This is an extract of Chapter Six of From Princess to Queen: Heartbreaks, Heartgasms, and Everything In-Between – the third book of Relationship Counselor and Clinical Sexologist Dr. Martha Tara Lee of Eros Coaching published in 2017.
Growing up in a relatively typical Chinese family in Singapore, I received very little sexuality education. I did not know that what I had “down there” was called the vulva even though I had the “bits.” I did not attempt to pronounce the word penis until I was 26, and as if that by itself was not awkward enough, I was then told that I said it wrong!
I was probably 11 or 12 when I watched a video called “The Silent Scream” in primary school (or grade school in the U.S.). It is a documentary video which depicts the abortion process via ultrasound and shows an abortion taking place in the uterus. During the abortion process, the presenter dramatically paused the video as the 11-week foetus opens its mouth in the uterus – in what appeared to be an outcry of pain and discomfort – and went, “There, there, there is the silent scream!”
Satisfied that we are considerably traumatized, we were each left with a silver collar pin moulded after the feet of an 11-week foetus to remind us of the consequences if we were to have sex. From what I hear, generations of students have watched this video in Singapore. This singular video was my only form of sex-education which I can remember in primary school.
The only sexuality education I received in secondary school (or high school in the U.S.) was in the form of annual school talks presented by pharmaceutical companies promoting sanitary pads or tampons (depending where they were from). The boys got to first jeer at us, as they went out to play in the sun. We, the young ladies, had the burden of listening to instruction on menstruation and the need to clean up after ourselves.
Here are 36 things that I wish I had learned in sex-education as a teenager:
On The Facts
- The correct anatomical names for the genitals. Without knowing what is ‘down there’ and resorting to using pet names or blushing every time we refer to our private parts, just how comfortable can one be with one’s sexuality, much less sexual expression? Being able to give the correct anatomical names to your genitals is part of healthy sexuality.
- Sexuality education does not encourage the early start of sexual intercourse, the frequency of intercourse, or even an increase in the number of sexual partners among the young ones. Instead, understanding sexuality can delay the onset of intercourse, reduce the frequency of intercourse, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase condom or contraceptive use.
- Sexuality education has very little to do with the sexual act, but is a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values of one’s sexuality. It encompasses sexual development, sexual and reproductive health, interpersonal relationships, affection, intimacy, body image, and gender roles.
- Most women (70 – 80%) can only attain an orgasm through clitoral stimulation. Only about 10 to 20% of women can reach an orgasm through vaginal penetration. An orgasm is an orgasm. There is no good or bad way to receive an orgasm, so just enjoy!
- Because men experience the start of their orgasm and ejaculation contractions within a fraction of a second, it is often misunderstood (even by the media) as the same thing. Men can orgasm without ejaculating, and men can also ejaculate without an orgasm.
- Yes, there is such a thing called the female G-spot. There is also the male G-spot and E-spot (where arousal happens as the ear is being cleaned). It is also true that some women can ejaculate and it is not pee though it may contain traces of urine. Instead of being stuck on locating “spots,” what is most important is that you are experiencing pleasure and enjoying yourself during sex.
- Our desire for sex is natural, but the act of sex itself is learned. Like much of everything we know, we acquire the knowledge, practice through trial and error, and perfect it so that it becomes a skill which we ‘own.’ Hence, the phrase: ‘sexual skill.’ Sex is a skill. You may still benefit from attending sexual workshops when you grow up.
- Your skin is your biggest sex organ, and your brain is your most powerful sex organ. Use both, and let go of any guilt! Enjoy your body, enjoy being alive, and breathe! Give yourself permission to use your sexual imagination. Your sexual fantasies, desires, and dreams are valuable and integral parts of your sexuality.
- There is a difference between fantasy and reality. In our fantasies, there are no repercussions, no harm, or pain physically felt or experienced. Fantasies are stimulating because they would probably not happen in real life. This does not mean that fantasies cannot become reality, nor does it mean that all fantasies should be played out in life. What is more important is that you can separate between fantasy and reality, and are able to decide what you wish to retain as a fantasy, and what you would like to have happen down the road and under what circumstances.
On Advice from Others
- Adults do not talk to you about sex because they are afraid of being responsible for telling you the wrong things about sex, but mostly it is because they are uncomfortable talking about sex themselves. Forgive them for never being able to give you a straight answer or dismissing you because they still see you as a child. Let that go.
- Do not believe everything you hear from your friends, family, or anybody else for that matter about sex. Most of the time, they are just passing on what they heard from somebody, who heard it from somebody else.
- All those things that your doctor or parents told you are all true: watch your diet, exercise regularly, drink less, stop smoking, and take time to pamper yourself. Your ability to enjoy your sexuality is in direct correlation with your general health.
- While the mass media uses sexualized images of men and women to sell their products and services, the people depicted do not represent how the rest of the population looks. Rather than be fixated with weight, focus on health. Instead of getting caught up with looking like a model, concern yourself with the beauty you hold within and let it shine through. It will serve you well.
- While most porn ends with the male orgasm, sex in real life does not need to end that way. The goal of sex should not be the orgasm. Either or both or neither one of you might “cum” in any given sexual encounter and that is alright!
