My formative sexual education came not from my peers or school or parents so much as it came from the internet. Sorry, parents, you didn't feature in the answers to this question. There's a conversation to be had on the extent to which our early experiences with explicit content shape our tastes versus the extent to which they show us what was already latent in us, but the feeling of click when my teenage self found something that resonated with me was undeniable.
Better yet, you might even have a dazzling capacity for pleasure already locked inside of you. It's a power that those of us who write about sex can hope to harness. This is my last column for Refinery It has been a pleasure to explore sexuality and relationships here in hopes of offering people information, and options.
When I joined the newly created Health team two years ago and we began crafting our approach to sex, we knew we wanted to move from the prescriptive and aspirational this is what you should want, what you should do, how you should be to the descriptive and celebratory of people's identities and choices — whether they are in sexless relationships or open ones or fantasizing about kink or discovering their asexuality — and to suggest tools for communicating about their sexualities if and when they choose.
Because the hallmark of sex, even in , is silence. A meta-review of 30 years of research on sexual communication painted a bleak portrait of the general discourse on sexuality today: Many health care professionals do not meet their patients' needs for information about the sexual changes they experience as a result of their disease or treatment.
Advertisement Illustrated By Anna Sudit. We turn to the internet for the conversations on sex we can't have elsewhere. When we do, we look for stories, both made-up and factual. Soon after I was approached about writing this column, I had the opportunity to meet my problematic fave, Gloria Steinem, after a panel.
I asked her if she had any advice to guide my writing. People don't remember generalizations or statistics. This column has often included stories and examples from my own life. A woman whose reporting on reproductive health and rights I respect very much once asked me why.
My hope is not to disclose because I can, though, or to do so reflexively or gratuitously, but to cherry-pick the things I think will spark a flicker of recognition and connection in a reader. And so I choose carefully what to disclose and how, and am sometimes still surprised when people ask, "How can you share all that?
You don't know what you don't see, and so you might think you see it all. And while women should never be pushed into personal writing, or have their books recast as memoirs or their darkest moments coaxed out of them by editors for use as clickbait, I've chosen to write personally, in my way.
I'm glad to have had the opportunity, both for the feeling of being seen and the times I know someone has seen something I've written and thought Me, too — what a relief. I've told others' stories here, too, and I'm grateful to those who have shared their experiences or expertise with me and helped me right course when I've missed the mark.
I want to thank Kelly Bourdet for bringing me on and showing me the potential of women's media, Anna Maltby for helping me birth this column, Rebecca Adams for her editing eyes, Amelia Edelman for her top-editing talent, and of course Anna Sudit, for creating illustrations that strike a bewitching balance between whimsy and grit. You truly are a sorceress. And a very heartfelt thank you to that "partner" I kept writing about and all of the anonymous sources whose brains I picked via deadline-pushing texts and emails.
You know who you are. Finally, thank you to everyone who has read this series. Whether here or elsewhere, I hope you find the stories that make you feel not weird and not alone. The Bed Post is a series that explores what holds us back from sex and love with whom we want, when we want, where we want, and how we want — because we all deserve sex and love lives that are not only free of evils, but full of what is good.
Follow me on Twitter at hlmacmillen. Find all of The Bed Post right here.