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Geni-tales: Short stories about bodies, sex, and sexuality

These are our stories. What are yours?

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Image Credits: Alexa Tarrayo
We all have something to say about our bodies, sex, and sexuality. Sharing stories and details about ourselves can be scary, and at times uncomfortable. But when it comes right down to it, we all need the opportunity to talk about ourselves, and we should be able to do it free of judgement or fear. This is a collection of short stories that reminds us our bodies can at times be weird, be our temple, or be just about whatever else we decide they are.

 

In high school, before I started taking anxiety meds and when I still had a super insatiable sex drive, I was all about doing it everywhere and in every circumstance. This included the super dumb but at-the-time-genius idea of foregoing condoms if I didn’t have any on hand — after all, my girlfriend was on the Pill, so I was fine, right? Well, apart from the threat of STIs that I apparently didn’t take very seriously, I also neglected to realize that a lack of condoms tends to result in a lot more friction. On one particularly steamy occasion, I noticed there was a lot of blood on my dick. After my girlfriend assured me that it was too early for her period, I pulled back my foreskin to find that I’d made a clean tear through my frenulum, the tiny bit of skin that connects the skin of your penis to the head. (Do not Google this. You’ve been warned.) I couldn’t have sex for a month, and even the hint of an erection hurt like hell and significantly slowed down the healing process. I essentially had to avoid any and all things sexy for half the summer. The moral? Use condoms, and plenty of lube. – MJH

Grade 7 was a very scary time for me. Pimples were covering my body, crushes seemed like everything, and my vagina began to periodically bleed. I remember running to my mother with a small stain of blood in my underwear, aware of what this meant: womanhood. She showed me the world of pads and tampons hidden underneath the bathroom sink, and gave me a very basic explanation of how to use the former. Pads suited me fine, until the dreaded summer came, full of hikes, tiny white shorts, and crowded swimming pools. I knew I had to learn how to stuff this bullet-shaped cotton ball up my vagina. Many girls have no difficulty learning to insert tampons, and probably have never thought of the many who struggle, sometimes for years, to learn to insert tampons, if they ever learn at all. I was one of those struggling girls. Honestly, I was quite scared of my vagina — of touching it, or looking at it, and absolutely terrified of putting something in it. I looked up awkward tutorial videos, I constantly reread the explanation on the tampon box, and shakily tried to even just put the tips of my fingers inside myself. I would freak out almost every time, body tense and nervous, which I now realize was one of the key reasons for my struggle. It took me four years to finally learn how to relax enough, and get a basic understanding of my anatomy to be able to finally shove a cotton bullet up my vagina. – PS

There’s a new trend on Instagram: people are taking pictures of their allegedly used underwear, free of vaginal discharge, and posting it with the hashtag #PantyChallenge. Attention, people with vaginas: vaginal discharge is normal! In case you missed this section of sexual education, vaginal discharge is a natural body process. People have a tendency to associate it with a dirty or unhealthy vagina, but the exact opposite is true. Vaginal discharge is how the sex organ keeps itself clean. Changes in the amount, colour, consistency, or smell can mean it’s time to book an appointment with a gynaecologist — or that you’re in a particular stage in your menstrual cycle. The point is, this new challenge is just the latest in a long line of ways to make people with normal, healthy bodies feel shitty about themselves. The misinformation about vaginas, even amongst people who have them, is staggering. It can make people feel like their own genitals are weird or different. They’re probably not — and if they are, who cares? Don’t buy into this shitty, body-shaming hashtag. Just try to accept and love yourself. Most importantly, if you think there’s something wrong downstairs, consult a doctor, not Instagram. – JP

I, like a lot of guys, was young when I got my first erection. I sat in wonder watching Charlie’s Angels, and I could feel the chemical balance of my body stirring. My cheeks were flushing, my breath was bated, and something was beginning to shuffle in my nether regions. A quick inspection would lead to the most startling discovery in my seven years of life: my penis could increase in size and point at the ceiling. After a good 10 seconds of analysis, I came to the grounded conclusion that it could only mean one thing . . . I had discovered my very own superpower. And it was amazing. After rigorous rounds of tests and trainings, however, I had failed to understand the meaning or purpose of my newfound gift. Finding justifications for its irregular moments of occurrence was not easy to understand. On one fateful Saturday morning, the truth behind my superhuman ability was revealed. As I sat with my dad watching Austin Powers get sexily manhandled by a bunch of fembots in pink negligees, I confided that my penis could grow and move around randomly. It was then and there I would discover the truth behind my penis and my so-called ‘superpower’ — but not before enduring my father’s wheezing laughter for 20 straight minutes. – JS

