This article was written by Lynn Joseph on behalf of Sherley Altidor.
Why are we terrified to talk about something that we all do? Sex is a natural part of life. For far too long, we’ve been told to be quiet, to appeal to men’s needs and desires, to be their trophy, and nothing more than that but it’s time to talk.
We have needs and desires too. It takes two people to build a healthy relationship, so it’s time to give an equal amount of care and attention to both parties rather than one.
As we dig into this topic of sex, it’s important to stress the significance of not judging other women about sex. Every woman has their own sets of needs and desires when it comes to sex, just like every man does. Feminism is about accepting all women as they are. It’s about lifting each other up. It’s about positivity. So let’s ditch the way that we judge other women’s relationship with sex because men and society does that enough for us.
Body positivity and sex positivity are topics that are severely under-addressed when it comes to feminism. So much of the discussion is wrapped around equality and equity regarding the opposite sex in the workplace and in politics that so often, everything else that entails what it means to be a women gets forgotten. So often, the discussion about all of the incredible people that make up who we are as a collective of women, which is so diverse, gets lost. It’s time to celebrate what makes us women. We are not a monolith. Sex can be messy but it’s not a dirty thing to talk about.
We all do it. So why not learn how to do it well, how to find out what works best for us, and how to best be safe while we explore our sexual identity?
Whether your personal goal with sex is for procreation, enjoyment, or sex work, whether you want a lot of sex or very little, it’s your body and you have the right to use it as you want.
There is nothing wrong or abnormal about any of these decisions that you are making about your body. You have agency. Nobody can tell you how many sex partners is too many or too little. Of course, the more sex that you have and with the more partners, the higher the risk of spreading STIs, STDs, getting a UTI, etc… and this is why it is so important to practice safe sex. Safe sex is vital no matter who you are with, how many people you are with, and where you are. Men are typically not judged when it comes to the number of sexual partners that they have if that number is high because it’s a man’s world and the man can have it all. Well, I’m here to remind you that women can have it all too.
Five tips that I’m going to give you all in order to be more comfortable talking about sex with your peers or even young girls and boys who look to you for guidance and advice are as follows:
1) Do your homework. Go beyond the basic sex-ed curriculum that some states are lucky to still have. There’s so much that these sex-eduation classes are not teaching and it’s important to know all of your options before, during, and after sex. It’s important not to only practive safe sex but to know how to be comfortable exploring your sexual side. We must make sure that people know all of their options for safe sex, what to do when an STI or STD is contracted, contraception, and options after pregnancy. We must make sure that people have a safe space they can go to when asking about not only practicing safe sex but the act of sex itself and how to handle consent when trying new things. It’s important to also know what consent is, what sexual assault is, and what rape is and your options for handling any of the above situations in your state. Being prepared with knowledge for all situations helps everyone make better decisions for their personal journey so I cannot stress enough how important educating yourself is and educating others who are open to learning more.
2) If you are unable to answer the questions that are brought to you or you yourself have questions that you are afraid to ask, seek out trusted sources for answers. If you aren’t comfortable talking about, kinks and fetishes for example, you can lead someone to the Clit Talk Podcast. Seek out safe entertaining spaces and safe professional spaces where these answers and so much more are available to you. This can be online or in person in your community.
3) Show young girls the differences between healthy and positive representations of sex in the media (TV, movies, books, music, etc…) and make sure that they understand that porn is not the barometer so that they are able to use their own judgement and discern what’s right for them when it comes to expectations. The way that society twists what it means to be wanted, to be whole, to be desired is quite frankly disturbing. But if you can pinpoint the sources that helped you on your journey of self discovery, perhaps these same sources may be able to help someone else.
For instance, if you are having difficulty understanding what may have happened to you in the past and you’re working on healing, maybe consider watching I May Destroy You on HBO as a jumping off point to your healing. (Trigger warning for sexual assault and rape). Find other people who have been watching and insert yourself into the conversation. Seek out groups that meet for survivors. Do what you need to do to answer the touch questions that you have.
4) The most important of these tips is to teach girls and boys the language of consent and open communication when it comes to sex. Open communication is key. Without it, crossed wires will result in crossed boundaries and the goal for an enjoyable time does not include being violated in ways that were not agreed upon. Plus, states handle consent differently so it’s important to know your options when consent is not respected and be aware of how your state has handled sexual assault and rape cases in the past so that you can be prepared for your journey ahead should you be in a position that calls for this.
5) Don’t forget talking about the importance of things you should do before sex ( foreplay, for example) and after sex (examples: going to the bathroom, showering, brushing your teeth). So often, foreplay can be completely forgotten but it can heighten your sexual experience in ways you may not be able to imagine, so definitely look into what you can do to heighten this experience if that’s the kind of sexual experience you’re looking for. Again, what to do after sex is also especially important. Simple tasks such as going to the bathroom to relieve yourself after sex can save you or lower your chances of getting a UTI. These are things that should be taught in sex-ed but so many people were never taught.
Want more information? Consider reaching out to a sexologist for a consultation or reading interviews with a sexologist. A sexologist studies human sexuality and behavior and they can become sex therapists, sex educators, sex researchers, etc… Most universities offer courses on sexology. Whether you’re interested in sex on a deeper level for recreation or further learning, I highly recommend looking into taking an introductory course on sexology or speaking with a sexologist. I suggest you follow Shanboody, I love her approach and her teaching. There is no shame in becoming more in tune with human sexuality, whether you take on this study professionally or not. It’s time to stop being afraid to talk about sex.
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