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Confession: 8 Rules for the Third Wheel in a Threeway

November 1, 2012


photo via flickr

Our contributor is a college student who wishes to remain anonymous. She has some sage advice to impart on the topic of three ways…

When people give warnings about threeways, it’s usually directed at couples who are bringing in a third party. Threeways are not a relationship-building exercise, they tell you. Are you sure your relationship can handle this? they ask. The reality is rarely as hot as the fantasy, they intone. Do you both want this equally? And this is all good, solid advice — I know this because I have had a threeway as one half of a couple.

But what people don’t often tell you is that it’s not easy being the third wheel, either. I’ve been there, too, and I can report that there are just as many potential pitfalls when you’re the single one — in fact, sometimes it can be even harder.

Until I tried it, I thought being the single person — the guest star of the evening! — would mean having all the fun with none of the pressure or tension of wondering what might happen to your relationship. All the tangled bedsheets, none of the nagging insecurities! And at first, this was true. My single lady threesome days proceeded similarly to the San Francisco summer of 1969: the first few experiences and couples were all love, sunshine, and plenty of orgasms to go around. By the end of the summer, though, everything good about swapping favors with couples had turned bad.

The final couple of the summer was my worst experience to date. They asked me to be their number three because they trusted me. And, perhaps, because they knew I was experienced in threesomes, too — I wasn’t some newbie who was going to try and mess with their relationship or commit some threeway faux-pas. But all the trust and experience in the world is no match for a couple who just isn’t ready for a threeway. Despite our best attempts to outline rules and regulations beforehand, the night ended in a storm of arguments between the couple.  And if you think it sucks being a couple in that situation, imagine being the lonely third stuck on the bed watching the entire thing unfold.

When I first arrived at the couple’s house, they poured me a glass of white wine as we sat on their bedroom floor, all of us eager and a bit nervous. We discussed their previously concocted rules and what everyone’s comfort levels were on various sexual acts. Additionally, I suggested that we choose a safe word in case things went in a direction someone was uncomfortable with — that way we could redirect the threeway without having to disrupt the lively libidinous mood of the night.

The more we talked, the more we learned about each other. Sounds like we were on the right track, right? Unfortunately, the guy had failed to tell his partner just how many times he and I had been together previously. It was years ago, and it was never as a couple — his girlfriend knew this, but she didn’t know exactly how often. Awkward time to find out that your partner wasn’t completely honest with you! (I’d assumed she was fully in the know.) We also discussed how he had cheated on every one of his partners, except her. Again, not exactly the best way to make your partner feel secure and safe as she prepares to engage in a threeway.

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of tension in the room. For some reason, though, we all agreed that it was a good idea to go ahead with the threeway anyway. Once you’ve got that far, I guess it’s hard to turn back. And for most of the night, we had a great time. But as the evening wore on, the man became jealous of his partner and me getting intimate together. Rather than pull the plug on the evening, he let his jealousy grow until he couldn’t stand it any longer — and then he launched into a massive argument with her. In a slightly drunken stupor, they staggered to the bathroom, fighting all the way, and slammed the door shut behind them. Meanwhile, I was left in the dark, somewhat dehydrated, lying on another couple’s sex stained bed and listening to them yell at each other through a closed door. Not exactly my favorite way to spend an evening. I gathered my things as I tried to put together how this night took such a dramatic turn for the worst.

Here’s what I came up with — consider it some much-needed advice for the pinch-hitter in a threeway (though most of this advice applies to anyone considering a threeway). Do not proceed without the following:

1. Communicate. The couple needs to tell you exactly what is and is not acceptable — preferably at a time before the night of the threesome. This is because (a) this talk is necessary but not always sexy foreplay talk; and (b) this talk may make any one of you rethink the threeway — and some time lag will give you each a chance to change your mind. Some recommended topics to cover: Will the guest be able to have intercourse with either partner? Can there be two-way kisses or only three-way kisses? What positions do you want to try that involve three people? How are we handling safer sex? Similarly, the guest should also communicate boundaries. Think of it as a consultation to make sure everyone is on the same page.

