*The following is an excerpt from the article we wrote in collaboration with The Treaty SIB that we wanted to share on our personal platform as well. Cover art by Teresa Valle.*
Ever feel like sex is finished as soon as your partner finishes? Like you have to follow a preconceived list of steps during a sexual encounter? Or maybe you feel the looming expectation of sexual favors you’re not interested in, just because that’s the way it always goes. These stereotypical practices and beliefs that inform our relationship with sex can all be referred to as the sexual script.
Society likes to play tricks with us by stuffing people into boxes of different social norms that influence all aspects of our lives, and the bedroom is no exception. Regardless of if you're into hook-up culture, relationships, or anything in between and beyond that, you’ve most likely felt the pressure of sexual norms and the sexual script. Sexual norms encompass the who, what, when, and where aspects of sex, while the sexual script focuses specifically on the order of events of sexual encounters. Speaking in broad terms, the normalized sexual encounter is usually some kissing, touching, potentially oral, and whatever your final destination may be. Before diving right in, I want to preface, by saying this article speaks very generally, so take from it what you find useful to your individual experience. Furthermore, this is not to say that your sexual encounters should not follow the “standard” order, but saying they should only follow this order if you want them to. Finally, it’s helpful to keep in mind that sex is not perfect and is bound to naturally have uncomfortable moments at times.
We have all unknowingly signed the sexual contract, and, unless we are making the conscious effort to unsubscribe from it, we become stuck in the chain of putting what we think we should do over what we want. It is so easy to betray ourselves when we want to make a decision outside of the norm due to the fear of how the person in front of us will react, or because of how we were brought up. We are not only limiting ourselves but also blurring the lines of consent. The goal is to approach sexual connection with a “yes!” instead of a “sure” and definitely not a “no”.
All too often, people have sex that they can’t wait to be done with or that they never wanted to have in the first place. Regardless of how far you’ve come with this person, you are always free to change your mind or back out. The key is communication; set the expectation as soon as you feel you know. Blowjobs are for boyfriends? Cool. You’ve had sex before but you only want to kiss and cuddle this time? Nice. Sex and masturbation should have several things more or less in common. For example, more in common in the sense of taking charge of our own pleasure, and less in common because this is not a solo act, therefore it should be a more fair exchange. Prioritizing your pleasure means fully immersing yourself in or working towards feeling present and comfortable in the act.
Even if you’re in the middle of sex, you can always stop because you do not owe others pleasure. It is understandable to be worried about if the person will get frustrated or upset, but do you really want to be sleeping with someone who isn’t sexually compatible with you or simply incapable of respecting your boundaries? Setting boundaries may seem like something that will push people away, but they only push people away that are not meant for you. If you set a boundary of, for example, “We’re only kissing tonight,” and suddenly your head is being pushed down, that’s a red flag! The ways in which someone respects your boundaries in bed is very telling of how they feel about you in general and their ability to control themselves. However, your safety always takes priority, and it is very realistic that sometimes speaking up for yourself or pushing social boundaries may put you at risk.
Breaking the sexual script is not only about slowing down and stopping, but also about being unashamed to bring in new things. Knowing what you want ahead of time requires not only communication but, most importantly, reflection. What is something you’ve wanted to try but were too afraid to ask for? What fuels your sexual desires? The sexual world is your oyster and as long as it happens with consent between all parties of reasonable age, then you’re good to go. Slut shaming, although very unfortunately alive, chugging along, and admittedly very difficult to get past is a) other people simply not minding their business and b) you will get judged regardless of what you do, so if you can’t please everyone, then might as well focus on pleasing yourself.
To develop further, your sexuality and your sensuality do not need to be easily digestible to others. If you lean into your fluidity, you’ll notice that very few things are constant within you, and what you may enjoy today will be different from tomorrow or even that same evening. Labels are useful only if you deem them so. There is so much to explore once we look beyond the heteronormative, the gender binary, and the centralization of couples.
To wrap up, if you want satisfaction, you're going to have to own your shit. The main ways to do this are through reflection and communication. Figure out what you really want, what excites you, and what makes you uncomfortable. Deciding what goes on in your bedroom is between you and your partner(s).