Illustration by Anna White
YES! to Consent is a Montclair, New Jersey-based organization that seeks to empower young people and deconstruct rape culture, with an intersectional feminist perspective, through educational workshops about consent and the broad spectrum of sexuality. YES! answered the questions Crybaby readers submitted about birth control, sexuality, masturbation, and more.
How do I communicate to the guy I’m having sex with that it hurts?
The most effective way to communicate to your partner that you do not enjoy something is to tell them. While having sex you can say “Hey, let’s try this instead, that hurts.” It can be difficult for us to verbalize what we need when it comes to our bodies and intimacy, but you don’t have to have the conversation during a sexual act! If you find it hard to convey what you want in the moment, you can absolutely bring it up casually. Sometimes, in order to make it feel more natural, we find openings. Maybe you will be watching TV with your partner and there is a sex scene, which might be a good opportunity to say “Hey, sometimes when we are having sex I experience pain.” Most importantly, if you are with someone who is worthy of your time and your body, they want to hear what they are doing that doesn’t please you and they really want to know what they can do to give you pleasure.
Is there anything either of us could do to make it hurt less?
Yes, plenty! Depending on what is causing you pain, the first thing you should do is try lubrication. If you are using condoms you’re going to want to use a water-based or silicone-based lube. If not, you might try an oil-based lube, which often provides a higher level of lubrication. If wetness isn’t the issue, maybe you’re vaginal opening is tight or your partner’s penis is large. Here is where fingers come in handy (see what we did there?). Try fingering yourself or having your partner finger you — first with one finger then adding more slowly as you go. You can also buy a dildo or an internal vibrator to help get yourself used to the feeling of intercourse as well as figure out what works for you. Playing around with yourself, seeing what you like and don’t like, masturbating with different toys and different motions, are all great ways to figure out just what you want. Then, you can report back confidently to your partner. Finally, you might try different positions. Certain positions enable a penis or toy to go further inside of you. Sometimes, this results in the penis or toy hitting the cervix or bladder, which can hurt or cause bruising. If your partner’s penis is long enough, this might be what’s happening. Try out different positions or have him refrain from fully inserting his penis.
Do I have to fake it when I’m having sex with a guy?
NEVER. Never never never. NEVER. I cannot stress this enough. Women often feel pressure to hurry up and orgasm. There is a lot that goes into this, but primarily it is the idea that sex is not over until the man finishes, and once he does we only have a short window until we feel like a burden. There are two major issues with this; the first is that nobody should make your pleasure feel like a burden and the second is that having an orgasm should never have been equated with “finishing.” There can be so much pleasure derived from every aspect of a sexual experience and it should not be judged based on whether or not there was an orgasm. We deserve to have good sex, yes, but that does not always mean we have to orgasm. That being said, orgasms are great and we should all be having more of them. Finally, bodies can be strange and don’t always do what we want them to. If you are with someone you really like and sometimes find yourself taking a while to cum, you can always take care of it yourself while they kiss and touch you.
What if you just don’t have an interest in masturbating and you aren’t sexually active what happens to the body?
I am an 18 year old female who has never used penetration when masturbating. It sort of scares me to try, because I’m afraid of pain, sensitivity, or something going wrong. I have never really explored my body that way. I am also a virgin. It worries me how little experience I have. Are there any words of advice or tips I should listen to?
Sex can be scary regardless of how much experience we may or may not have. The best way to prepare yourself for sex with a partner is to explore your body and figure out what you like. If you haven’t used penetration when masturbating and it is something you want to try, start by using your fingers. You can use one until that feels comfortable and then use more. Especially if you are worried about something going wrong; your fingers are the least intimidating and safest option (though masturbating is super safe!). Sometimes, it can be hard to reach our own pleasure points (it is for me), so you could also buy a small dildo or vibrator and try using that. It is also important to remember that sex is not defined by penetration. You can have amazing sex without anything being inserted into your body.
I hooked up with a boy for pretty much the first time and his genital touched my (female) genital and I was wondering if I could get something from that? What is my likelihood?
Some STI’s are transmitted through fluids, like HIV and chlamydia, and others are transmitted through genital to genital contact, like herpes, syphilis, and HPV. Most STIs don’t have any symptoms for a long time, so it’s always a good idea to get tested regularly. Many STIs can be treated once detected. So getting tested would be your best bet!
How do people react when you tell them you are a sex educator?
People have all sorts of reactions! Some are more respectful than others. Some assume that I have tons of sex. A lot of people ask how I got into this field. Most people have a lot of questions and want advice. I really appreciate being able to be a resource for people’s questions that they don’t know who else to ask! Overall, being a sexuality educator is a lot of fun.
Do lesbians scissor?
Some lesbians scissor and some do not. Like any sex act, it is totally subjective. Porn and movies often depict scissoring as if it is a must-do in the lesbian community, but there are plenty of other ways lesbian couples get off.
I was talking to my friends recently about how birth control makes you dry with low libido and they had no idea and all were like “oooh that makes so much sense!” Can you give the run down on everything about birth control that the doctor doesn’t necessarily tell us?
Hormonal birth control methods affect each person’s body in different ways. Some people gain weight and some don’t, some people get more acne and others get clearer skin. Some people’s cramps get worse and others’ get better. The same thing with libido! Hormones affect everyone differently. If one birth control method is having side effects that don’t work for you, talk to your doctor about trying another one. Even within the category of the pill, there are lots of different pills with different hormones in different amounts. There are also non-hormonal options! Ideally, your doctor will help you find the right method of birth control for you. Check out Planned Parenthood’s rundown of the pros and cons of different birth control methods: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control .
What is muffing?
Muffing is a term used to describe the act of fingering a trans woman. Journalist Diana Tourjée of Broadly did an interview with Mira Bellwether (a trans woman), that offers a ton of insight into muffing as well as why it is important to acknowledge how and why people like to have sex different ways.
Illustrations by Anna White
Online edition of the Resist/Revolt Issue, buy the print issue here