In a perfect world, we'd all learn everything we need to know about sex and our bodies. But what I've learned is that many people don't get the opportunity. As a result, they have a lot of misconceptions. A lot.

I know this because I work in sex toy shop. One day, an older woman walked in. This shop is a sex-positive, body-positive shop that sells materials that are as body safe as they come. It is staffed entirely by sexuality educators. The woman told me she hadn’t had sex with her husband in three years. She cried. She then told me that because her vagina had not been penetrated in so long, she needed some sort of dildo that was short, thin and soft. Our softest penetrable items are the dual density dildos, but she said those were way too hard. Our thinnest and most tapered items are the dilators, but those are even harder.

I suggested she start with her fingers, but she was not pleased with that idea. I tried explaining that because vaginas are elastic, she’d need something firm to be able to penetrate hers, not something flaccid. Vaginas are elastic and pretty durable, although sometimes they require a lot of patience. The woman snapped and told me that she knew how vaginas work. I was frustrated. While she’s absolutely an expert of her own bits, she - like many other adults out there - was carrying a lot of misinformation about anatomy, sex and sexuality.

Working in a sex shop often involves coming up against people's misconceptions, many of which they hold very tightly. Here are six of the biggest misconceptions I’ve encountered in the sex ed world.

Lesbians Can't Transmit or Contract STIs

False. One self-identified lesbian in her mid-twenties told me that she had never been tested because lesbians could not contract STIs. In fact, sexually transmitted infections and diseases are passed along through skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids like breast milk, secretions (from vaginas, penises, and anuses) and blood, which means anyone who's kissing, licking or rubbing up against another naked person is putting themselves at some level of risk. Plus, because sexual orientation, sexual behavior and gender identity never have to align (and can change!), someone's sexual orientation doesn't designate the genitals of the person with whom they are (or have been) sexual. I am a queer/lesbian/dyke, and I have herpes. We're much better off never making assumptions. (Read more in 4 Safer Sex Tips for Women Who Sleep With Women.)


The G-spot Is a Very Specific Spot

False. You can't pull out an anatomical treasure map and hope that there's an x that marks the g-spot. In reality, the G-spot is an area, not one specific spot. The stimulation of this area garners very different reactions in different people. Some people love it, some don't. There's nothing wrong with either response - they're just different.


You Don't Need Lube

False. Just because your or your partner's vagina is lubricated doesn't mean that you wouldn't benefit from lube. Lube is always a good idea (as long as you're using lube that is "body safe" and compatible with your body, barriers, and/or toys). No matter how wet you, or your partner, get, lube won't feel bad (as long as you aren't allergic to it). In fact, it'll probably make sex that much better. Lube prevents micro-tears and helps to facilitate greater pleasure.

Anal Numbing Creams Help for Anal Sex

False. Some people want to use special creams to numb the anus before anal play. This is a terrible and dangerous idea. First, anal sex, when done properly, should not hurt. Second, if you numb up the area and are pushing things too far and being hurt, you won't be able to feel it. This can cause real damage; overriding your body's signals is never a good idea. Anal play isn't right for every body, and there are some circumstances when you should absolutely avoid it. If you want to try it, go slow and listen to your body. (Get some tips in What You Need to Know About Anal Sex.)

A Person's Race Can Tell Us Something About Their Anatomy

False. And this is racist. For example, a black woman once picked up a dildo in the shop, admiring it. A couple of the people she was with were white, and proceeded to say, "Oh my god, you like that!? it's huge! Well .. you are black. It does make sense." I overheard this conversation and threw on my educator hat. I reminded them that all bodies have different preferences, and that vaginas are incredibly elastic. A person's favorite lengths, widths, or dimensions in what penetrates them is very unique, and has nothing to do with race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Impact Toys Are Akin to "Fight Club"

False. One older man walked into the shop and over to the impact toy section. After meandering through the bondage toys, he said, "Wow! So much of this really borders on illegal." I explained that nothing we had was illegal in any capacity, and that as long as you were using the toys in an educated way, and using enthusiastic consent, they could be really fun for some people. The point of a flogger, a crop, or a paddle is not to go all out and hit someone as hard as you can. It's about practicing, finding a rhythm that works for you and/or your partner, and discovering which sensations are your favorites. The older man then asked if most of the people who like BDSM have been abused at some point in their life. Again, false. Sure, some people who like BDSM are survivors of abuse. Some people who like BDSM have never experienced any kind of abuse. All sorts of people have different kinks and pleasures that get them off! (Learn more in Coming to Terms with Kink and Violence: One Feminist's View.)

What misconceptions have you heard about sex and sexuality? Do you have any questions that you want answered? Please comment, and feel free to do so anonymously. You can also send a question directly to one of Kinkly's experts. The only way we're going to create a healthier sexual world is by talking about the things that might make us uncomfortable. Communication is my favorite kind of sex ed.