What I learned in bed with Hannah Wydeven

By Hannah Wydeven

Dear Hannah,
The dull days and long nights have left me feeling pretty pale, slack and unsexy…but really, what does that even mean? Just because I don’t look like the girl on that “tone and tan” billboard on top of Breadsmith doesn’t mean I’m not beautiful. Tell that to my sex drive, which all but disappears every time I shed my clothes, much to the disappointment of my partner. I exercise, I have “me-time,” but none of these things seem to re-posit my self-worth as a sexual being. What can I do to make myself feel sexy without trying to adhere to some arbitrary industry standard?
-Nicknames Are Silly

It’s difficult to tell you what will make you feel sexier NAS, because it’s different for every person. During the harsh Minnesota winter when your skin is peeling off and you feel fat and ugly, it can be hard to demand anything from your naughty bits; they want to hibernate just as much as you do. Each person has a different trigger that will bring back the heat and get your juices flowing again. Exercise and masturbation are a good start, NAS, but it might take something extra to get you back in the mood. If you are feeling particularly unsexy in your winter body, you should try wearing something with your partner that makes you feel sexy. It could be as demure as a low-cut shirt that you only wear when you are around your sex buddy, or it could be some hot lingerie that makes you feel hot and gets your partner excited as well.

Sometimes if you have been with a specific partner too long, you might start feeling gross in your skin because there isn’t that same “let me rip off your clothes and ravage you on the carpet” intensity like there was in the beginning. In that case, it might be time to try something new that will get you both revved up again. Try acting out a fantasy you have with your partner, or asking them to do something specific that turns you on. Don’t be complacent in letting your sex life fizzle just because it’s winter. A new position, role-play, teasing, extensive foreplay: there are lots of tricks you can try to get yourself back in the game with your partner.

If the reason you are so turned off is truly because of your issues with your own body, then there is no quick fix. You are aware of how media portrays a specific image, and you obviously have recognized that you don’t need to or want to look like the common billboard model, so the next step is realizing that the way you look now is sexy.

Think about your body in terms of your favorite parts, not your least favorite. Do you love your boobs? Your butt? Your knees? Have confidence in those body parts that are really making the grade, and the ones you are worried about will be overshadowed. You need to be turned on by your own body before you are going to feel comfortable taking your clothes off and diving into bed with someone else. Look in the mirror, girl: you’re hot stuff, and yes, everyone knows it. Learn to wear your confidence on your skin and your own naked body will turn you on more than your partners can.

Dear Hannah,
There’s a lot of talk about consent around campus, my hall even has a related poster on the wall. I don’t want to sound ignorant or like I have any bad intentions, but what exactly does consent mean in a sexual encounter? I’m constantly scared I am going to end up like one of those people who sexually assaults someone without knowing they were doing it!
-Afraid to Touch

What consent should technically mean and how it can be upheld in a courtroom has been debated in legal circles for decades. This is mostly because it’s usually one persons word against the other and there is very little evidence to deal with in each case. Even socially there has been a constant battle to dispel myths and come to a clear and strong consensus about what consent means.

Most of the trouble is in overcoming societal perceptions about women who are victims as somehow asking for it, or playing hard to get when they are trying to say no. There has also been the issue of overcoming troublesome campaigns that bolster the myth that “no means yes.” For example, take Queens University in Canada in the mid 1980’s. The “no means no” campaign here was publically mocked by male students re-writing signs to say things like “no means now” or “no means more beer.” This kind of peer approval of rape and sexual assault has perpetuated purposeful ignorance and misconceptions about consent.

People love to debate about whether body language can say yes even if the person says nothing, but the truth of the matter is that yes means yes, and nothing else can substitute for verbal consent. Anytime you are hooking up with someone (no matter their gender or sexuality), you need to ask for consent. Is this OK? Can I put my hand there? Can I take off my shirt? Etc. There should be no ambiguity in your sexual encounters, so that neither party ends up feeling confused or taken advantage of. Assuming consent just because someone doesn’t say no is not good enough. A person who is drunk may not have the wherewithal to say no, but that doesn’t mean they are implying consent either. If you don’t hear yes, hands off. Obviously, pressuring someone into saying yes, or worse, physically or verbally threatening them to say yes does not count as consent. If you want to be sure that what you are doing with someone during a sexual encounter is OK, you have to ask.

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