2. Know thyself. Really knowing yourself and where your boundaries lie is key. For example, the guy in this threeway had no idea that he would be jealous of his girlfriend kissing another woman. As a guest, are you prepared for what your role will be? What if the couple treats you as a human sex toy, for example? What if they only want to kiss each other?

3. Have (and use, if necessary) a safeword. Of course, you can’t always know in advance how something will make you feel. Hence the need for a safe word – and the need to actually use it!

4. STOP at any time. You can pull the plug after the initial communication session, you can run a mile when they open the door to you, or you can yell the safe word right after everyone gets naked. Don’t ever keep going just because it seems like it would be “awkward” to stop. It’s way more awkward to keep going with a threeway you know one or all of you will regret later. And don’t feel bad ditching a couple if you sense they’re not ready for a threeway — you’re doing them and their relationship a favor.

5. Make sure you trust each other. Everyone knows that the couple must trust each other, duh. But the guest also needs to trust that the couple has come to the right decision in having a threesome. If you think one of the partners is not emotionally stable enough for it, then you must politely decline the invitation. If you don’t trust one of the partner’s intentions for the threesome, or you think they might overstep their boundaries, then don’t do it. All three of you need to want the best for each other, and to understand the sexual dynamic you each desire. After all, as the guest you are not just there to heat up that couple’s relationship — there needs to be something in it for you, too!

6. Know your responsibilities. The couple is putting their relationship in a vulnerable position when they decide to share their other half with someone outside of the relationship. This means that the guest has a responsibility to stay aware of their boundaries and intently listen to what each partner wants and desires. Similarly, the couple has a responsibility to one another in maintaining trust by keeping in check with their partner to ensure that nothing has gone too far.

7. Don’t get drunk. Consume alcohol responsibly and in moderation. Sure, some liquid confidence may seem like a good idea, but if you feel like you need alcohol to go through with a threesome, you probably should not be having a threesome. A glass of wine to settle the nerves and get in the mood is totally acceptable, but anything beyond that can lead you into the dangerous territory of disrespect, non-consensual sex, and — like my experience — heated arguments.

8. Debrief afterwards. Maybe meet for coffee the next week to check in and see how everyone is doing. This is especially helpful for the single person, because they will be reassured that the couple is still solid in their relationship. Overall, everyone can feel more comfortable and have closure over the experience. Plus, then you won’t live in fear of bumping into each other in the supermarket and having to debrief there!


In Defense of the “Woman-Child”

September 10, 2012


photo via Flickr

I (Lo here) consider myself a pretty hardcore feminist. And I love Jezebel.com. So I expected their “Woman-Child” article today to be just my kind of internet candy. My best guess about its focus? The media’s obsession with infantalizing women to make them seem cuter, softer, more likeable. But it actually turned out to be one writer’s poop parade on grown, successful women choosing to have fun, be lighthearted, dress up, and not take things so seriously. (I know by choosing the phrase “poop parade” I may only be proving her point, but I’m sticking with it.)

The article talks about the female counterpart to the man-child: grown women who increasingly don’t act their age. Now, far be it from me to get in the way of someone going to town on Katy Perry’s lollipop-licking, Candyland-prancing, cherry-nippled persona — hey, go to town! But in the process, the piece totally dismisses the benefits of being young at heart, of maintaining a childlike wonder about the world, of always learning and exploring, of making time for play and fun and laughter. Why should kids get to have all the fun?

There’s nothing wrong with an adult wanting to read an engaging, plot-driven story that’s entertaining and takes you back (hello, Twilight) — especially when you’re too overworked or stressed out from a job and/or kids to finally finish David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” right now even though you will eventually some day. Having older and wiser personalities contribute to a magazine for teens like Rookie just makes sense. And board games are a hoot — especially when you’re old enough to add alcohol to them!

