THE BOX

BODIES

Is it normal to have globs of clear, slime-looking stuff coming out of the vagina?
Yes, definitely! This is called vaginal discharge and it is extremely common and extremely normal. Talk to your doctor if it's a funky color or smell but otherwise enjoy the wonderful and cool thing your body makes <3 (and be careful when wearing black underwear cause it can bleach them 😳)
What should hygiene for your private regions look like?
If you have a penis, you can wash it like any other body part (make sure to clean under the foreskin). If you have a vulva, you can clean the outside/folds with plain soap or body wash. Don't wash the inside of your vagina -- it's got all sorts of fun bacteria. The vulva (& between your ass cheeks) is where you wanna be.
Is it expected that you shave/remove your pubic hair for sex? Is it weird to keep it hairy?
It's not "weird" to leave your pubic hair, nor is it weird to remove it. Mainstream media usually shows perfectly hairless vulvas, but this requires a lot of upkeep in real life! If you want to shave or trim some or all of your pubic hair, feel free -- but don't let anyone pressure you into (or out of) it or shame you for your choice.
Is it normal to have acne between your boobs or on your boobs?
Yes. Boobs and the area between them can get very sweaty, especially if you're wearing a binder or a bra that pushes them together. You can wash the area and apply acne medication just like any other body part if it becomes a problem.

FANTASIES

I don’t get off on lovey-dovey sweet soft shit. I can’t feel anything unless I’m thinking about something bad or scary and I don’t know why and I feel gross because of it. Is that normal? How can I get out of this spiral?
The short answer is yes, all of this is fine and normal. Your brain is your brain and your body is your body! One of the most common questions sex therapists get is "is it okay to fantasize about ____?" It totally is.
People get off on all sorts of things. Some people need very rough, explicit imagery to get off, others are super turned off by it. That's fine! Think about what is "bad" or "scary" about it. Is it socially unacceptable? Is it something you know you'd never do in real life? Is it physically dangerous/harmful?
If you want to slow down or tone down your fantasies, have patience with yourself -- take it slow when you're masturbating, don't rush it, don't feel pressure to orgasm quickly or at all. And have patience in the long run too! It's hard to change what's hot for us. You may still enjoy kinky porn or fantasies which is fine & cool & good. Take it easy on yourself.
How do I stop having sexual thoughts about a specific person? Why am I having them? I have no desire to have sex with that person so why are the thoughts there?
This is a very, very, very common phenomenon. Whether it's a friend, a teacher, or even a family member, it's VERY common to have intrusive sexual thoughts about people. And it DOESN'T mean you're secretly attracted to them. You are not crazy or damaged or fucked up for having these thoughts.
The best thing to do is just let it pass through you. Getting mad at yourself & fixating on it can make the thoughts worse. Try visualizing yourself at a train station -- when the Bad Thoughts Train comes, just let it pass.
How do I know if I'm hypersexual?
Hypersexuality is a broader type of sex addiction that includes addiction to pornography or masturbation as well as interpersonal sex. If you're using sexual behaviors to avoid your problems or you neglect your relationships/responsibilities through sexual behaviors, then you may be struggling with hypersexuality.

PORN

How can you not get addicted to porn/have a healthy relationship with it?
You can watch porn every single day and not have an addiction. It becomes an issue if it feels compulsive (you feel like you have to do it, even if you don't want to) or if it's affecting your ability to orgasm, with yourself or with a partner.
If you're concerned about your porn habits, you can wean yourself off of getting off to video pornography by using audio and/or written porn, masturbate less often if you find yourself doing it every night, or stick to slow & sensual porn rather than more aggressive content.
Is porn bad?
Many aspects of the porn industry are shockingly degrading towards women, & most porn focuses on male pleasure and female exploitation. That said, watching porn isn't gonna kill you, and there's plenty of porn out there that is ethical, consensual, and helpful for exploring and expressing your sexuality. Remember, however, that porn actors are professionals and that porn is highly edited and engineered so that everything (bodies, sex acts, orgasms) looks perfect. Real sex rarely looks like porn -- and it shouldn't!
What are some places to watch porn that aren't overwhelming, scary, and unethical?
- Bellesa.co! High-quality ethical porn curated by women.
- Try audio porn! The subreddit r/gonewildaudio has user-submitted recordings you can listen to.
- Erotica & erotic fanfiction! Pick a character/ship you think is hot, go to ao3, find that ship, sort by kudos and set rating to "explicit." (You may also want to restrict the word count if you're looking for just the sex scenes.) Regular erotica is good too -- you can find some on Bellesa mentioned above, and plenty on Tumblr.

