How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!
Dear How to Do It,
I recently told a couple friends about a moment I had with my boyfriend, and they said I was “beyond ridiculous” and they would have gone nuclear on a significant other for what I did. I don’t think it was so bad! So I come to you for perspective.
My boyfriend and I are in an open relationship—he’s OK with me having sex with other guys because he knows I am a horny monster constantly. Through many conversations, he’s made it clear it doesn’t bother him if I sleep with others, which I do usually once or twice a week. (He does not sleep with other people, but is free to, and we have a good sex life ourselves.) The other day, a sex-only friend I haven’t seen for a long time—and I have unreal chemistry with—texted me to say he was nearby and wanted to know if I could hang out for a bit. I told him to come over. The problem is that my boyfriend texted me a few minutes later and said he’d be home early from work, in about 10 minutes. Unreal-chemistry guy was basically on my street already. Dilemma! I called my boyfriend, told him the truth, and asked if he could give me 20 minutes. My boyfriend said OK, I did my thing with the other guy, and then told boyfriend the coast was clear. My boyfriend playfully rolled his eyes at me when he got home, I thanked him and said I wouldn’t make a habit of it, and we moved on.
When I told my friends about this in the context of a bigger conversation about our relationships, they thought it was a wild thing for me to do, and made me feel like I was behaving terribly toward my boyfriend. Was I? Was this especially inconsiderate or absurd of me? I will accept your ruling.
Dear One Minute,
Give me a moment to pull out my judge costume and the “How to Do It”-engraved gavel. I rule that your actions were farcical, but not inconsiderate. I’ll explain.
Your second paragraph reads a bit like a sitcom, and I think a farcical is a better word than absurd. Consideration has to do with the individual person—in this case of your boyfriend, who isn’t bothered by your frequent sexual interactions with others. You presented him with the facts, and he agreed to your request. Afterward, he playfully rolled his eyes at you. You considered your actual boyfriend’s actual boundaries and what he’s said to you over the time you’ve known each other, and you made a choice that he gives no indication of being hurt by. Your friends have every right to expect their partners to consider their own boundaries, which are unique to them, and likely coming from a perspective of monogamy as the default. They may be projecting their boundaries onto your partner here.
It’s worth having a talk with your boyfriend to confirm that his eye roll was indeed playful. You might share with him that your friends are giving you criticism about it, and that you want to make sure you didn’t miss something on his end. It’s helpful to have check-in talks, and this seems like a good time to have one. It’ll validate or alleviate your concern, and you can address any issues from there.
It’s possible that your wild (yes, I would say wild) behavior is part of what your boyfriend loves about you. So, your friends wouldn’t want to date you, that’s why you’re friends and not lovers! Even with incredible time management skills, there’s a limit on how many partners you can engage with significantly. I have no doubt you’ll find enough partners who are unfazed by, or celebratory of, your sexual appetite.
Dear How to Do It,
Yay! I finally realized my ultimate fantasy of being gangbanged—and now I have some follow-up questions.
I’m a 34-year-old woman who’s always been kinky but never thought I could have a gangbang cause safety, and then got stuck in a series of vanilla relationships that had zero room for anything interesting (my last ex wouldn’t even touch my butt!) and then just got stuck cause pandemic/excuses/whatever. I now live in a liberal European city that has tons of swingers clubs and finally bit the bullet and went. I had an amazing time! I banged an actual troupe of firemen—I kid you not, and they even gave me a ride home in their ambulance. It was my best life.
So now I’m sore and happy but wondering about aftercare and planning for the future. Are there creams or oils I can use on my battered bits? I’m sore and it feels a little out of balance down there, but nothing alarming. Everyone used condoms without needing to be told. We didn’t do anal, but I’d be into that next time—how should I prepare? Can I safely DP (a huge fantasy) in a context like that or should I save that for when it’s just me and two dudes I know and trust? I’m afraid that it looks hot but is actually the Olympics and probably not easy to do comfortably.
