Category Archives: Guest contributions

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Guest blog: Primary school sex education

There’s lots of debate at the moment around how young people are taught about sex. My own sex education was fairly decent, if a little patchy, but focused pretty much entirely on the basics. Trains in tunnels, how to avoid a tiny baby train coming out of the tunnel, that kind of thing.

This week’s guest blog is a fantastic overview of why the more emotional aspects of sex education are so vital, and is a call to arms for those who work with younger children, to make sure that they are given a good emotional grounding rather than just a quick, embarrassed talk about the birds and the bees. Tasha is a primary school teacher who is keen to get better age-appropriate sex education on the curriculum. When she emailed me, with the example she uses in the piece below, I thought it was such a perfect example of the odd views society has on things like consent, and why it’s important to help children understand issues like this early on.

Primary school sex education

My sex education at primary school boiled down to one video; a video starring a naked couple, coolly walking around their flat allowing us to check out some of the physical changes that our bodies, on the cusp of puberty, would soon experience. I was then given a special copy of Mizz magazine that came with a couple of pads and instructions on how to get along with my mum. No follow up lesson was planned for, no opportunity to ask questions or explore any of the revelations that the video had given us a snapshot of.  This picture remained the same through secondary school, where, while I was taught about the mechanics of sex, important emotional and sexual health details remained untouched.

Begrudged by the memory of my own scrappy sex ed, I knew I wanted to deliver some kick-ass lessons of my own when I started teaching upper primary a few years back.  By giving children access to honest information, I hoped  the sessions would enable them to feel confident and knowledgeable about both the physical and emotional aspects of sex and relationships. The importance of the latter became clear a few weeks ago during a chat with the girls in my class on puberty.

After these girls had cooed over some bras (it took three attempts to explain the difference between the number and the letter on the bra’s label), we checked out some hypothetical problem scenarios together. One of the scenarios told the story of how a girl, in year 6  (10-11 years), felt unready to kiss her boyfriend, but was scared not to do so in case he dumped her. Almost all of the girls in the group deemed this to not be a ‘real problem’ and unanimously agreed that she should just suck it up and kiss him, lest she become a laughing stock and, heaven forbid, become single at the age of 10.

These girls, aged between 9-10, believe that being a girlfriend equates to existing as somebody who will indulge a man’s desires regardless of their own insecurities and needs. Will this same group of girls in a few years time think that a girl should suck it up and have sex due to fear of being dumped? To suck it up on the street when cat called? When groped in a bar? By no means is this exclusive to females, boys at a young age are subject to very similar pressures. Interestingly, when the boys in my class were posed with the same scenario, they responded much more compassionately, suggesting that they should both ‘have a bit of a chat’. Supposedly, a mix of peer pressure, the endless objectification of women in our media and personal insecurities help to cultivate these dangerous ideas at such a young age.

Recently it has been revealed that Cambridge University is considering sexual consent classes in a bid to educate students on sexual violence. While it’s great  to see that universities are becoming proactive in educating their students on consent, it is evident that legislative steps need to be made to ensure that all children receive quality sex and relationships education at an early, albeit appropriate stage of their school careers.

Unquestionably, all  personal, social and health education must be age appropriate and delivered in an environment that is safe and inclusive. Children are curious about sex, therefore as a practitioner it is important that you teach accurate, honest information to avoid misconceptions and mystery around the subject, so that they are equipped with the knowledge to make informed choices as they grow. The more confused a child becomes due to lack of information, the more likely they may be to seek information from unsuitable sources that may misguide them.

The conversation that took place in my classroom that day shows that children in primary school need to be taught skills that will enable them to nurture safe, positive relationships. While it can be necessary to separate boys and girls for some aspects of sex and relationships education, it is valuable to run mixed lessons that encourage discussions between males and females. Take the example above, for instance, where girls and boys separately discussed their thoughts on the girl in the story who was unready to kiss her boyfriend. On reflection, I would now teach this as a mixed session, where both sexes can critically analyse a range of views on relationships and sex in society. Exercises like these will teach children how, through negotiation and discussion with one another, positive solutions can be reached. Hopefully, providing they receive quality sex education that promotes this mutual respect between the sexes throughout their school careers, they will begin to recognise gender inequality within relationships, fully equipped to make their own, informed decisions that will keep them safe.

Sex and relationships education is currently only compulsory to those aged 11+. There is an argument against teaching sex education in primary schools, since there is the unfounded belief that it encourages the early sexualisation of children. This bullshit stems from ministers in our own fragmented government, who are neglecting children by failing to ensure that they are educated on happy, healthy, sexual relationships. Without question accurate, factual information provided through sex and relationships education will prevent uncertainty about sex and encourage children to respect themselves and one another.  In a society that struggles itself to clarify the blurred lines surrounding sexual violence, can we really afford to keep sex and relationships as a non-compulsory part of our primary curriculum?

