This post comes with a disclaimer right up top. You guys, I’m about to talk about the horizontal tango, and that might be a bit much for some people. I will say though, that if you have to call sex something super cutesy, like, say, the horizontal tango, to talk about it, then maybe go ahead and keep reading. This isn’t going to be a graphic post, but it is going to be an honest and frank post. It has its roots in my feelings about the response to a certain movie that just came out, but it isn’t about that movie. It’s about you. It’s also about me. Lettuce commence! (Ha! Lettuce instead of let us. JOKES!)
We’re going to start with a little background. First, our country: The good ol’ USofA was taught sex ed primarily by the puritans. Second, me: I was taught sex ed primarily by my mom. She’s a labor and delivery nurse. But I was also educated by the church. Flavor? Nazarene. These things are super important to the way I view sexuality, and that first part is probably important to the way you do too. I’m going to say up front that nothing in this post is a judgement on my upbringing. You might say that, but you would be wrong, because I’m super well adjusted. My mom took a pretty clinical approach to the talk. I remember there being a book, and basically it boiled down to anatomy: penis, vagina, uterus, baby. Which is great! It’s good to know how babies are made. I had friends who at the age of 18 did not know where babies came from. That is not so good.
(And, no, penis is not a graphic word. Okay, lady on the playground who reamed me when my son said he hurt his? No, I will not make him use the word “weewee”. Yeesh)
My church took a different approach to teaching us about our changing bodies. Basically, girls were told that boys were going to want us, and it was our responsibility to stop them from wanting us. If they had lustful thoughts, that was our problem, and we should put on another sweatshirt. I’m not sure what boys were told, not being a boy myself, but I’m assuming it was basically the reverse of what we were taught. They certainly weren’t told to put on more clothes. Holy crap were there a lot of shirtless boys in the summertime at church camp!
(True story, I got into an argument with a boy at youth group once about whether or not I was “visually stimulated” by his bare chest. He insisted that was impossible because girls “weren’t visual” when it came to sex and, therefore, I was lying if I said his shirtless body made me think dirty thoughts. However, my tank top was a problem and I should cover it up with a t-shirt. That guy was dumb.)
I walked away from my preteen years understanding the basics about sex. I had a lot of friends who were not so lucky. I can remember vividly sitting in church (yep, church) and listening to one girl talk about how another girl wasn’t a virgin anymore and, “Doesn’t she get that she could get pregnant?! Even if it was just his finger.” I innocently asked if she was asking if that girl knew she could get pregnant from her boyfriend touching her with his hand. She said yes. I didn’t fill her in on how people get pregnant. We were in church for goodness sake! But those girls continued to talk about the other girl. They called her a slut. They called her a whore. They said she was going to hell. It was pretty brutal. The girl in question didn’t really come around much after that. They also talked about how amazing they were for not being like that girl. Which, is kind of ironic church wise. Because gossip and pride? Also sins. As we got older, that kind of shaming got worse. Girls were cut out of the church social circle for having sex, or for having been perceived to be having sex. They were called names and shunned. Sex was the worst thing you could do. It wasn’t a positive place to ask questions, so we didn’t. I knew a lot of girls who left high school pregnant or with STIs. Which is sad because those situations could have easily been prevented with a little more healthy dialogue.
Inside my home, we didn’t really talk about sex outside of the general idea. Sex equaled babies. Don’t have sex until you’re married. Inside my church, we didn’t talk about sex as anything but shameful. It was bad. It was wrong. It was the worst thing you could do. Until one got married of course, then it was fine. Kind of. I didn’t find a truly sex positive community until I was much older, and I so wish I had found one sooner.
