‘Ludicrous’ myth ruining your sex life
Spend enough time online and you learn people are largely ignorant and gullible.
As a writer, I'm accustomed to readers rattling off angry, essay-length comments on my columns without ever actually reading past the title.
I'm inured to being called names that would be censored if I repeated them here, simply because I'm doing my job and someone disagrees with me.
And I'm practically anesthetised to the hate, vitriol and slut-shaming that permeate my social media feed daily. At this point, it's basically all white noise.
Something you can never prime yourself for as a writer, though, is having a piece of your work go viral.
In the summer of 2016, as I was emerging from my marriage breakdown, I wrote a piece about my sexual awakening as a newly single woman for a small blog.
It was published uneventfully, and I forgot about it.
Then, one morning in April this year, I awoke to hundreds of email notifications.
"You're disgusting. How could you do that?" one read.
"I hope you burn in hell, wh**e," came another.
"You must be riddled with diseases," wrote a third.
I googled myself online. The blog I'd written two years earlier had been picked up by a UK tabloid overnight.
It had then been promptly disseminated by dozens of other publications, each recounting the story with increasing theatrical debauchery.
I made the mistake of scrolling down to the comments section to find a confronting diatribe about my sex life.
"This woman really slept with all these people? Disgusting," shared one.
"Having that much casual sex is nothing to be proud of. Why is this news?" commented another.
I wanted to know the same thing: Why was this news? Why was a story about a woman having casual sex getting more attention than actual world events that morning?
More startling, though, were the sheer number of comments about my sexual health status.
People were deliberating over how many STIs I had (the answer, incidentally, was none) and how damaged my vagina must be. You know, from "all the sex" I'd had.
It occurred to me I'd underestimated just how widespread ignorance about female sexuality and general sexual health actually is.
The vast majority of emails and DMs that continued to overwhelm my inbox for the next few days were from men, focused on how lax my vaginal muscles surely were.
As it turns out, there's still a large segment of the adult population who don't understand how the vagina works. Like, at all.
People who genuinely believe it can be overstretched via multiple casual sexual encounters, though, ironically, not via having sex repeatedly with the same penis over the course of a marriage.
Suggesting a woman who has multiple sexual partners has a loose vagina is akin to proposing men who have a lot of casual sex end up with shrunken penises - it's so ludicrous, it's actually comical.
In truth, the muscles in the vagina can be thought of like an accordion. They're designed to expand - far enough to push a baby out - and then fold neatly back into place.
If you're not convinced, try this experiment: Put your fingers in the corners of your mouth and pull it out as wide as you possibly can, then let go.
It will immediately snap back into place. Repeat this a hundred more times, and you can expect the exact same result - your mouth, much like the vagina, will not loosen over time.
There is no physiological, science-based premise for the loose vagina ideology.
It is, quite simply, the result of ignorance and desperately fragile masculinity - something that sadly still exists in a large segment of our society.
These same men will complain their wives are boring in bed, oblivious to the fact their very demonisation of sexual women has prompted their partner to repress her sexuality.
They're also the people to whom it's not occurred that a modern adult woman having casual sex is almost certainly doing so using readily available protection.
I'm not sure what's more concerning - the fact we still fundamentally can't compute the idea of a woman who wants a lot of sex, or the fact most of the men who reacted to my blog by labelling me a "disease-ridden wh**e" had kids and wives in their profile pictures.
The good news about going viral is what's causing outrage today will inevitably become yesterday's news tomorrow.
And so, those men are long gone from my inbox now.
What isn't gone, though, is the ignorance keeping women ashamed of and detached from their sexuality. It's the message that a woman who has multiple sexual partners is used up, diseased, loose and unworthy.
And it's the reason why I won't stop writing about my sex life online, even if it does send a few thousand tossers my way.
Nadia Bokody is a freelance writer and Instagram influencer. Continue the conversation on Instagram | @nadiabokody