What I Learned About Sex From Cosmo

In last edition of The Phoenix, my lovely editors gave me the title of the “Campus’ Favorite Sex Columnist.” Though I am very flattered by the title, I have to admit, I can’t imagine myself being anyone’s sexual sage. This is not because I don’t believe in the advice that I share on a bi-weekly basis — I put a lot of thought into my column and I would never give a piece of advice that I wouldn’t take. However, advice is a social experience — it’s the way in which people relate their own points of view, experiences, and personal beliefs to someone else’s situation. I’m not too good at those social things, hence the doubt.


Customary self-doubting aside, I love advice. To me, advice is like oral sex—I love to give just as much as I love to receive. I’ve especially loved figuratively going down on you all these past two years. Sadly, my time here is coming to an end. Because we live in a society that is beginning to accept our generation’s attitudes about sex and, simultaneously, to realize that we are progressively becoming the biggest consumer base, I worry about what kind of terrible sex advice you will all be exposed to. So, I’m creating this guide on how to avoid the negative shit that mainstream sex columnist shove down our throats. It’s called “What I learned About Sex from Cosmo”.


It’s Impractical

From Cosmo: “Mix one tablespoon of saliva (the kind deep in your throat works best — its viscosity makes it a good substitute for lube) with one tablespoon of water to stretch the spit.”


Response: I’m sorry, Cosmo, but this is awful advice.   When people are about to make the Freud, they usually don’t have measuring cups anywhere near them. One eats a pie during sex, you don’t make one. Nor does anyone reach down their throats to harvest the Jamba juice needed to jam. In fact, most people are usually so overcome with excitement and tension that some sex basics are glossed over in an attempt to gloss one out.


Actually though: Many of those multimillion dollar magazines make money from our insecurities. Cosmo is, after all, trying to sell us beauty products and clothes, not the self-confidence to feel as though we don’t really needs those things. One symptom of this industrialist disease is the impracticality of the advice that sex columnist give. In their attempt to make the mastering of sex seem like the mastery of novelty in the bedroom and, therefore, distance us from what seems natural to make us feel like sex is this scary thing that we’re probably not good at, sex columnists will tell you to do the most random shit and call it a sex gods’ (or goddess’) insider tip. It’s not — it’s just some bullshit that they made up. They don’t do it themselves and they’ve probably never tried it. As my father (whose advice I realize I’ve applied to my sex life multiple times, making the earlier Freud reference highly appropriate) used to say, the simplest solution to a problem is usually the best one. This is true for sex too.


There’s One Way to Do It

From Self: Here’s a list of techniques that guarantee an orgasm…


I’m just going to stop you there. There are no ways to guarantee someone an orgasm. Different things work for different people. Different people are into different things. Period.


Lists of things that are guaranteed to “please your man” or “give you pleasure” are utter and total bullshit. Every individual needs to discover what pleases their individual bodies and their partners’ individual bodies. Unless you fucked the author of the column or they fucked your partner, they have absolutely no insight on this.



It’s Heteronormative, gender-conforming, and assuming

From Men’s Health: Blindfold Yourself. Many women stick to the missionary position because you can’t see their bodies that way. If you really can’t see her because your eyes are covered, she’ll do a lot more with you, to you, and for you.


Response: Every women in the world is an insecure, fragile, vanilla-sex-having creature that must be sexually enlightened by a male lover and his magical flute-playing penis.


Obviously, this advice is heteronormative and gender-conforming. Because I’m a Swattie, I get a little (sexually) excited just typing those terms. However, I’m not mentioning this because I’m expected to. Ideas about gender roles and heteronormativity taint a majority of sexual literature and, sometimes, are really hard to pick out. They are responsible for the creation of usually negative and/or absurd sexual archetypes. This leaves those of us trying to figure out who we are and what we like (read: all of us) scrambling to fit into some type of category. For example, trying to decide whether I fall in the ‘freaky nympho girl with serious daddy issues’ or ‘slut’ category is my internal crisis right now. Not.


That brings me to another point about these sex columns: they are harmful to people who don’t fit into a mold. In supporting existing sexual archetypes, they reinforce the norm and delegitimize those of us who do not fit these standards. Additionally, there are sexual archetypes that have negative associations—like “slut” and “creepy fetishist.” These are the results of years of slut-shaming and the ancient theories of sexual philosophers that made fast and loose connections between personality traits and preference of sexual acts.  People who identify with some of these more taboo archetypes may feel a lot of shame, and those who don’t identify at all may feel lonely. This ‘norm’ makes people feel awkward navigating a social/sexual scene that they feel as though they don’t fit into and won’t be accepted in. Incapability to understand or follow the narrow social scripts presented by these magazines leave a lot of people feeling insecure or unworthy of love. That’s just total bullshit. Your alternative sexuality, sexual preference, sexual act, sexual persona, non-sexual persona, or whateva is totally normal.


It Does Not Require Preparation or Protection

I would share a quote about preparation or protection but there aren’t any. The lack of acknowledgement of the fact that sex has a logistical and practical side is a big problem with these magazines. They’re all about passion but never about passionate conversation about protection, consent, respect, and comfort. They’re all about technique, but never the technical aspects of actually performing sexual acts and the ‘baby step’ sexual acts that can lead up to the long strides. The advice offered is not comprehensive and, therefore, inherently sex negative.


I’m not going to tell you to stop reading Cosmo. Like I said, I never give advice I wouldn’t take. Mainstream magazines are deliciously trashy and they’re a great guilty indulgence. Just be wise about what advice you are applying to your own life. The sexual health counselors on campus, Dan Savage’s Savage Love sex column, and scarleteen are some great resources for good information on sexual health.

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