In regards to sex there’s one question I get a LOT. The specifics may vary a great deal from one person to the next but the gist of the query is the same:
Am I normal?
My answer will be different depending on the situation but my general opinion regarding sex, normalcy and whether the description applies to is more or less standard:
Nope. You’re not normal.
As far I as can tell there is no “normal” when it comes to sex. I have yet to learn of a sexual desire, appetite, aversion or practice that is truly universal or truly unique. To put it another way, not everyone is into the same sexual stuff as you. But whatever it is you are (or aren’t) into sexually, you aren’t the only one. So, no I don’t think you’re normal. I don’t think that I’m normal. When it comes to sex, I don’t even know what “normal” means.
That having been said, I do think worry about being normal is pretty common. We tend to check out the people around us and compare their behaviour to our own as a way of gauging what’s acceptable. We’re social, tribal kind of creatures. We influence one another. We seek each other’s approval and acceptance. I’m not an anthropologist or behavioural scientist or any other kind of Why-Human-Beings-Do-Stuff expert. But I suspect our odds of surviving and thriving are probably higher if when we learn to interact successfully with folks around us.
So I also think it’s common to feel insecure when we don’t see others doing what we’re doing. For many of us, sexual acts happen privately and there are few opportunites to actually see how other people have sex. (Yes, there’s porn but what you see on camera isn’t necessarily representative of your in-real-life sexuality). Which isn’t to say that we’d all feel better about ourselves if everyone started doing it in public. But I do think there’s a lot more sexual diversity happening behind closed doors but because we don’t see it and we rarely talk about it, we aren’t aware of it.
What we do see is a lot mass-market, media-fueled, manufactured sexuality. It’s kind of too bad because it represents a pretty narrow subset of sexual expression. It’s like “Here are six kinds of people and six sexual acts.” We see those kinds of people doing those types of things over and over again and it may seem like that is All of Sex. It may seem to some of us, that if we look, feel or act differently, we’re doing sex wrong or that there’s something wrong with us.
In our society, certain sexual acts, certain sexual desires and sex between certain types of people are normalized. But that doesn’t make them normal. It doesn’t mean that that’s the type of sex that everyone wants or the type of sex that everyone has. It doesn’t mean that you should be having that type of sex. It doesn’t even mean that you should have or want to have sex at all.
I understand why people wonder “Am I normal?” I ask myself that question all the time. But ultimately I don’t think normalcy matters as much as asking “Am I happy? Am I healthy? Do I feel safe? Am I taking care of my partner(s)? Am I taking care of myself?”
The breadth of human sexual experience and expression is too varied for standard practices. None of us is normal … which in a weird way means that we all are. So my answer to the question, “Am I normal?” is that focusing on being normal is less important than honouring what’s right for you.
Already Pretty contributor Nadine Thornhill is a sex educator and blogger at Adorkable Undies. She is also a burlesque performer, poet and playwright, living in Ottawa, Ontario – Canada’s national capital. Her writing tends toward subjects such as clitorises, feminism, vibrators, body image, gender politics and non-monogamy. She is a passionately committed Scrabble player and lifelong klutz, having sustained 16 concussions to date.