On reading Girl on the Net’s most amazing book ‘My Not-So-Shamful Sex Secrets’ I was hit in the early chapters by its brutal honesty. Not from its explicit recantations, but from how it resonated deep within me. I remember feelings like this growing up – the confusion, the feeling of being dirty, powerfully sexual but not allowed to be. And I thought; this would make a fantastic guide for teenage girls and their parents about teenage sexual development.
I write this as a 30-something woman. Not as a mother, a wife, an aunt (I may be all or none of those things, for all you know). But simply as a woman who once went through puberty.
So this is what I did through my teenaged years. In between trying to pass exams and not get too bullied at school, I wanked. Frantically, furiously, and with a passion and commitment that the world tried to tell me was just for boys.’ My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 1
And I want to make this really clear. Girls have sexual desires. It’s not just young boys who desperately want to have their hands down their trousers 24/7, experimenting with parts of their anatomy which have the ability to make them feel oh, ooh! So good.
I know this may be hard for some of you to understand. We have a tendency to put our little girls on glass shelves, high out of reach of the leering, sexual world roaring beneath.
But our girls are very much in it. They have hormones which kick in, and kick in hard. And it is our responsibility to educate them and enable them to understand what’s going on and make the right decisions for themselves.
The problem comes by letting them think that they are wrong or dirty in doing so. Thus creating a huge imbalance which does nothing to educate and empower.
Now let’s be very clear – I’m not staying that all girls and boys are rampant sex machines. Some may feel asexual, some may be unsure about their sexuality and not know how to start exploring. But my point is this – we should not try to repress natural exploration.
We’re still ever so slightly weird about the idea of teenage girls locking themselves in their room and frigging themselves raw through their jeans.” My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 1
And we are. Where as we joke and laugh about the time boys spend locked in their bedrooms, we feel unable to do the same about our girls. And as a result the mixed messages aren’t just for them, but for the boys too.
So let’s begin with…
Lesson 1: Teenage Girls Wank
I suspect the same could be said of many teenagers—that moment when you discover that touching yourself like that can make everything else in the world seem dull, shallow and unimportant, is a moment that many of us spend the rest of our lives trying to recreate.’ My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 1
And look – the world didn’t stop spinning!!
Women, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, carers, guardians; please take a moment to be crucially honest with yourselves.
As a young girl, did you NEVER put your fingers into your knickers, stroke and explore softly, and shudder at the unexpected but delightful pleasure that ensued? HONESTLY? Thought as much. It is simply irresponsible to think that your daughter doesn’t do it too.
And for the girls out there reading this; you are not dirty, you are simply doing what every woman has done before you.
But what you will find is that your girlfriends don’t really talk about it. I went to an all girls school and still no one talked about the fact that girls like to wank.
…wanking—contrary to almost everything I’d previously been led to believe—was not just for boys. The references to it were everywhere: jokes about boys being boys, talk of crusty bedsheets, sniggers and whispers if a guy had his hands in his pockets for too long. Not just at school, either. TV programmes and teen flicks were filled with not-so-subtle nods to the fact that boys just couldn’t get enough orgasmic alone-time…What I couldn’t quite fathom, though, was why no one ever mentioned that girls did it too.’ My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 1
Lesson 2: They have to learn HOW to wank
But despite these words giving me that trembling feeling, I didn’t know how to keep it going… Insights garnered from TV shows that I watched late at night had given me the impression that I should stick my fingers in, but I’d done that before when I was practising with tampons, and it had just given me a vague feeling of medical-grade discomfort. Touching my insides seemed wrong… Moreover, I had no idea what I was supposed to do once my fingers were there. Should there be a side-to-side motion? A swirling motion? An in-and-out motion? Not a bloody clue.’ My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 1
No one is born a ready made nuclear scientist, a crime fiction novelist, a teacher. Neither are we born with the knowledge to be an amazing lover to ourselves nor someone else.
As such, masturbation/fingering/frigging etc is a process of self discovery. And it can be quite a pleasurable one too.
There was a woman documented in Cosmopolitan magazine who stated that as part of her daughters’ sexual education, she would be buying them vibrators. Not as a sordid ‘Go frig yourself into insatiable harlots with my blessing!’ but as a declaration that they should understand their own bodies and how they work before letting anyone else near them.
Unwanted sex, no matter what the circumstance, should not be a normal part of a girl’s sexual exploration” Stephanie Land, 3rd April 2016, Cosmopolitan.com.
