It's time to talk about what's really happening in the bedroom
Sure, sex sells. But why is it so hard to be honest about our sex lives?
Beauty & Social Editor / May 08 2023
It used to be taboo, but nowadays sex is a common dinner table topic – amongst girlfriends, at least. But if you’ve ever found yourself embellishing or holding back when discussing your sexcapades, you’re not alone.
“Often people lie about sex because they feel embarrassed, shame or that there’s something wrong with them,” explains sex coach Georgia Grace (AKA @gspot._). “They feel that they are not normal, or they may be lying to protect themselves.”
And while women in particular have somewhat improved the stigma surrounding female pleasure in recent years, for every woman that’s happy to talk about her OnlyFans account or masturbation techniques, there’s one who feels lesser in comparison because she’s not as passionate or exciting when it comes to sex.
So whether you end up playing the truth up or down in a conversation about what goes on in the bedroom, the reality is that not many of us are being sincere…
Why aren’t we totally honest about our sex lives?
Stigmatised bedroom activities, such as having multiple partners or indulging in kink play, are still underreported, especially by women. And on the other hand, “normal” sex is often overreported, especially when it comes to how much sex men are actually having.
So why is this? Generally speaking, social acceptance.
The general (and severely outdated) discourse has been dictated by gender norms and stereotypes. The sex life of women involves one partner and is generally interlinked with romance, whilst men are free to sleep with as many women as they can – without “catching feelings” of course.
Simply put, we lie about our sex lives to help us look good. Ah, the heteronormative narrative.
Enter: the sex revolution
The past decade and even the last few years have seen a huge shift when it comes to sexual liberation. Fifty Shades of Grey took kink culture mainstream (despite its somewhat problematic take on BDSM). And more recently, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” and Nicki Minaj’s “Super Freaky Girl” have taken female sex and sexuality to a whole new level.
But as Grace points out, sex-positive activists have been campaigning for sexual liberation for decades. “The more we speak openly about pleasure and relationships, and create sex-positive, inclusive and evidence-based sex ed, the more liberated we will feel.”
In the post-“WAP” era, you’d be forgiven for not feeling ‘freaky’ enough. ‘Vanilla shaming’, a trend that went viral in early-2021, may have a lot to do with this. ‘Vanilla’ (the preference of “normal” or basic sex positions and play), became an insult. Not into choking, latex and gagging? You’re vanilla – according to TikTok, that is.
But according to Grace, this isn’t something to take to heart. “We live in a sex shame society and culture and this shame can go both ways – having too much sex or not enough. Our sexuality is like a fingerprint. Everyone is different, it’s vital we don’t impose our idea of sexual liberation on others.” Whatever gets you off, right?
Overcoming sex shame
So now we know why we’re not always totally honest about our sex lives, how can we overcome the shame? First things first: find the source.
“There are so many conflicting messages out there and sometimes it feels completely exhausting,” Grace shares. “‘Be a freak in the sack, but don’t be a slut’, ‘don’t be a ‘virgin’ but don’t ‘ruin’ yourself for marriage’. Why someone feels shame will be unique to their life experience and upbringing.”
As Grace explains, our sex shame is informed by social, cultural political and religious ideals. You may have been conditioned to think about sex a certain way, but feel differently about it now. And that is totally okay. It’s all about embracing whatever feels good for you.
Feeling conflicted is a normal part of the process too. “My clients will often say ‘I want to be sex-positive but I just can't get over feeling shameful’,” Grace says. If this is the case for you, seeking professional advice from a sex therapist may be a huge help.
As much as the sex-positive movement has helped the kink community let their freak flag fly, it’s also allowed the more reserved among us to feel safe and empowered to live their sex lives however they want. And the more we shift the narrative from kink vs. vanilla to an inclusive dialogue where anything goes (so long as it’s consensual, of course), the easier it will be for all of us to overcome any shame we feel around sex.
The bottom line: “I don’t think we necessarily need to stop ‘lying’ about our sex lives - do whatever and share whatever feels best, safest for you,” suggests Grace. “Whilst in some contexts it can be useful – even liberating – to share how we feel or things we want to try or things we’ve loved in the past, it’s also important to note that we don’t owe anyone any information about our sex lives. Sharing should always be a choice - and should be consensual.”
For those of us who want to be a bit more vulnerable and experiment in the bedroom? “That’ll take a bit of practice,” she says. “Try talking about sex outside of a sexual context. Ask your sexual partners questions like: ‘what are your boundaries?’, ‘what are you curious about?’, ‘what excites you and what bores you?’. Learn about what you like and what feels good for your body. Masturbation is a great tool for learning.”
G-Spot’s top 5 sex tips
#1/ Research/solo inquiry: There’s so much info out there these days. Follow educators, activists and practitioners for bedroom tips and tricks on how to find out what you actually enjoy.
#2/ Talk about it: It’s really important to discuss sex with your partner(s) in a context that feels safe. Talk about what you’re curious about, where your boundaries are, and be prepared to answer questions.
#3/ Create the agreements: If you’re keen to do it, agree on the boundaries and discuss what will actually happen. It’s important to have open dialogue before, during and after sex, especially when you’re experimenting.
#4/ Practice makes perfect: Practice intimacy outside of a sexual context then put these new skills into action in a more sexual context. This will help create a safe and empowering environment for all parties.
#5/ Aftercare: How can you support yourself and others after sex? Aftercare is so underrated yet so essential!
So what are you waiting for? Pencil in some me-time and get vibing (literally).
Main image credit: Getty/Pexels
Not sure where to start? These are the best sex toys in Australia.
Georgia Nelson is BEAUTYcrew's Beauty & Social Editor and resident Euphoria obsessee. You'll find her hard at work putting the latest TikTok beauty trends to the test or perfecting her skin care routine. Her latest obsession? Nailing the glazed donut aesthetic (move over, Hailey Bieber).