So is dressing up. Now, I’m not defending the extremes the fashion and beauty industries go to in order to make a billion — namely shaming women into spending way too much time, money and effort on this season’s sanctioned “ideal” look; what I am defending is the right women have to wear whatever the hell they want without ridicule, especially if it’s cost effective, creative, nostalgic or empowering for them. Sarah Silverman wearing comfortable t-shirts and sneakers and refusing to put her sex on display or to buy into the High Fashion Industrial Complex is radical and refreshing and bold, especially for a celebrity — it’s not adolescent. And I would call Zooey Deschanel’s style retro, not infantile. Perhaps the writer, at least with these examples, is confusing a lack of cleavage with childishness.

And I hate to break the news, but wacky nail polish color has been around for a long time. I remember writing a bit for The Boston Phoenix on the “crazy” new nail polish colors by, for example, Nars, that were new on the scene…twenty years ago. It just might seem like a big, new deal right now because, during a recession, nail polish is a cheap and easy and therefore popular way to make a bold fashion statement.

There’s nothing worse than chatting with fellow moms or career women — especially younger ones — who take themselves too seriously, as if having a sense of humor or a good time might get their membership in the Adult Club revoked. These types always seem to me like they are playing grown up, making mountains out of molehills — when they should be making mud pies with their kids. After all, being able to tap into your inner child — which includes the incredibly healthy quality of not being afraid to make an ass out of yourself — makes you a better parent (and probably a better innovator and a better improviser and a better artist and a better friend…).

And I’m sorry, but pizza and cupcakes taste good. Not to mention the fact that they are economical and require minimal prep and clean up – great for busy adults who want to get together with friends but don’t have the time, the money and/or the inclination to concoct five course meals with linens and good silver. Her underlying argument seems to be one in favor of high status over low, rather than adulthood over immaturity. I mean, are you really going to suggest that shopping at Banana Republic, where sweaters cost $100, is plebeian?

The author says women these days might just be afraid of growing up. I will concede that there is great prejudice in our society against women who dare to age (I mean, if I hear one more joke about Madonna being elderly I’m going to hurl — the woman could literally kick most Americans’ butts! She’s a machine! Have you seen her guns?!?!). And this kind of shaming that happens to women and not men (who only get more distinguished and experienced and dashingly silver-tipped as they age) results in horrifying Joan Rivers’ masks and Botox at 20.  And so, yes, many women are afraid to get old. Can you blame them when such a sky-scraper high, almost moral value is placed on how women look in our society?

But are they afraid of growing up? Nuh uh. Women want to be successful, competent, and powerful — at whatever endeavors they choose. They stay single longer because they’ve got a lot of living to do and they want to grow their careers and their bank accounts and their experiences before they get married and have kids (if they get married and have kids) — which is a much more grown-up approach to life than trying to live the fairy-tale fantasy of finding prince-charming at 18 to take care of you for the rest of your life.

Maturity and fun are not mutually exclusive. Women can — and do — discuss feminist articles in The Atlantic or the dearth of female directors in Hollywood while they are out on the town with their girlfriends, getting a relaxing mani-pedi, having a delicious cocktail, cracking jokes and cracking up, taking pictures along the way to preserve the memory of a great night out with friends. (Then they post those right along side their “age-appropriate” pics of their kid’s first day of kindergarten.) Sit-down dinners inspired by the Times Magazine‘s food column and during which important geo-political issues are debated can be — and are — followed by epic rounds of charades.

Maybe I’m getting young in my old age, but if I have to choose between Ralph-Lauren-wearning Gwenyth Paltrow and blue-wigged Nicki Minaj, I’ll take Nicki any day. After all, girls just want to have fun…and so do boys, and women, and men — at least the ones who want to enjoy this one-time ride do.

Comment of the Week: The Older Men Get, the Less They Talk Sex w/Friends

August 23, 2012


This week, in response to the post “Wise Guys: Do Men Know Whether Their Male Friends Are Circumcised?” reader Johnny said:

The older men get, the less we discuss sex with each other. Whether it’s because we’re more mature, we’re pretending we’re more mature, or because we’re more experienced and there are fewer questions and surprises, there’s just less sex talk.

