ready for sex but get a lot of pressure to do it?

    I feel old seconding the recommendation for Our Bodies Ourselves (though I think I read recently there’s a new edition that many complain is not as good as it used to be- so maybe find an older edition in a used bookstore). I’ve also found good information online.

    I also suggest finding some girlfriends whose judgment you respect and trust, and talking with them. My friends and I are now married 30-somethings and we talk about sex less these days- I think out of respect for marital privacy since all discussion would be about husbands that we all know. However, when we were younger, we talked about sex a lot, really frank discussions. We exchanged a lot of information and learned a lot from each other.

    Speaking of which, I’d like to share the advice I want to give every young woman (straight women in particular)- don’t ever have sex with a man who won’t give you head first. This isn’t an ironclad rule- not all women love it, and I’ve had some great experiences with guys who didn’t, and bad relationships with guys who did. However, oral sex is the best way for many women to orgasm. I think a man who won’t do it is showing an unacceptable disregard for his partner’s pleasure.* It’s not an unreasonable request. Most of the guys I’ve been with have been more than happy to go down on me.

    * and yes, a considerate partner deserves your attention to his pleasure as well.

  50. DDay
    April 10, 2007 at 10:20 am

    For a site that focuses a little more on women’s health than actual sex advice, I reccommend VaginaPagina. Very comprehensive and judgement-free is an essential tenet.

  51. April 10, 2007 at 10:20 am

    It’s actually

    Great selection, very discreet, and they deliver promptly. ;-)

  52. DDay
    April 10, 2007 at 10:28 am

    I also forgot to add that they have a feature called Everyday Bodies Project which is a collection of pictures of that show there is a wide range of “normal-looking” body parts. A nice alternative from the sanitized and white-centric images of female genitalia displayed in porn and standard textbooks and diagrams.

  53. April 10, 2007 at 10:47 am

    My mother gave me this one when I was sixteen:

    Woman’s Experience of Sex

    by Sheila Kitzinger. It’s pretty comprehensive, and feminist. I like the way it includes dicussion of feelings as well as the biological information.

    Our Bodies, Ourselves is of course good, too.

    Depending on age, I’d also recommend Girl with a One-Track Mind, and I’ll second the recommendation for Dan Savage’s column.

  54. Vir Modestus
    April 10, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Here is a great podcast from Sex is Fun for basic information. You can find a link to Sex Ed Crash Course on the Polyweekly site.

    Also, while this isn’t an “education” site, it is good for comparison purposes. I was going to say for boys, but I bet it would help the straight girls as well to see a range of penises before they have to encounter one up close and personal: Erection Photos

  55. April 10, 2007 at 11:50 am

    I learned most about sex at the age of 12 from two sources:

    1) The Clan of the Cave Bear books (NOT the first one, ew, that’s wrong. The later two. With the good (if repetitve and eventually boring) sex.)

    2) Lovelines with Dr Judy and Jagger. Z100, Mondays through Thursdays at 10pm. Man, I miss that show…

  56. April 10, 2007 at 11:53 am

    From what I’ve heard, “Big, Big Love” by Hanne Blank (a former Scarlateen editor, I believe) is a very good introduction to sexuality issues for fat people. The complaints I’ve heard (including from my girlfriend) relate to it being too introductory and not spending enough time on “mechanics”. I’ll have to check it out to see just what it covers, as most of the time when I have to send people links for a functional discussion of sexuality for fat people, I’m stuck with sites that are either male-centric or outright pornographic.

  57. dug.inn
    April 10, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    I’m probably showing my age here, but I enjoy visiting Betty Dodson, Susie Bright, and reading Nancy Friday’s books, especially: My Secret Garden or Women On Top [Amazon links]

  58. Thealogian
    April 10, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    There are links to the workbooks and curriculum on the Wikipedia site. Our Whole Lives is a sex edu for liberal churches curriculum. Its GBLTQ and Hetero Friendly. It is comprehensive in terms of our organs and safe/safer sex and contraception information; it also discusses relationship building. My friend Elizabeth, a lesbian, taught middle-schoolers with this curriculum at the Church and she said that she learned so much just from the training and the books (as she said, she’d been around the block, both in heterosexual experiences and as a Lesbian, but there is so much to learn!).

