When I tell people that I write for a porn site for women, they often assume I publish clickbait like “34 Sizzling Sex Positions.” Um…no. But I totally understand why — it’s hard to pick up a women’s magazine without blaring headlines declaring foolproof sex tips guaranteed to “rock his world.”

These articles usually skip past any actual information about sex or sexual health and go straight to explaining how to have “good” sex. We know that more and more teenagers are turning to porn for sexual education. According to a survey of teenagers and young adults in the UK, 60 percent watch porn for informational purposes, even though nearly three quarters also admit that porn is oftentimes unrealistic.

While teenage girls may watch less porn than teenage boys, they are also learning about sex from women’s magazines. I remember poring over magazines like Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, and Glamour at sleepovers years before my friends and I were even close to doing anything described in those magazines. Just like porn doesn’t typically show the full picture when it comes to sex, neither do these magazines and their abundance of sex tips.

While I fully support young women learning about how to take charge of their sexual experiences, these articles often spread really harmful ideas about sex and sexuality.

Here are just a few reasons why.

It’s all about the guy

Most of the tips in these magazines are focused solely on men’s pleasure. By only worrying about how men feel about women’s performance, these magazines overemphasize the importance of men’s opinions and preferences about how women look and act in bed.

Not surprisingly, the types of behavior promoted as attractive to men are often based on misogynistic stereotypes that paint women as doting and hyper-sexualized. These articles are so concentrated on how to attract, understand, and please men that they make it seem like women’s needs are secondary or that men do not need to try to do the same.Newsflash: good sex is good for all parties, not just the guy!

They’re super heteronormative

You may have noticed that I’m only talking about guy-and-girl sex. Well, that’s because that’s all these magazines ever focus on! It’s as if the publishers think that queer, trans, and gender non-conforming folks do not have sex. They assume that all their readers are cis women and that all their sexual partners are cis men.

Not only do their sex tips exclude an entire range of sexual activity and expression, they promote gendered stereotypes that reinforce narrow sexual scripts.


The kinkier, the better

Almost all of the suggestions offered by these magazines revolve around how to “spice things up,” through trying new positions, locations, outfits, or props. While trying new things is a great way to explore your sexuality, this pressure to “keep things interesting” is actually relying on a much more insidious message: make your man happy, or he will get bored and have sex with someone who can fulfill these fantasies.

Kink is about sexual expression, not competing with other women. Encouraging women to try things that they may not be comfortable with in order to please their partner is again putting the man’s needs above the woman’s. There is also this assumption that men will love any kinky surprise, but by springing something new on him, there’s more pressure to do something that wasn’t discussed beforehand. Remember, kink is only sexy when there’s consent.

 

Communication isn’t necessary 

Why do these magazines need to publish sex tips at all? Because they claim that it’s all about “decoding” men or reading their mind. This type of “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” mentality is outdated and reductive.

If a woman want to know what her partner wants in bed, here’s a thought…just ask!

 

Women are responsible for good sex 

By flooding magazines with these lists every month, publishers are giving women the overwhelming impression that it is up to them to “fix” or “upgrade” their sex life. The underlying message is that if women don’t do these things, they are not having sex the “right” way or not living up to men’s expectations. That’s a lot of unnecessary pressure. What about men’s responsibility to make women feel good in bed?

 

There are right and wrong ways to have sex 

No one should tell anybody what sex “should” be like. Sex is different for everybody, and different with every partner. Not everyone is going to like every technique in these articles. The only way to find out what feels good for you and your partner is to discover it together, not through some magazine.