Also, I don’t want to be single forever—are there men who will want to marry a woman like me? Can they overcome the Madonna/whore complex? I want to be a wife and mother but this is also who I am, my perverted side has always been there and isn’t going anywhere. I’m ready to let her be free but scared too.
—Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
I am so happy for you.
For your soreness, I reached out to Dr. Stacy De-Lin, associate medical director at Planned Parenthood of New York City. She steered you away from coconut oil, saying it “won’t do much and some folks may be allergic or sensitive.” She does have several recommendations: “If there are any raw areas of open skin, a ‘sitz bath,’ a warm bath with a small amount of epsom salts, can be enormously helpful by bringing blood flow to the area to relax the muscles and to help to promote wound healing. For treating swelling, a bag of frozen peas, with a towel between the peas and your sensitive vulva, can help. Ibuprofen can help to reduce pain and swelling too.“
De-Lin has some advice for during the act, as well: “Having vaginal irritation and swelling might be a sign that you’re not using enough lubricant during intercourse. Be generous with the lube for future encounters, and be sure to always listen to your body: if it starts to hurt, then stop.”
As for double penetration, I recommend a less rowdy setting than the center of a gangbang at a club. Ideally you encounter a pair of people who already know they enjoy focusing on a woman together, and have had some practice with double penetration. Maybe you know another woman who has been DP’d in your town who can give a recommendation? If that doesn’t happen soon enough for you, look for two who get along and aren’t squeamish about touching other people’s testicles. It’s easiest to do a sort of body sandwich, with you in the middle, on something flat and wider than the people involved. The person on the bottom, or the “anchor,” should be OK with being squished, and able to stay hard without a lot of thrusting. Once you’ve got both dicks inside you, and they find a rhythm, both should be able to thrust. The less you wiggle, the easier it’ll be for them to stay in place.
And not only are there men who will want to marry you, there are men who will absolutely get off on helping you arrange these kinds of sexual scenarios and cheer you through them. You might meet these guys at the sex club, through a dating app, or by happenstance while you’re doing other things. In the meantime, you might consider what kinds of relationship structures are interesting to you. Give these concepts a web search: swinging, female led relationships, cuckholdry, vixen/stag, and polyamory. If any of those appeal to you, you might focus your dating efforts in areas that attract people who also want that framework, which could be a different sex club or a fully clothed community munch. If you’re on an app, you can include what you’re after in your bio. Enjoy!
Dear How to Do It,
I recently hopped onto Tinder after a long-term relationship, interested in casual/low-pressure dates that could lead to sexy time. One of my matches and I quickly talked about a casual hookup, but I couldn’t get safety out of my head (for context, I’m a straight woman looking to hook up with men). He offered to meet in a public place, no pressure, then neutral place (hotel), but I told him my comfort level was exchanging last names—you show me yours, I’ll show you mine—to text a friend. He didn’t seem comfortable with that, and I called it off. I get that personal-information risk is important but feel like my concerns about physical risk outweigh that. If I’m honest, the logistics plus the definitive intention of having sex the same night if we had chemistry added some pressure to the situation that also became a turnoff. Was asking for a last name an unreasonable ask? Any tips on safety for casual hookups via the apps?
I think it’s reasonable for people to be reluctant to give you their last name, much less proof of it, before meeting. I also think it’s reasonable to ask for their last name before you enter a private space with them, but that it isn’t the most effective. If you really want to have sex with someone who you’re worried about, or feel motivated to dot your i’s and cross your t’s, I think a photo of them would be more useful. If they have public photos on their profile that include their face, it’s easy to screenshot and send along to your friend. Don’t share any match-only photos or images from DMs before asking. If they don’t look like that photo when they show up, that’s a concern.
What if you met for coffee or a single drink—60 or 75 minutes—before another engagement, so the intention is to meet and see how the chemistry is? Would a later date with the definitive intention of sex also become a turn-off, or is this a potential solution? If so, I think it’s completely reasonable to meet for a short time in a public place to see how you get along before arranging time for sex. And that appointment you have to leave for can be a telephone check in with a friend and whatever you do to relax at home.
