You’re Doing it Wrong!: 4 Ways to Mess Up Masturbation

Photographer Thomas Hawk

Photographer Thomas Hawk

We know today that self-love does not cause blindness, infertility or make one a deprived loser. Contrary to historical falsehoods, masturbation is not bad for you emotionally, physically or sexually.

It is a normal, healthy part of sexuality. It is absolutely common that all genders masturbate.

Knowing how to masturbate and knowing what you enjoy is to take initiative of your own sexuality. And yet masturbation remains a topic often mocked or underestimated.  In this post, sex educator JoEllen Notte identifies four unhealthy, misdirected attitudes and assumptions that run amok today.

Here are the important points she raises:

  • Not everyone enjoys masturbating, and that’s OK.
  • If you enjoy it, devote time and resources to it. It is important to your well-being.
  • Experiment and try new things with yourself.
  • Many people are anxious that something is permanently wrong with them if a certain method of masturbation doesn’t please them. This is nothing to be anxious about. “You Are Not Broken!”

You can read the original article here.

BY JOELLEN NOTTE | theRedheadBedhead.com

Found on the RedHeadBedHead.com

Found on theRedHeadBedHead.com

It’s Masturbation May, a time to celebrate the wonder that is self-love. It has come to my attention that there are some fairly common practices that can make masturbation not-so-fun, so I have put together this list of 4 things I’d like to see eliminated from the masturbatory playbook.

Assuming everyone must like it

I recently got a message from a reader who wanted toy advice because “I don’t enjoy masturbation. Whenever I ask friends, they think I’m just shy or embarrassed by my body or something but I’m not, it’s just not my thing. I enjoy sex. Should I try a g-spot toy or a rabbit instead of just a clitoral vibrator? Would I like it more then?”

I started off by asking if they actually wanted to be masturbating and tell them that it was okay if the answer was “no” and then gave the rest of my input. The response I got back was incredible: “No one has ever told me it was ok to just not be interested! I thought I was weird because I have plenty of drive for partner sex but no real interest in masturbation, it just doesn’t feel pleasant. Maybe I’m just not into it.”

That’s right folks, just like any other sex act, masturbation is not everyone’s cup of tea. I can hear you now “But the learning! The exploration! THE ORGASMS!!!” I know, masturbation has a lot of benefits and I sure as heck love it. You know what else I love that has a lot of benefits? Kale. Not everyone’s into that either. It’s okay. (Somewhere, someone with a Hitachi in one hand and a Vitamix in a the other just screamed out in anguish)

If masturbation isn’t your thing, that’s cool. If someone tells you masturbation’s not their thing, listen to them instead of telling them why they are wrong or gasping and shuddering like a fish out of water. No shame either way.

While we’re on the topic of shame…

Continue reading at The Redhead Bedhead.

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JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site theRedheadBedhead.com. Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

Why Changing the Meaning of Consent Is Good

Image by Condom Monologues

Image by Condom Monologues

BY LARA WORCESTER | Condom Monologues

**trigger warning: This post references sexual assault and abuse.

Condom negotiation is often framed in a very particular way: a lady convincing a guy to wear the condom despite all his excuses not to. This very limited view overlooks (or simply reduces) the meaning of consent to an action that only happens at a certain point during sex. A contributor on Condom Monologues shared how her permission and safety was derailed while her sexual partner assumed absolute consent.

“I know fundamentally I cannot give consent without feeling safe. One time during sex (however safe I felt) the guy took the condom off without telling me. He figured, once we got this hot and heated there were no cues that I was saying “no”. I feel guilt sharing this story because I know people will judge me for having sex with this guy even after his display of Jerk-Assness; even after he breached my consent.” – a Condom Monologuer

Experiences like this are rarely represented in daily media. And yet, her story explicitly illustrates a fundamental component of consent that activists have been pushing for years: consent is an ongoing process.

