Learning the Value of “Yes Means Yes”
The first time I had sex while sober I was eighteen and since I lost my virginity when I was fifteen that accounts for three years of drunken sexual activity for a total, within that time frame, of nine sexual partners plus one or two others depending on your definition of sex.
Most straight people I know define sex as performing the act of intercourse, but that doesn’t cover the whole gamut of possibilities. It’s a limiting view of sex, a view that takes the perspective of the heterosexual male, but where is the line drawn and how should we define sex as opposed to making out or fooling around when there are a multitude of different perspectives to account for?
How intimate do you have to be with another person for it to be considered sex? Maybe, I should be more specific and say that between the age of fifteen and eighteen I had intercourse with nine different men and for each and every encounter I was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. I am not mentioning this fact to bring up the issue of my ability to consent, because hell, I was young, I was having a good time and I wanted to get laid, but there was definitely something self-destructive about my behavior.
The self-destruction didn’t necessarily lie in the substance abuse nor did it lie in the fact that I had several sexual partners, but mostly, knowing myself the way I do now, it was self-destructive, because I wasn’t using the power of yes.
In sexual discourse, when it comes to giving you agency over your own sexuality, women are taught that they can say NO. I agree, that is a very powerful lesson to learn. No means no. I got it, although sadly not enough people get it, but what I want to talk about is saying YES!
We should be taught and encouraged to explore ourselves sexually, either from second hand sources or through experience. There is also tremendous power in knowing what you want, and having the self-confidence to say yes to your sexual desires as opposed to being a passive player in your own sexual education.
It’s not enough to just do it.
That’s what I did for the longest time, I just did it. I had all these thoughts and feelings and desires inside of me, but I was petrified to express them to my sexual partner. Hell, I could talk about it with anyone and at anytime except where it counted most, in bed with another naked body. I could barely moan for fear of the way I sounded, for fear of ridicule. Worst of all, I was afraid of being a bad lover and that fear led me to try to hide my inexperience and vulnerability.
I’ve had sex for a variety of reasons in my time, not all of them stellar, but I’ve been lucky enough that ultimately I was willing and able. I was a sexually liberated woman, right? Casual sex wasn’t a big deal, but that desire for sexual expression and need of sexual pleasure got mixed up with self-doubt and indecision leading more often than not to unsavory experiences that left me feeling empty and sad.
Why? Because those experiences did not satisfy. Besides the fact that none of them ever led to an orgasm (for me anyhow), I didn’t have the confidence to really do what I wanted or enjoy what the hell was happening at the time. Once, my clothes came off, I was like a petrified dear in headlights trying to play it cool and that facade made it impossible for any true sexual or emotional connection to take place.
Of course, now that I have the confidence to say a big YES to all my wants and desires, I don’t drink anymore and I’m not nearly as slutty, which makes it harder to get laid in the first place.