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Someone else’s story: sexual experiences

I have a slightly different type of guest blog today – Edie Clark contacted me recently to tell me about the Clark Project, which is a website designed to gather information on dating, relationships and debut sexual experiences. I’m obviously a big fan of stories, and encouraging people to share their thoughts and feelings around sex – the good, bad, funny, difficult, and everything in between – so the idea of this project intrigued me, not to mention that the story she tells is a lovely one. I hope you like it, and that it reminds you of some of your own early explorations.

What did YOU feel like?

Janine carefully stroked the tip of the brush across the length of her thumbnail, applying one last layer of shiny polish. She had done her toenails earlier in the afternoon, and now all of her fingers and toes were perfectly sealed under a layer of bright orange nail polish. She held her hands out in front of her face and examined the results.

Joe didn’t like black nail polish. He preferred the traditional shades of red and orange. Janine had chosen “Orange Thunder” for this evening because she knew Joe would like it, and because she liked the name. She smiled as she thought about it. Orange Thunder was just the right name for tonight.

Janine, a freshman in college, was 18 years old and studying theatre. She had met Joe in her social sciences class and had been drawn to him immediately. They walked across campus and got ice cream cones after class on that first day; in the months to come there were movies, parties, study dates, and a canoe trip down the sleepy, tea-colored river that looped through the middle of their rolling, landscaped campus.

Since Joe and Janine both lived in dorms, they had few opportunities for privacy. Tonight, though, he was borrowing a car and they were going out to dinner at a romantic spot several miles from campus. Joe had rented a motel room, and they were going to have sex. It would be the first time for both of them. They planned everything together: Joe had purchased condoms and Janine had bought lubricant. They packed overnight bags with fresh clothing and snacks.

But now Janine had a case of the butterflies. She wondered if they had been wrong in planning everything ahead of time because now she was feeling nervous. Would it hurt? Would the condom break? And he had never seen her without makeup. What would he think of that? Would he notice that her thighs were too large? And there would be blood, right?

Janine shuddered, then shifted her thoughts.

Yeah, well, what about him? Maybe she wouldn’t like him. He had some measuring up to do, too, didn’t he?

Janine glanced at the clock on her nightstand. She had 45 minutes left before he would show up at the door, and she knew he wouldn’t be late.

Interestingly, almost everyone remembers exactly how they felt when they had sex for the first time. In fact, almost everyone I’ve interviewed as part of The Clark Project remembers their first sexual experience in great detail, right down to the color of the blanket, whether the door was locked, and how they felt afterwards. In Janine’s case, she still remembered the shade of nail polish she was wearing when she met with me, ten years after the fact, to discuss her experience. She remembered what she was wearing, what she had for dinner that evening, and even what kind of chips Joe had packed in his bag.

Why do the details of our first experience stay with us for so long – usually for a lifetime?

Sexuality is a powerful force, and the first time we have sex marks an important transition. The sex act, however you define it, is an explicit and intimate entry into the adult world. It can’t be undone. There’s no going back. When we have our virgin experience, we’ve turned a corner on a one way street.

Janine comes close to exactly fitting the profile for debut sex among college women. The average age for college bound girls is 17 years old, most of them have known their partner for six to twelve months, and very few of them expressed any regrets. When asked what they’d say to their partner if they could say anything at all, most of them told me they’d say “Thank you.” When asked what they’d change about their first experience, a few women said they wish there’d been a lock on the door, but most were happy with the way things unfolded. Though women seemed well-prepared in most other ways, about one-third didn’t use any kind of birth control other than withdrawal. About one-third of women reported reaching orgasm, and nearly all women reported feeling a greater sense of connection with the rest of the world. Only about 14 percent of the women I interviewed were still together with their first sex partner.

We’re in the beginning stages of collecting data as part of The Clark Project. If you’d like to participate in a confidential, 30 minute interview on the subject of your first sexual experience, we’d love to hear from you. Just send an email to [email protected] and let us know. We’ll get back to you and set up a telephone or a Skype appointment. We’re interviewing people of all ages, all genders, and all levels of experience, including no experience at all.

And, by the way, when I interviewed Janine and asked her to describe her feelings on that important evening, she blushed, then laughed. “You know, the waiter took pictures of us at dinner that night, and look at me.” She showed me an old snapshot of a smiling couple. “Look at that. With that white wrap on, I look just like a creamsicle. Seriously. There I was all dressed up, wearing orange, trying so hard to look special.To this day I can’t look at a creamsicle without laughing.”