This storyteller’s candor is a bold response to a “consent culture” that has made significant gains in recent years to legally redefining the term, particularly on US college campuses. Just this May 2014, the White House launched a website to inform students of their rights and guide schools on how to prevent and deal with sexual assault cases. The initiative also redefined consent as a “voluntary agreement” in which “silence, or absence of resistance does not imply consent.” This means that the government has finally dropped the problematic “no means no” model- an approach which implies that sex can happen as long as no one says “no”.

What is replaced with this new definition is “yes means yes.” In other words, real sexual consent happens only once there is an obvious and enthusiastic “yes”.

This is a big win for activists who are cultivating a “consent culture” that push hashtags like #ConsentIsSexy or market condom packages that read sobering messages like “My Dress Does Not Mean Yes.”

Catchy slogans are useful and have made great waves. However, the nuances of sexual relationships can get lost in their wake. Consent becomes reduced to an absolute end, with no discussion of the process or means, not dissimilar to how condom negotiation is taught in sex education as I mentioned earlier. In reality, however, consent is not isolated or all-encompassing. It is an on-going, never-ending process in which all parties must engage.

What the “enthusiastic yes” model does is shift the perspective to emphasize consent as a collaborative navigation. When consent is understood as fluid, experiences like the one shared at Condom Monologues, can be acknowledge without victim-blaming or shaming. Promoting consent in this way abandons the myth that we have to be mind-readers and just know what pleases the other. It reinforces the requirement for considerate communication. After all, isn’t that what human intimacy is all about?

For great sex tips on how to navigate consent and talk with your partner, read more from Elena Kate of Rad Sex.

LARA WORCESTER is co-founder & editor at Condom Monologues, and a Lucky Bloke contributor. She’s a published social researcher with a Master’s in Gender & Sexuality studies and has worked with various HIV/AIDS organizations including Stella and the HIV Disclosure Project.

The Greatest Misunderstanding About IUDs- Corrected

The IUD (with the less appealing name, Intrauterine Device) is one of the most effective and reversible long-term birth control options. Currently, there are three IUD product options: the Mirena, ParaGard and Skyla. Yet despite how wonderful this device is, many women (and some doctors!) still believe that you must be over a certain age in order for an IUD to work.

Bedsider sets the record straight with quick, accurate IUD must-knows.

Watch and be rest assured. For more IUD myth busting, visit Bedsider’s 5 Myths About IUDs

This video is published with Besider’s permission.

BY BEDSIDER | Bedsider.org

bedsiderBEDSIDER is an online birth control support network for women operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy. Bedsider is totally independent (no pharmaceutical or government involvement). Honest and unbiased, Bedsider’s goal is to help women find the method of birth control that’s right for them and learn how to use it consistently and effectively, and that’s it.
Find Bedsider on twitter @Bedsider

Emergency Contraceptives: Setting The Record Straight

Photograph: Gilbert Rodriguez

Photograph: Gilbert Rodriguez

BY JOELLEN NOTTE | theRedheadBedhead.com

In the wonderful world of sex, things don’t always go as planned— Condoms break, pills are forgotten, folks get drunk and reckless. When these things happen, Emergency Contraception (EC) can mean the difference between a brief panic and an unplanned pregnancy. However, before you can protect yourself with EC, it’s important to know your options and how they work. This is trickier than it should be though, as rumors, myths and misapprehensions regarding EC are rampant.

So let’s clear up some of the confusion, shall we?

What’s in a Name?

Emergency Contraception frequently goes under another name that confuses the issue greatly – The Morning After Pill. That name on its own confuses people on three separate issues:

  • “The” implies that there is only one kind of EC. Nope!
  • “Morning after” makes it sound like you must take it immediately or you are screwed. Not so!
  • “Pill” leads us to believe that EC only comes in pill form Incorrect! (That’s right folks, pills are not your only choice.)

There go three big fallacies before we even get past the introductions!

So, what are your options? How do they work? Where can you get them?