- While watching porn, it is important to remember that they are actors portraying what most people fantasize about, not what happens in most people’s sex lives. That aside, we can be sexually stimulated by a wide variety of music, art, pictures, movies, stories, etc. and it is not at all weird if you do too.
- Always regard negative statistics and studies relating to sex and sexuality with a pinch of salt. Such reports are only as accurate as the quality of their sample and the way the study was conducted, and sometimes by whom it was funded. They do not necessarily represent the rest of the world, and most likely, they do not represent you.
- Modern science tells us that homosexuality is a human variation, not a mental illness and, therefore, has no need for a cure. One’s sexual orientation has no bearing on their value system or the quality of their character. Homosexuals are perfectly capable of being faithful and forming happy and long-lasting relationships.
- Discount negative media portrayals of queer people. These stereotypical images are used to help move the plot along quickly. Instead view ALL humans as unique individuals with varied sexual desires, needs, and wants, who may choose to express their sexuality in ways that society may not consider “normal.” (But remember, there is no such thing as ‘normal.’)
On Sex and You
- It is ok to seek out information about sex and sexuality. It does not make you any less of a person, but instead it makes you better prepared to make the right sexual decisions. The more you do know about sex and sexuality, the more comfortable you will be in owning and expressing your sexuality. Sex is not dirty, but rather completely natural and normal.
- Though it can be for some people, sex is not just a physical act. Sex is usually a physical, emotional, mental, and even spiritual act. Your intention has everything to do with what sex is like for you.
- Rather than let sex happen to you, begin thinking about what you need for sex to happen. What would make sex good for you? What would make it better? The first thing is to know what it is you want.
- Worry less about pleasing your partner, and more about doing the right things – things that after doing you can live to face yourself in the mirror the next day. Remember, it is your body, your life, and your future that is on the line. Before you can have any kind of meaningful relationship, first recognize the
- Masturbation is sex. Foreplay is sex. Oral sex is sex. Anal sex is sex. Penis in the vagina is sex. The lack of the male or female orgasm is still sex. To a sexologist, there are different forms of sexual expressions and once one enters the sexual response cycle, it counts as sex! And there is nothing wrong with the word sex either!
- You do not end up with a shorter life, go blind, or develop hairy palms from performing masturbation. There are lots of nice alternative names for masturbation such as self-love, self-pleasuring, or even solo- sex which you can choose to use.
- If you are unable to achieve an orgasm by yourself, you are less likely to be able to have an orgasm with a partner. Understanding your own body through masturbation is a great way to express your sexuality, to relieve stress, and to sleep better.
- Alcohol may relax you. Alcohol may make you perform better sexually. But alcohol also numbs sensation and pleasure, and inhibits judgment.
- If you experience pain when engaging in self-pleasuring, when performing oral sex on somebody, or when giving or receiving penetrative sex (vaginal or anally), slow down or stop! Always listen to your body!
- If we listen to the signals our body sends us, why do we not listen to what our heart tells us? When we become better at identifying and expressing our emotions, we become more socially adept in establishing and building relationships. The more socially adept we become, the better we feel and the better our relationships will be.
- We get caught up with what is “normal,” “correct,” and “acceptable.” It dominates our thinking on everything from length and size of anatomical parts, to sexual frequency, duration, and positioning. Especially in sex, there is no such thing called “normal.”
- Your relationship with sex and your sexuality will change, and sometimes that change is daily. For instance, for post-pregnancy women, some parts will change. Beyond accepting and understanding the changes of your body is to work with what you have.
- It is common to experience some form of sexual anxiety in your life. Should you be distressed and your condition has not changed in six months, you may wish to seek professional support.
On Sex and Other People
- There needs to always be authentic consent for sex to happen. Silence is not consent. Drunken sex is not consent. Consent can be withdrawn at any time. It is ok to stop a sexual session or leave if you do not feel it is right or good for you.
- There is a difference between being coerced to do something and being curious and open-minded for your own sake. Have you heard of the saying, “Fake it till you make it?” Sometimes all it takes to get used to something new is doing more of it so that you get used to it. For instance, it may include getting used to the look, smell, and taste of his penis and even semen.
- You have the right to ask about the sexual history of your partner, now whether what they tell you is true or not is another matter. Always, always, always choose safer sex practices. Take charge; purchase and carry protection with you.
- Sexual communication is communication. You probably already have the skills it takes to ask for what you need and want sexually. Because your desires and preferences may change over time, sexual communication must be an ever-evolving process. You deserve the best sex possible; communicate.
- Sex involves the expression of physical love. It is about the joy of life as well as the intimacy of connectedness. Intimacy lies more with the ability to share one’s fears, dreams, and pains. Without honesty, patience, and the ability to be vulnerable, it is not possible to let your partner know who you really are and what you really want
That’s it. All the 36 things I wish I learned!
Psst… subscribe to get my free e-book Reclaiming Your Sexuality http://www.eroscoaching.com/reclaiming-your-sexuality/
Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality before launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.
She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and completed her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling in 2017. In practice for eight years, she is the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.
Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She is the host of weekly radio show Eros Evolution on the OMTimes Radio Network. She has published three books: Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, Orgasmic Yoga and From Princess to Queen.
Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.