MASTURBATION

Is masturbating a thing you actively decide to do or is it a thing you just do without trying? What age do most people start?
Masturbating is always your choice -- you have full control over whether you do it, when you do it, where you do it, what you do, etc. And it can look like a lot of things! You can just experiment with touching yourself for a few seconds, or you can do it for a long time and try and orgasm, or anything in between.
People start masturbating at all different ages. Young children often touch their genitals just because it feels good, with no associated fantasies or goal of orgasm. Around puberty, masturbation usually becomes more goal-driven, especially for AMAB people. But there's a HUGE variety in age because people (especially those socialized as girls) are taught to have so much shame around it and never talk about it.
How can I experiment when masturbating? I don't have access to toys and I'd like to try changing things up a bit.
I like to call these the five P's: parts, pace, position, penetration, and... pfantasy:
-PARTS: touching different parts of your body (nipples, thighs, etc)
-PACE: vary speed (try to go very slow the whole time or break a speed record)
-POSITION: vary body position (on back, on stomach, sitting up, etc)
-PENETRATION: experiment with penetration, including anal penetration if you're comfortable!
-FANTASY: fantasize about different stuff, imagine different scenarios to see what you like (erotic [fan]fiction can be good inspiration here)
My orgasms don't feel as pleasurable anymore? When I first started out it felt easier to orgasm but nowadays it just feels difficult to.
Your libido can change as a result of a lot of things, including your mental/emotional state, your stress levels, and any medication you're taking. It can also be affected by your menstrual cycle if you're AFAB.
Masturbation does not have to be a race to orgasm! Getting all frustrated with yourself for not coming quickly or at all will not do you any favors. Focus on the feelings. Take it slow. Be gracious to yourself.
Does fingering yourself hurt? I've gotten really close and I want to try but I always chicken out before I actually get in.
Fingering is difficult to do on yourself because you can't see what's going on and don't really know what's happening. It can definitely be a little uncomfortable when you first get in, whether it's your first time or your hundredth. It generally shouldn't hurt -- if it does, you're probably not lubricated enough, or there's a chance you have an issue with your vagina like vaginismus. For most people, vaginal fingering is generally not as pleasurable as clitoral stimulation.
Can your gynecologist tell that you masturbate through a pelvic exam?
Nope! They can't even tell if you've ever had sex or not, unless there's damage to the area. You also generally don't start getting pelvic exams until you're 21 or become sexually active unless there's an issue that you want checked out.
How do I find my clitoris? I know where it should be but it’s not visible AT ALL and I usually can’t feel it with my fingers either.
The clitoris is bigger than you think it is. Lots of diagrams say it's like this little tiny pea at the top but it's actually the whole middle flap sort of area. The clitoris also extends all the way down both sides of your vaginal opening like a wishbone! Don't worry about hitting it dead on (that can actually be too much stimulation), just kinda go for the general area and it'll be fine.
How much masturbating is too much masturbating?
If you have a penis, frequent masturbation can temporarily lower your sperm count and affect fertility. Otherwise, unless your masturbating habits are interfering with your daily life, or you are injuring your hand or genitals, there is no such thing as "too much masturbating." There is also no such thing as masturbating too little! You never have to! You can do it once and never again! You can do it 5 times a day!
After I masturbate I always feel guilty. Is this normal? How can I not?
This is, unfortunately, a VERY common feeling, for so many reasons -- fear of being found out, religious or cultural beliefs around masturbation, shame & guilt around sex and masturbation in general especially queer sex/sexuality, so-called "post nut clarity" that can make you suddenly regret masturbating, etc etc.
So first of all, you are so not alone. it's something a lot of people struggle with when they first start masturbating, especially if they're doing any kind of fantasizing while masturbating (including consuming porn or other erotic media).
How can you not? Websites will be like "love your body! do an oil massage! light candles!" but if you are 15 and giving yourself an oil massage you are going to feel so weird about it. But they're right about one thing - try and just have fun with it. Masturbation is one of the few things that are only for you and your feeling good. It's the ultimate act of self-care.
And not that you HAVE to masturbate, either! If it's making you feel guilty, take a break! Don't force yourself to do it. And then when you do, take your time. Don't focus on orgasming as quickly as possible. Listen to your body and your mind and cool down as needed. You'll get there.
What is the difference between a vibrator and a dildo?
Vibrators vibrate (duh) and are pressed against the clitoris or used for vaginal penetration. Some, called rabbit vibrators, do both. Others, like bullet vibes or wand vibes, are just for clitoral stimulation.
Dildos are large phallic toys used for penetration. Some can be strapped into a harness, others are held or suction-cupped to a chair or wall. Some dildos look like realistic penises, some are fantastical sci-fi creations, and some just look like abstract organic shapes. (Some dildos also vibrate, but they're not considered vibrators, which is confusing. Capitalism!)
Vibrator recommendations?
Here are some!
How do you masturbate when you live with your family/share a room/don't get a lot of alone time?
Some ideas: in your bed at night, in the shower, with music/TV/loud fan on. You will be able to control the sounds you make -- it's easier than you'd think to keep quiet.
Why can't I get off using just my hands? I have to use a toy or shower or something instead. I've tried several times and it just doesn't work.
Human hands can't match the intensity, speed, or pressure of a vibrator or showerhead, so it's normal for it to take longer. Be patient with yourself.
How do you know if you have orgasmed?
"Y'know when you felt sick and would wonder if it was a cold or the flu, which usually meant it was just a cold because you KNOW when it's the flu? Or when you see a large dark bird and wonder if it's a crow or raven, which is typically an indicator that it's a crow, not a raven [cause ravens are fucking massive]? It's like that." -Sage Nanowrimo
Can asexual people masturbate? If I masturbate, does it mean I'm not ace? If I don't want to masturbate, does it mean I am ace?
Your choice to masturbate or not has nothing to do with your sexual identity. Many aspec people masturbate, and many allo people don't! It's the same with sex -- some asexual people do have sex for a multitude of reasons, and many allo people don't. If you're not interested in masturbating or don't feel ready, it doesn't necessarily mean you're ace. Likewise, masturbating or wanting to masturbate doesn't make you any less asexual.