Well, they range from over-the-counter one-dose pills to IUDs (for real, IUDs can be used as EC!). To get the skinny on what’s out there, how you can get it and how much it might cost you, check out the Emergency Contraception page from our friends at Bedsider. It includes an emergency contraception locator and guidelines on following the Yuzpe Regimen – a way to use your regular BC pills as EC.

Mistaken Identity

Also, EC suffers from a huge case of mistaken identity! There are a lot of folks out there who think that Emergency Contraception and medication abortion are the same thing or that EC is an “Abortion Pill”. This is just plain wrong.

Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy, it does not end it.

Here’s how I like to think about it: Imagine you are a car and sex is driving (go with me here). In this world, EC would play the role of your brakes – there to prevent an accident. Medication abortion fits in the same category as things like air bags- there in case said  accident occurs. For more information on medication abortion and what it actually is, head over to Planned Parenthood’s Abortion Pill page.

The New Ella and The Great IUD

So, those are the big misconceptions but they are far from the only ones. Thankfully, once again, Bedsider to the rescue with 5 myths about the emergency contraceptive pill, busted. A quick disclaimer about this one, it does include one out-dated piece of information, which is that all of the pill options become less effective the longer you wait to take them. There is one pill, Ella, (which is the newest and available by prescription only) that doesn’t decrease in effectiveness.

Finally, be aware that the IUD is the only method that, once inserted, protects you against future pregnancy. Also, it is the most effective in terms of the pregnancy you are currently trying to prevent. Check it out:  IUDs Work Best for Emergency Contraceptive.

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site theRedheadBedhead.com. Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

Teenage Sex Myths: The Best Argument for Sex Ed

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Sex education is important no matter how you look at it. That belief can be strengthened even more just by spending a few moments looking over some of the pervasive myths that still exist among teens, particularly in the USA.

Some teens still believe things like jumping up and down in a hot tub after sex may prevent pregnancy and that condoms are manufactured with holes so won’t protect you anyway!  Lies. Throw in other myths involving Mountain Dew and it makes you want to prioritize sex education with English and Math!

In this article, JoEllen the Redhed Bedhead, deciphers 10 Common Sex Myths that illustrate why we need to teach teens (6th – 12th graders) matter-of-fact reproductive health.

This article was originally published on The RedHead Bedhead site.

BY JOELLEN NOTTE | theRedheadBedhead.com

One of the weirdest things I think about this time of year is the time a few years ago when I was talking to my middle-school teacher mother who had, over the course of the previous year, spoken to me several times about her shock at how much sexually activity was going on between her 6th-8th grade students. She was talking about her students again but this time she was shocked to find that a number of them still believed in Santa Claus. Now, I’m not going to lie, I mined this for some comedic gold (“Okay, I’ll go down on you but if I end up on the ‘Naughty List’ for this I’ll be so mad!”) but it really does highlight a huge fundamental flaw in our (and by “our” I mean “America’s”) attitude toward children and sex ed. These kids are engaging in sexual activities while still in a very, young, naive and vulnerable place, a place where they still thought it was plausible that an obese man and some reindeer magically delivered toys to the entire world every December 24th. So, what else might they believe? What they need the most is education, information and guidance but, as we live in the world of  abstinence-only education that says sex is something kids should be shielded from they are left to draw their own conclusions, with some frightening consequences.

I’ve rounded up 10 sex myths that I think really illustrate why we need to be teaching kids how this stuff works. These range from things I heard growing up, to things my mom’s students say now, to things that are making the internet rounds.  Almost half of these relate to how one can or cannot get pregnant. Now, I know there is a ton kids need to be learning about but as the country with a teen pregnancy rate that is the “highest in developed world” this seems like something we want to get on addressing.  Check it out:

“I can’t get pregnant the first time I have sex.”
Nope, every single time can get you pregnant. Particularly cruel as teenagers are extra-fertile.

Read the full article at The Redhead Bedhead.

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE  is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site theRedheadBedhead.com. Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting

5 Things I’ve Learned from Teaching People about Sex

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BY KATE MCCOMBS | KateMcCombs.com

Even before I got my first formal sex ed job, I was teaching friends about how to use safer sex methods.