Edith Clark is a retired public health professional with a B.A. in English and an M.S. in biostatistics and epidemiology. Her background is in survey research, and while most of her work has been with public health issues, she’s also worked with the education, criminal justice, and corporate communities. If  you’re interested in finding out more, or in participating in Edie’s project, please do visit the Clark Project website, or get in touch with her via the email address above.

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On the most popular sex toys (and a sex toy competition)

Brace yourselves, I’m doing a special thing. Long time readers will know that for the last few months the fantastic Bondara has been supporting me. This has helped pay for hosting and domain stuff, pass a bit of money on to guest bloggers, and hire an amazing illustrator to create pretty images for some of my posts. To say thanks to Bondara and to you for your support, I’m running a sex toy competition to give away a £100 shopping spree at Bondara. You can buy anything – whether you want to wear it, smear it all over yourself, or turn it on and let it buzz deliciously against your sensitive bits. When you get to the bottom of this post, there’s a widget that you can use to enter the competition.

So what’s this post about? Well, I don’t really do toy reviews, but I wanted to do something that gives a bit of an insight into sex blogging, and also appeals to my nerdier sensibilities. So I’ve done some very top-level analysis of the kind of toys people buy via my site. A sort of ‘if you like my blog, you might like some of this stuff too’ – like Amazon does with books, but for fucktoys. The following graphs have been created using anonymised data based on purchases at Bondara via my website.

Which sex toys are the most popular?

I had a look at the percentage of toys sold for different genital uses. As you can see, my readers are generally a big fan of arses, which makes sense given the number of posts I’ve written about butt plugs. Penis and vagina toys sold equally, which I am pleased with, because it shows a delightful sex toy equality in the discerning audience of this blog.

most popular sex toys by 'which genitals they're designed to be used on' at girlonthenet.com

Which sex products are the most popular?

Of course, it’s not just about things you put in/on/up yourself – there are other types of products too. While toys are by far and away the winner, plenty of people have been stocking up on bondage equipment, underwear and accessories too. For this, ‘accessories’ includes things like condoms and lube, as well as sex toy cleaners and things.

most popular sex products by category at girlonthenet.com

Sex toy sales by day of the week

Statisticians, please shield your eyes, because this one’s a fucking mess. I don’t think the data was significant enough to make a guess on the day that sales were most likely – apart from anything else, my traffic’s always higher on Sundays, Wednesdays or Fridays when I post. Still, in case you’re interested, it looks like Friday is officially the least sexy day, with Wednesdays and weekends being far more popular.

which days are most sex toys sold? via Bondara and girlonthenet.com

What are the most popular sex products?

I’d hoped that at least one person would have bought the fucking machine that I have on my sex toy wish list. Sadly not, but if you’re after something new, and you fancy following in the footsteps of other readers, here are some of the most popular products (or product categories) from the last three months:

Cock rings. A solid and admirable choice.

Male masturbators. I’m not surprised these are near the top of the list because I am obsessed with them – Tenga eggs came through as a strong favourite, which is handy because I have recently got the hang of using them without breaking them due to overenthusiastic wanking.

Butt plugs. Again, solid choice,and I hope these hot butt-plug stories helped some people make their decision.

Coquette knickers. I am 100% sure this came about as a result of this post about the sexiest types of knickers.

Jessica rabbit vibrator. A classic. Also very cheap. I am impressed with your money-saving expertise.

Sex toy competition – win a £100 Bondara shopping spree!

Now on to the exciting bit – all you need to do is enter the competition using the magical widget below, and you’ll be entered into a draw. The comp will run for exactly two weeks – until midday (UK time) on the 11th of August, with the winner chosen the next day. If you win, you can spend £100 on whatever you like from Bondara. I’m afraid you have to be UK resident and over 18 to take part, but if this is popular, I’ll see if I can run something separate for US-based people so you can have sexy things too.

Best of luck, and thank you again for all your support.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

[Note from GOTN – I have never run a competition like this before, and in all probability I am a bit incompetent at it. I’ve tried to make it so there are plenty of easy ways to enter, but if you have any feedback or you’re not sure how to use it please drop me an email]

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Someone else’s story: open relationships and kink

I have a huge amount of admiration (and, OK, a dash of envy) for people who can do open relationships well. I’ve tried, and failed, to come up with a long-term open solution that works for me, and have come to the conclusion that I’m perhaps not sensitive or competent enough to do openness well.

