“I ain’t never did this before, no…”

We’re all aware that that average American teenager has engaged in sexual intercourse by the time they’ve turned 17-years-old. Well, many of us are aware of such statistics. For some us, we’re aware because our sexual past contributed to that mean.

For others, it was friends or family members whose sexual choices averaged out those whose choice was to wait until their later years, for one reason or another. The most common reason to wait, as we might expect, is moral or religious objection. Of those who do wait until after their teenage years, though, many of them have still experienced touching underneath clothes and genital play.

Having fun, yet?

The point of this essay isn’t to talk about who’s fucking who, where, or why. Honestly, I don’t care that much. Okay, that’s kind of a lie, because nothing makes me happier than creating sexually awkward scenarios in public social situations. Still, I have no moral objection as to the age that people choose to have their first sexual experience. I don’t care who it’s with, either. Do you.

What I do care about, somewhat, is how sex is portrayed in mainstream society.

Pictured above is rapper J. Cole, sitting on the roof of the house he just recently purchased, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, Fayetteville, North Carolina. It was the house he lived in at 13-years-old when he started rapping, but it was foreclosed on his mother five years later. This is the first house he has ever owned; this is also the title of his new album, “2014 Forest Hills Drive” that was released December 9 of this year.

But we don’t talk about those things in this country because we’d rather fund another fucking movie about D-Day or gang warfare. That’s why we rely on guys like J. Cole to deal with these issues so we can sit back from afar and admonish rap for always talking about sex.

Considering that the motivation behind this essay was derived from one of the album’s songs, I found it fair to give you all a bit of information on the huge fucking picture in the middle of this page. I bring to you, “Wet Dreams”. It is, perhaps, the most important song written about sex that I’ve ever listened to.

Got me daydreaming, man what
I’m thinkin’ how she ride on it, if she sits on it, if she licks on it
Make it hard for me to stand up
As time goes by, attractions getting deep and
Wet dreaming thinkin’ that I’m smashin’ but I’m sleepin’
I want it bad, and I ain’t never been obsessed before
She wrote a note that said “have you ever had sex before”

These lines, the final seven bars of the song’s first verse, were the first ones to catch my attention. Now, J. Cole is known for his introspective yet catchy songs that often dive into some kind of courtship, or sexual relationship, in some way. He makes love songs, and it’s what he’s best at. I wrote love stories, but I’m not very good, so me leaning on his lyrics here shouldn’t surprise you in the least.

Early last week, I began writing an essay critiquing the use of text messages and apps like Tinder in the courtship of romantic relations. I had this grand idea of tracking the history of human communication from smoke signals, to the telegraph, and other forms of communication between two people that, you know, took a bit of thought, consideration, and time to accomplish.

The point was that even up to the time of phone calls being the primary form of communication, we were forced to express ourselves critically, with the use of whole words, sentences, paragraphs, or monologues. When talking to someone else, we had to formulate our thoughts completely and thus, we supposedly connected on a deeper level with the person on the other side of the phone, telegraph, or whatever. That was the idea.

While writing, I noticed that I was losing steam a bit and that I was having a hard time truly pinpointing what was so fucking wrong, in my mind, with text messages, emojis, and swiping right.

Since I’ve already taken enough liberties in assuming what may or may not be common knowledge in the lede, I’ll refrain from doing that here. I remember when I used to pass notes to girls in class. There was a certain thrill in trying to navigate enough treaties with the students sitting in-between her and I so that it would make it there successfully. Then there was the strategy of when to actually pass the note. Was it best to do it right as the teacher turned towards the black board, or wait until she was in the middle of actually writing something? Of course, when the girl finally did receive the note—well after two or three of your friends already opened it up to read it, and turn your way to make fun of you for signing off with a heart—she’d shoot you the kind of smile that only sea-wary pirates got from their families upon return. “You dare devil, you…”

There was also something about seeing their handwriting, how they transitioned from “h” to “e”, and how stylized their question marks were. Was the heart that she signed off with short and fat, or longer with the two curves about a centimeter apart from meeting at the bottom? When she wasn’t in the same class as you, but showed up in the hallway with a note anyway, there wasn’t a single more flattering act of love in my teenage years. Yeah, she’d been thinking about you that whole hour and a half, because it was a block day.

That was how we used to flirt. We didn’t look at the girl’s face and swipe right because she was the first one in ten profiles without a duck face. We didn’t use some fucking emoji with hearts as eyes.

