Sex, In All Its Complexity

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The topic for today’s article came from a website milestone: A marketing firm offered to pay me to promote their client here on ABL! Which totally intrigued me, until I found out their client is a popular online sex toy shop.

My first thought was it must be a prank. But after research confirmed the offer was legit, my second thought was, How did this even happen? Does my writing appear when marketing firms Google the word vagina?

I shared the wacky news on Facebook, expecting my friends to be horrified right along with me. But the overwhelming response was that I should totally, hands-down, write a post about the use of sex toys, and that there ain’t nothin’ wrong with being paid for it.

I had to break the boring news to them: Although it’s my dream to turn A Brave Life into a career, I won’t settle for just any type of money-making opportunity. And I certainly won’t allow a battery operated dildo to be the first product I endorse. (No YouTube tutorials, that’s for sure!)

But some really smart people I admire were encouraging me to write about sex toys, which meant there are probably some smart things to say on this topic.

The problem is I’ve never used or owned a sex toy in my life. (I think I just heard my parents sighing with relief, two states over from me.)

And the bigger problem is that as much as I adore penis jokes, I’m uncomfortable discussing sex, especially online.

But why would someone like me, whose website seems to have no shame, be uncomfortable writing about sex? I write about tons of scary, embarrassing, truthful things.  And hell, 9 out of 10 stupid jokes on here involve genitalia. But sex has always been off the table for me. Except when it’s been on a table. (Ba-dump-dump-cymbal crash!)

See what happened there? Sex is so easy to joke about, but it’s a scary topic to discuss in a significant, impactful way because it requires us to admit to all the complex ways sex makes us feel, emotionally and spiritually. And who wants to admit that? We’d all much rather say that sex is fun and wonderful, and that it never causes stress.

I don’t want to be the lame one to admit that sex can be a lot of other things aside from fun and wonderful. This is (one) reason why I’ve never wanted to discuss this topic in my writing for ABL. Ironically, it’s also why I should.

What You Need To Know About My Sex Life (And Yours)

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My feelings were once hurt during sex. And I’ve hurt someone’s feelings through my sexual choices as well. I’ve been a “born again virgin”. (A few times.) I’ve withheld sex from a man I loved out of fear of being emotionally vulnerable. I’ve also given my body away too freely out of fear of being rejected.

See? It’s all very messy and unpredictable, and this is coming from someone who has, for the most part, never really dated an a**hole.

Even when you’re married and in love, your sex life can be frustrating. Even if you’ve only had sex one time in your life, it can change you. And even if you and your “friend with benefits” insist there are no emotional strings attached to your sexcapades, there are emotional repercussions. Always.

Final Thoughts

So yeah, that’s all I’m willing to share on this topic. Sorry for the lack of a…you know, climax. Ahem.

But I’m okay with this, because I think I’ve written just enough to let you know that you’re not alone in having an emotionally complex relationship with your sex life. In fact, you’d be surprised who among your friends can relate to your feelings, whatever they may be, and how comforting it can be to talk to someone who understands.

Fortunately, no one is asking you to blog about it (unless you’ve got online sex toy companies courting you, too). And you certainly have a right to hide the details of your complexity from the public eye, like I want to. Just don’t hide from the complex feelings themselves. We’re human, and unlike any other living thing on the planet, that’s what sex does to us.

*This article was NOT sponsored by a battery operated dildo, thank you very much.

Your Turn: What have you learned from the emotional complexity of sex?

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10 Responses to Sex, In All Its Complexity

  1. Pingback: The 50-Year-Old Vagina, And Other Baby Fears | a brave life

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  3. Kaffee says:

    Thank you for sharing yourself. It took a lot of balls to put it all out there like that! :) Kudos for the cojones!