So, I don’t know the penile stats of my newer, more-aged male friends. I do know the penile stats of my longer-term friends whom I’ve known since we were young. Approximate size, circumcision, pitch, yaw, std status, extent of pubic grooming… all that.


Confession: How I (Still) Make My Open Relationship Work

August 9, 2012

1 Comment

Three years ago, our then intern Kristine deGuzman, who was a junior at UC Berkeley at the time, wrote a Confession for this site about how she and her boyfriend were taking a break from each other while she studied abroad. Kristine is now a Cal grad and a Senior Social Media Specialist at a PR agency in San Francisco, and she’s back to tell us how the story ended. You can check out our personal blog here.

A few years ago, when I was a bright-eyed junior at UC Berkeley, I wrote here about how my boyfriend and I were going on a break before I left to study abroad in Spain. At the time we had been together for two years, and I remember the reaction I received — from friends and readers alike — who thought I was being unrealistic in thinking that I could hook up with a slew of Spanish men and return to my relationship unscathed.

Well, I’m happy to report that that three years (and many attractive foreign men) later, my boyfriend and I are still together and still as much in love as we were before — if not more so.

Though our relationship has passed the five-year mark, this is not to say that it has been without its difficulties. I’m not going to lie and say our relationship was full of sunshine and daisies after I got back from Spain, because it wasn’t. We dated other people and, yes, slept with other people, and like any normal relationship there were fights and there was jealousy and there was crying — lots and lots of crying.

But in the end, there was and is always a decision — do we give up or do we work it out? And amidst all of the fights, we always chose each other. (Plus, it became kind of kinky to talk about the other people we’d had sex with while having sex with each other — how’s that for dirty talk?)

In the two years that followed my trip to Spain we stayed in a mostly monogamous relationship, though there were a few occasions at parties where he gave me permission to kiss other people (and I, likewise, extended the same courtesy). However, since my boyfriend moved back to LA last September, we’ve returned to experimenting with the boundaries of our relationship, and we’re currently in a long-distance, open relationship.

We don’t have a timeline for when we’ll no longer be long-distance, since I work in the tech industry (which is booming in San Francisco) and he works in the entertainment industry (which basically doesn’t exist outside of Hollywood), but we have talked about moving to New York together within the next two or three years. As far as whether or not our open relationship will continue once we’re back in the same city — it’s kind of unknown. Though, it does seem hard to justify either of us sleeping with other people when the other is just a quick Metro ride away.

Most of the people who I talk to about our relationship are either really supportive or really confused. The confused ones often ask, “Why waste your time with other people if you have a good thing?” Others have admitted that they think it’s hubris for my boyfriend and I to think that we can have our cake (each other) and have sex with other people on the side too.

I think that most of the people who question our relationship do so because they could never imagine themselves in the same situation, and that’s perfectly fine. I don’t think my boyfriend and I have the gold standard of relationships upon which all other relationships should mold themselves, and neither of us goes around telling other couples that they should try spicing things up a bit by sleeping with other people.

What it boils down to, at least for us, is communication — my boyfriend and I talk everyday, several times a day, to the point where my sister now rolls her eyes and says, “Again?! You just talked an hour ago,” whenever she sees my boyfriend calling. We also have pretty specific “rules” in our open relationship (in contrast to the “anything goes” policy we had during our break when I was in Spain). The rules are as follows:

• Dates must be disclosed in advance.
• Potential suitors must know about the existence of the other person.
• Kissing is basically like shaking hands – doesn’t need to be disclosed unless it leads into a date.
• Condoms must be used with all extraneous sexual partners.

We’re so honest with each other that we rarely even fight anymore. I told him when I joined OkCupid, and he joined soon thereafter. We deactivated our OkCupid accounts somewhere around the same time, since neither of us had any luck meeting people in whom we were truly interested. A few months ago, when a trio of boys chatted up a couple of friends and I at a bar, I joked with him about it afterwards. We still talk to each other about our crushes, including one in particular that was so deep and overwhelming that I thought for sure it would tear us apart.