What would you rather? Your daughter having a 5 second grope and fumble behind the bike sheds which may result in her losing her virginity. Uncomfortable, possibly unprotected, and let with a feeling of ‘Is that it? Does it get better? Why does everyone rave about this?’.
Or, having a knowledge or her own body, how it works, what feels nice, and therefore with the power to ensure that any sexual experience she encounters that she is in a position to protect herself and enact on her own desires? Wouldn’t you want her to know what feels amazing, and therefore more unwilling to settle for anything less?
Girls, which would you prefer?
Why should this be something that we are left to stumble our way towards later in life, as adults? Surely an understanding of our bodies, and a realistic expectation of sex, is just as relevant as knowing how to balance a cheque book and how important not pissing off the tax man is? (Don’t ever piss off HMRC, is my lesson to you now…)
Lesson 3: They need to make sense of the rampant feelings and desires going on in their heads and bodies. And lust is one of them
We could be in love, we could have crushes, and we could be curious. But we couldn’t actually have desires, for God’s sake. That would be cheating. A whispered discussion about what cocks were like was all well and good, but the powerful, wet, angry lust that we actually felt was a bit freakish, a bit wrong. No one ever had to tell us this, we just knew. We were allowed to have giggles and sleepovers and secret codewords and whispered gossip and posters of be-coiffed boyband members. But wanking? Wanking was for boys.’ My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 1
If we are unable to understand what we want, then how can we go about getting what we need?
Teenage girls feel the same sexual pull, lust and desire as teenage boys do. It’s part of nature. Their bodies getting ready to mate and reproduce, in its most basic sense. But human beings, along with only one other species (the Bonobo ape,as you asked), are actually capable of having sex for pleasure throughout the menstrual cycle, making it not purely for reproductive needs (Sex at Dawn, Ryan and Jetha, 2011 p. 85)
Otherwise, why would women after menopause still want to have sex? (And they do – that generation is notorious for having an increasing incidence of STIs due to the lack of need for protection from pregnancy, and new partners after separation or death). Why would women who no longer have the biological ability to reproduce still feel the desire to have sex?
We are human. We desire closeness. To feel appreciated. Fancied. Adored. Maybe only for a few hours, a night, or far longer. We are social creatures who need to feel wanted. And all of these feelings flying about can get pretty damn confusing.
Far better to educate our girls that everyone has sexual lust, but there is a way to act on them to help you have the best experience possible, and be safe whilst you are doing it.
But to warn our girls that ‘as a woman, I’d be irresistible to anyone with a penis and a pulse’ (Chapter 2) is wrong. This demonises the male sex and causes years of confusion and pain. Not every man walking down the street wants to ravage you there and then. To be honest, we’d never get anything done if this were true.
Lesson 4: Fumble first, sex later
We didn’t want to shag them, and weren’t even bothered about snogging particularly—an activity which I’d found to be relatively unsexy and to require far too much post-snog facial wiping. So, no shagging, no snogging, as little conversation as we could get away with—all we wanted to do was get their hands on our tits.’ My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 2
As a teenager, you want to experiment. This may be smoking, it may be drinking. And also with other people. Though don’t think that they are jumping straight into the deep end. Often they just want to have someone else touch them in a way that feels good, to experience the difference between their hand and someone else’s.
To have their breasts felt, their nipples tweaked. To touch a hard cock, to see what it feels like, what ejaculate/cum/jizz looks and tastes like.
And yes, it might sound gross to you now. But we all did it at some point.
We wanted to explore someone else’s body in the same way we had explored ours. Maybe another girl. Maybe a boy. Learning as we inexpertly grope our way through the layers of clothing to reach the proverbial Golden Ticket.
It is during this stage of exploration that you begin to realise that, although you know what feels good (hopefully, you’ve worked that bit out by now), the person you are with is not a mind reader, in the same way that you will never be able to tell exactly how good or bad something feels when you are doing it to them. They need you to direct them in what to do, and to do that you need to know what you want. Simple, huh?
Lesson 5: Virginity is best lost in a safe and private place
We’d fucked without embarrassment, tears or noticeable staining on the carpet. No one’s mum had burst in, no one’s friends had shouted ‘Oi! What are you two doing in there?’ and above all neither of us had been too drunk to remember what happened.’ My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 2
How many of us lost ours in a drunken fumble, possibly at a house party in a room where our friends were constantly barging in trying to catch you at it?