    Here’s two more links:

    Bright Blessings on your sexual self journey!

  59. mothworm
    April 10, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    This is a pretty cool site with good information, and a nice, informal nature.

    All About My Vagina

    From her intro:

    These days, the reason I keep making All About My Vagina is my helpful streak. I want to share whatever I know that can help people who have or know vaginas take good care of them, love them, and have fun with them. I get a shocking amount of email indicating that not everybody has access to such information. Even if everybody did, surely we could have more?

    One of the most useful things I think I can do with this website is to write about my own vagina, and admit to everything on this site. I find that more context for my own vagina makes me feel more secure; the more I find out about other people, the less I worry about being weird, and the happier I am about my own unique vagina. I hope that reading about my own personal appearance, experience, and, you know, smell has that effect on you.

    In a similar vein, I think it is important to keep available the parts of this site that embarrass me. I sometimes get passionate about being allowed to suck. I have written some really lame pages on this site. I have done some dorky things with my vagina. I’ve lied about it, abused it, made assumptions about it, been lazy, and been scared. I want to be honest about all of that, because I think it is important to be allowed to try and fail, in art or life or any time. So this site is partly here to let you know that someone supports failed efforts.

    To sum up my core biases, as they relate to this site: I support pretty much any consensual act, I think education is a more useful tool than rules for keeping people safe and healthy, I love creative possibilities and extreme personal potential, I think shame and embarrassment are dangerous because they can prevent people from taking care of themselves, and I think all people are equally valuable humans and have valuable perspectives on vaginas. Also I try to eat vegan. It comes up sometimes.

  60. mothworm
    April 10, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Web Sites:

    Teenwire is run by Planned Parenthood.

    OutProud has a lot of resources for LGBT teens.

    Where to get Emergency Contrception

    Advocates for Youth has a lot of information, and links for LGBT teens, too.

    Coalition for Positive Sexuality

    Estronaut. What to expect at your first gyno exam.


    Hooking up: A Girl’s All-out Guide to Sex and Sexuality

  61. April 10, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex is an awesome resource. I’ve bought it twice, having lost the first one in a breakup. Kathy, you’re not the only one who’s read The Joy of Sex, but I found it to be pretty judgmental and very, very heteronormative. (But hot when I was fourteen nonetheless. I would steal it out of my mom and stepdad’s room when they were out of the house and masturbate to it.)

    Because I as yet another good resource, and one available free online. She’s also a friend. :)

  62. Pockysmama
    April 10, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    My daughter loves

    Of course, none of these sites beat an honest, open conversation with mom/dad. I realize many parents are uncomfortable but it beats the information they get from their friends and now, the public education system. I also encourage her to really speak with her doctor and found her a GYN who isn’t squeamish about sexually active teens or honestly anwering their questions.

  63. Wol
    April 10, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    The newest edition of Our Bodies, Our Selves is terrific. Very wide ranging and good for all sexualities and ages.

  64. Frumious B
    April 10, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    Of course, none of these sites beat an honest, open conversation with mom/dad.

    If your parents are sex educators or biologists, maybe. Mine just said “Don’t do it.” And once my mom said that conception happens immediately. It doesn’t.

  65. Karolena
    April 10, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned Lynda Madaras, “What’s Happening To My Body? Book for Girls” (there’s one for Boys, too). Buy it, publicize it!

  66. nik
    April 10, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    What’s a good resource for young women who are virgins who want to get frank answers about sex, sexuality, and dating (including how to deal with pressure when one is not ready for sex) that doesn’t fetishize virginity or engage in pearl-clutching about women who do choose to have sex?

    No-one has answered this question. Is this possible? I think there might be a problem here.

    If these women want support they need to be told they’ve made a good choice. Most feminists and sex education sites won’t commit to more that ‘abstinence is a valid choice, but choosing to have sex is equally valid too’. Which is basically saying that the decision to be abstinent is arbitrary and of no particular value. I’m not sure that really helps these people.

    I think there’s another issue with sex ed too. Lots of sites are a menu of acts and a note that ‘this is something you can do, if you like’. Factually, that’s fair enough. But there is a cultural context too. Would girls reading know if something that was suggested to them was relatively normal, or if what was being suggested had different cultural sources and was inspired and dependent on humiliating and dominating women?

