the cut on tuesdays

How Did You First Figure Out Sex?

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The Cut on Tuesdays

A weekly podcast from the Cut and Gimlet Media, with host Molly Fischer.

On today’s show, we return to the dawn of sexual knowledge. What is sex? For all of us, there was a time when we did not know … and we wanted very much to find out. So in this episode we put the question to our friends, our colleagues, our listeners: How did you start to make sense of sex? There are a multitude of possible answers. For example:

ANON:  So, when I was 11 or 12, my family had this girl from Northern Ireland come stay with us as part of this program that they used to do — it was to show Northern Irish kids that Catholics and Protestants could get along. You’d have a Protestant come stay with you if you were a Catholic family, and vice versa. We were Catholic, so she was Protestant, and I thought she was very sophisticated because she had a boyfriend and just seemed to know things about sex that I didn’t. I don’t remember how this came up — it’s mortifying to even think about it; like, we must have been using extremely veiled language — but at some point we started talking about masturbation techniques. She told me that what she did was put a nail-polish bottle in her vagina. Like, just the cap. And we’re sort of explaining each other’s techniques. I would go into a room and try her technique; I’d come back out; she’d go and try my technique. And when I was in the room trying her technique I was sort of like … This doesn’t work like my way. This is just something sitting there. I was like, “What do you do?” She would read a magazine with a nail-polish bottle just there. And I was like, God, if this is what sex is going to be like, I do not have a lot to look forward to.

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How Did You First Figure Out Sex?