Art by Ryan Huertas www.ryanhuertas.com
Welcome to Hyphen’s The H-spot column, where Hyphen drops mad knowledge on readers’ questions about the nasty and other prurient delights. Our experts consist of sex goddess Nadia Cho, intrepid medical doctors Monica Hahn and Dharushana Muthulingam, and diva extraordinaire Barbie. Each week, we’ll feature questions that cover health, LGBTQ, and various other burning topics that our prudish parents would disown us from asking.
Feel free to send over more sex questions to Abigail Licad, our fledgling editor-assassin of all things repressed and taboo, at abigail.licad[at]hyphenmagazine.com.
Ready to straighten out the kinks in our thoughts on sex and sexuality? Let’s do it!
How do I proposition
someone for sex in a classy, discreet, and non-offensive manner? As a straight
woman in my early thirties, I worry that the guy I proposition might get scared
off and think I'm a whore or that I
want a serious relationship. I don't. I just want to knock boots to
satisfy my curiosity about him. Help, please.
Dear Knocking Boots,
of all, I highly doubt that a man will be scared off by a chick who is
DTF (down to fuck) because as various sociological studies find, men are
more eager to have sex with strangers than women are. Which brings me to
the next point: no one has the right to think you’re a whore for wanting
casual sex because let’s face it, if we’re talking about people who are
“easy,” it doesn’t get any easier than the cis-male population
(cis-gender means identifying with the gender you’re assigned at
birth/non-transgender). You’re highly empowered for being honest and
upfront about what you want.
best sexual proposition I ever got was from a cis-man who knows a lot
about consent and polyamory. He said to me, ‘I find you very attractive.
It would be lovely to get sexual with you, but if you don’t want to,
then we can just be friends and that’s okay.’ I was given the
opportunity to decline without feeling bad or offended. I appreciated
that he was upfront and not creepy, which would’ve made me
uncomfortable. Be respectful without sounding presumptuous, as in don’t
say suggestive things. Don’t assume a person wants to or should have sex
with you. Give your lucky man time and a chance to consider your offer,
and indicate what kind of relationship you would like to have early on
Nadia Cho is an undergrad at UC Berkeley majoring in psychology, with strong interests in sociology, Asian American Studies and gender and women’s studies. She was a Sex on Tuesday columnist at UC Berkeley’s student paper The Daily Californian. She continues teach sex positive thinking and living at her blog nadiacho.com. Her hobbies include drinking coffee, playing with cats and being sassy. She secretly loves Tumblr and kale.
Is it ok for a woman to have vaginal sex while pregnant? Wouldn’t this hurt the baby?
--Knocked Up and Still Horny
Congrats on your pregnancy and flourishing libido!
Vaginal sex is absolutely safe. A developing baby is thickly cushioned by amniotic fluid, strong maternal uterine and abdominal muscles. The thrusting motions of the penis or sex toys only enter as far as the vagina. They do not reach past the cervix to the uterus, where the baby is growing.
However, just as pregnant women should avoid contact sports that risk blunt injury to the abdomen, you should also avoid rough sexual activity that might do the same (consider setting aside the whips and bondage until next year). Additionally, if you have any high-risk pregnancy conditions that require “pelvic rest” or bedrest, you should absolutely avoid sexual activity for the safety of yourself and your developing baby.
That said, as your pregnancy progresses and your belly grows ginormous, sex may become more cumbersome. You may have to be creative with positioning. A few pregnant ladies’ favorites include being on top for “pregnant cowgirl” or “reverse pregnant cowgirl,” sideways, or on your hands and knees with your partner behind you (“pregnant doggy,” trademark pending). All of these positions keep the belly out of the way.
There are many other pleasurable sexual activities not involving penetration that are generally safe, such as kissing, sensual massages, mutual masturbation and oral sex. If you are going to enjoy oral sex, make sure not to blow air into the vagina in order to avoid the rare risk of ausing an air embolism!)
While you have blast, remember that it is an especially important time to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which pose risk of serious complications for the baby. Practice safely and get prenatal testing. Finally, pregnancy also poses higher risk for intimate partner violence. If you feel threatened, please reach out, there are many resources to help you.
Bottom line: Most sexual activity (including vaginal penetration) is very safe. However, if you are experiencing a complicated pregnancy, make sure to check in regularly with your clinician. Finally, always remember to have fun, a sense of humor and good communication with your partner. Good luck!
--Monica and Dharushana
Doctors Monia Hahn and Dharushana Muthulingam
Monica Hahn (L) is a resident physician at the UCSF Family and Community Medicine Residency at San Francisco General Hospital. She received her MD from UCSF School of Medicine and her MPH from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. She has been involved in community-based youth empowerment advocacy, as well as HIV prevention projects. She is currently interested in adolescent health, HIV prevention and sexual health. She enjoys capoeira, Afro-Latin dance, and Brazilian percussion.Dharushana Muthulingam (R) is a resident physician in the department of Internal Medicine of the Kaiser Medical Center in Oakland. She studied medicine at UCSF and public health at UC Berkeley. She is interested in infectious disease, healthy aging, health justice and working with patients to live the good and flourishing life. In her spare time, she has been attempting to read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. After two years, she is happy to report she is almost half way done.
Since this gay marriage
thing is now legal where I live, my serious girlfriend’s parents finally want
to meet me. I'm nervous because I heard they're super-conservative, and I hope
to make the best impression. What should I do?
--Meet the (Very
So you're finally going to meet the parents! Will you have
their blessing? Is this even about you?
Understand that the event will not be about you, but about your
girlfriend’s parents showing their serious support for their daughter. Accept
that it's gonna be awkward, especially if everyone involved feels that this
time, your girlfriend’s relationship is special, serious and unique.
It can be a tricky scenario, where your girlfriend’s parents
may set you up with questions or scenarios that make it challenging for you to
be you. They may be overprotective and want only the best for their daughter.
It's all a matter of how you handle and react to curveballs.
Here are a few ways to handle your meeting:
First, find out from your girlfriend about her parent’s
preferences and non-negotiables, from what honorifics to use while addressing them,
to the type of demeanor or humor that will make them comfortable.
Second, make sure your conversation and actions during the
meeting are as inclusive of everyone as possible. Engage both your girlfriend and
her parents in your responses. Be chill and stay curious. And remember, this is
also your opportunity to get to know your girlfriend’s parents, so make sure to
also ask them questions!
Getting personal involves breaking down barriers to
understanding and accepting differences. We might not all be on the same page in
terms of personal or political values, but it’s important to hear each other
out and appreciate differences as a way to learn from each other.
One last piece of advice: introduce more sensitive topics
like your finances and spirituality only if her parents take the lead.
Finally, keep in mind that your meeting is not a game. The
parents are reaching out to you because they want to be a part of their
daughter's life, which includes you.
Don’t worry you'll do just fine.
Barbie is your sister and pal in all things love and taboo. NYC-based, she loves long walks on city streets, watching sunsets over the river, farming and looking for the next big thing. She's your wellness connector, media maker, and fellow troublemaker. She loves her food homestyle, hands down. If you're ever in NYC, look her up to chat and chew.