I have wanted to write about this for a long time.  I have so much to say about it. The problem is that I don’t have any stories about it– not that I am willing to share, at least. The world belongs to people who have the best stories.  Sexual liberation belongs to women who are willing to stand up and say “I have sex! I have this much sex with this many people, and it’s okay!” or  “I dress like this, so take that society!” Purity, modesty, and all that is pro-Virgin power comes from personal testimonies and Conservatively told bible stories.

And then there’s me.

Of course, I admire people who do tell their stories. They have changed my life, and the world really does belong to them.  Stories have a neat way of improving social consciousness, evolving into full-blown movements. [Insert Pokemon evolution joke here?].

Me, I really don’t have a story that will change your life.  I could probably make you laugh, but ultimately I’m not willing to share whether I’ve said Yes or No–certainly, I’m not telling the internet, nor my parents, nor most people I know. That doesn’t make me ashamed, by the way. I am fully comfortable with my sexuality. And I’m fully comfortable with keeping it to myself.

But since stories run the show, I will tell you the stories I know.

I know stories about women saying Yes, and it being a big problem. I know stories about women saying No, and it being a big problem. I know stories about misogyny disguised as miscommunication.  I also know stories of miscommunication disguised as misogyny–God bless the little boys who receive mixed messages and lowered bars from society every day.

I know stories about people ashamed of what they have done, because that big bully “Society” told them they ought to be.  Then there the people ashamed of what they haven’t done. There’s also shame in the couldn’t do, wouldn’t do–or, God forbid, like to do.

Oh, and there’s shame in what people don’t like to do, too. Sometimes, the don’t likes meet the likes and they confuse and shame each other.  Fun, right?

I know stories about women who proudly wear the title “sexually liberated” because, well, they have a lot of sex and they want to own it and good for them.  I know stories about women who are “sexually liberated,” or “sex positive,” but don’t have a lot of sex at all.  I have heard tall tales from people who pretend they have more sex than they actually do, because they want to be part of the conversation. And then, of course, there are heartbreaking stories from folks who pretend they have less sex than they actually do, because that’s what is acceptable.

To make matters more confusing, these stories can all belong to the same person.  Whether you’re in a Eucharist line or a picket line, chances are your sexual history is more definitive of who you are as a person than it should be.

Yes, I know stories.  And so many of these stories make want to run up and give their keepers a big hug and say “It’s okay! You’re okay! You aren’t broken.”

Everyone is just trying to figure their shit out. If sexuality was sensible, reasonable, formulated, and mundane, then it wouldn’t be so friggin’ funny. And it is funny. It’s ridiculous. It’s romantic. It’s silly.

Welcome to human relationships, friends–they’re weird.  When people take their clothes off, they get even weirder. So no, they don’t need your judgement.  They need love, they need information.  Please leave the close-mindedness at the door.

Oh, yes, there are serious things involved in sexuality: Health. Pregnancy. HIV. Disease. Emotional well-being. Rape. Consent.  And we’re awfully good at confusing people about the serious parts by making up stupid rules about the ridiculous parts.  These things need to be discussed honestly, but we keep loading them down with arbitrary social standards.  Why? Do we really need to make sex more emotionally loaded and confusing?

Here’s what we need to do:  Care about the stories. Let them speak. Respect the storytellers.  Share your own stories, if you want to.  And whatever your story is, however different it is than someone elses, whatever you choose to do with it: You aren’t broken.

You’re just another person with a story and a body, and no matter what, those two things belong to you and you alone.


Thanks to the overwhelming response to this blog post, I started an online project to tap into the power of sharing our stories. Check it out here: http://tabootab.com/category/sexuality/

About Shauna Vert

Digital History geek, museum lover, former Smithsonian intern and uOttawa alumni. Tweeting @Shaunanagins, brainwaving at shaunanagins.com.

161 responses »

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  1. jaimestathis says:

    Reblogged this on sorry i'm NOT WHO YOU THOUGHT i was and commented:
    I’ve never reblogged anything, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this post from Shaunanagins that I read this week. I read it and reread it and every time it had something different to offer, something deeper, some additional layer of awesomeness. And because the point of life (should be) to share the things we love instead of sequestering them away…here you go.
    Though I hope you click on the link and read the whole thing, here are a couple of my favorite parts:

    Welcome to human relationships, friends–they’re weird. When people take their clothes off, they get even weirder. So no, they don’t need your judgement. They need your love, and they need information. Please leave the close-mindedness at the door.


    Here’s what we need to do: Care about the stories. Let them speak. Respect the storytellers. Share your own stories, if you want to. And whatever your story is, however different it is than someone elses, whatever you choose to do with it: You aren’t broken.

    You’re just another person with a story and a body, and no matter what, those two things belong to you and you alone.

  2. jaimestathis says:

    Hi! I’d love to reblog this….I’ve never reblogged something before, but have been reblogged. (wow. that’s a lot of reblogging.) Anyway, my blog has a button for “that,” but I don’t see that yours does. Help?

