Sex Taboos Worth Exploring And Destigmatizing

Have you ever had a sexual fantasy only to feel ashamed about it thereafter? How about wanting to experiment with a partner (or partners, plural) but falling too shy to speak up about your needs? Despite a number of advances in sexual identity and sex positivity in contemporary American society, we still have a long way to go to destigmatize and empower less traditional forms and expressions of sexuality. That said, if you want to let your “freak” flag fly and indulge in “naughty” thoughts and behaviors, the first step is to reverse any negative contexts lingering around such desires.

Ahead, learn more about 9 sex taboos Carol Queen, PhD, Good Vibes staff sexologist and sex-positive educator and activist, suggests breaking if you so please. (Spoiler alert: Variations of anal sex, role-play, and group sex are up for grabs.)

9 Sex Taboos Worth Exploring and Breaking (As Desired)

If you’re ready to ditch stigmas and lean into sexual experimentation for new avenues of pleasure and delight, you’ve *come* to the right place. Dr. Queen shares a list of sex taboos that are beyond fine to try, with accompanying tips on how to overcome mental blocks and take action. They just might open previously untapped ways to achieve body-shaking orgasms and/or a deeper connection with your bedroom partner.

P.S. This list isn’t exhaustive, so discuss and enact your own kinks as you and your partner(s) see fit.

sex taboos worth breaking

1. Sharing Kinks and the Desire to Experiment

Sure, the norm of “vanilla sex” can be enough for some, but Dr. Queen notes that there are many other tasty flavors available to try. “Underlying that normativity is ‘sex is supposed to be for procreation,’ and so many kinks do not involve that focus,” she adds.

Tip: Muster up the courage to speak up, as it can work to everyone’s satisfaction. “Couples who can talk about sex have a superpower and are often much more intimate,” Dr. Queen says. A body of research backs this up: Per a 2019 meta-analysis in The Journal of Sex Research, which investigated 48 studies amongst 12,145 participants, sexual communication was linked to better orgasms and greater sexual well-being. Moreover, female participants experienced the additional benefit of stronger sexual desire.

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2. Using Sex Toys When You’re Partnered

If you’re no stranger to sex toys and love to get your rocks off with them solo, it could be worth busting them out for partner play. Dr. Queen says the accompanying stigma is associated with the idea that “your partner should be all you need,” and sometimes even a greater taboo around masturbation itself.

Tip: Invite your partner along for the full journey, explaining the what and why behind your interest in using sex toys as a team. “Suggest to go shopping together and think about the kinds of fantasies the toys might inspire you to try,” Dr. Queen shares. She notes that toys can bridge orgasm deficits with standard intercourse, and a worthy partner should absolutely be on board to boost your arousal and juicy release.

3. Women Taking the Lead in Heterosexual Relationships

Plain and simple: Dr. Queen says this sex taboo is attributed to “old-fashioned sex-role stereotyping, with the woman ‘supposed to be’ submissive to the man.” Blech.

Tip: “Explore and work out ways to make your relationship as egalitarian as you can. Sex roles and different kinds of play may come easier when that’s a value you share,” she continues. Some men may also get turned on by a woman taking the lead, so partner compatibility may play a role here.

sex taboos

4. Deviating from Sexual Norms in Long-Term Relationships

If you’ve been booed up for a while and tend to fall back to the same sex positions or style—that is, if you’re having sex at all—breaking out from that rut can seem intimidating and out of left field. According to Dr. Queen, taking action to spice things up can feel like a taboo as “we’re not really encouraged to embrace our fluidity or the many ways a relationship might look over time.”

Tip: The same honesty and transparency you deserve and desire in your relationship crosses over to the bedroom, as well. Few sexual beings want to live with years of lackluster sex, bad, or no sex at all. “Be honest with each other about your sex life and how it’s going,” Dr. Queen advises. Over time, a lot of things change in your body, your partner, and your relationship, and sexual check-ins can work to everyone’s benefit. Honest communication “will help you tackle perimenopause and many other shifts,” the sexologist continues. “Most people don’t have the exact same sex life at 50 that they did at 20! Embrace that, don’t fight it.”

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5. Engaging in Threesomes or Throuples

“Couple consciousness and heteronormativity underlie this taboo,” Dr. Queen shares. But if some handy dandy communication can overcome uncertainty, reluctance, or stigma—so long as all parties are on board. “All of these taboo pleasures must be engaged in consensually,” she reminds us. “And the definition of consent is not: My partner really really wants to do it so I said okay even though it doesn’t sound erotic to me.” Preach!

Tip: Testing the waters with this so-called sex taboo is something all parties—including the third partner—need to be completely interested in. “Start by talking about how an ideal situation might look to you so communication and negotiation can be clear as you explore with a third person,” suggests Dr. Queen. In addition, be sure to discuss how you’ll navigate safe sex.

6. Trying Out Group Sex or Sex Parties

Dr. Queen notes that the idea of casual sex in a group environment, whether you show up solo or partnered, largely remains taboo to this day.

Tip: Overcoming and engaging in this perceived sex taboo will require some due diligence on your part. “Unless you are going to throw your own party, you will need to explore options (in your town, on vacation, etc.),” Dr. Queen notes. Moreover, she highly advises trying this out if you’re good participants to begin with—that is, comfortable with sexual exploration and communication and respectful of boundaries—so you’ll be an asset to the party.

7. Engaging in Consensual Exhibitionism

Emphasis on the word consensual and engaging in such acts on a fully legal basis (!). Dr. Queen says some people may think of exhibitionism as slutty or untasteful—but so long as you find comfort and pride in it, you do you, boo.

Tip: If exhibitionism and/or voyeurism are kinks you want to explore, Dr. Queen says this could look like setting up an OnlyFans account or performing at an amateur night at a strip club. It could also entail inviting a consenting third party to watch your play time, or even swap out a partner. Her parting word to the wise: “Think it through before you put yourself out there, especially if you are going to post pics.”

8. Roleplay

“Roleplay allows us to play-act our way out of normative boundaries, even if just for a while,” Dr. Queen explains. “It can be especially taboo when it plays with power and social status.” On the other hand, it can be the magic sauce to get you and your partner off in deliciously intense ways.

Tip: Of course, both parties will need to consent, as well as sufficiently communicate (or even negotiate, as needed). “In roleplay, as in other kinds of kink, you must be able to set your limits, state your desires, and create a safe space to explore,” says Dr. Queen.

9. Pegging (Anal Play on Men)

Dr. Queen clarifies a common misconception around anal play—in this context, when a woman uses a strap-on to peg a heterosexual man. As far as the taboo goes, “The idea that anal is only enjoyed by gay men makes this a homophobic context. But it is also about sex roles, since penetration is assumed to be a form of submission.” However, the truth is that anal play has the ability to yield pleasure for consenting adults of any sex and sexual orientation.

Tip: If you’re a reluctant heterosexual man or your partner is, Dr. Queen says that it’s crucial to break free of the taboo of submission if that’s the main obstacle to exploration. (That is, unless submission is part of your roleplaying experimentation—then go all in.) On a parting note, she leaves some sage advice for those interested in trying out this quote-unquote sex taboo for the first time. “Learn all about the three rules you must respect for any kind of anal: relaxation, lubrication, and communication.”

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