SEX & RELATIONSHIPS

How old should you be when you lose your virginity?
There is no minimum age to start having sex, and while virginity is a problematic social construct for many reasons, sex is an awkward, messy, intimate thing, especially for people who are new to it. For that reason, if you feel unsure about having sex it's best to wait until you feel comfortable enough with someone to talk to them about it. (If you can't talk to someone about sex, how will you tell them what you want -- and, more importantly, what you don't?) And remember that there's also no maximum age to start having sex. It's not a race. You're ready when you're ready.
Do two virgins need to use protection?
If the sex you're having could result in a pregnancy, yes, absolutely. Otherwise, protection is never a bad idea, but it's probably more important that you get tested after having sex. You can contract some STIs in non-sexual ways, so the risk is not zero. Also, people have different definitions of what "virginity" is, so be sure to communicate with your partner about what the term means to them.
What’s the lesbian protection? And where do you buy it?
Dental dams are thin squares of latex that can be laid over the vulva during oral sex to prevent the transfer of STIs. During digital penetration (fingering), you can wear latex gloves and put cotton balls in the fingertips if you have long nails. You can buy dental dams online and in some groceries and pharmacies. (In a social experiment, neither Pangaea nor Erica could find dental dams at their local drugstores.)
Do people really use dental dams?
Sometimes! But it's true that, though they're a staple of "progressive" sex education, dental dams are not very commonly used. This is because the risk of contracting an STI is lower for oral and digital sex than it is for genital-to-genital sex, and also because a lack of research and funding means that dental dams are usually lower quality and less comfortable than condoms.
I find it hard to ask to stop halfway through sex with my partner when I really don’t want to do it anymore but I’m too embarrassed to ask. How can I let them know I'm uncomfortable without making them feel bad or awkward?
This is a really important conversation to have -- and you can and should stand up for yourself! Conversations like this can definitely happen outside of the bedroom. When you're in a more comfortable and less intense situation, you could say something like, "I like having sex with you, but I sometimes have trouble telling you when I want to stop. Can we make a plan so that I feel more comfortable communicating how I feel?" Maybe they'll ask you explicitly about everything they're doing, or you'll check in before sex starts about how far you want to go.
How do you tell your partner what you want during sex without sounding weird or bossy? I get it's good to communicate, but it feels like it would be weird to say things like that in the moment.
It may sound weird out of context, but being forthcoming about your desires can be very sexy. And if it doesn't come out sexy, that's fine too -- sex can be awkward and silly and joke-y!
It may also feel more comfortable to talk about what you want when you're not actively having sex -- before, after, or a different time entirely.
Can I enjoy sex even if I am not attracted to the person I'm having sex with?
It depends on the person! People can have biological reactions to physical touch and sexual situations even if they aren't attracted to that person or that situation. Don't feel pressured to have sex with someone you don't want to, obviously, but if you enjoy sex with someone but are not attracted to them it might just be that they're good at sex 🤷
I have sexual fantasies about seemingly everyone except for my partner. I know sexual attraction and romantic attraction don't always come hand in hand, but I don’t know whether I should break up with them over this. I’m just not sexually attracted to them.
