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OCTOBER 18, 2022

Being 15 sucks, but being 15 and dating your French teacher’s friend’s son sucks significantly more. 

Like all 15-year-olds do, my French beau and I eventually ventured past French kissing and together explored uncharted territory. This also sucked. Shocker, I was 15 and had no fucking clue what to do with a penis. It was the Friday before spring break and the first time we were alone at his house together, so obviously, pants HAD to come off. Unfortunately, nothing else was cumming and the entire experience was embarrassing and awkward enough for me to worry about it the whole time we were away from school. 

I thought I could leave my failed hand job behind me until first period AP World. Instead, I quickly became the center of the world’s juiciest gossip, and by French class the following day, everyone seemed to know what had, or had tried, to happen. The story’s tragic climax came when our French teacher asked what we did over spring break. 

“Ya, Julianna, what did YOU do?” 

“More like, who did you jerk off.”

At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to disappear far away from the conjugation of “être” and room 204’s bright pink walls. But, as my teacher lectured us about “not talking about inappropriate things in class,” I couldn’t even look at my boyfriend a few seats over. This sucked. And, right when I thought the embarrassment couldn’t get any worse, my French teacher told my boyfriend’s mom. The Francophone population of Miami, Florida, is surprisingly small and incredibly close-knit, which resulted in the horrible reality of my French teacher being best friends with my French boyfriend’s mom.

An already awkward, vulnerable experience got put on blast, and I was now convinced my boyfriend’s mom totally hated me. Which, for the record, she definitely did. We weren’t allowed to be alone for a few weeks, although I never actually found out exactly what she told him since he said it was “no big deal.” 

This first hand job propelled me on my journey of shame-filled sexual experiences. It took months for any reciprocation to come my way and even longer for it to be “good.” I had no idea how to communicate what I wanted because I didn’t even think I should want anything.

Eventually, when we did have sex, I cried the entire next day. I’d like to say it was just nerve-inducing since it was my first time, but honestly, I also cried the first time I slept with my second long-term boyfriend years later. 

While I’ve mastered the art of not crying after sex, I still feel shame in my own sexuality. I don’t want to be annoying or difficult. Despite that, I feel so uncomfortable talking about the real “nitty gritty” of it all that I end up being even more difficult. 

I try to be this cool, sex-positive feminist, but in reality, my own pleasure horrifies me. I’m great at talking the good talk and shouting sex positivity from the rooftops, but behind closed doors, I still cover my face with a pillow anytime someone goes down on me. 

I’ve always seen my own pleasure as a waste of someone else’s time. While sex is mutually beneficial, mostly, fingering a girl who won’t even look you in the eyes is not. It’s not to say I don’t enjoy these experiences or want them to happen. I just feel so guilty about taking up space or, especially, taking too long. 

It’s as if I consider sleeping with me a burden instead of a great time. I’ve begun to pride myself in even the smallest steps toward liberation. In my book, telling someone to go slower is like solving Schrodinger’s equation. 

Instead of 

“right there,” 

“faster” or

“don’t stop,” 

I find myself saying, “I’m trying really hard to communicate right now.” 

I want to have good foreplay. I want to confidently say “right there,” “faster” and “don’t stop” instead of trapping my voice behind some frat boy’s pillow. Most of all, I want to embody what I preach. I’m great at reminding others to prioritize their pleasure, but I’ve pushed aside my own out of fear of being considered difficult. 

So what if I’m difficult? So what if I say, “Actually, I don’t like this?” My entire personality is being unapologetically myself, so why should that change in the bedroom?

There shouldn’t be anything shameful about knowing what you want and asking for just that, so I’m going to stop acting like there is. For years I’ve been stuck in my own head, worried about others’ perceptions of me. Worried if my French boyfriend’s mom liked me, worried if people thought I was acting too weird at a party and worried that admitting I liked having sex would result in “Big Mouth”’s shame wizard taking over my subconscious.

But fuck that. My ex-boyfriend’s mom was super weird, I like acting stupid at parties and I like having sex.

Contact Julianna Goldfarb at 


OCTOBER 18, 2022