Further misconceptions

When I was in second grade, I used to sneak away during recess with one of the other boys and we would fool around in the tall grass at the edge of the playground. We pulled our pants down around our ankles and rubbed our tiny erections together. I remember him always on top, and I believed the only reason I didn’t get pregnant was that we didn’t kiss. We called our playtime activity "fucking," though of course it wasn’t even close. One day in line for the cafeteria, I told Danny, "We can’t call it ‘fucking’ anymore, because ‘fuck’ is a bad word." I said — in complete earnestness — we had to start calling it "rape"! —Early Bloomer

At 7 years old, the image I had of sex in my mind was that whenever a guy got hard, he could just walk up to his girlfriend/wife/prostitute, stick it in, pee, and just walk off. Just as simple as that. So one night, I decide to practice this routine on my bed. I stand up, drop trou, get hard, and just kind of start thrusting forward in the air, pretending that there is a beautiful woman in front of me. At this point, my father walks into the room. I’m about 7-8 years old at the time, so he must be thinking, "What in the fuck kind of pervert am I raising?" He doesn’t say anything; just turns around, closes the door, and walks away. I, in turn, am mortified, but have learned a valuable lesson about simulated solo sex since: Always lock the door. —Didn’t Understand Much About Dicks

A long time ago, I knew two things about jerking off: It involved "jerking" something, and it "felt good." Alas, if only I had known what needed to be jerked. One day, determined that I should no longer miss out on this marvelous "jerking off" I kept hearing about, I made a guess, grabbed a hold of my testicles, and gave them a good solid "jerk" straight downward. I felt something, but it wasn’t good. —Sean

I’m a 28-year-old straight male. But when I was 11, a male friend and I used to "fool around." It was mostly just the two of us "humping" and pretending to kiss. Nothing major. The misconception part came later. In junior high they started teaching us about AIDS. It was presented to us as a gay disease and the teacher offered no specifics about how one caught it. My young mind figured that it was somehow created when two men fooled around. For several years I was sure that I had it and would die young from the dreaded disease.

In high school I found out that AIDS is not created when two men "fool around," it is caught by having sex with another person who already has the disease, gay or not. It seems quite amusing now but at the time I was scared half to death about it. —Sliver

Most of what I learned about sex when I was a kid I learned from my fucked-up next-door neighbor. The only difference, he informed me, between male and female genitalia was pubic hair. I thought both boys and girls had dicks, but only girls had hair on them. See, I was about 10 and was of course hairless, as was my neighbor, and our dicks were the only dicks I had ever seen. I had seen my fair share of Playboys, and assumed those girls had dicks that were simply obscured by all that bush. So one day we were digging around in his garage and came across a nudist colony magazine of his dad’s and — lo and behold — there were pics of guys with pubic hair. I freaked! —Perverts Impart Strange Shit

When I was about 4, my 8-year-old older brother used to pin me down and fart in my face. As you can imagine, I hated this. One day I saw some graffiti on a wall that said "FUCK YOU." When I asked my older brother what it meant, he wouldn’t tell me. I kept asking him until he replied, "Just imagine the worst thing you could do to anyone." The next time my brother farted in my face I immediately ran home and told my mother that my brother had just fucked me. —How I Learned What "Fuck" Means

I grew up in a house full of dogs. Lots of puppies all over the place. On one particular afternoon my parents were away and David, a 10-year-old down the street and my regular sex buddy, came over. David had been reading his 17-year-old brother’s porn mag in which there was an article about buttfucking. I had no idea what buttfucking meant. I was an 8-year-old, it was the ’60s — what did I know? David thought we should try buttfucking, so he attempted to dry fuck me. It hurt. I was upset. David went home. A few hours later my parents returned and my dad found me crying in the den. He asked me what was wrong and I screamed between sobs that "David stuck his weenie in my pooper and now I am going to have puppies!" I told him that David did to me like the boy dogs did to the girl dogs and they eventually had puppies. "I don’t want to have puppies!" I shrieked.