Do you want to be with someone you are sexually attracted to, or are you feeling bad on their behalf? If it's the latter, know that you do not have to feel bad, and that this might be worth talking to your partner about if you feel comfortable. It doesn't have to be A Big Problem that you need to Work Out! You can just let them know that you care about them very very much, but you are not sexually attracted to them, and you still want to be in a relationship with them (if you do), but they can decide how they feel about that.
If it's the former, you might consider ending the relationship. You deserve to be with someone that you are very very happy with. It is not worth it to make yourself (& them) unhappy by forcing yourself to be with someone you don't want to be with.
What is BDSM?
BDSM stands for a couple things: Bondage and Discipline (BD), Sadism and Masochism (SM), and Domination and Submission (DS). It is a broad category of sexual practices & relationship dynamics that include things like unconventional kinks/fetishes, physical restraints, and strong (consensual & healthy!) power dynamics in relationships.
The important things to know about BDSM are
1. It is not abuse. Dominant/pain-inflicting partners willingly take on the responsibility for their submissive partners' safety. Non-consensual BDSM is not BDSM, it is abuse.
2. There's a very wide spectrum of kinkiness that BDSM can cover -- from relatively vanilla things like choking or spanking to intense power dynamics that may carry outside of sexual behaviors. To learn more you can read here!
Is it safe to have sex with a binder on?
You probably shouldn't do any hard thrusting or riding in a binder, and your should take it off if it starts to hurt or your breathing is constricted. (This is true outside of sex, too!). If you'd prefer to keep your chest covered during sex, you can keep your shirt on or wear a bra. You can also ask your partner not to acknowledge your chest in any way. For more on navigating dysphoria during sex, click here.
What does sex look like if it's not equal or reciprocated -- like "I do stuff to you, you do stuff to me?" I always thought, especially with two people with vaginas, it wouldn't be pleasurable enough to just pleasure someone else. Wouldn't you want to take turns?
Good sex is where everyone gets what they want -- but that doesn't mean everyone wants the same things. Sex is about doing a fun thing with a person you think is hot! And that could mean a lot of things. Maybe they do stuff to you and then you just make out until your mom comes to pick you up. Maybe you can't come for whatever reason & you just give up after a while cause their hand is cramping and you're tired. Maybe it makes them uncomfortable or dysphoric to be touched sexually, but they love touching you. (This also falls into the territory of being a "stone top," the opposite of which is "stone bottom." More on this in the next question.)
I'm kind of a pillow princess (I only receive and don't give during sex), and I feel kind of selfish about it. How can I change that?
First of all: you don't have to. Being a stone top or a stone bottom is a highly personal boundary and one that you don't have to excuse or justify to anyone. That said, if you're interested in topping, talk to your partner about it: tell them you want to try pleasuring them and ask what they like. (More on pillow princesses, stone tops, stone bottoms, etc here.)

ABOUT THE BOX

Pangaea was lucky enough to receive comprehensive, respectful, and inclusive sex education starting in fourth grade and continuing through ninth. They were fascinated not just by the content but by their classmates' reaction to it: why do they think it's funny? why do they feel awkward talking about it? why are we not supposed to talk about it, if it's so important?Pangaea saw how cultural shame and silence around sex were hurting their friends as they began to explore it in their real lives. In October 2020, they created The Box to facilitate shameless, honest, supportive conversations about sex and sexuality that young people, especially young women, and especially young queer women, are often denied.You can submit your own question to The Box here, or DM Pangaea directly if you want. You can support Pangaea's work by sending them kind words and pictures of baby animals.