  67. R. Mildred
    April 10, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    note: by porn, i’m talking about written words. our slow ass modem in the 90s wouldn’t have been able to load visual porn until it was actually legal for me to see it. i think there’s a world of difference between pictures of sex and descriptions of it.

    Let me just nix that: There is no difference between written descriptions of sex and pictures of sex if the writers and the photographers/directors are all equally misgynistic.

    Anyone who needs an in print example of this I can only point them to Peter F Hamilton’s the reality dysfunction and most stuff by piers antony off the top of my head though the internet has stuff that’ll make you puke – the major trouble however is that most literary accounts of sex tend to be heavy on this fantastic concept of “delayed consent” which in reality would be a really traumatic form of rape but isn’t because the writer can handwave away stuff like that – sex that involves a woman being forced to have sex against her will followed by her giving into her “true desires” mid act should break the readers’ suspension of disbelief and stomp up and down on the left over peices, but doesn’t because of the patriarchy – the idea tha women need to be forced into it a little like our sexual urges are some sort of outboard motor is a key aspect of the rape culture, the golden rule is; if you want to do, you’ll know it, if you don’t, then you won’t know you want to do it.

    Written pron is not something one should set hteir concept of healthy sexuality by any more htan they should set it by audio/visual porn in other words.

  68. April 10, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    Prairielily, the video is slowly loading – I hope it does before my mom gets home – it’s one thing to ask her, but to watch something about it?

    “Of course, none of these sites beat an honest, open conversation with mom/dad.”

    Hahahahahaha, ask my dad about sex. I already ask my mom, but she only has her experiences to tell me about and I want to supplement that information with as much as I can.

    About the video, it looks like an educational video, and I thought of my anatomy class and the textbooks. The reproductive system was the last unit, of course. (Unit, heh heh) But I still read about diseases and new developments, and of course, looked at a diagram of a penis. But because we had a lazy teacher, we never even got half-way through the book, so we never got there. I’m glad we didn’t. The teacher is a lesbian, and I can just imagine how mature average christian southern teenagers would be about that.

    Because if we had made it there, I would have asked about sexuality, not just the physical parts. And as much as I hated that teacher, I wouldn’t want a discussion like that in a high school class, because she’d out herself or hide it and either way, it would such for her.

    Our principal’s a lesbian as well. That’s always brought up when people complain about her. They say she looks like Dubya. No, she looks like Nancy Reagan – skinny, old, short hair, and in pantsuits. Without the republican wife smile.

    Back to my parents, I feel comfortable asking my mom anything, not so much my GYN at this point – he’s a guy. He’s had his hand in my vagina, touching my uterus, but I can’t ask if a penis will hurt as much as his hand. He won’t know.

    I won’t know.

    You won’t know.

    They won’t know.

    Until it happens.

    I once asked my mom if you could orgasm during a pelvic exam – what if the doc touched it? Actually, I think my breasts are a bigger erogenous part of me – their size may have something to do with it, but that’s for the future.

    Back to my dad… at my 18th birthday dinner (he paid and left a shit tip), he wanted to talk to Mom about Becky and *whisper* sex, she’s in 10th grade now, etc. God, Becky wanted to know, but he wouldn’t say in front of her, so we sent her to the bathroom.

    Becky’s the only one who’ll sit next to him, so Mom and I are across from him, waiting for… whatever… and he asks if mom’s spoken to Becky about chastity. Mom thought, “Chastity who?” But no, he meant she needs to be chaste.

    And he dropped off a bunch of stickers and buttons from a local Catholic book store, we DIED.

    And then Becky and I got pissed off at him. For one, he was married to a woman twice his age at 18 and had a kid.

    But since he’s rejoined the church, all is forgiven, and he can give becky pamphlets saying that you must save your gift for god.

    Mom doesn’t want us having sex in high school. (Or while she’s alive, but that’s the mom thing.) She doesn’t think we’re emotionally mature enough.