  3. jaimestathis says:

    I found it.🙂

  4. Nick says:

    Reblogged this on Slightly Broken and commented:
    Not broken. I like it.

  5. Raoul Alexandersson Bloggar igen says:

    My story nobody would’t belive it, so I write storys novells and other reflexioner about alot.
    Your blogg is great
    Raoul Alexandersson

  6. Refreshing storyteller! keep wearting red…I wear too much black…sliming you know.

  7. great read! im inspired to write my story! thanks….

  8. kdillmanjones says:


  9. […] Sex, Lies, and Storytime: “It’s okay, you’re not broken.”. […]

  10. Bushlings says:

    Reblogged on http://singlestreaming.com/

    This is such a gorgeous piece of grace!

  11. Reblogged this on This is the sign you've been searching for. and commented:
    love the honesty.

  12. Reblogged this on wthwereuthinking and commented:
    An impressive story, written by an equally impressive woman. A must SHARE

  13. I also reblogged, first time I ever read anything I deemed worthy!

    thank you!

  14. […] Sex, Lies, and Storytime: “It’s okay, you’re not broken.”. […]

  15. Alice says:

    Reblogged this on defying the stars and commented:
    The freedom to be.

  16. poessay says:

    When the times are so uncertain and morality compass is so skewed, there is only little left that you can do for yourself; that is live your life as you wish it because only that defines you, nothing or no one else.

    Well written and expressed!!

  17. […] How did I get here?,’ either.  I have had a few of those moments recently.  When Sex, Lies, and Storytime started spinning around the internet and loading up with comments, I literally ran into the […]

  18. legallybee says:

    funny,interesting and nice…:)

  19. June says:

    I loved this. Thank you so much for posting it. As someone who’s dealt with some of the things mentioned in this post (haven’t we all?), it really helped me feel a lot better reading this and sorting out some of what I feel.

  20. I could hear Hannah Horvath speaking as I read this.

  21. Amazing writing– we are beautifully unique and no label is needed. Thank you!

  22. ohdecker says:

    Sex for the rabbits I keep is very simple.

    First of all, I cage the bucks and the does separately, so that I can control who mates with whom. We do a certain amount of this in human society, but there are a lot of holes in the cages.

    When I decide (like God?) that a couple of rabbits should get together, I bring the doe to the buck’s cage. If you do it the other way around, bring him to her cage, she may attack him to protect herself. Hmmm.

    About 50% of the time, she lifts her rear end and he goes at it. About a second later, it is over for him. Not for her. Thirty days later she produces a litter of babies that she has to worry about for the rest of her life. Yeow. Strikes pretty close to home.

    The other 50% of the time she plants her bottom firmly against the cage floor. Your typical buck will try to make a go of it anyway, but nothing comes of it. Sometimes he gets confused and tries her the other way around. No good comes of that either, only frustration. After trying for a couple of minutes at top speed, he usually gives up, and lies down in exhaustion.

    Is there exhilaration in rabbit sexuality? For the buck there is, to be sure, about 50% of the time.

    Is there happiness? For the doe there is, when her babies are born, if she can manage to keep them alive.

    Is there guilt or remorse, outrage, shame, tenderness, closeness, or the longing to repeat shared intimacy. Rabbits aren’t the most emotionally expressive of mammals, but I just don’t see those emotions on their furry little faces. Sex for them seems entirely utilitarian, merely for propagating the species.

    I once suggested to a woman that we “fuck for fun, and leave it at that.” A typical buck thing to suggest. Such approaches sometimes work, too, if the doe in question is living her life at the level of a rabbit. Men and women, however, need more from life and love than rabbits do. We have to aim higher.


  23. Loved reading your post! Living in Hollywood currently and going out weekly really has made me realize most of my decisions are based on the “moral” of the grand society. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but I imagine it does keep me a bit safer.

    However, you writing about them as if they are stories was a great analogy, made the actual decision seem more personal. Thanks!

  24. […] I am seeking contributors for the next Taboo Tab.  The subject is “Sex, Lies, and, Storytime.”  I want to hear your story, if you’re willing to share. I can’t publish […]

  25. […] read Alex’s whole article, and more stories about the diversity, judgement, and reality of Sex, Lies, and Storytime when the next  Taboo Tab launches on Friday, March […]

  26. […] (Note: you can read my own “Sex, Lies, and Storytime” article here) […]

  27. […] allowed to consider it with partner-choosing (though, pretty please, don’t use sexstuff to judge a person’s human value outside of that).  You’re allowed to prefer partners with lots of experience, or prefer […]

  28. […] stuff! People cared about it! Sometimes, they even cared enough to share it.  I remember when Sex, Lies, and Storytime , a ranty essay written covertly on my office computer, was Freshly Pressed in February.  When […]

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