Like most Americans, I didn’t get much in the way of sex ed in school, so it was up to my budding sex geeky research skills to get information I needed on my own. With this knowledge, I became an unofficial peer educator, sharing what I knew with friends (and even their friends) at after-school hangouts and parties.

In college, I became an official peer educator and continued teaching about safer sex and birth control, this time in one-on-one counseling sessions and workshops. It was a great training ground for the sex ed career I have now where I specialize in educating adults about the intersections of health and pleasure.

Through the research I did during my masters of public health, workshops and lectures I’ve taught on two continents, and through years of causal conversations with folks about their sex lives, I’ve learned five key things from teaching people about safer sex

1. Health and pleasure are not mutually exclusive.

The single most common reason people give for not using condoms is that it “doesn’t feel as good.” There is some reality to barriers diminishing sensation for some people, but the research doesn’t back up the claim that it ruins sex. In a study carried out by Indiana University, they found that on the whole, people’s sexual pleasure and satisfaction were not diminished by condom use.

There are many things people can do to increase their pleasure and satisfaction during sex, regardless of whether barriers are used. For some people, using barriers allows them to relax more fully, which increases their enjoyment of the overall experience.

2. Finding the right lube is paramount.

I am a lube evangelist and I still marvel at how many people aren’t aware of the benefits of using lube with condoms. Lube helps transmit more sensation, reduce uncomfortable friction, and keep condoms form drying out. It’s also handy to have around for other types of pleasure, like mutual and solo masturbation.

Not all lubes are created equal. Finding a formulation that feels best to you and your partner’s body is essential and experimenting with lubes can be a fun thing to sex lab too.

3. One size does not fit all.

I remember one of the first times I saw someone teach how to put on a condom. The educator stretched a condom over his whole arm and said, “No one is this big!” and that men who complained that condoms were too tight are just making it up. This is neither helpful nor true.

Condom fit is hugely important in pleasure and safety. A condom that’s too tight can break more easily and a condom that’s too loose can slip off. A bad fit can make using barriers less pleasurable too. Get a sampler pack from Lucky Bloke and find one that fits you like a glove.

4. Communication is key.

For many people, talking about sex at all can be really challenging – especially with the people they’re having it with. Learning to talk, listen, and learn about sexuality is a key adult skill, but there are few opportunities for people to learn the things about sex that help build an amazing, healthy sex life.

Having meaningful conversations about sex with our peers can be great practice for having challenging conversations within our romantic relationships. By fostering curiosity, learning compassion, and creating safe spaces within our relationships, we can more easily negotiate the kind of pleasure and health we desire.

5. It’s important to meet people where they’re at.

Early in my sex ed career, I was very absolutist in my opinions about condoms. People should just wear them! As I’ve listened, learned, and taught more, it’s become clear to me that this message doesn’t land with some people. It’s not empathetic and it doesn’t reflect understanding of the complexity of people’s feelings and desires.

All humans make calculated risks and meeting people where they’re at to help them reduce their risk is a more fruitful strategy then telling them what they “should” do. What I can do is give people information and support them in making choices that align with their health goals.

 

kate_mccombs

KATE MCCOMBS is a NYC-based sex educator, writer, and maker of puns.
Ultimately, all of Kate’s work is about helping people feel more comfortable talking about sex. She believes that meaningful conversations + accurate information can help us create a healthier and more pleasure-filled world. Kate writes articles and teaches workshops about sexual health, pleasure, and communication.  Follow Kate on Twitter @katecom

How to Choose & Use Condoms: A Better Guide

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BY JOELLEN NOTTE | theRedheadBedhead.com

Condoms may not be anyone’s favorite but they are far preferable to unplanned pregnancies and STIs, right? Right. So, if we’re going to use condoms, we should definitely make sure we’re using them right, right? Right.