I’m thinkin’ how that body look naked when you playing on the bed
Teacher please don’t make me stand up
I wrote back like “Yeah baby sound like a plan”
Still trying to play it cool, sound like the man
But I was scared to death my nigga, my stomach turned
Talking shit knowing damn well I was a virgin

Hip hop has always been the music I’ve listened to over any other, pretty much regardless of time in my life. The first album I ever bought for myself was Notorious B.I.G’s “Ready To Die” and my mom bought me Dr. Dre “Dre 2001" and DMX “And Then There Was X…” for a fifth-grade graduation present. Until Kanye West released “College Dropout”, I wasn’t much of a fan when it came to more introspective lyricists. Sure, I went through my middle school Atmosphere phase, but I was much more into Mobb Deep, Big L and other Gangsta Rap acts.

Since then, I’ve come to appreciate the occasional moment of vulnerability to the rappers I spend money to listen to. It’s what made Cole’s first album, and his second for the matter, so refreshing. He’s got plenty of moments where he flashes his bravado, but plenty more where he truly examines his own insecurities and short comings…even embarrassments.

Men are, so often, looked at to be sources of masculinity (shocker!) and power. We’re held to a standard of brashness, and told to be figures of physical and mental strength that often leaves little to no room for emotional distress.

Tony Soprano talked about this quite a bit in the first season of The Sopranos when he initiated his psychological therapy sessions. “What ever happened to the quiet, strong type?” We’re not supposed to cry. We’re not supposed to hurt. We’re not supposed to have small cocks. We’re not supposed to prematurely ejaculate. We’re not supposed to be virgins. We’re not supposed to be weak, even for a moment. And so, with this in mind, we front. Especially when it comes to our sexual adventures, we lie through our front teeth so that whatever shortcomings we may have aren’t perceived as weaknesses, even though a balanced minded individual probably doesn’t give two shits if we’ve had sex or not.

I’m hoping that she won’t notice it’s my first time
I’m hoping that my shit is big enough to fuck with
And most of all I’m praying “God don’t let me bust quick”
I’m watching pornos to see just how to stroke right
Practice putting condoms on, how it go right

This, this is what’s so damn important about this song. In our society, at one point, we began equating masculinity and power with the size of a man’s cock, and with the length that he can last in bed. It’s the great insecurity in our generation of young men. Sure, size and stamina are probably key factors to whether some women are ultimately compatible with a man. But if we’re able to separate ourselves from pointless anxiety for a moment, we see that those women simply value two features of a man, no more or less important than having a job, the drive to succeed professionally or a decent head of hair. In my opinion, all of these insecurities—even J. Cole talking about having to watch porn to get an idea of what sex is supposed to look like and buying countless condoms to make sure he’s equipped to put it on right—come from our nation’s backwards ass approach to sex and the lack of visibility we allow it.

As a child in America, you can flip through a basic cable package and eventually stumble upon a channel where someone is getting their head blown off by a rifle, throat slit by a knife, or beat with a baseball bat. Yet, in that same span of channels, you will never see penetration. You will never see a young couple, in love, and in bed with the full body of either showing. Hell, even HBO is busy showing as much T&A as they can in True Blood, Entourage, and everything else to consider that, perhaps, they have a female audience. Perhaps, that female audience wants to see Erik and Bill in their full glory.

The creepiness of demanding nudity from actors and actresses aside—and yes, it’s really creepy—it’s just this whole idea that sexuality and nudity are commoditized and, even more importantly, hidden from our youth so that the one place they can go for that kind of visual is BangBus.com. It’s fucking sad. It’s pathetic.

Research every year shows that teaching kids safe sex doesn’t lead to more sex, it leads to more safe sex. It’s like, as a country, we’re ashamed of how we were all made. We’re ashamed of the most purely natural and beautiful act that a human can participate in. We’re ashamed of our bodies. We’re too busy ignoring violence so that our youth can be sheltered under an umbrella of abstinance that leads to young men scrapping the idea of a condom altogether (since they’ve never actually been taught how to put one on) and young people failing to have the tools necessary for a conversation where they might both find the other to be a virgin. Where they might both find the other to be vulnerable. Where they might both find the other in need of some comfort, some assurance or even some patience.

But we don’t talk about those things in this country because we’d rather fund another fucking movie about D-Day or gang warfare. That’s why we rely on guys like J. Cole to deal with these issues so we can sit back from afar and admonish rap for always talking about sex.

It’s time for action
Pull out the condoms real smooth, yeah just how I practice
But right before I put it in, she flinched and grabbed it and said
“I wanna get something off my mental
I can tell you a pro, but baby be gentle cause”
I ain’t never did this before, no…
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