Two anecdotes: I have a friend who ended up divorced because after she got married, she couldn’t force herself to have sex with her husband. She’d spent a lifetime being told it was wrong by those in her church community and her parents, and when it came down to it, she couldn’t sleep with the man she was married to without feeling intensely guilty to the point of illness. She got therapy, but it didn’t save her marriage. On a similar church/sex/marriage note, when I got married I went through pre-marital counseling. In one of our sessions, the pastor and his wife talked to my fiance and I about sex. They informed us that there would be times I wouldn’t want sex, but my soon to be husband would. I was going to have to bite the bullet and make myself want it, because saying no wasn’t an option. Honest to goodness, I went straight home and told my mom how sorry I felt for that woman. Seriously. (Real quick, and this is important – You can say no, you guys. You can ALWAYS say no. Even to your husband or wife.)
You may be wondering if I have a point hidden in here, and I do! Ready for it? With a more positive view of sex, our lives would be better. We would be healthier, and we would raise healthier kids. It’s pretty simple. And here’s the tie in to current events: If we were, in general, more sex positive, we would be less likely to throw ourselves at cultural phenomenons like 50 Shades of Grey, because they wouldn’t be taboo, and therefore, we wouldn’t be as intrigued. There wouldn’t be a reason to buy a book or wonder about it in secret, because we would feel okay being open and honest with our questions. Foreign concepts presented in an unhealthy light wouldn’t be as appealing, because we would know where to go looking for honest, educational materials. This isn’t a super sensational idea. It might be here, but it isn’t in many other places. In countries with compulsory sex ed programs built into schools, sex crimes are lower, teen pregnancy rates are lower, and unwanted pregnancies are much less common (which ultimately means abortion rates go down). We have nobody to blame but ourselves for things like 50 Shades. It isn’t Hollywood’s fault. It isn’t the fault of the left. It’s the fault of those who stifle sexuality. Those who say, “This is taboo; this is something you should be ashamed of; we don’t talk about this.”
Creating unhealthy views about sexuality in our communities is not helping anyone. It doesn’t stop kids from having sex. It does, however, decrease the safety of the sex that young people are having. Believe me, people have sex outside of marriage. I didn’t really realize how true this was when I was younger, until I got pregnant before I said “I do”. It was like I opened up to take confession. Adults much older than me, as well as my peers, started talking to me about their lives, and about their sexual experiences outside of wedlock. It. Was. Great. Why great? Because suddenly I didn’t feel alone or wrong, and I had people to talk to. I wasn’t the only imperfect person in a sea of perfection, I was normal, and lovable, and human! Most importantly, I didn’t feel irredeemable or used up like I had been told I would. I just felt like me.
(Okay, I realize I said I wasn’t going to get graphic, but I could see how some people would call this next paragraph graphic. Feel free to skip it.)
Look, our sexuality is pretty fantastic. We could just as easily lay eggs in a creek bed and hope they were fertilized by a random, passing male, but we don’t! You have to admit, sex is a better idea than spawning for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons is that our sexuality gives us a significant advantage. We get to pick people to procreate with. We get to decide who we want to father or mother our children. However, beyond that, we get to enjoy the experience. If we weren’t supposed to enjoy it, I’m convinced we would have different bits. We would have different sensations. We would lay eggs.
This is something that, as a country, we need to change. We need to talk about sex in a positive light! It isn’t naughty. It isn’t dirty. It is beautiful. When we finally decide to change our attitude about sex as a culture, I firmly believe we will be better off. When you take the mystery out of a subject, you take away the need for secrecy and taboo. Those two things right there are incredibly damaging to developing sexuality. They are also damaging to adults who feel too ashamed to be open with their questions and desires and feel they need to hide them from their partner. Look, you guys, I am twenty-nine years old, but even I can tell you that communication and honesty are key to a healthy relationship, and this includes a healthy sex life. Stop being ashamed of who you are, and start living out loud. Stop hiding behind years of puritan moral constructs, and start preaching a sex positive lifestyle. Why? Because it’s better for you. It’s better for me. For serious. It’s better for everyone.
Here’s a great link to some interesting info on sexuality in other countries: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/419-adolescent-sexual-health-in-europe-and-the-us
Here’s a link to a comic about sexuality. It’s not going to be for everyone, and it’s NSFW, but it is educational without being scary. http://www.ohjoysextoy.com/new-readers/