When you’re deciding where to meet, think about whether there will be people inside, but also what the traffic is like outside. If you’re driving, will you be able to get to your car easily and will there be people around? If you’re taking public transit, how often does the train or bus run, and do you have the money to take a hired car if needed? If you’re biking or walking, think about places on your route that you could enter for help and crowded areas where you could lose someone if you’re being followed.
Your first tool of safety should be your gut—if you’re feeling weird, getting a vibe, put off somehow, leave. Say one pleasant thing, leave, and know that you don’t owe them an explanation. A friend who is able to pay attention to their phone during that time should know where you are. Update them if you change locations. And they should have a time to expect to hear from you by. Remember to check in with them at that time, even if it’s to say you’re staying the night. It’s crucial that you actually do contact them. If your friend stops expecting to hear from you, the system no longer functions and won’t work in the event that you need it.
Dear How to Do It,
This is probably a bit different to your usual questions, but does historical porn exist? I love reading written historical erotica and romance novels, but does it exist on film? I’ve noticed that I find sex scenes in period dramas (especially queer ones) much hotter than modern-day ones. I imagine it would be pretty expensive to produce, and I obviously wouldn’t expect scrupulous historical accuracy, but do you know of anywhere that does this?
—History Coming Alive
Dear Coming Alive,
Off the top of my head, I could think of a few heterosexual examples, like Bob Guccione’s legendary Ancient Rome-themed Caligula. Doing a web search for “period porn” turns up videos featuring menses, so I reached out to a few experts.
If you’re looking for Victorian-themed porn, Laura Helen Marks, an academic at Tulane, has an entire book about the subject, Alice in Pornoland: Hardcore Encounters with the Victorian Gothic. Asked for queer recommendations, she she couldn’t speak to the aesthetic or erotic quality of any titles, but she supplied several: The American Adventures of Surelick Holmes (Ralph Ell, 1975), HIS Dracula (2012), and Lesbian Adventures: Victorian Love Letters (Nica Noelle, 2009). Marks also suggests The Naughty Victorians (Bob Sickinger, 1975), which probably feels more straight than the titles above, but “it doesn’t really follow the rules of standard porn. It’s a super interesting film with great acting and production values.”
But history is a deliciously broad field. If you’re into pirates, Jennifer Moorman, an academic at Fordham, suggested Pirates. (In the sequel, Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge, I can be seen performing in the back of a large Ruler’s Court scene.) For the U.S. in the 1940s and 1970s, Moorman recommended Courtney Trouble’s Speakeasy and Nostalgia, respectively. And in case the fantasy of the future works as well as the past, she also recommended Sugar High Glitter City and Rinse Dream’s 1982 post-apocalyptic sex nightmare Cafe Flesh, which is one of my favorite films.
Both scholars mentioned PinkLabel, where some of the mentioned titles are available. Pink and White Productions, founded by Shine Louise Houston in 2005, is a queer porn production company with an on-demand video platform that hosts queer, independent, and feminist pornography. PinkLabel has been collecting and curating queer pornography for several years, and is a place where you can pay for the porn you’re viewing. I reached out to its marketing director, Jiz Lee (who I’ve directed in adult films and call a friend), for some recommendations from PinkLabel’s current offerings. Jiz’s picks span history: Maria Beatty’s Ecstasy in Berlin 1926, John Christopher’s 1980 big-budget gay porn feature Centurions of Rome, and Australian filmmaker Anna Brownfield’s The Bedroom, which follows a bedroom through six decades of shifting social attitudes toward sex. They also gave us the scoop on a new film: “Though not necessarily a period piece, this week we’re releasing Jim Vendiola’s Library Hours, which has a classic literary feel, told primarily through voiceover as two queer people exchange handwritten letters.”
Marks noted in an email to me, “with most historical porn, you have to look to the older stuff. It is expensive to produce, and with shifts in the industry (lower budgets, fewer studio productions, fewer features), it is inevitable that historical porn has become less common.“ And part of looking to the older stuff can be more consent issues, racial stereotyping, and bigotry, so bear that in mind as you’re browsing. Good luck, and enjoy.