After my dad stopped laughing he assured me that I would not have puppies. David and I continued playing around and when we discovered lubricant we tried for puppies as often as we could. —SPCA

When I was in the sixth grade, our friend Tom G., who lived on a farm and thus had instant credibility in our group concerning all things reproductive, told us that when we were older we would have to have sex, but as males we would get no satisfaction from it. When asked to explain, he replied, "When your ear itches and you scratch it with your finger, what feels better, the ear or the finger?" —Made Sense Then

My older brother (I’m the youngest, so they’re all older) told me that when a man and woman decided to have a baby, the man fucked her in the vagina if they wanted a girl, and fucked her in the ass if they wanted a boy. Well, I’ve been getting fucked in the ass for years now, and no boy. But, boy, does it feel good. —Patrick in Chicago

I was young and learning about sex in the usual manner, via my best friend’s babysitter. We would ask questions; she would answer them. Now either she was clueless too or she got a kick out of lying because when I asked her about the term "making out," she explained it as full-out penis-pounding-pussy type sex. About a week later I was watching the episode of my favorite show "Full House" (g’luck MK, i luv u) where DJ is talking to Steve about how their relationship will change now that they’re broken up and just friends. DJ explained, "We won’t be making out anymore." I was floored by the conflicting images of family-valued "Full House" with DJ and Steve engaging in premarital sex. Confused, I asked my older brother, "If I like a girl, is it okay to make out with her?" Cautiously he explained making out is an acceptable way of expressing affection between a young boy and girl. Then I asked why inserting my penis inside her vagina showed affection. He nearly choked to death on the question.

After a few moments he pulled himself together enough to give me a sex talk, clearing up that and a few other misconceptions I had. —Dumb Kid

When I was about 6 years old, my mother took it upon herself to explain the basic physical aspects of sex to me. To help in this task, she showed me a biology textbook with pictures of the male and female genitalia. I understood erections, and I got the concept of penetration. However, I did not understand the drawings very well. In particular, the depiction of the female parts seemed to portray the vulva and the anus as lying very close to one another on the same plane. Worse, they looked fairly similar.

While, both then and later, I did not want to ask my mother to clarify what was going on, I feared that, when faced with a woman who wanted to have sex with me, I would have to worry about figuring out which hole was the one I was supposed to penetrate, and that I would wind up putting my penis into her rectum instead of her vagina. I carried this fear and confusion through several years of sex ed, despite opportunities to write anonymous questions. Only when I began looking at porn, around eighth grade, did the easy visual distinctions between the two holes become clear. —Front and Back

I had a friend in elementary school who liked to act like he knew a lot about sex, but was, of course, as clueless as the rest of us. I, of course, believed everything he said. The funniest misconception he came up with was when a man and woman have sex, the woman’s vagina clamps down on the penis. The vagina will allow the man to thrust his penis back and forth inside her, but it won’t let the penis leave until she comes. Took him a year or so after telling this tall tale to admit that he had just pulled it out of his ass. Imagine the kind of performance anxiety that would give men. —Scared Straight

I think I was about 10 or 11 when we visited my Aunt Edie. I’d already had "the talk," and I had a fairly good idea of what "adult" meant. Adult movies. Adult videos. Adult magazines. I was told that my Aunt Edie now lived in an "adult community." Now, my aunt was a good 80 years old by this point, and I’d met her wrinkly ass at a few family gatherings, so when we got to the (clearly labeled) adult community I got really creeped out. I asked my parents if they were really supposed to bring a kid in here, and upon more questioning explained my reasoning.

After laughing so hard my dad had to stop the car, they cleared everything up. —Adult Now Myself

About The Author

Dan Savage

Dan Savage is a sex-advice columnist, podcaster, and author, and has appeared on numerous television shows. His sex advice column “Savage Love” first appeared in The Stranger, Seattle’s alternative weekly, in 1991. The column is now syndicated across the United States and Canada. He has published six books...
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