Ok, let’s face it: it can be awkward communicating about sex.
Sometimes we’re in the heat of the moment and we want to say something, and the words don’t come. Or we’re not in the mood and don’t or can’t explain why. It could be said that sex is a topic to be discussed in the bedroom. However, that’s not the whole picture. Sex is all around us: on TV, in magazines, in music, in porn and other media. But we’re not the ones defining the terms.
With representations of sex all around us, where are the real people in all of this?
Representations of sexualities and bodies are everywhere but there are so many taboos around our real, messy sexual experiences. Not everyone fits those representations, in fact, hardly anyone does.
Talking about sex helps us define what we want, what we don’t want and what we’re not sure about, instead of relying on pre-existing ideas that are prevalent in our society. For example, that sex is between a man and woman, there’s no build-up, there’s penetration, everyone knows what to do, and there’s a mutual orgasm and then its over. What about oral, the use of toys, giving pleasure with our hands, pleasurable sensations on other parts of our bodies?
We believe sex should be discussed everywhere!
Given the ac-sex-ability considerations that some of us might have such as assistive gear, varying levels of privacy depending on our living situations, communication tools, catheters, fluctuating pain levels, side-effects from medication, mood swings, and many others, it makes sense to discuss our desires and needs before we hit the bedroom. We can be leaders in pre-sex communication! It can take some of the pressure off and sensitize both or all people involved to the needs each person has. A little ‘heads-up after sex I don’t talk because I’m overwhelmed and that’s ok’ goes a long way to mutual understanding. Likewise, a discussion of sexual positions that are comfortable and pleasurable prior to simply trying them bedtime rolls around can do a lot for our sex lives.
Try communicating about sex, safer sex methods, bowel and bladder routines, desires, fantasies, fears outside of the naked bed sexy time! (P142, Ultimate guide to sex and disability)
To be clear, when we refer to communication, we mean in anyway that you communicate, in all it’s diverse forms: written, drawn, verbally, through body language, with assistive technologies, through symbols, in whatever ways work for you.
It may not cross your mind to share your desires or ask what your partner(s) likes before you hit the bedroom, but it may not be the most calm, fruitful discussion as you’re undressing either. By then your hormones are already racing and you’re not as patient and levelheaded as you might be at a less charged moment.
Has anyone ever told you not to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry?
You end up buying things you don’t want, things that are way over your budget, or instantly gratifying snacks that end up making you feel bad. (No junk food judgement intended. We love chips;) The same goes for sex: if we save communicating about it until we’re really hungry for it, we might not respect all our boundaries, or do things we otherwise not want to do.
What if you were to discuss sexual positions, over coffee for example, or talk about some of your fantasies while snuggling on the couch? Anyone for a discussion of condoms and diaphragms over trail mix on the couch on a Sunday afternoon?
Whatever it is you need to talk about such as protection methods, your personal desires and needs in the bedroom, or navigating personal care schedules, discuss it when you’re feeling calm and comfortable; in those intimate but not overly vulnerable moments. So that you can be close with your partner or crush but not feel completely exposed.
Think of it this way: Ice cream.
Say you really wanted it double chocolate chunky flavoured. Your friend offers to treat you to a cup but you’re too shy to tell them exactly what kind you want. They bring back vanilla. Vanilla tastes good anyway, and sure, you’ll eat it, but… you didn’t get exactly what you wanted.
If the person you’re going to get down with knows how to make you feel good (aka knows your fave ice cream flaver) and enters the bedroom with that knowledge, things will only be that much better!
If looking for a few tips to starting that sex-talk, here are a few suggestions:
1. Beforehand, think of some of the main points you would like to share and imagine yourself expressing them in the way that you communicate. You could jot down a few notes for yourself or practice what you’d like to say in private. Whatever you do to organize your thoughts. Imagine the conversation going well!
2. If you’re wondering how to start the conversation, you could mention you read a blog post on ACSEXE+ blog about sex-talks, and go from there…
3. During the conversation(s) you could mention how you feel about it as it’s happening. It’s cute and endearing to let the other person/s know if you’re ‘feeling awkward’ or ‘have never talked about this stuff outside of friend circles’ or are ‘nervous because I really like you’. Personally, those kinds of statements puts us at the ACSEXE+ headquarters at ease when someone says them because chances are I’m feeling nervous and awkward too! Saying how you feel allows for a few chuckles and lifts some of the pressure. Don’t worry, you’re cute!
These are examples of how things could go, its not a recipe that works for everyone. Ask yourself what are the ways you’d like to talk about sex, what are the most comfortable places? Try it out, don’t expect things to be perfect. Practice with your friends or cat – the more experience you have talking about sex the easier it’ll go.
Take this couple for example:
One of them has paralysis in his legs. They are a heterosexual couple, and these positions could also be used with a strap-on dildo. They try sexual positions together in their clothes to find out what will work for them, and what will be fun, before the naked fun begins! This too, can be more fun than you think, and can bring you closer together as you work toward the same objective. Yay teamwork <3
The video is in English but for those of you who don’t understand English, the images are useful on their own. Sorry there are no sub titles or closed captioning. It would be great to access videos like this in French. If you know of any, please post below!
This video is an example of two people who are committed to finding ways to pleasure each other comfortably. I love that they experiment together with their clothes on in a low pressure environment, to get an idea what will work before they’re in the heat of the moment. That way if it’s awkward or someone falls or it takes multiple attempts to get to a good spot they can laugh about it and be prepared when the hot, naked version rolls around.
Remember lovers, if things don’t go well its ok! It takes practice to communicate about sex and we learn as we go. Let us know how things go!
Post written by Aimee Louw and inspired by « The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain, and Illness» (2007) by Miriam Kaufman , Cory Silverberg , Fran Odette