Is this what you want for your daughter? For your son, even?
For them to have no dignity in this momentous stage of life?
Girls – is this seriously how you want to remember your first time?
Hopefully you/they are feeling confident that this is the person you/they want to lose your/their virginity with, and it’s not a drink-fuelled half-hearted decision because neither really knows what you/they want or what’s expected.
And as a parent, please remember that sex can happen any time, anywhere. Chances are, if your daughter or son is asking to stay at their beau’s house overnight, they have already slept together.
Shocked? You bloody well should be. But only at your innate ability to forget probably the most fun times of your teenage years – finding somewhere, indeed anywhere, for a fumble. Down the park, in cars, sheds, alleyways. Sex doesn’t just happen after the 10 o’clock news in a bed covered in 400 count Egyptian cotton. Or at least, it didn’t when we were younger…
So please, make sure you have safety and privacy. First time sex is never amazing, but it can be very good and it certainly doesn’t need to be bad.
Oh, and sex in cars is just uncomfortable. We’ve all done it, but wouldn’t rush to do it again.
Lesson 6: Generalisations make shit life lessons
I wasn’t angry, just disappointed. Everything I’d ever read, seen and heard about sex, including the rather memorable chat from my dad, had promised me that men were constantly on the boil…Not only did he have to cope with a girlfriend who was far more confident—and for ‘confident’ read ‘loud, horny, and unafraid to mention it’—than him, he was also solely responsible for battling years of ingrained stereotypes about his gender.’ My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 3
Porn is a crap tutor. So is what you see in the movies.
It’s sensationalised. Sanitised. Damn fake. Not every woman has a shaved smooth pubis and not every man has an 8 inch cock which never seems to go down. Oh, and sex doesn’t always end with an orgasm, for him or her.
Equally, men are not hard 24/7, barely surviving day to day whilst their gigantic erections struggle to take over the world/the nearest vagina. And they don’t bounce back from a rampant session in mere moments.
While I’d spent my childhood being told that men always want sex, he’d had the lesson from the other side: women didn’t want sex, and that was that.’ My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 3
These images lead to misconceptions which need no further encouragement from wildly inaccurate generalisations. This only leads to confusion, and confusion is a one-way ticket to pain.
What’s more, everyone is different, and that’s OK. The trick is to realise this early – seriously, the earlier the better.
Do not, ever, tarnish everyone with the same brush. The Embarrassing Bodies website has fantastic galleries for all different body parts which perfectly highlight physical differences, how abnormalities are actually more normal, usually, than the given ‘standard’. Though this doesn’t deal with emotional and physiological differences, it’s a great place to start.
And if you (read; you, your daughter, your son, your partner) can realise what you are, and what you need, you can accept others for who they are too without battering them with years of stereotypical garbage.
Lesson 7: Give them the power and understanding to say ‘No’
There’s enthusiastic sex, there’s desperate sex, then there’s something so far removed from either of these things that it stops being sex altogether. His initial enthusiasm had spilled over into something darker and much worse: weakness, ineptitude, callousness. A cold, selfish cruelty.’ My Not-So -Shameful Sex Secrets Chapter 4
Give your girl the knowledge to control her own body, and you will give her the power to control how she allows others to use it.
Note the use of the word allow. Not taken or used.
As in ‘I allow you to touch me there/like that.’ ‘You are worthy of my permission to touch me there.’
Girls, if you aren’t feeling it, don’t ever feel you just have to take it to please someone else.
The last thing we want to think about is someone hurting or taking advantage of our daughters, or our girlfriends. But if we fail to educate them first and foremost, they are more likely to get into situations out of curiosity and/or persuasion. Curiosity killed the cat, remember?
If your daughter or girlfriend knows what feels good, understands what she doesn’t like, what hurts, what leaves her feeling slightly bereft or empty, then she is less likely to put herself in situations that will leave her feeling like this. But only if she knows that there is better out there.
If she doesn’t, then she will be left with that awful feeling of ‘Is this it?’.
By acknowledging and allowing her to develop sexually on her own time, you will encourage her to say no when things just don’t feel quite right.
And what more could you possibly ask for?
Notes and Further Reading
Buy Girl on the Net’s book ‘My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets’ on Amazon
Due to most own the book on Kindle, we have used the Chapter references in our references as page numbers don’t tally with the Loc numbers seen when reading on Kindle.
Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships, Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, 2011.