Exploring Gender and Sexuality with Chantelle Otten
on Jul 8, 2021
The world of sex and gender is a colourful and wonderful space and today we’ll be getting down to the basics on what exactly that means for different people.
Did you know, by age 4, we start to develop a solid understanding of who we are and our gender identity, meaning a sense of who we are within our body. At this age, we are constantly analysing and absorbing the world around us.
In 2021, as we grow as a society, it’s extremely important for young people to see that the scope of gender and sexuality is vast and colourful. This includes seeing their peers, friends, family and members of the general public as having a non-conforming gender and sexual identity.
What do I mean by this you may ask? Many of you may have been taught in school and through mainstream media that male and female are the only gender identities. This is the binary view of gender. In reality, there are many different understandings of gender which can be broken down into three parts:
Gender roles: The behaviours, values and attitudes a society considers appropriate for your perceived sex.
Gender identity: How you experience your own gender.
Gender expression: How you publicly express or present your gender. For example, your outward appearance and behaviour; the way you dress, your body language and voice.
When a child is born, they are often assigned a gender based on their physical attributes (i.e. whether they have a penis or vulva). This in turn tends to apply specific gender roles and expectations on the person from the get-go.
Those who have a vulva at birth are usually assigned female and are therefore expected to identify and present as such. There is an expectation that females are soft, gentile, emotional and caring.
On the other hand, those born with a penis are usually assigned male and are therefore expected to identify and present as such. There is an expectation that males are hard, strong, handy and dominant.
But we know now that these are just ‘stereotypes’ and people are able to be whoever they want to be, regardless of what their gender roles expect of them.
We also know there are many people who sit outside the model of typical gender identity. This means the gender they identify with doesn’t match the gender they were assumed to be at birth based on their physical characteristics. These people are characterised as non-binary.
Non-binary can be used as an umbrella term to include all the different gender identities which don’t fit into the binary system of male and female. Now, this can mean different things to different people so always ask someone who identifies as non-binary what it means to them. Some people experience their gender as both male and female, some people experience gender as neither and some may not have a label for what they are experiencing.
So far, we have spoken a lot about gender, but we are yet to speak about sexuality. Yep, sexual orientation is a totally different topic.
Sexual orientation is about who you are sexually attracted to. This can be men, women or anyone on the gender spectrum.
Sexuality can be intertwined with emotional attraction (who you are emotionally attracted to) and physical attraction (who you are physically attracted to). And of course, it’s important to remember this is a broad spectrum, it’s not black and white.
When it comes to sex, I am a big believer that toys can be used by all kinds of people in all kinds of ways — regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
Here are my favourite sex staples for all orientations and identities:
Lubricant is the best starting point for everyone. I would suggest water-based lube if you are using toys or condoms and silicone lube for play in water, or anal play.
A dildo is the perfect toy for anyone who wants to get into penetrative play. Use manually or pop into a strap-on holster and you are ready to rumble.
3. Glass dildos
Fun and versatile, glass dildos are a perfect, easy companion to
any penetrative sexual play or massage. They can be cooled or heated for added temperature play kicks and are hypoallergenic for those with sensitive genitals.
For those who want penetrative play with more pizazz, penis sleeves are a fun idea. Designed to enhance the size and texture of penises, this enhancement kit leaves you with a few different options, including an enlargement pump.
For those who are looking to enhance the pleasure of a penis, a stroker is a versatile and satisfying toy which does just that. A silicone sleeve fits over the top of the tip and shaft and simulates oral sex. Pop some lubricant into it and away you go.
This is a strap-on which fits inside the wearer’s vagina, and gives an amazing internal massage. The shaft and pony of the dildo help you get the perfect angle for clitoral stimulation as well as penetrative play.
A finger vibrator is for everyone, because you can use it all over the body on internal and external erogenous zones. Try the Ignite, with 20 different functions! Use on the nipples, the clit or the underside of a penis.
9. Butt plugs
Butt plugs are So. Much. Fun. This beginner butt plug is a great introduction to the world of anal toys and has the option to vibrate. These are great for any erotic play to increase orgasm intensity and pleasure.
Last, but by no means least, this much-loved toy is super-versatile and can be used externally and internally. Try vibrator play on all areas of the body, both internal and external zones. See what areas of the body you can wake up with some good vibrations.
What a great little list to get your started! Of course, the possibilities are endless, so just remember eroticism and sexuality about being curious with constant communication. Simply ask your partner about how they like to pleasure themselves, and ask if they can teach you too.
Today we’ve covered just the basics of what are both massive areas of the human experience. I encourage you to find out more about these topics wherever you can to grow your understanding.
Gender and sexuality are colourful and your sex life should also be. It’s a great time to celebrate the diversity we have within our gender and sexual orientations, and take a broad approach to our sexual playground.
Lovehoney is a proud member of Stonewall's Diversity Champions programme.
Stonewall campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) people everywhere.
Explore Lovehoney best-sellers