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We are often told that communication is the key to a healthy sex life, but it isn’t always that easy.
In daily life I am a confident sexual woman who doesn’t blush when saying the word clitoris and has no problem telling the post office staff loudly that the parcel I’m sending contains a vibrator. I (so far) have shown over 500 people delicately shaded drawings of my vulva and sung about my sexual highs and lows onstage in 4 theatres. It seems I have zero worries telling a room of strangers about my enjoyment of sex, but when it comes to the person I’m actually having sex with this changes.
Admittedly there is a lot of sexual admin with me. I’ve experienced pain during sex for as long as I’ve been sexually active. This can mean I am often too worried about potential pain to be fully aroused or achieve orgasm. Over time I’ve learnt a few tricks, positions and strategies to make sex more enjoyable, but actually sharing these with a partner is a different story.
In an ideal world I’d whip out a fully animated Powerpoint presentation and project “The Guide to Sex with Fran” on my bedroom ceiling. Sadly, there never seems the right moment to power up a computer pre-sex.
The sad truth is there is still a stigma around a woman knowing what she wants and likes in bed and
knowing how to ask for it. Partners have been offended when they realised I wasn’t just going to trust their natural instincts and one who bought me a sex toy then got upset when I actually used it, annoyed that I was supplementing them in any way.
So where does that leave me? I am currently at the start of a potential sexual relationship. It’s exciting and perhaps the sex will be trouble free. I’ve been tempted to just not tell them about my challenges with pain and low desire and see what happens, but my gut tells me honesty is best.
So do we just lie back and think of England? As difficult as these conversations are they are
essential. I spent many years of my life “letting” and “allowing” partners to have the type of sex they wanted to have. I would lie there passively, acquiescing to what they wanted, providing them with what they asked for and giving reassuring “oooh” and “ahh” noises. I enjoyed that they were enjoying it and lived for the spooning afterwards.
We are too often told to not ask for what we want and to not be loud or bossy or visible. Asking for pleasure and demanding to be an equal part of the sexual experience is therefore an act of
This of course doesn’t make it any easier. I hope I can offer some reassurance that honest communication helps filter out partners who are not worth having. If someone doesn’t want to have a conversation about how to make sex enjoyable for you then this is definitely cause for concern.
I’m going to strive to have only honest conversations with my next sexual partner. Without honesty sex just won’t be what I want it to be and I’ll remain passive. Perhaps I’ll have a template feedback questionnaire ready just in case.
Fran Bushe is an award winning comedian and playwright. Her work has been performed at Soho Theatre, VAULT Festival, The Roundhouse, Southwark Playhouse and Pleasance Theatre.
“Relentlessly hilarious” – The Stage