But even with the most destructive of crushes, honest communication was and is the key to making it work – in this particular scenario, my boyfriend ended up giving me permission to date this person despite his misgivings about the situation. The crush fizzled out anyway, but I had even more respect for my boyfriend afterwards for being so rational and levelheaded about it all.

When I envision the trajectory of my life, he is the one I see at the end. He will always be the person I choose when it comes down to it, and I know he feels the same.

So why not have some fun with other people along the way?


Confession: I’m a BDSM Beginner

June 28, 2012


Lelo’s “Etherea” Silk Cuffs

A female friend of ours, a recent college grad who wishes to remain anonymous, has a confession to make:

I think I might be kinky.

I know, I know: These days, who isn’t? With Fifty Shades of Grey refusing to budge from the bestseller list and Rihanna singing about how chains and whips excite her, it’s practically de rigueur to own a pair of fuzzy handcuffs. But I know for me, this isn’t some trendy game I’ll play with a pink blindfold and a couple of scarves (though if those are your thing, more power to you!). I’m talking about real domination and submission, real pain.

I’ve always liked playing around with control in the bedroom. One boyfriend I had would pretend to be a bandit or a pirate and I would be the pretty maiden waiting to be ravished. Another would pin me down, yank my hair, bite harder than usual. (Unfortunately, most guys couldn’t seem to understand that I actually wanted something that hurt and left a mark, not just a delicate, ticklish nip on the neck like some Twilight fantasy.)

But while I enjoyed doing these things, something always felt a little tame. It seemed too easy to be the princess, too boring to be the delicate flower, all please-sir-may-I-have-some-more?

I started watching BDSM porn, beginning with the typical guy dominating a girl. It was fine, the way any porn is fine when you want to watch some. But then I found a link to the femdom aspect of this particular website, and: JACKPOT! Fireworks went off in my underwear! The images of men in submission, begging for a touch, were so much hotter to me than women doing the same. And when the man begged to have an orgasm? When he was denied? That was (and is) the best of all, to me. It’s usually a given that a guy is going to climax when you’re having sex, right? At least, it was a surefire (pun intended) thing for my partners, and not always so for me. Femdom changed all the rules.

I’ve tried to figure out why I’m into femdom. Did I once stand up to the bully in pre-school? Do I want to find my powerful voice, one that doesn’t come naturally to my reserved public persona? All I know is what I want: I want a man to trust me enough to let me do whatever I want to him. I want him to want me to do that. And I totally want to ruin his orgasm.

My one big problem now? Finding someone to top.

I’ve never actually fucked anyone this way. I’ve never told anyone about these desires and I’m not sure how to bring them up. I know there are websites for people like me, who want to find a “slave,” but I don’t buy into the whole leather-boots, lotsa-lipstick look that screams “Dominatrix right here!” Nor do I want this to be an entire “lifestyle,” one in which my boyfriend, after a satisfying round of power play, does my dishes and folds my laundry while on all fours. (Then again….)

No, I think I’d rather fly under the radar, and work my ways on some strong man who’s never really given bedroom submission a thought before. I guess I’ll have to start slow and ease him into it with those silly fur cuffs, so eventually he’ll go for real rope. Maybe I’ll even make him think it’s all his idea…

Confession: 4 Things Emma Goldman Taught Me About Sex

May 17, 2012

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EMandLO.com contributor Jewely Hoxie, who is studying Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz — you can read her blog here — has this to say:

Emma Goldman: 1800′s anarchist, philosopher, and rebel women. She believed in free-thinking, free-love, and birth control. The woman wasn’t so much of a suffragist, seeing as she once said, “If voting changed anything, it would be illegal,” but she is known for starting anarcha-feminism. As a radical thinker of her time, she fought for the rights of all genders and sexual orientations. Even in all her extremity (yes, there are stories that she plotted an assassination, politically driven, of course), this rebel woman has had a striking influence on me. She died 72 years ago this week. Get inspired:

1. “It is essential that we realize once and for all that man is much more of a sex creature than a moral creature. The former is inherent, the other is grafted on.”

