9 Common Myths About Sex We Need To Stop Believing, According To A Former Dominatrix

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After two years as a dominatrix in New York City, Amy Boyajian, Founder and CEO of Wild Flower, an online sexual wellness boutique and lifestyle site, had had enough. In those two years, her eyes were opened to not just the negative stereotypes that surround the adult industry, but just how clueless people are when it comes to sex. Yes, human sexuality is extremely complicated and nothing is simply black or white, but as sexual beings it's our obligation to at least try to understand it on some level. As Boyajian discovered, that understanding and knowledge was rarely found. "I saw how uneducated and misinformed people were about sex," Boyajian tells Bustle. "I saw an industry that perpetuates stereotypes and misinformation."

In a society where the subject of sex is still taboo and sex education is hard to come by, having witnessed it first hand in the adult industry, Boyajian knew she wanted to be part of changing that. "I knew I had to try and do something to change the way people were thinking about sex and sexuality," she says. "While I could explain [sex positive thinking] to clients in conversation, I felt like I needed to share this important information on a grander scale. That’s why I created Wild Flower!"

Wild Flower isn't just a place to find sex toys, but a site that's fighting to normalize sex through education. I spoke to Boyajian about what she learned from her years as a dom and the most harmful misconceptions about sex she came across in her work.

1Mainstream Porn Should Be Used For Educational Purposes

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According to a 2015 survey by the National Union of Students, some 60 percent of students in the U.K. turn to porn for their sex education. The reason for this, as the study found, was that kids didn't know where else to go to get the information they wanted on the subject. But the problems is mainstream porn is for entertaining people, not educating them, and the scenarios that are depicted in mainstream porn aren't just, for the most part degrading to women, but completely unrealistic.

"The expectations it sets about what a body should look like can be harmful, creating body dysmorphia, lack of confidence, and unattainable expectations."

"Though I am not against porn and enjoy it personally, it cannot be said enough that porn is entertainment, not education," says Boyajian. "As convincing as some of it may be, porn is staged — everything from the dialogue to the orgasms. As someone who has friends within the industry, I have learned about the long hours, the grueling retakes, the special effects, and camera angles that go into making modern porn. Just like you wouldn’t take your social cues from a soap opera or learn about the scientific method from a sci-fi movie, porn shouldn’t be the way you learn about having sex. A lot of mainstream porn is also horribly sexist, racist, and discriminatory, lacking in intimacy and respect. The expectations it sets about what a body should look like can be harmful, creating body dysmorphia, lack of confidence, and unattainable expectations. The sex you experience in your own bedroom shouldn’t be a performance."

2Sex Toys Are Competition In The Bedroom

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Although, personally, I have never had a partner who thought of sex toys as competition, some people do. This was also another misconception that Boyajian discovered in her work. There are far more reasons to use sex toys with your partner, than there are reasons not to use sex toys with your partner. They're definitely not competition. If anything, they take the pressure off both partners, because who doesn't love an extra hand in bed?

3Communication Isn't Part Of Sex

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Sex and communication should go hand-in-hand, always. It shouldn't even be up for debate. If you're going to have sex with someone, you better know how to communicate with them. But, sadly, in her work, Boyajian found that people don't understand how paramount this is and considers it to be the most harmful misconception out there.

"Without communication, problems arise like bad sexual experiences, crossing of boundaries, and sadly, sexual assault."

"Though all the misconceptions I’ve come across can have some damaging effects on a person, I think the most damaging is lack of communication," explains Boyajian. "I hate the idea that sex can happen without an open line of communication between the people participating. Without communication, problems arise like bad sexual experiences, crossing of boundaries, and sadly, sexual assault."

4Only Intercourse Is Sex

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Another misconception that Boyajian came across was the thinking that only penetrative sex was sex. (WTF.) Fun fact worth knowing and pocketing: Sex isn't restricted to just penetration. Sexual acts run the gamut and to think that P-in-V is the only form of sex isn't just damaging, but insulting to those who have sex (yes, SEX), but not penetrative sex.

5Sexuality And Gender Are The Same And Never Change

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Although sexuality and gender have never been the same, it's only been in recent years that attention has been given to this topic. We are not all cisgender and there's an entire spectrum of gender and sexual identity that is far too often not just unacknowledged, but seriously underrepresented in the mainstream.

"I think it’s amazing that we are developing and normalizing all these terms to describe our genders and sexualities, yet I don’t think we should be married to terms if we feel a change has happened within us."

