How Do I Reclaim My Individual Sexuality?

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Betty Dodson

Hi Betty and Carlin,

I am a twenty-two year old woman from Brooklyn who just got out of a very devoted & intense six-year heterosexual relationship. During those six years (with the exception of a six-month break and two short-lived sexual partners) I had a lot of sex: some of it really great; but now I'm scared that my sexual experience has been irrevocably molded by my ex-partner's particular set of sexual preferences.

I'm excited for this new chapter of my sexual life, but I also have a lot of trepidation, as the grand majority of the sex I've had has been with one person who I loved and trusted implicitly. Do you have any advice for me as I go about reclaiming my individual sexuality as a liberated and empowered twenty-two year old woman in New York? Any warnings?

Dear F,

First establish a sexual relationship with yourself through solo sex. It's essential that you learn who you are as an individual, not just half of a couple. Being in a steady sexual relationship since the age of 16 is not all bad, but the problem remains:You will need to learn some dating skills and dealing with the ability to say "No" as well as "Yes" to all the sexual advances you'll be getting. Go slow and take your time. You now have the marvelous opportunity to learn to trust yourself instead of relying on your long term significant other.

The first person you need to meet is yourself as you discover who you are on your own as an individual. Sexually speaking, that's where self-loving comes in. First comes mastering birth control by choosing your preference. Condoms do protect us from transmitting STD's. I went through the sexual revolution safely with a diaphragm. Carlin recently came off birth control pills and rediscovered her natural body.

You are the first woman to ask for warnings: When I embarked on enjoying multiple sex partners as a single woman, I was in my mid 30's. My best friend Sheila and I took a martial arts class so we could learn self-defense. Their first principle was to avoid potentially violent situations to begin with. Another important aspect that we both had was growing up with brothers so we were basically not afraid of men. My 5ft 2in Irish Mother had a mouth on her that could cause a big man to slink off in shame.

Women must stop being victims of male bullies who threaten us if we don't do what they want sexually speaking. Victorian women had their long lethal hat pins which were formidable weapons when needed. I want today's young women to have enough common sense to avoid dangerous situations.The biggest problem is when a woman gets drunk or she's unknowingly drugged at a club. That was not part of my era, but Carlin had that happen to her once.

When we find ourselves in a dangerous situation, we need to think on our feet. Like the night I was going home very late when a belligerent drunk guy stopped me on a dark deserted street just blocks from where I lived. With a firm grip on my arm, he insisted I join him for a night cap as he pulled me toward his car. Instead of panic and screaming for help, I said I'd love to join him but I was rushing home because my baby was sick and needed me. He thought for a moment, let go of my arm and said he hoped my baby was OK. A friend of mine pretended she was a deaf mute when she was surrounded by several horny teenagers. Hollywood loves to portray women as sexual victims, but that's not who we are. We are smarter and more verbal than most men.

Like my Chinese Kung Fu instructor said in class one time, the best part of wearing high heeled shoes is that they made a perfect weapon. It seems we rarely discuss self-defense for women but I feel it needs to become an important part of every girls education. Time for D&R to start that conversation on the website. The old cliche bears repeating: "I'd rather be safe than sorry." This new phase of your development will be challenging and exciting.

Dr. Betty

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