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9 Lessons I've Learned From 10 Years Of Having Sex

Sex

OK, so maybe it's been a little more than a decade since I first started having sex. I lost my virginity sometime around my sophomore year in high school and I'm currently in my early 30's. In the time between that fateful summer night when I gave it up to my high school sweetheart (with the tune of 112 playing in the background) to now, I've learned my fair share of lessons about owning your sexuality, getting the best out of your body, and understanding how to deal with the ups and downs that come with carnal pleasure.

1.Body Positivity Leads To Great Sex

When I was younger, I can remember being in sexy situations that sometimes didn't feel so sexy. Insisting on wearing a t-shirt during sex to cover up my soft mid-section, turning off the lights to avoid too much up-close eye contact. Ultimately, this had more to do with my own confidence than a man's opinion of me.

The bottom line? Once you take a long hard look in the mirror and fall in love with what you see, you'll find better orgasms will ultimately follow.

2.It's OK To Explore Your Comfort Zone

When I was 19, I had what I fondly refer to as my "summer of love." Translation: I decided to sleep with a girl.

It was an important part of my sexual development that defined my preference and identity as a woman who considers herself to be pansexual. But gender preference isn't the only thing that's important to explore. Safely and responsibly trying out different elements of the sexual spectrum will lend itself to the most beautiful and awakening self-education.

3.Unapologetically Ask Potential Partners For What You Want

There was a time when I felt like telling a man what I wanted him to do to me in bed was too dominating, too upfront and possibly mood-ruining. But, the truth is – depending on how you say it – telling a partner how you like to be pleased serves two very important purposes. Not only is it great foreplay, but it kind of cuts right to the chase and eliminates guessing games.

No one wants to play a game that doesn't come with instructions.

4.School Yourself In Some You

In order to tell a partner what you want – you kind of have to know what you want. The best way to get to know your sexual self? Self-satisfaction. Invest a little time and a little money in the pleasure of your own company. Discover what makes you come alive (wink) so that when it's time to teach your partner what you like – you'll know exactly what to say. Not only is it the perfect way to fill those chill Sunday mornings, scientists have also discovered that it has a laundry list of health benefits.

5.Family Planning Doesn't Have To Be Painful

We can't talk about sex without talking about birth control. If you're like me, you've literally tried everything under the sun to prevent unwanted pregnancy. For me, one of my priorities was finding a way to do this without harming my body – or my chances of getting pregnant when I was ready. In my early twenties, I started tracking my periods and cycles, writing down details about everything from discharge to what my body felt like each day. After about a year of learning the signs of ovulation, I dropped my prescription birth control and went all-natural.

For those too scared to try the rhythm method, there are devices like Natural Cycles that read your basil temperature and tell you each morning if you're ovulating. This very accurate form of birth control is 100% accurate and imposes zero threat to your reproductive health.

6.Don't Have Sex With Partners You Don't Trust

I can remember the last time I was with a man who cheated on me. I had been suspicious for months and when his side chick called my phone, it was the confirming moment that I needed to move on. Of course, it also lead to a very scary trip to the clinic when I went to make sure everything below was nice and healthy. The lesson I took from that experience? Don't entertain partners who you even think could be cheating. If you're not quite ready to leave (we all have our reasons), at least abstain from unprotected sex in the meantime.

You're just as likely from catching an STD from a cheating partner as you are from a stranger on the street.

7.Never Apologize For Being Polyamorous

Between committed relationships, my dating status is always 'open'. As in, I will sleep with whomever I want, whenever I want. Being single is about being free and learning all about who I am and what I want and I am staunchly against strings during those periods. Plenty of men have taken this philosophy into question through the years and I make it a point not to entertain the naysayers. Monogamy is something I enter into with partners I think deserve that level of commitment from me and it sets the tone for a relationship that I want to last a long time. I'm okay with being selective about that and about exploring my options between boyfriends.

Don't like it? Bye.

8.Healthier Body = Better Sex

Believe it or not, we are what we eat. What we eat also has a huge impact on how we sex. Drinking plenty of water, getting plenty of sleep, and staying away from unhealthy eating habits doesn't just ensure a longer life – it ensures a better sex life. When I wasn't taking care of myself, my desire decreased and I even had a hard time having orgasms.

Our bodies function better when they are being taken care of and that includes how we perform in bed. Kind of adds a little extra motivation for working it at the gym.

9.Foreplay Can Be Incredible When It's Edible

I'll admit it – I like blowjobs a lot more now than I did back in the day. There's something to be said for what happens when your sexual palate matures. Part of it was growing up, but the other part of it was all about learning different techniques. Everyone approaches oral sex with a different comfort level but what I learned is that for mind-truly-blowing sex, it's a must-have every time.

For me, oral sex is something I'm more comfortable with in a committed relationship, which is why I tend to believe committed, safe sex is the best sex in the world.

Featured image by Shutterstock

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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