    Becky reasoned that since he gave *her* chastity things when she was about to be a sophomore, but gave me no such thing, ever, that he must think she’s a slut and will sleep with every guy she sees if he doesn’t tell her god wants her chaste, because she’s a bubbly idiot who has a lot of guy friends and C-cups. he actually told her that she shouldn’t hang out with her black guy friends because they only want sex. It would have been fine if he’d said “Your boy friends” without race.

    But since he never gave any to me, what, I’m never having sex? Granted, I missed most of high school, and she’s not, but still.

    I don’t need to be chaste?

    I cannot thank everyone enough for the serious answers, links, and titles. I will save this page.

    I asked a lot of stupid questions, but if I don’t ask, how will I ever learn?

    Funny story about my mom as a corpsman before meeting dad – all her female friends were on the pill, and she wanted to be to. So she made an appointment to see a GYN (her first) and had a pelvic exam. “Pennie, why do you want to be on birth control? Do you have a boyfriend?” “No, but everyone else is on it.” “No, you’re fine.”

    When women had to have enemas before labor, she had to do 8 enemas. Everyone else did them really slow and she didn’t ask why. So she went pop, pop, pop, pop 8 times. One right after another.

    The reason everyone else took their time? Only one bathroom!

    She wasn’t on BC while married – dad would *never* allow that, but she is now. the last time we went camping, she forgot her pills, and had a horrible, painful period. Now, she’s on the 3-month plan, with only 4 periods a year. She still gets bitchy at certain times.

    My sister may have to go on BC one of these days – she has wild mood swings, but everything else is fine – no pain.

    So… thank you…again for tolerating me and my naivete. But hey! you were once 18 and/or a virgin. Wouldn’t you rather be in *my* shoes, as a virgin with all this information, than in yours back then without much?

    That is what I say to Becky when she gets squeamish, besides leave the room. Mom never got a chance to talk about this. She married at 22!


    The video’s loaded, I’m going to watch it.

  69. April 10, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    PL – Thank you for the video.

    I loved it. :)

  70. Aura Kitten
    April 10, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    I, also, recommend the Guide to Getting It On.

    And, crazy though this may be, I think a young child’s best teacher is (are) their parent(s)… assuming their parent is liberal and open-minded enough to be able to discuss topics ranging from BDSM to correct condom usage, to STD testing and dealing with pregnancy….. I know, I know, it’s crazytalk!!

  71. zuzu
    April 10, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    No-one has answered this question. Is this possible? I think there might be a problem here.

    If these women want support they need to be told they’ve made a good choice. Most feminists and sex education sites won’t commit to more that ‘abstinence is a valid choice, but choosing to have sex is equally valid too’. Which is basically saying that the decision to be abstinent is arbitrary and of no particular value. I’m not sure that really helps these people.

    And here’s nik, being tiresome.

    Nik, the question’s been answered, if you were paying attention. Several of the guides mentioned provide this very information.

    As for abstinence being one choice among many, your statement that that is “basically saying that the decision to be abstinent is arbitrary and of no particular value” says a lot about the stance you’re taking here. You want the message to be that abstinence is the superior choice, to be privileged above all others.

    Whereas, with the one-among-many stance, abstinence is to be considered as an option no more or less valuable than any other, and the decision to pursue it should be left to the individual. Why does this bother you so much?

  72. sophonisba
    April 10, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    Back to my parents, I feel comfortable asking my mom anything, not so much my GYN at this point – he’s a guy. He’s had his hand in my vagina, touching my uterus, but I can’t ask if a penis will hurt as much as his hand. He won’t know.

    This kind of stood out. If he is accidentally hurting you during your pelvic exams, that is not good, it is definitely not supposed to be like that. It’s usually uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be outright painful, and you can (and should) say something if it is.

    As to whether a penis will hurt, it doesn’t have to be a mystery unless you want it to be. When/if you’re comfortable masturbating, you can do as much experimenting as you want by yourself, safely, so that penetration with a partner is not a surprising, unfamiliar, or painful sensation.

  73. April 10, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    sophonisba, something is wrong with my uterus – Friday, I’m getting a uterine nerve block.

    I have ovarian cysts and endometriosis, along with abdominal nerve and muscle damage.

    He does the exam, I wince at the entrance point, but that’s not the constant pain. Then he presses here and here, and when I twist around and scream, that’s the problem area. The uterus, apparently.