The problem is, a lot of folks are still kind of fumbling the condom thing and so much of the information out there is, well, not great. With “helpful” tips like, “if it’s not rolling the right way, it’s on the wrong way”(what?), intense mis-leading warnings such as “you should ONLY USE WATER-BASED LUBRICANTS!!!!” (not actually true) and condescending instructions like “remove the condom carefully, not spilling the contents. Wrap it up and dispose of it” (this just seems obvious), folks aren’t really getting a ton of help with the whole thing.

So I’m going to give you some quick and fun pointers to help you rock rubbers right.

Choosing your condom- As with anything you wear, you want your condom to fit right and be comfortable. Unlike anything else you wear your condom also needs to protect you from diseases and feel good to the inside (whether it be vagina, mouth or anus) of another person. There’s a lot to think about.

Luckily the folks at Lucky Bloke put together this great guide to determining your condom size. You may have to try a couple different condoms to find what works for you, but seriously? Best. Research process. Ever.

The most important thing is that, in the end, you buy condoms that fit!

Fitting your condom- If a condom is too tight to comfortably roll it down it can cause problems ranging from discomfort and loss of erection to broken condoms. Don’t assume larger condoms are just there for men of crazy porn-style proportions. If regular condoms bind or are particularly difficult to get on look into a bigger fit. Also, when wondering if you need bigger, length isn’t everything. Even if your penis is of an average length, it may require more room in terms of girth.

Sometimes standard condoms maybe a bit big. In this case these are slimmer fitting condoms out there. Check out your options.

Rolling it on- The “is it facing the right way?” thing has long been perhaps the most troublesome part of condom application.

The best tip I ever got on the topic came from Megan Andelloux: Take your condom out and put it on the tip of your finger- What kind of hat does it look like? If the answer is “The kind of beanie you’d wear because it’s cold out” (the roll is pointing down) then it’s facing the wrong way. If the answer is “A sombrero” (the roll is pointing up) then it’s time to party! “Olé!” indeed!

Leave yourself some space- Ejaculate moves quickly, like really quickly. It leaves the penis at about 35 mph (that’s faster than a moped can go, just fyi). This little fact makes it very important that you make room in your condom for that high-speed sperm to go without bursting your bubble, so to speak.

Okay, here’s the deal: you need space in the tip of your condom and you need that space to not have air in it. It can be helpful to unroll the condom a little before you go to put it on so you have some slack. Once you have it on, grip the penis and condom firmly at the base, give a gentle tug to that tip and squeeze out any air and voila! All dressed up and ready to go.

Keep it slick– I love lube. Lubricant is great for increasing pleasure with condoms especially as latex can stick to skin. Further, a few drops of lube inside a condom can do wonders for the wearer’s pleasure.

I find the lube instructions that come with condoms a little discouraging though- there’s a lot of talking about only using water-based products. This is not strictly necessary. What you don’t want to do is use oil-based products (lotions, vaseline, even mineral oil) as they will break down latex or polyisoprene condoms. Generally, silicone based lubricants are okay for condoms.

Take it all off- After ejaculation you do want to be sure to withdraw the penis from your partner before it goes limp and hold onto the condom at the base of the penis so as to not spill ejaculate on/in your partn​er, rendering the use of the condom futile.

After that, it’s pretty much basic campsite rules – leave no trace. Carry out your mess and dispose of it properly. If you can master the use of a condom you can also master the use of a trash can – I believe in you!

Bonus tips!

Foreskin – If you are in possession of a foreskin and it is mobile (this is not always a given) pull the foreskin back first, then put the condom on. Once it is in place and you have pinched the tip to get any trapped air out, push the foreskin back toward the tip of the penis, while holding onto the base of the condom to keep it in place. This allows for free movement of the foreskin during sex. Add a drop or two of lube inside the condom and away you go.

Colored condoms – This is another tip from the fabulous Megan Andelloux: Colored condoms are safer than plain ones. Why? It’s easier to see if they have broken. So get colorful! Megan suggests coordinating with upcoming holidays.

 

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site theRedheadBedhead.com. Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting