Kimberly McIntosh: A Letter To All The Boys I Banged Before

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Dear all the boys I banged before,

I hope you’re all doing well (I’ve searched all your socials and it looks like you are). You all taught me something – the boyfriends, the one night stands – even that situationship. To all of you, thank you for your service.

This letter isn’t a lecture or a telling off. But looking back there’s some things I would do differently; questions I should have asked or demands I should have made. So I thought I’d share, in case someone else can benefit from them.

Boy One, we didn’t use a condom and I hadn’t thought about the consequences (I was new to this!). It was damp. I’d never had sex before and didn’t expect it to be so obvious.

You told me the short walk back to my university halls wasn’t a “walk of shame” but a “stride of pride”. Thanks for that. I didn’t know much, but I had watched every episode of Sex and the City and knew that modern women were not easily shamed. I hand washed my knickers and my flatmate came with me to the GUM clinic. It was heaving with students reckoning with the antics of the night before.

You were the reason for my first STI test, but it wouldn’t be my last. When the nurse assumed you were my boyfriend I didn’t correct her. I didn’t want to tell the truth that – virgin or not – I’d had sex because I felt like it with no intention of making a relationship out it. I now know there’s nothing shameful about casual sex – but it’s much better when it’s safe.

A year later when we tried to have sex again you asked me if it was painful and it was so we stopped. Thanks for noticing. Over the years that follow there’ll be countless men who simply look the other way. They’ll pretend they can’t see that I’m not that into it or wincing or absent. Now, I know you don’t owe anyone sex even if it’s already started.

To Boy Five, the American condom enforcer, keep it up but kick out the racism. Or if you can’t manage that then don’t have sex with black people, even the British ones. And to all of the boys that weren’t bothered about condoms – stop that. I’ve learnt my lesson and I hope you have too.

Sex comes with risks, and for me, pregnancy is one of them. I’ve taken a morning after pill three times (looking at you Boys One, Eight and Twelve). I remember the first time I wrote down ‘morning after pill’ on a form, I felt mortified. The receptionist crossed it out and wrote ‘emergency contraceptive pill’ in its place, its proper name.

I was able to get it for free at my pharmacy, but thanks Boy Eight (and only Boy Eight) for offering to pay. Getting access to a free one was hard on weekends. Most of the pharmacies were closed and the open ones had massive queues. If I’d known that before I would have taken your money.

Boy Twelve you walked with me to the pharmacy to get the morning after pill, which was the right thing to do. The pharmacist wasn’t in so I went on the Monday first thing, as soon as it opened. I had to take it there and then in the consultation room.

Late for work and a little woozy, I tried to slip in subtly and sit quietly at my desk. When I opened my laptop, Otis by Jay Z and Kanye blared out. The laptop had lost its charge whilst I’d been on YouTube days before. Smooth. But awkward moments pass quickly enough.

I went home relieved, I made a mistake but I took ownership of it and used the services available to me.

Oh, and Boy Ten who “couldn’t be bothered with foreplay”, I hope you can be bothered now. It’s important. Sex isn’t just about penetration, the build-up is the best part! Also, just because you’ve reached the finish line doesn’t mean that I have!

I finally got long-term contraception (not that many of you asked, even though it was your responsibility too btw). I got the implant inserted into my left upper arm. I had a break from it for a while but those latter two trips to the pharmacy pushed me to get another one put in. None of us are perfect but we can be precautionary.

I’m older now, as are all of you. We’re (hopefully) a bit more prepared for sex and for life. I definitely feel more confident and equipped for it than I did then. I don’t know what’s next for any of us but you can learn an awful lot by looking back.

Thank you for the memories and stay safe!

Kim xxx

ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Always read the label.