Girls and women and sex

Re­quest­ing re­quired read­ing for my les­bian daugh­ter. Plus: Is demi­sex­u­al­ity real? (Spoiler: it is.)

The Coast - - SAVAGE LOVE -

QMy teenage daugh­ter just came out to us as gay. We told her we love her and sup­port her. As a het­ero­sex­ual, cis­gen­der mother, how do I make sure she gets good ad­vice about sex? I don’t want her learn­ing from other kids or porn. Do you know of any good, sex-pos­i­tive ad­vice books for les­bian teens? —My In­spir­ing Daugh­ter De­serves Les­bian Ed­u­ca­tion

A“I wish every par­ent felt this way about their child’s sex­ual de­vel­op­ment, re­gard­less of the child’s gen­der iden­tity or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion,” said Peggy Oren­stein, au­thor of Girls & Sex: Nav­i­gat­ing the Com­pli­cated New Land­scape. “All young peo­ple—girls es­pe­cially—need open, hon­est dis­cus­sions about sex­ual ethics, in­clud­ing talk­ing about plea­sure, re­spect, de­ci­sion-mak­ing and rec­i­proc­ity, or we are leav­ing them at the mercy of the mes­sages they get from both the main­stream and ‘adult’ entertainment in­dus­tries.”

Oren­stein’s book—re­quired read­ing for par­ents of girls and boys—drives home the need for com­pre­hen­sive sex-ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams em­pha­siz­ing the giv­ing and re­ceiv­ing of plea­sure. In the ab­sence of sex-ed pro­grams that em­power girls to see them­selves not just as in­stru­ments of an­other’s plea­sure but as au­ton­o­mous in­di­vid­u­als with a right to ex­pe­ri­ence sex­ual plea­sure—with a part­ner or on their own—girls wind up hav­ing a lot of con­sen­sual but crappy sex.

That said, MID­DLE, one big take­away from Oren­stein’s re­search should come as a com­fort to you: Bi and les­bian girls en­joy an ad­van­tage over their het­ero­sex­ual peers.

“In some ways, MID­DLE can feel more con­fi­dent about her daugh­ter as a gay girl,” said Oren­stein. “Les­bian and bi­sex­ual girls I spoke to for Girls & Sex would talk about feel­ing lib­er­ated to go ‘off the script’—by which they meant the script that leads lock­step to in­ter­course—and cre­ate en­coun­ters that truly worked for them. I ended up feel­ing that het­ero girls—and boys, too—could learn a lot from their gay and bi­sex­ual fe­male peers. And I don’t mean by watch­ing oth­er­wise straight girls make out on the dance floor for the ben­e­fit of guys.”

Since gay and bi­sex­ual girls can’t de­fault to PIV in­ter­course, and since there’s not a boy in the room whose needs/dick/ego they’ve been so­cial­ized to pri­or­i­tize, queer girls have more egal­i­tar­ian and, not coin­ci­den­tally, more sat­is­fy­ing sex­ual en­coun­ters.

“Young women are more likely to mea­sure their own sat­is­fac­tion by the yard­stick of their part­ner’s plea­sure,” said Oren­stein. “So het­ero­sex­ual girls will say things such as, ‘If he’s sex­u­ally sat­is­fied, then I’m sex­u­ally sat­is­fied.’ Men, by con­trast, are more likely to mea­sure sat­is­fac­tion by their own or­gasm. But the in­vest­ment girls ex­press in their part­ner’s plea­sure re­mains true re­gard­less of that per­son’s gen­der. So the or­gasm gap we see among het­ero­sex­u­als (75 per­cent of men re­port they come reg­u­larly in sex­ual en­coun­ters ver­sus 29 per­cent of women) dis­ap­pears in same-sex en­coun­ters. Young women with same-sex part­ners cli­max at the same rate as het­ero­sex­ual men.”

As for good, sex-pos­i­tive re­sources for teens of all iden­ti­ties and ori­en­ta­tions, Oren­stein had some great rec­om­men­da­tions.

“I’m a big fan of Heather Corinna’s S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Sex­u­al­ity Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twen­ties,” said Oren­stein. “She also pro­duces the Scar­leteen.com web­site, which is fab­u­lous. Other in­clu­sive, sex-pos­i­tive, med­i­cally ac­cu­rate web­sites in­clude Sex­etc.org and Goaskalice.columbia.edu. And MID­DLE could think about giv­ing her daugh­ter a sub­scrip­tion to OMGYes.com, an ex­plicit (but not tawdry) site that ed­u­cates about the sci­ence of fe­male plea­sure. And fi­nally, I think ev­ery­one who is a woman—or has had sex with a woman or ever hopes to—should read Emily Nagoski’s book Come As You Are. Even if you think you know it all, Nagoski’s book will trans­form your sex life.”

QI’m a 32-year-old straight male. Back in April, I met this girl. She seemed in­ter­ested, but be­fore we went out, she told me that she is a demi­sex­ual. (I had to google it.) Af­ter a few dates, she had me over to her place, we watched a movie and started mak­ing out. But when I started to put my hand be­tween her legs, she calmly said, “Let’s not get ahead of our­selves.” No prob­lem, I told her, I wasn’t try­ing to rush her. Fast-for­ward a cou­ple months. We’re still go­ing on dates, we hug and kiss, we hold hands, we cud­dle on the couch and watch movies—but still no sex. Is demi­sex­u­al­ity real? Should I keep pur­su­ing her?

—Is She In­ter­ested To­tally Or Not?

ADemi­sex­u­als are real peo­ple who “do not ex­pe­ri­ence sex­ual at­trac­tion un­less they form a strong emo­tional bond,” ac­cord­ing to the def­i­ni­tion at Asex­u­al­ity.org. We used to call peo­ple who needed to feel a strong emo­tional bond be­fore want­ing to fuck some­one peo­ple who, you know, needed to feel a strong emo­tional bond be­fore want­ing to fuck some­one. But a seven-syl­la­ble, clin­i­cal-sound­ing term that prospec­tive part­ners need to google—demi­sex­u­al­ity—is ob­vi­ously far su­pe­rior to a short, ex­plana­tory sen­tence that doesn’t re­quire in­ter­net ac­cess to un­der­stand.

You’ve shown re­spect for this woman’s sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, ISITON, now it’s her turn to show some re­spect for yours. I don’t mean by putting out if she’s not ready or not in­ter­ested, but by of­fer­ing you some clar­ity about when or whether she’ll ever be in­ter­ested. You’re seek­ing a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship that in­cludes sex—which is not un­rea­son­able—and you’ve demon­strated a will­ing­ness to make an emo­tional in­vest­ment be­fore a re­la­tion­ship be­comes sex­ual. You don’t (or shouldn’t) want her to con­sent to sex un­der duress—you don’t (or shouldn’t) want her to have sex just to keep you com­ing over for cud­dles—but if she doesn’t see you as a prospec­tive ro­man­tic and sex­ual part­ner, ISITON, she should tell you that. If this re­la­tion­ship isn’t on track to be­come sex­ual, tell her you’re open to be­ing friends—truly in­ti­mate friends—but you’ll have to di­rect your ro­man­tic at­ten­tions (and more of your time) else­where.

Lis­ten to Dan Sav­age’s Weekly Love­cast at the­coast.ca

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