This taught me that sex is real and normal and human. It is okay to be interested in and ask questions about it. The only judgments that can be made about your sexual fetishes are the ones you make yourself (consent is always a good one though).

2. “Women need not always keep their mouths shut and their wombs open.”

Our sex scripts tell us that women should be silenced and submissive. Thanks to Goldman, I hope we’ve learned that our pleasure is our own and we have the right to tell others what we want (and don’t want).

3. “Real wealth consists in things of utility and beauty in things that help create strong, beautiful bodies and surroundings inspiring to live in.”

I keep this quotation above my desk as a reminder of what gives my life meaning and fulfillment. I would also say this is an understanding we have here at EMandLO.com: we encourage loving our bodies and our surroundings.

4. “I demand the independence of woman, her right to support herself; to live for herself; to love whomever she pleases, or as many as she pleases. I demand freedom for both sexes, freedom of action, freedom in love and freedom in motherhood.

Pretty much speaks for itself, in the most beautiful and real of ways.

Confession: I Lied About Being a Virgin

May 3, 2012

1 Comment

photo via flickr

A female friend of ours, a recent college grad who wishes to remain anonymous, has a confession to make:

When I got to college, I was still carrying around my V card in my back pocket. By then, I had read erotica, watched porn, masturbated, made out furiously with high school boyfriends, even experienced cunnilingus — it just didn’t make sense to me (and, I feared, to everyone else at school) that I hadn’t had intercourse yet. I figured, with some annoyance, that my intact hymen was going to be a major speed-bump on the road to on-campus sexual satisfaction.

Turns out it was also a blow to my on-campus self-esteem. At my college — a very liberal, sex-positive place — everyone was having sex, and talking about having sex, and thinking about having sex. Everyone but me, it seemed. When the topic would come up among friends, I would sit blushing in the corner with nothing to say, uncomfortably aware of my status as outsider, as freak.

My virginity had to go! It didn’t matter who, it didn’t matter how. So when I found an interested party — a rather devastating boy who lived down the hall from me — I didn’t dare mention it. Why risk the transaction? I figured, Let’s just close the deal!

I very quickly realized this was a mistake.

Sure, there was some relief in the moment that actual, official intercourse was finally happening. But that emotion was squelched by an all-consuming fear of the unknown — a fear I couldn’t share with my partner, which ironically made me feel very alone. Then there was the pain. I wasn’t aware of how much I would need to be turned on in order to find penetration pleasurable, and lube (what’s lube?) certainly wasn’t an option back then — so it hurt like a mother. The final indignity — at least at the time — was all the blood. He freaked, I cried, and that was the end of that five-minute relationship.

Thinking back on it now, I realize that what’s worse than the break-up, worse than the physical pain, even worse than the crime scene is the ridiculous power that Virginity with a capital V still holds over our 21st-century culture. It’s like the Scarlet Letter — except this time, inexperience is the crime. Virgins don’t want to talk about it; experienced people don’t want to take it away from anyone. The shame and fear surrounding it make virginity a way bigger deal than it needs to be. After all, intercourse is just one of many different ways to have sex.

Clearly, with this issue — as with so many relationship problems — communication is the key! For all you newbies to intercourse, take it from me: Tell your partner in a non-sexual context that intercourse is new to you, and tell them how you feel about it. If it’s not a big deal to you, say that. If it is, say that too, and why! Then you and your partner can go forth fully informed and aware of what you are doing together. And maybe you’ll have the good sense to put down a towel.