Which is why I love hearing from people who do – who have found a good balance of communication, enjoyment and honesty that allows them to balance the feelings of a few different parties. If anyone says it’s easy I struggle to comprehend, because for me it’s always been a mountain I couldn’t hope to climb. So above all I love hearing from people who’ve recognised the obstacles, worked through the difficult bits, and come up with something pretty damn special. This week’s guest blog is from Jenny, who’s got a story about open relationships and kink, as well as some great advice for those who might be struggling with similar worries.

Open relationships and kink

Communication in a relationship can be tricky at the best of times, and things only get more difficult when one of you is kinky. Asking for something in bed can be tough. Asking for something outside of your relationship feels impossible.

If you don’t ask for what you want, you might never get it.

I wanted to share my story because it’s a positive example of an open, kinky relationship which I am very proud of.

I’m happily coupled up with an incredible woman. We were friends before we started dating and are closing in on our first year together. On top of all the stresses of a new relationship, I had the added concern of telling her about the other important person in my life: my very close friend who happens to be my dominant.

He has a girlfriend too and they’ve been together for years. After much discussion about sex, BDSM and our respective love lives, we came to the conclusion that we’d like to explore our kinky bucket lists together. His girlfriend wasn’t into submission and I prefer being topped by men, even though I’m a lesbian. We get on and find each other attractive, but we’ve no romantic chemistry at all. We were confident it wasn’t going to get awkward or messy: we knew what we wanted from each other right from the start.

With this in mind we set about asking for our partners’ permission to get together every month or so and indulge ourselves in play.

It was a scary thing for both of us: his relationship is long established and he didn’t want to jeopardise their future together, while I‘d just started dating my girlfriend and didn’t want to scare her away. It was something we both wanted, however, and we didn’t want to impose our niches on partners who weren’t into it. Equally, we didn’t want to do without for the rest of our lives. So we asked them.

I wanted to be completely honest in starting our relationship. I told my girlfriend that I’d spent our first few dates secretly hoping she was kinky, which was a disservice to her. I wanted to appreciate her for who she was, and she is truly fantastic. I’m a firm believer that it’s very tough to get everything from one person. It’s too much pressure. So I wanted to have a romantic relationship with her and be kinky with someone who wanted it as much as I did. She was understanding and patient and after hearing all she needed to hear from me, gave me the permission I had asked for.

In return she is allowed to know as much or as little as she likes about our scenes, and to request certain acts are off limits. The same goes for my dominant’s girlfriend, who also gave her permission a few days before.

We got permission about nine months ago, but it wasn’t a case of getting an “ok” and then skipping off to the dungeon whenever we feel like. My girlfriend and I are in constant communication about our arrangement. Each time I schedule a scene I check in with my girlfriend, that she’s still ok for this to happen and each time I come home we spend time together as a couple and check in again. I remind her that I love her and if she wants me to stop, I will. She tells me she loves me and trusts me to remember her even when I’m with someone else.

Part of the agreement is that if either his partner or mine gets uncomfortable and asks for us to stop playing, we will without question. We enjoy playing and exploring our niches, but our commitment is to our girlfriends. We appreciate that what we’ve been given is something special, something that strengthens our relationship with our partners all the more.

Juggling both romantic and kinky relationships is tough – and not just practically. Scheduling a scene when we’re both off work, both our partners are busy or out of town and when one of our houses is free is almost impossible.

We have to keep talking about the arrangement all the time. Everyone has to be clear and what they do and do not want and how to communicate that. We are each responsible for our own thresholds and protecting them. We also have to trust that everyone else is aware of their own limits and will communicate them clearly.

None of us have been in an open relationship before so we’re working it out as we go. The two of us have never been in a Dominant/submissive relationship either. There’s a lot of chat involved every which way. It’s hard work but it is worth it.

The one thing I’ve found the hardest is asserting my needs when it comes to negotiating between romantic and kinky relationships. I have no intention of being prioritised over my dominant’s girlfriend, but during D/s scenes, the circumstances are altered slightly.

In one of our earlier scenes my dominant received a phone call from his girlfriend, which he took. The feeling of abandonment was compounded by my already vulnerable state in the scene and I was incredibly hurt. I did not feel empowered in the scene to ask that he not take the call. After thinking about it, and even discussing it with my girlfriend and getting her opinion, I asked for us to turn our phones off when playing. Now, when our partners call on a day we’re playing, if they get answer machines they know why they can’t get through and that we’ll contact them as soon as we turn our phones back on. This rule makes me feel more secure when I’m being submissive.

Having rules like this does not mean we love our girlfriends any less, but it is part of the responsibility we have to each other as play partners. Both relationships are significant and require communication and effort. Neither can be taken for granted.

