Stories about Sex
My childhood was full of talk about sex. My mother, who had rebelled against the sexual silence of the 1950’s and ’60’s, kept few secrets. I heard lots of stories that, as a twelve-year-old, I really didn’t want to hear. Mostly about bad sex.
These weren’t stories designed to frighten me. No one was trying to scare me into a “virtuous” life. These were just the stories of people who’s lives had been full of not-so-good and downright terrible sex. There were stories from family members about recent and long-past sexual traumas. Stories of obvious abuse and stories of events that would be considered rape today, but at the time were just examples of how things worked.
There were artistic foreign films and cutting edge independent movies which always seemed to have sex in them, but usually in some way that was really unpleasant. For a while there was also my father’s magazine collection, which had some images I can still recall pretty clearly. And there were tons of books, especially books on all of the horrible diseases that you could get from sex and the terrible things that could go wrong with women’s bodies during pregnancy and birth (fistula, anyone?).
All that sex stuff was not for me
I understood that sex was supposed to be pleasurable and that clearly it was very important to most people. But I also looked around me and saw the tremendous costs of lots of other things that people considered pleasurable. Mentally, sex went into the same category as alcohol, drugs, and roller coasters. Things that could be pleasurable, but came with a high risk of making you really sick.
By the time I got my period, I was exceptionally well-informed about sex. And not really interested. I doubt that it helped that the only people consistently interested in teenaged me were men in their 30’s or 40’s.
At puberty I also learned that it mattered that I was half Mexican. I got sexual attention from grown men at a much younger age than my white friends. So I also learned how to ditch someone who was following you home, how to give someone a fake name in a believable voice, and how smile just enough to avoid most confrontations. All before I finished 7th grade.
Sex was obviously way too much trouble
There were just too many ways for it to be something ugly and too many people that couldn’t be trusted. Though, to be perfectly frank, I felt that way about pretty much anything that involved other people. I didn’t trust other people to do their part on a group project, why would I trust other people with my body?
I took care of myself
Physically and emotionally, I was on my own. Even when I found someone I trusted enough to marry and have children with, I held back. I trusted him with my body, but not my pleasure. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy sex, because that would be a gigantic lie. Just that I didn’t count on partnered sex to meet my sexual needs. If you want something done right…
Then came the babies
Pregnancy and breast-feeding changed things for me, because I didn’t know my own body anymore. Things that had been simple weren’t anymore. Now I had to explore more actively. I discovered new lubes and bought my first vibrator. I had to explain what was going on with my body to my husband for anything to work at all. Which was very difficult. I felt like a failure, he felt like a failure, and I was back to sex-is-no-fun-for-anybody land. I was very grateful when my body started to feel like me again. And now I was me, but with sex toys!
But still, I wanted more data. Soon I was scouring the internet for information about sex toys. Which ones are the best? Which are the safest? If I insist that my shampoo is body-safe, what about my lube? Bloggers came to my rescue, with answers to questions that hadn’t even crossed my mind. I learned about lube chemistry and the toxic materials used to make many sex toys.
I learned about cock rings and packers and a vast array of options that I had never even heard of. True, many of them are still not my thing (ovipositors, for example, give me the creeps), but knowing that they exist is important. I prefer to be shocked in private, so I don’t risk offending someone face-to-face by looking completely grossed out when they mention something I never considered before. Knowledge is power, and sometimes that is the power not to be a jerk about something someone else is into.
Time passed and I learned more. I also got better at talking sex with the people who mattered. My confidence in my knowledge of my body and my tools increased, which made it easier to trust someone else with both. I felt safe and smart and confident in my pleasure. But remember that “time passing” thing? My body started to change again.
Unreliable Estrogen is not my friend
When I first noticed that my cycle was changing, I threw myself into research-mode once more, this time on perimenopause. I learned about estrogen and progesterone, prostaglandins, follicle stimulating hormone, estradiol, and inhibin. I finally started to understand how the menstrual cycle worked, after bleeding for 30 years and how ovulation worked, after carrying two children. I learned about the connections between inflammation and depression, and how hormonal changes can affect seemingly unrelated body systems. And I learned how many people had questions that they didn’t know how to ask, and issues that they didn’t know might be related.
Even though all this information was relatively easy to find, there seemed to be a huge disconnect between most of the blogs that talked to women about perimenopause and blogs that talked about sex and pleasure. My friends were willing to visit some of the menopause sites (though finding good ones that aren’t just partisan rants on the evils or miracle cures of hormone replacement can be tricky), but the information that they desperately wanted about sex wasn’t there. And I knew first hand how much they wanted it.
Now I had a call to action. My friends’ health (and orgasms) were on the line!
I shared what I learned with a few close friends, who quickly started coming to me for advice. Or just out of curiosity. Why is the vibrator I got at Spencer’s so terrible? Why does my lube burn? Do you know anything about that pot lube? Tell me that cock ring thing again…
Even the shy or conservative ones, who would be shocked or horrified if they did a google search for “sex older women” wanted to know how to their sex lives were going to change, and what they could do to stay happily sexual. They needed someplace to go for good information. Also, better Googling skills, but I can’t solve every problem.
Education, though, I can help there. I’ve taught toddlers, preschool, elementary, middle, and high school. College students, parents, and aspiring teachers. I am a good teacher. My students usually leave my class excited about whatever we’ve covered, full of their own ideas and ready to share what they’ve learned.
So here I am. Telling MY stories about sex, and sharing what I’ve learned. I hope that, rather than frightening anyone, I can inspire people to learn more about their bodies and the wide range of fantastic options available to enhance their sex lives whether they are pre-, peri- or post- menopausal. I want my sex stories to have happy endings.