"I think it needs to be understood by everyone the difference between gender and sexuality, and that the genitals you have don't dictate either of those things," explains Boyajian. "Gender is a group of socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that our culture deems appropriate for masculinity and femininity. The biological sex you are given at birth can sometimes not be the gender you feel you are, therefore creating the spectrum of transgender. You can also choose not to live by these binary roles and be considered non-binary or gender fluid. Sexuality, however, is who you are sexually attracted to. You could be attracted to someone of the same gender, the opposite gender, or maybe any gender. Asexuality is someone who experiences no sexual feelings or desires. Though different, both gender and sexuality shouldn’t be seen as such rigid constructs. They can change as you evolve, as your feelings change, and as you have certain experiences. There could be a time in your life that you choose to identify as one gender, and then maybe that changes. You could be attracted to one group of people for one period of time, and then maybe another later on. I think it’s amazing that we are developing and normalizing all these terms to describe our genders and sexualities, yet I don’t think we should be married to terms if we feel a change has happened within us."

6Sex Is Only About Pleasing Your Partner

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First of all, it pains me to think that there's anyone out there thinking that sex is solely about only pleasing their partner. But, as Boyajian discovered in her work, there are people who think this way. This misconception is, and allow me to be dramatic here, heartbreaking.

"Good sex can make you feel good about yourself and many people didn’t understand that having good sex with others means having good sexual experiences with yourself first," says Boyajian. "Understanding your body, learning what gets you off, and exploring the pleasure you can feel on our own."

7You Don't Need To Learn About Your Body

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A couple years ago my mother, then 65, asked me where and what the clitoris is. Having been raised Catholic and having had only two partners in her life, she wasn't exactly sure. She had had orgasms, but still was unaware of where her clitoris was and, in addition to that, couldn't for the life of her, name the parts of her body "down there," as she called it. Good thing her daughter writes about sex and realizes that although she's my mom, she's still a sexual being. So, although a bit awkward at first, I have my mom her first lesson on the female anatomy "down there."

Whether it was her Catholic upbringing or a shyness about sex, my mother didn't feel she had to know about her body in that regard. If it felt good, great! But as to the why and how, wasn't something she felt she needed to examine. In Boyajian's years as a dom, she found that many people, like my mom, felt they didn't need to learn about their body.

"There were many issues that came up frequently during my time as a dominatrix, but I would say the most frequent one was lack of understanding people had about their own bodies and how hard people found it to communicate about their bodies," says Boyajian. "You have to be very aware and receptive to human bodies when working with them, making sure no activity is harmful and the sensations you’re trying to inflict is what is actually is being felt. However, it was surprising how hard it was for some people to explain what they were feeling or even what they wanted to feel. Before each session, I would talk to the client about what they were looking for and how they wanted to feel. When I delved deeper, asking questions about what areas of their body they enjoy most, where they were most sensitive, or what sensations they preferred, many of them couldn't answer. They had never asked themselves these questions before."

8Sex Isn't About Empowerment

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Empowerment is the result of one claiming what's theirs and owning it. Sex and sexuality is about empowerment. But, as Boyajian found, not everyone realizes that sex is about empowerment and there are many reasons for that.

"We’ve become so used to the male gaze being placed on everything sexual, that those who don’t identify as male have to fight to have a voice."

"I think the lack of empowerment people feel over their own bodies is a big reason as to why we don’t feel like we can talk about them, especially when it comes to sex," says Boyajian. "This lack of empowerment comes from not feeling like you are represented and being heard. The media and marketing force a certain sexual ideal to the foreground and we are taught from an early age that anything other than this is obscene. This ideal is usually very white, very heteronormative, very sexist, and very unrepresentative from what the sexual norm is for most. We’ve become so used to the male gaze being placed on everything sexual, that those who don’t identify as male have to fight to have a voice. It seems crazy to me that it’s more accepted to get a breast augmentation than an abortion in this country! Transgender and non-binary people still lack any form of major representation. This lack of visibility makes people feel unheard and invalid, especially when it comes to their sexual experiences. The more we talk about all sexual experiences, the more we normalize all sex."

9Sex Shouldn't Be Discussed

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"The misconception that really blows my mind, even to this day, is that sex (and our sex lives) should be kept private, and not discussed openly," says Boyajian. "I find this notion that our sexualities should hidden from view to be extremely harmful and hypocritical. Compartmentalizing our sexual selves from all other areas of our lives can be a destructive. Though I do think it is important to maintain a sense of privacy around some areas of your sex life, some subjects and issues can benefit from being shared. How is your partner suppose to know what feels good you? How are you suppose to know what gets them off? Until we develop the powers of mind reading, sex should always be discussed."

Since knowledge is power, Boyajian want you (all of us!) to get ourselves educated in regards to sex. There are lots of resources out there, but it's important to stick to credited sites, as opposed to forums, she says. For all the information out there, there's just as much misinformation. "I assure you whatever your circumstances are, someone else has felt or been in the same position as you and there is a book to prove it," says Boyajian. "Also finding a community can be very important. Attending events or meet-ups with like minded people can help you create connections and share knowledge and experiences."

So get yourself educated and be part of the movement that puts these archaic misconceptions to bed.