As previously mentioned, I often involve my girlfriend in my D/s relationship. If something is playing on my mind it shows and she is gracious enough to ask if I want to talk about it. This shows a great deal of trust and patience, which is a beautiful quality in the woman I want to spend my life with.

By some miracle, the four of us now socialise as well. We don’t discuss the arrangement, but it isn’t ignored. The fact that we can share a meal together and enjoy each other’s company as two couples is something that’s very precious to me. There’s no tension or jealousy; we all know where we belong.

It is scary to ask for something you really want, but if you’re ready to have an honest conversation about it, and keep having those conversations, there is always a chance that it can work out.

Sometimes, better than you’d hoped.

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Someone else’s story: fucking but not touching

We’re none of us good at this – none of us are experts. Sex and relationships and love and body-confidence: we’re all stumbling wildly around, hoping that at some point we’ll hit on something wise. Or if not wise then at least a bit better, more useful. Something that’ll help us work out how to make the world feel awesome about us, or at least make us feel awesome about ourselves.

I’ve struggled before with trying to explain how I feel about my body. While I want to wave a flag and shout ‘yay me!’ into the faces of people who sneer, but deep down I want to kick myself and whisper ‘do it better’ to the reflection in the mirror.

This week’s guest blog, by Anandamide, is beautiful and excellent – it touches on not just the feeling of insecurity but the feeling of inadequacy at feeling so insecure. He nails it in a way I think I’ve failed to, and made me throb with sadness.

Someone else’s story: fucking but not touching

I swear I can’t figure myself out; and I swear maybe I never will.

Spending hours a day, days a week tearing it in the gym; trying to win the impossible race to impossible perfection so that I can rip my top off in a dark, dry-ice club and feel like I’m at least treading water. So the neurotic scrabblings inside my head can be eased, daft of course because you shouldn’t feed the trolls.

And last night in Fire, the last night of Fire for a fair few weeks, I was flavour of the evening. Ended up rolling high on drugs and hormones grinding against a 20 year old for 30 minutes, lost and soaring and blind. And of course he was hot, because I only get with guys if they’re hot, unless I’m in a dark room or so high I can barely see. This time I could see, and I see where it’s going. So I make my excuses, and go. Leaving him on his own looking mournfully at me. Put my top back on, take it off and put it back on the right way ’round, then walk. Past the taxi rank, past the Hoist; past the Griffin, going home.

‘You will call me, yeah?’

And I nod, and I’d like to, because he’s a sweet guy, and he’s only 20, and he’s only been here 6 months. It must be lonely. So we’ve been texting, and I had said maybe I’ll be free this evening, but I’ve spent all day on a comedown in pyjamas and don’t see any reason to change that now it’s dark, and windy, and Hallowe’en.

I think he just wants company, and a shag. And I’m sure I want a shag. I must want a shag. He’s hot, and I’ve wanked twice today, and I’m idly watching porn. But you know sex is kinda scary, sex with someone who knows your name and knows your face, who could judge you, and analyse you, and decide maybe no.

I’ve been running from that for a long time. It can’t go on. I feel lingering stirrings of jealousy when I see everyone else lining up quick shags or fuckbuddies, but I recoil at the opportunity myself.

So still I spend hours a day, days a week tearing away in the gym; pouring protein down my neck and exhausting myself trying to win an impossible race; so I can rip my top off in a dark drug hazed club and feel that I’m in with a chance of being wanted; so I can be desired, but never held.

I swear I can’t figure myself out.

And I swear maybe no one ever does.

I’m going to see him, I’m going to neck a Viagra before just to make sure I get hard – and you know the stupid thing is I don’t even know that he wants a shag? I wonder, sometimes, how many guys out there are fucking just so they can be held when it’s over; how many lonely people there are out there taking a shag with a stranger as the price for feeling a heartbeat next to their own, breath on their shoulder, warmth in their arms. I wonder sometimes if any of us know why we’re running in this race, or if we have the faintest idea what we’re running towards.

But I’ll see him, and I’ll neck a Viagra before just to make sure, and we’ll shag and it’ll probably be fun, what with him being hot and cute and lonely. And maybe even for a few moments I’ll forget the scrabbling neuroticism inside my mind, worrying about him thinking about me, about me thinking about him. And maybe we can just cum, and it’ll be a brief bliss, and then I can just hold him, and he can feel my heartbeat, and we can feel like we’re not alone, like just this is enough.

And staggering though darkrooms and saunas, that’s the part of sex I always lose out on. Forgetful fucks and guys whose faces I never see, all wild and sharp and fierce. Fucking without touching, all the time longing to be touched. Those heartbeats afterwards; strong, deep, slow.