That's right, I said it - sex. It never ceases to amaze me how many people cringe when you say it out loud. As a former Pure Romance consultant, I am all to familiar with the side eye. Because, let's face it, good girls don't talk about sex, right? Wrong.
Our culture is steeped with taboos and myths surrounding sex and sexuality, and one of the most prevalent is that good girls and boys don't talk about sex (and if you're a woman, don't think about it either). My experience growing up is somewhat regionally colored growing up smack in the middle of the Kansas Bible Belt, but I've heard this misguided ideology spouted by women from coast to coast.
Look no further than the age old wedding night adage attributed to Queen Victoria, "Lie still and think of England." This idea has permeated our culture for decades and caused untold damage to the psyche of women everywhere. From schools who teach abstinence only to religious institutions that advocate puritanical chastity, there is a tangible current of anti-sex rhetoric. You can practice whatever fulfills you spiritually, but hindering open communication about sex and sexuality isn't doing anyone any favors.
Talking about sex doesn't cause people to have intercourse with reckless abandon. It doesn't cause un-planned pregnancy, or STIs, or assault. Talking about sex encourages people to open the lines of communication with their doctors, therapists, partners, and families. Being sex positive means accepting sex and sexuality as a normal, healthy, and good part of life and it is something we should all embrace.
I once had a very angry woman practically spit at me (while giving side eye), "I suppose you just think that we should just start showing kids adult movies and let everyone have sex with everyone all willy, nilly like a bunch of heathens." First of all, kudos on the use of the word "heathens", and second of all having open communication about sex and sexuality doesn't mean that the world devolves into chaos (see previous paragraph) - quite the opposite actually.
Open questions have opportunity for informed answers. I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, my parents didn't talk to me about sex, at all, because good girls don't talk about sex and so, I got my answers wherever I could find them - mostly other kids my age. When we give people permission to talk about and explore sex and sexuality, we open the door for healthy discussion. We can talk about it holistically as a natural part of overall health and well being and share answers for not only the "mechanical" questions but also the emotional, social, and spiritual ones as well.
Let's teach our children that sex and sexual health aren't dirty words. That they can come to us with their questions. That they shouldn't be ashamed to talk to their doctors about sexual health issues. That they should feel comfortable talking to their future partners. Informed consent is huge.
What if, instead of perpetuating the stereotype that good girls are timid and demure and boys are aggressive and hyper-sexual, we just normalized enthusiastic consent and open communication? Sex is supposed to be fun. If both partners are anything less than enthusiastic, then it's time to stop. If both partners aren't ready to discuss safety and preferences and individual needs, then it's time to stop. Our kids need to know that being heard, understood, and respected also extends to sex and sexuality.
When we normalize sex and sexuality, we remove the shame and stigma. Imagine if gonorrhea or syphilis were treated with the same regard as strep throat or pink eye - so many more would come forward for treatment sooner. Imagine if sexual assault survivors could come forward without fear of judgement or persecution - so many more voices would be rightfully acknowledged and vindicated. Imagine if people were free to explore gender identity without fear of discrimination - so many more would fine their personal truth and feel whole.
We're making so much progress as society, but we still have a long way to go. Embrace being sex positive by opening the lines of communication with your doctors, with your therapists, with your partners, and with your families because, good girls do talk about sex.
I'm a blogger and educator breaking through stigmas and helping women find their voice.