    He does the exam so he’ll know if the pain can be found through a manual vaginal exam.

    My first pelvic hurt so much, I thought I was being ripped in two, and they used the smallest speculum. I cried and begged for it to be removed.

    That was at my primary care clinic.

    When I saw a GYN for the first time (not this one) and he said, strip from the waist down, I freaked out and started crying and refused. Since then, they’ve mostly done manual exams, except when I went to the ER a few weeks ago, and the blood was all over my vaginal vault and the ER doc (a woman) used a speculum.

    With no painkillers.

    It’s hard to say whether what they’re touching hurts if I can’t get over the entrance point.

    And I was planning on your idea on experimenting by myself with vibrators or a cucumber… anything that won’t be hurt if I cry when it enters. ;)

  74. Jo
    April 10, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    I second TeenWire.

    If one has the time and resources there are two churches (!!) that do an amazing comprehensive sex ed program (they developed the curriculum together). It’s called “Our Whole Lives” and can be found in both Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ congregations.

    The religious part is an additional supplement, so it can be taught in totally secular institutions, as well.

    I taught it to middle schoolers over 5 months last fall and I can’t say enough good things about it.

  75. secretservix
    April 10, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    I Heart My Clit

    Not just for lesbians. Also check out the Ask a Question section to
    read other people’s questions, lots of good information.

  76. zuzu
    April 10, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    Kaitlyn, see if you can get a female OB-GYN. Pelvics are never fun, but if you are in actual pain, not to mention having endometriosis, you need to have a doctor you’re not uncomfortable undressing around.

  77. sophonisba
    April 10, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Kaitlyn: OW. And sorry if it sounded like I assumed you didn’t know your own body well enough to know what was supposed to hurt and what wasn’t, or something. That all sounds awful.

    Good luck with the rest of it — do remember that if penetration is still painful or uncomfortable even after treatment or surgery, you don’t have to do it with a partner, ever, if it’s not pleasurable. I hope I’m not coming across too patronizing; I know you know your own mind, but do keep in mind that vaginal penetration is not some kind of required thing in hetero sex. You can have a sexual partner when you’re ready and do plenty of other things with them; experimenting is great but you don’t have to “train” yourself into liking something painful unless you want to for yourself.

  78. April 10, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Abstinence apart from religion is a viable option for anyone who wants to have sex but doesn’t feel ready. “Feeling ready” is vitally important to any sexual experience (whether you’re an amateur or a pro) and simply saying, “I just don’t feel ready for that” should be enough of an excuse for anyone who decides to be disrespectful enough to pressure you.

    There’s a lot of good to be said for “waiting”–for whatever reason–but there’s also a lot to be said for getting it on like mad (words like “Wooooo!” and “Yay!” come to mind.) Either way, education is key…so kudos to you for asking.

    I’d advise against asking too many friends for advice…people tend to exagerate or sensationalize unnecessarily, I’ve found, in the name of “competition”. However, one book that was informative that I read was Dr. James Dobson’s book on sexuality for teens called, oddly enough “Teens and Sex”.

    HA. No, wait, that’s not it. That’s the book my mom gave me when I was twelve and told me, “If you have any questions…”. Nothin’ like reading about masturbation (I finally had a name for that thing I’d been doing since I was five), then learning that it was a big time, no-no sin. Awesome.

    All joking aside, “Sex for Dummies” is a good, bare bones, informative source. For real. It was straight forward and easy to read. Plus, that yellow cover is hard for your mom to miss when you leave it on your coffee table.

  79. April 10, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    sophonisba – “experimenting is great but you don’t have to “train” yourself into liking something painful unless you want to for yourself.”

    Thank you.

    That sums up everything about growing up. :)

    I’ve been pestered to do a scholarship, it’s not the essay part, I don’t know *what* it is, but I don’t want to do it.

    And I don’t need it. I know you need all the money you can get, but this form (10 pages!) was just stressing my mom and I out way too much, for no real reason.

    But thank you.

  80. April 10, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Zuzu – about the female gyn – I would if I could.

    I actually did have a female gyn for few short months, on my insurance, I was so happy!

    But the gyn I’m seeing now also does pain management, which is a big part of this, and he says he’s my gyn now.