5 Reasons to Have Sex with the Lights On

April 19, 2012


photo via flickr

EMandLO.com contributor Jewely Hoxie, who is studying Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz — you can read her blog here — has a confession to make:

In the movie Manhattan, Diane Keaton says to Woody Allen that he’s the kind of man she could see herself have kids with — naturally, he tells her to hit the lights. It’s common in movies for the dimming of the lights to be a signal for getting it on (I suppose it helps them steer clear of NC-17 ratings). Like most movie sex, I tend to disagree. I’m not saying you need to see each other under the unappealing cast of florescent lighting — just use a dimmer switch or light some candles. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Sex is considered very much a physical activity — let’s get physical, Olivia Newton John sang. Touching each other makes us feel good. However, I think humans are more complicated than that: visuals can make us feel good too. Let’s get visual!
  2. Seeing your partner and having your partner see you brings a new level of intimacy to the experience.
  3. Not only does it allow you to better get to know your partner, but you’ll also know where you’re going. Going down on someone — especially a new partner — takes enough concentration and difficulty as it is… try cutting off all means of seeing what you’re doing!
  4. Allowing someone to see you naked is a sign of trust and confidence — two characteristics that can make someone very attractive. Body shame is a big issue in our society, especially when we see hundreds of advertisements a week of people with unrealistic bodies. Letting your partner know you want to really see them, even with the lights on, may help them realize they don’t need to be ashamed. No matter your body type, you can still be sexy and still deserve pleasure.
  5. Perhaps I’m alone in this, but when I look at people in the dark, they look like mysterious and scary monsters. I want to know who I am sleeping with!


Confession: I’m a Pubic Hair Pusher Who Occasionally Goes Bare

April 5, 2012


photo via flickr

A contributor friend of ours who recently graduated college (and wishes to remain anonymous) has a confession to make:

For three consecutive years, I participated in my university’s production of The Vagina Monologues. The piece I performed was entitled “Hair.” The moral of this story? You have to love hair in order to love the vagina — you can’t just pick the parts you want! For the first two years, I made the case for pubic hair while proudly sporting a nice little bush of my own. But that third year, while I praised the mighty pube at the top of my lungs, I was secretly rocking — and loving — a vulva as bald as Kojak.

Having grown up in Florida where being swimsuit-ready is a way of life, I had always been meticulous with the grooming of my bikini line. But after getting the sides waxed off at the spa, I always made sure to leave a nice, soft triangle of full-length fluff between my legs. I liked the feeling of that soft spot when I ran my hands over my body after a shower — so much better than the prickliness that comes with close-to-the-bod trimming. I also loved that I looked (and felt) so womanly — that patch distinguished my adult body from my pre-pubescent body. I thought that women who wanted to go completely bare were absolutely crazy. Who wants to look like a 10 year old again?

So why the 180 degree turn? Because a guy finally asked me, “Can I go down on you?”

I had never experienced cunnilingus before. To be honest, I’d never really had much interest in it. But when someone I really cared about presented me with the opportunity — and I finally felt ready to explore something so intimate — I realized that I was actually a bit self-conscious about my hair. Oh, I didn’t care if he wanted to touch it or look at it, but I certainly didn’t want him putting his face in it! Not because I feared he’d get a loose pube caught in his throat, or because I worried my hair would smell extra funky, or because I’d heard lots of guys don’t like pubic hair nowadays. Frankly, I wasn’t really worried about his preferences — I was thinking about mine. I’ve never liked kissing guys with facial hair — too scratchy! So I just figured: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I booked my usual bikini wax, but went in this time with the option to go whole hog if a few things checked out. Nice, chatty aesthetician? Check. Sensitive-skin wax available? Check. No bubbling (and thus burning) wax? Check. No double dipping by the waxer? Check. All my questions answered? Check. With all my fears allayed, I just went for it right then and there.

I didn’t have time to feel like a hypocrite in the moment, I was too busy thinking “Oh wow, that hot wax feels kinda, well, hot…in a good way” and “I wonder what his tongue will feel like down there?” and “Whoa! That didn’t hurt NEARLY as much as I had imagined — it was even less painful than my bikini line! Who knew?” Any embarrassment I might have felt from a stranger poking around my most private parts was quelled by the fact that the gloved aesthetician explained to me that this was all in a day’s work for her — right before she started talking with me about the complex issue of Israeli politics.

