As strange as it might seem, it wasn’t so long ago that all women were expected to remain virgins until marriage. The “facts of life” were spoken in whispers, birth control was completely unavailable, and “sex ed” didn’t exist at all.
Even though we’ve made a lot of progress, modern life can still be pretty sex-negative. Nudity is all over movies, TV, and advertising, “WAP” was a hit, internet porn is a fixture of our lives – but we’re still dealing with a lot of misconceptions, leftover puritanism, and other factors that can get in the way of enjoying sexual pleasure the way our bodies want to do.
And many of us still believe some disempowering myths about sex, pleasure and intimacy.
There’s no shame in still having more to learn! That’s why we’ve assembled a list of our least favorite sex myths – and the juicy truth.
Myth: If there’s no penetration, it doesn’t count as sex.
Fact: This is a holdover from a time when the only “acceptable” sex was heterosexual and meant for procreation. People have always enjoyed all kinds of physical intimacy with all kinds of other people, but heterosexual penis-in-vagina with the intention of having babies was the only kind of sex that “counted”.
Weirdly, the myth that you can still be a virgin if you only do anal exists for the same reason. Don’t expect sex legends to make sense.
Thankfully we’re not living in those times any more. Oral sex is sex! So is anal, so is hand sex. Many people never have penetrative sex at all, and still have plenty of sex.
So what “counts” as sex? That’s up to you, and your partner if you have one! “Did we actually do it” is a strong argument for open, joyful communication around boundaries, definitions, and what feels really good.
Myth: Sex is only good if you have an orgasm.
Okay, so what’s “good”? Memorable? Physically pleasurable? Intimate? You can have all those experiences without an orgasm, which is great to know for those of us who need specific stimulation on a specific timeline to climax, or have trouble climaxing at all.
Decoupling the idea of “good sex” from “guaranteed orgasms” can also mean our partners feel less obligated to sweat grimly over our bodies like they’re trying to change a tire – not hot.
Everyone deserves to have as many orgasms as they want. But sometimes you don’t need one to be left breathless – whether it’s a stealthy quickie or a leisurely time spent focused solely on pleasuring your partner.
And as a bonus, orgasms can be much easier to access when the pressure to have them is off. Surprise!
Myth: Lube is only for "dry" people.
We hear this all the time – “I get so wet I don’t need lube.” Somehow, we ended up in a time when getting too wet to need lube became a point of sexual pride among people with vulvas, like people with penises bragging about being able to go for hours on end.
BUT – natural lubrication can come and go for any number of reasons, obvious and not. Many people get very aroused without getting wet at all, or only get juicy when approaching climax. Bodies are different, and this is something to celebrate!
So if you need it – or just if you want it – reach for the lube without shame. It doesn’t mean you’re bad at sex or your body doesn’t work properly, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Plus, even if you’re exactly like Niagara Falls all the time, a good, clean lube is wonderful for all kinds of sexual intimacy – from anal massage to breast play to a playful, slippery wrestling match. Be generous, enjoy the sensual slide, and see what happens.
Myth: Masturbation is only for when you are single or lonely.
Thank heaven this one seems to be going away, however slowly. The recent wave of sex-positive discourse has embraced masturbation wholeheartedly, and more people are exploring vibrators, dildos, prostate massagers, and all kinds of tips, tricks and tools for enhancing “alone time”.
A thoughtful, celebratory masturbation practice is good for you in so many ways, and if you know what you like, you can take that knowledge into bed with your partner as well. Where’s the downside?
Well, some people are still ashamed. We might feel like losers for masturbating, or we might be territorial and jealous about our partners’ solo sex routines. But as long as we’re not masturbating compulsively, to the point that it hurts us physically or takes over our lives, self-pleasure can be a vital form of self-care.
Also, we don’t think people masturbate during sex enough. Especially if one of you has trouble climaxing with a partner, it’s a great way to take the pressure off and ensure a good time is had by all. Free your mind, and orgasms will follow!
Myth: People with vaginas are “supposed to” orgasm from penetration alone.
Another myth that’s finally fading, thanks to vulva-havers speaking out about what really turns them on – and gets them off.
And not a moment too soon, either. Too many of us read a romance novel or two, or watch a couple of male-targeted porn videos (or nearly every sex scene in mainstream movies), and worry that something is terribly wrong with how our bodies work.
This myth originated with the idea that the erect penis is the be-all and end-all of “real sex”. Lesbians throughout history have always rolled their eyes, but the legend persists – even though 70% of people with vulvas need direct clitoral stimulation in order to climax.
So, if you can’t orgasm from penetration alone, that’s perfectly normal. You’re even in the majority! Grab a vibrator, show your partner what you like, or take matters into your own hands, and let’s let this myth – and all these myths – die for good.
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