“All bodies are good bodies.” That’s the idea behind the body positivity movement and inclusive boudoir photography. Body positivity isn’t always easy, though. Unfortunately, it’s normal to fluctuate between feeling like the bomb-ass human being you are, to focusing completely on the few characteristics about yourself you’d like to change. Photographs and mirrors sometimes reflect only what you dislike, rather than the entire picture of who you are. The body positive movement seeks to challenge traditional, exclusive conceptions of beauty, to show that the spectrum of bodies is as vast as it is gorgeous. For my partner’s birthday this year, I decided to give him something a lil’ playful and risqué: I hired my photographer pal to take some boudoir photos. I found that what started off as a birthday present for him ended up being a present to myself. My body will not always look like it does now, as a 22-year-old; I don’t even look like I did three years ago. I like the idea of appreciating my body for what it is, at this stage in my life. Recognizing that it will inevitably change as I age, in both small and significant ways, but that those changes don’t really matter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also a fan of the regular ol’ selfie, but there’s a beauty in relinquishing some control to another person’s camera. I wasn’t in charge; I didn’t see my appearance from frame to frame, and consequently couldn’t edit myself from shot to shot. All I could do is stand there, in different stages of undress, and trust my friend to present me as I am.  – NS

Women are more than our sexualities. I find all too often that women are reduced to descriptors about the gender(s) we find attractive. Mostly, this applies to non-heterosexual women. We are succinctly summed up as ‘the lesbian friend,’ or ‘the friend that’s also into girls,’ or who’s also bisexual, or whatever. There is also the ever-prevalent assumption that two lesbians or bisexuals or pansexuals will automatically become great friends because they share the same sexuality. That’s not true at all. That’s like assuming that all straight women or all straight men should be BFFs. Sexuality is not a defining feature of someone’s personality. There is so much more to a person than who they happen to love. The rarer the sexuality though, the more people try to group us together. Of course, that requires believing that your sexuality is valid (hello, biphobia) and real. Yes, I’m pansexual. No, I don’t find cookware attractive. Bisexuals find two genders appealing (not always from the male/female gender binary). Pansexuals are not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity. If you want us to have labels, fine, but respect the labels we apply to ourselves and understand that’s not all we are. – CM

Growing up as a Catholic and attending a Catholic school meant that I was taught abstinence and that pre-marital sex was out of the question. I love my faith, and nothing can shake the fact that I am a Catholic, but I feel like I missed the boat on a lot of things due to the limited ‘sex education’ that was given to us. And by that, I mean I got no sex education. Puberty was horrible because of it: things were changing, hormones were raging, and everyone seemed too conservative to want to say anything. Adults shifted their weight uneasily, trying to throw the responsibility to someone else. So I went through this entire ‘coming of age’ process blindly. Breasts, periods, intercourse — it was all lost on me, not because of religion, but because of a lack of sex education. In today’s world, people are definitely a lot more open, and sex ed is being introduced much earlier. Young children need to understand their bodies. They need to learn about the body, appreciate it, and respect it. No matter what you believe, sex education is important for the full development of a person. – RW

Grade 10 was a critical, yet horribly embarrassing time to learn about my body. Kids in school were innocently holding hands, locking lips, and boasting about their ‘sex-pertise.’ And while I shrugged and rolled my eyes, I’ll have to give a few of them credit for discovering a bodily function that I probably wouldn’t have thought of for the rest of my life had I not overheard one boy in class make a remark about how his testicles shifted around on their own. Dumbstruck, I sat on the toilet after school that day, bent over and had my first real examination. No, it wasn’t an acid trip. They were moving ever so slightly. It was as if the miniscule wrinkles in the scrotum were giving my balls a tender massage as they expanded and contracted. Either that, or it looked like some sort of alien embryonic life form stirring in its biological sack. I honestly felt a little invaded, unsettled at the idea that a visible part of my body was moving against my will, nevermind that it was tucked away in my underwear. A quick Google search revealed that the wrinkles on a scrotum are part of the cremaster muscle, which stretches and shrinks depending on the temperature. There you have it, folks: it’s all connected to why hot days equal saggy balls, and cold days equal tight-tuckers! The more you know. – AVZ 

I’m 22 years old. And I spent 20 of those years thinking that I was straight. I grew up in a progressive, open-minded home — and I feel very blessed to be able to say that. Growing up, my parents wanted me to know that sexuality is fluid, and no matter who I loved they would love me all the same. I grew up honestly believing that everyone has a little gay in them — that everyone could appreciate attractive people of all genders. But for longer than I care to admit, I hid behind this idea. I would write off my attraction to women as just being a one-off, that it was just a ‘woman crush,’ and that it was nothing to think too much about. But 20 ‘woman crushes’ later, I finally admitted to myself that I was more than coincidentally homosexual. Deciding I was bisexual was not hard, but articulating it and telling my loved ones was not an easy feat for me. It was not until recently that I finally found the words to share my feelings with my friends and family. Now cue my beautiful, smart, kind, and sexy girlfriend. We met at work, and I knew the moment I saw her for the first time that she was going to mean a lot to me. I had made out and fooled around with women before, but this was different. The first time we had sex, I was terrified I was doing it wrong. I was taught about hetero sex. I saw hetero sex in movies. I had experienced hetero sex. This was all new, and I felt out of my depth. When we were in the moment though, slowly the nerves faded away and I felt happy to have such an incredible woman in my arms. – TC

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