    I’m not uncomfortable around male doctors, at least not around him.

    Sex and our vaginas are so shameful, so hidden, but it’s so detached when he his hand in there. If I had a boyfriend and was having sex, there’d be a big difference between the male doc poking in there and the boyfriend doing the same.

    Around Thanksgiving of 2003, I had all modesty about my body burned away in a hideous skin infection – on the back of the “upper thighs”. Two male relatives were living with us, I couldn’t wear underwear, and my dad had to see it to know that we weren’t lying, so I’ve got a “Check out my scar!” mentality.

  81. prairielily
    April 10, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    Wow, Kaitlyn, poor you. I commented in the other thread, but I should have read this one first. It sounds like things have kinda sucked for you for a while.

    I second the opinion that you NEED to have a doctor you’re comfortable with, even if it’s another male doctor. If it’s really not a choice, would it be easier for you if a nurse or your mom was present? Anyone whose hand you could hold?

    Remember, though, that doctors don’t get hurt if you cry. They’re trained to not take things personally.

  82. April 11, 2007 at 1:32 am

    I can’t think of a better place to start than Dan Savage’s “Savage Love.”

  83. April 11, 2007 at 6:40 am

    PL – There’s always a female nurse and my mom present when the manual exam goes on.

    The thing is, they tell me, most women have already been penetrated by a penis before the speculum makes its big entrance.

    I am comfortable with him, even though he got really mad the time before the last time, but that was b/c we had to worked in b/c the pain sent me to ER, it was in my back, I was worried it was a kidney stone. (Make sure your thyroid works, guys, if it doesn’t, you’re in for a shitload of problems, especially if you’re a teenager.)

    No, I am incredibly comfortable with him because he’s a male doctor and he has yet to say no to any pain medication request! Without me mentally putting his balls in a vise for being evil.

    So he trusts me with my body – when I wanted to increase the lyrica after he decreased it, no problem. When I discovered I needed BC, and he’d stopped it, I took the saved pills and called and asked for a prescription – this’ll be long term – periods HURT.

    So I’m comfortable with him, yes, I’ve only had one GYN I wasn’t, and that’s because he kept asking if I’d been abused (sexually or otherwise) at home (Memphis) and that’s why I was in Portland. (I wanted to go to school there.) It creeped me the fuck out and I called my insurance and said get me another one and they did.

  84. Sarah S
    April 11, 2007 at 9:49 am

    This kind of stood out. If he is accidentally hurting you during your pelvic exams, that is not good, it is definitely not supposed to be like that. It’s usually uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be outright painful

    At my last pap smear, the doc actually stabbed me in the cervix with the sharp stick and said “whoops, you’re gonna have some bleeding and cramping today”. Which I did and it sucked.

    I meant to file a complaint of some kind, but if the ensueing hustle of going overseas it didn’t get done. I wish I could remember his name now….

  85. Natasha
    April 11, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Here’s one that is very comprehensive and is oriented towards young women. I refer to it as my sex bible – it has a lot of interesting stuff on it.

    Caitlain’s Corner

  86. April 12, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    I’m guessing you shouldn’t read this.

    This is effing amazing. I believe Ms. Schlafly keeps this by her bedside…and has a hard time refraining from touching herself when she reads it, mostly because she doesn’t want to become “listless”.


  87. kali
    April 12, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    Sarah, that link is mindblowing. What really got me, aside from the circumcision as a cure for masturbation bit– I didn’t know that FGM had ever been commonly practised in the States, let alone in 1951– were the *contradictions.* How can he believe both that masturbation is dangerous because it encourages women to think of their reproductive organs as a source of physical pleasure, and that it is highly addictive, and *also* believe that women don’t really experience sexual pleasure? It wrecks my head trying to understand how someone can fail to follow the link from A to B there.

  88. Frumious B
    April 14, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    he says he’s my gyn now.

    News flash to Dr. Bigshot: YOU decide who your gyn is, not him. If you are comfortable with him, then keep him. Otherwise, well, I know how hard it is to find a gyn accepting new patients, so keeping him may be your only option for a while.

    As to women gyns, my former gyn was female and I believe she graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Joseph Mengele School of Medicine. So. There’s that.

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