    While rereading this post, I thought back to all of the conversations that I’ve had with people… and it turns out that I’ve talked more about sex with men than with women. The conversations with women have either been uncomfortable because I (or they) were worried about how they were perceived (i.e. weird, perverted, a slut, etc). And I have been shamed by female friends in the past about being a sexual being, further deterring me from speaking to women about sex. I did talk to one woman I talked to about sex and she totally blew me out of the water with TMI and she was way more sexual than I was. Talking with guys (some I was involved with and the others I was not and didn’t intent to be) was so much easier because I didn’t feel shame, we could talk about things in an open way. Of course with partners, it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies. There were disagreements, compromises and disappointments.

    At this point in my life, I talk to close friends about sex. And if I do end up having a conversation with someone that I feel is trying to shame me, I know that this is their hang up and not my issue.

    I hope you are able to accept yourself as a sexual being and feel comfortable discussing sex with people. I recommend listening to Dan Savage’s podcasts and reading his blog. He is funny and he also gives relationship advice… because there is a lot that leads up to the bedroom (or table, if you prefer).
    http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=16766415 . Also… feel free to chat with me :)

    • Kimberly says:

      Interesting observation about talking with men vs. women about sex. With double standards and the judgment and shaming of sexually active women, I can definitely see why you’d be more comfortable with men. I also think that there is potential for a different “vibe” when you talk with a guy– it can be fun because of the sexual tension, or it can be intriguing simply because you’re hearing the opposite gender’s perspective.

      I actually don’t feel judged or shamed by talking about sex as much as I’m just very private when it comes to that. I can’t even handle PDA. (Do you know how awful it was on our wedding day when we had to kiss for photos? I was like, ack! Look away, people!) I have discussed sex with certain friends and not others when I had various thoughts or questions. (I’m choosy, not just bashful.) But I’m definitely not into dishing just for kicks, like gossiping about things like penis size, positions, orgasms, etc. So it all depends.

  4. Your one and only FIL says:

    I’m not shy or ashamed on this topic – but for obvious reasons I think I’ll reserve the right to remain silent on this particular topic, at least in print.

    • Kimberly says:

      Fine by me! We can discuss your thoughts in person– in a confessional booth in a Catholic church. “That’s 1,000 Hail Marys, young man.” ;)

  5. Shai Smith says:

    I used to sell sex toys for a living. No joke – I was one of those awesome ‘Ladies Night Out’ consultants. My favorite part? I wound up being a one-person counselor/therapist/sex-life-fixer for hundreds of women. I helped them overcome body image, break down barriers (or, in some cases, put up barriers), learn about their own bodies (it’s amazing how much people don’t know. Like, did you know the clit alone has more nerve endings than the entire shaft of a penis? True story. A man also ejaculates at an average of 28 miles per hour. Holy balls.)

    Sex and human sexuality are two of my favorite subjects, but in a way that’s as far away from porn-ish as it could possibly be. <3

    • Kimberly says:

      28 miles per hour? Holy balls is right! As I’m reading your comment my eyes are bulging and I’m like, Oh my god! I’m more bashful about sex toys than I thought! Love that you’ve helped empower people through their sexuality, instead of feeling shamed by it…and I think that’s the kind of thing my Facebook friends wanted me to write about. But it looks like you’re the expert!

  6. Steph says:

    Interesting points in this post. Also amusing bc coincidentally one of my friends on my blogging site (I only know her through her blog and fb) started a blog about sex and sexuality.
    One positive thing I’ve learned about myself is that as much as I freak about the size of my body and how it looks in everyday life, when I’m intimate with my husband those issues thankfully aren’t there and I can just enjoy myself and be in the moment. Probably has a lot to do with feeling safe, accepted and of course desired in that situation (working on feeling that way about my body in everyday life too)

    • Kimberly says:

      That is absolutely when of the most special things that can happen through sexual intimacy with the right person! Thanks for sharing! I didn’t mention all the good that can happen with sex in this article, but true acceptance and emotional presence are definitely part of it. It’s amazing how you can surprise yourself (with your confidence, creativity, etc.) when you feel loved and safe– not just with your partner, but with your own self talk.

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