An X-rated lesson

Sex on Tuesday

I clicked on the link my boyfriend sent me in our Facebook message chat. It took me to a website called WoodRocket — specifically, a porn parody of “Parks and Recreation.” In the video, a Leslie Knope look-alike “polishes the wood” of the Ron Swanson character. I made it through one minute before I freaked out and closed the tab.

My boyfriend had sent me the porn in an attempt to bring me out of my Catholic schoolgirl shell. After I closed the tab, I messaged him saying that I just couldn’t bring myself to watch it.

Before this, my pornographic consumption consisted of what you see in movies — people flopping around on top of one another, but no real nudity. Just the mention of sex made me turn beet red. Seeing genitalia was too much for me.

I was 17, and I wasn’t ready for all of this. But my boyfriend had already had sex. He tried to convince me to do more to him, and when I didn’t want to, he accused me of being terrified of his penis.

What he didn’t understand was that this wasn’t just the first time I was seeing a penis in person — it was literally my first time ever seeing a penis at all. I never had a real sexual education class or even a basic anatomy lesson.

The closest I ever got to sex ed was in sixth grade, when we watched a video that explained what we should do if an adult touched us in a place that made us uncomfortable.

Here’s a testament to my total lack of sex education: Once, about four months into my high school relationship, some pre-ejaculate got on my denim shorts, and I was convinced that I could get pregnant from it. I made my boyfriend go with me to get the Plan B pill, because I’d never learned what could actually get me pregnant.

Although I was slowly starting to explore my sexuality with my boyfriend, I really had no idea what I was doing.

The truth is, even though I was probably afraid of penises most of all, I was still pretty terrified of bodies in general at that point, including my own. I’d never even seen my own vagina. If I couldn’t handle exploring my own body, there was never really any chance that I was ready to explore someone else’s.

But in college, when I started becoming more adventurous, I began to understand bodies more. I pulled out the old hand mirror and shoved it between my legs to take a good, long look at what was going on down there.

Gradually, I began to explore porn more, too. I would incrementally watch a minute or two more of the porno my ex had sent me all those years ago over the course of several weeks.

My freshman year of college, the resident assistants at Foothill hosted a “Porn and Sushi” event as part of their Sex and Sexuality Week. There, I learned about Edward Frenkel’s erotic film and about Belle Knox, the famous American porn star. I found Knox on Pornhub later that night and have been enjoying a healthy dose of watching the bump and grind ever since.

I tended to view the same video multiple times in order to really get comfortable with what I was seeing. Eventually, that led me to branch out to viewing similar videos. Then I began expanding my horizons, encouraging myself to watch more diverse depictions of sex — or as diverse as can be found on free sites such as Pornhub, anyway.

Although I appreciate the fact that viewing porn helped me to become more comfortable with sex, I realize it wasn’t the most accurate method to educate myself about it. For me, watching porn was about becoming more accepting of all of the things that our bodies do for us — not about sex education.

But I always tried to be critical of my own consumption. Porn can be wildly unrealistic and problematic in its depictions, particularly when it comes to representing various minority groups, which are often fetishized in porn.

Even though you might not want to think about it as you’re in the middle of getting yourself off, it’s really important to consider the validity of what you’re seeing.

Nevertheless, by watching real bodies in action and supplementing the fiction with actual fact from verified sex education resources, I grew to approach other bodies with acceptance. Now, I revel in all of the details of sex and cherish the bodies that enable it.

When it comes to sex, as with most things, knowledge is power. Without any, I felt lost and stuck. I couldn’t make decisions because I wasn’t sure how to make them in ways that made me feel safe.

It’s crucial to educate people about their sexual natures so that they can feel empowered in their sexualities. Now that I do, I can fully enjoy all of the sights, smells, sounds, touches and tastes that are part of sex.

Rebecca Martin writes the Tuesday column on sex. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @beccasexontues.