What Is Sexy?

It’s not all lacy bras and sports cars.

By Bella Biddle

I know what sexy looks like. I know that my sheer lacy black bra is sexy and that my flowery comfy pants aren’t. I know that whipped cream is a sex food and that Maccies chicken nuggets don’t cut it in the bedroom. I know that platform heels make my bum look highly squeezable and that fleece-lined crocs, despite being a highly underrated piece of cosy footwear, don’t do it for even the most hardened fetishist. I get it.

When we think kinky, our minds go straight to bondage, role-play, and maybe feet. We know how to react  when porn shows us a schoolgirl fantasy and we’ve seen enough movie clips of earlobe biting (my mind goes straight to Indiana Jones, prolific grave-robber and sex icon of my early teens, but whatever) to register it as a classic sex move when underwhelming Matt whips it out on the second date. I know how to respond when someone says they’re into spanking. If we dig into our collective psyche, we probably also know about the more fringe stuff (what are Furries up to, anyway?). If 125 million people got their rocks off to 50 Shades of Grey in the month it was released, then as a collective we must be pretty good at identifying what a sex thing is, even when it doesn’t look like what we think a sex thing should be. Nipple piercings, Conall from Normal People’s chain, and a bit of tasteful choking all fall into our collective sex imagination. And rightly so.

But if we’re honest, there’s probably also room in our spank banks for slightly more.. personal tastes. Handcuffs aside, no one warned me how turned on I could be watching a mate of mine parallel park his stick-shift van in one wiggle. I’m obsessed with cracking open pomegranates with my fingers, love the way the juice and the seeds feel when I deshell them into a Tupperware. I once got embarrassingly hot under the collar for a guy wearing waterproof salopettes and a Deliveroo jacket. Movies, porn, and girl talk did not prepare me for my out-of-control obsession with that high SPF sunscreen that nerds and pale people wear at the beach, but it doesn’t stop me deep breathing every time someone pulls out one of those blue bad boy Pritt-sticks before a surfing trip. 

It’s those microscopic clit ‘dings’ that pop up when you’re not expecting it and barely even register. Being swung really fast in circles at a barn dance? Ding. A guy eating a handful of Skittles in one go? Ding! Knowing where to find edible plants, changing a drill-bit, speaking Welsh, the blue lighting in aquariums? DING DING DING DING! By being a bit more mindful, we can probably remember a ton of things that make our pussies get warm and mushy. Who hasn’t caught a whiff of the right kind of laundry detergent and been reduced to a quivering wreck?

There’s nothing wrong with liking what you like in the bedroom, and just because the smell of Lush grinds your gears does not mean that it’s time to introduce your fanny to an Intergalactic bath bomb (probably definitely don’t). There’s things I do in the bedroom because they genuinely make me feel magic, and there’s things I do in the bedroom because I’ve been conditioned into thinking it’s the ‘done thing’. Our minds are like sponges, and whether we like it or not, we’ve been absorbing the hetero-patriarchal sex maps of what flies in sexyland (and what doesn’t) sexyland since long before we had ever encountered a willy. However much Ann Summers taught me that black lacy thongs and thigh highs were the peak of sex appeal, they just don’t make me feel sexy like boyshorts and a bralet do. I don’t want chocolate sauce near my bedsheets, but I did once have a half-time break with someone for a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich. 

And, before this turns into an exposé into my weird little sex needs (which I’m sure nobody needs, or wants), I’m pretty sure this is true of everyone. How many of our best sex memories start with rose petals and mood lighting, and how many of them started with an episode of New Girl on a friend’s sofa? How many of them involved an elaborate role-play, and how many of them were unplanned quickies over a kitchen table with a half eaten pain-au-chocolat and really bad morning breath? It’s not always when I’ve got my eyeliner dead straight and my saucy lip bite on that people have thought I was hot shit. Once it was while I was literally wearing a bonnet. 

When we start paying attention to what actually makes our neurotic little sex brains tick, then we make space for a whole new realm of sexperimentation. To put it bluntly, if we stop only having sex that looks like what we think good sex should look like, then we can start having sex that actually feels good to us and our partner. And if sex already feels good, which it hopefully does, then we could all afford to add a few new moves into our repertoire. Life is long folks, so its definitely worth cracking out some exciting pieces sooner than later. Really adventurous sex isn’t who can suspend themselves the highest, or fuck in the most public place, or even who can have the most orgasms in one go. The real adventure is getting out a pen and paper to start working out what makes you tick. The scariest thing we can do is be truly honest with ourselves about what we want, what we like… and then asking for it. And with years of patriarchal bullshit biting at our back, it’s not gonna be easy, but when it’s got the potensh to crack open the best sex of our lives? Worth a shot.

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