Despite all my pre-visit research, I’d somehow missed the part about the butt-crack. So I was a little confused when the waxer had me turn over and “hold one cheek to the side like this.” But she did it so fast that I didn’t have a chance to worry I might fart in her face.

All in all, the experience actually turned out to be quite positive.

Of course, up on stage, during The Vagina Monologues, my bare vulva and I felt like frauds. There I was telling the men and women in the audience that all ladies have hair and it’s beautiful and sexy and hot. But I myself had waxed it all away because I thought oral sex would be more beautiful and sexy and hot without it.

And I must say: I was right, at least in some respects. I loved my bare, naked lady-parts, and not just because my first time with cunnilingus had turned out to be fantastic. Skinny-dipping became a brand new experience, since now I could feel an unusual and exciting coolness between my legs. Going to the bathroom made me giggle because it actually felt different (apparently hair gives you better aim!). And intercourse became a fun experiment in contrasts: I loved the difference between my soft smoothness verses his rough hairiness. So I kept splurging on those Brazillians every month.

Then, after half a year or so, I wanted my bush back. So I grew it back. And sex was brand new again. Without hair, I had come to appreciate soft touches, light vibrations, little breezes. With my hair grown back, I realized I liked things a little rougher, more pressure-based. Both were great, just different.

If I hadn’t tried the Brazillian I never would have truly learned the importance of the monologue “Hair.” Sure, hair is part of the vagina, but it’s also a part of my body, and my experience of my body, and who I am – sometimes I want it there and sometimes I don’t. The importance is all about choice — being able to enjoy my body any way that I want.

7 Ways to Turn Yourself On

March 22, 2012


EMandLO.com contributor Jewely Hoxie, who is studying Human Sexuality at the University of California Santa Cruz — you can read her blog here — has a confession to make:

I’ll admit it — most of these suggestions will probably resonate more with the ladies than the gents. After all, guys don’t tend to need much help turning themselves on. But most of the following can be universally applied. If you don’t want to try something yourself, consider doing it for your partner instead.

  1. Use a male scent that you like (or, for dudes, a female scent). I was never a fan of Axe, but Old Spice does me in every time. Try wearing it on yourself — you might find it helpful conjuring fantasies. Gents, if your masculinity feels threatened by wearing a gal’s scent, just spray it on something near you instead.
  2. Focus on your partner’s (or your crush’s) hands doing something active. When I see a guy’s fingers plucking a guitar, for example, I imagine how they could be playing me.
  3. Work out. Stretching after going on a run is probably the key to this natural aphrodisiac. It’s a great stress reliever and gets you in tune with your body in order to figure out what feels good for you.
  4. Listen to music. Some people watch porn; I prefer music for getting in the mood. Different styles of music correspond to different styles of sex. Similar to dirty talk, music can enhance the whole experience… even listening hours before you plan to get busy.
  5. Clean up your place. Okay, so maybe breaking out the broom and the Pledge won’t actually get you in the mood to jump someone’s bones — but it will ensure that when the time comes, you won’t be distracted by dirty dishes and piles of laundry (and even if you don’t find those things distracting, your partner might). Sure, some people get so caught up in the moment that they sweep dirty dishes aside to do it on the kitchen counter, but most of those people are imaginary characters in porn films.
  6. Wear underwear you feel good in — and that you know you look good in. Sure, having someone seduce you in sweats or raggedy old boxers can be nice, too. But there’s something awesome about dressing for sex and then unveiling your secret at the end of the day (or on your lunch break). And dudes, this goes for you, too — you know you have a favorite pair that present the goods just perfectly.
  7. Date someone with a feminist perspective. Ladies, there’s no bigger turn-on than being with someone who understands that women have desires too. (This includes a willingness to use vibrators and sex toys in the bedroom, fyi.) And men, there’s no bigger turn-on than being with someone who knows what she wants in bed and isn’t afraid to ask for it.