By Tyler Vining
SEX! S-E-X! Sex. It’s an action many of us take throughout our lives in all of its beauty, consent, and pleasure. Some of us consider it to be a taboo, hush-hush item not to be discussed in public, with certain people, or at all. Some of us speak of it openly and liberally with little regard of social mores.
Most of us fall in between and take different positions throughout our lives. In some places — California and other liberal states — sex is an open topic and there has been a liberalization of sexual education where students learn about safe-sex options, emotions we have before, during, and after sex, and even sex between same-sex couples.
Georgia does not exist in that alternate dimension. We live and discuss our fairly conservative lives while we sip our sweet tea with our pinkies raised. We only discuss sex in certain spaces and if we do so outside of those small circles, there’s an elderly person there to clutch their pearls and exclaim, “I do declare! Enough of that!” (This happens – I swear!) The point I’m thrusting forward is that sex is taboo and demonized and it shouldn’t be.
If you personally object to sex or certain sexual practices because of your religion, your asexuality, or just your preference not to — that’s completely fine and you are well within your right to do so. To vilify sex and those who have it, however, is not okay. We simply are not the puritans that our predecessors were (or weren’t — we see you, Ben Franklin), and we simply cannot and must not deny ourselves the opportunity to discuss this.
We have sex for multiple reasons: it’s pleasurable, we want to grow closer with our partner, we want to have children, or all of the above. Most of us have never had sex because Satan told us so or that we wanted to tear at the fabric of society. When we watch “Game of Thrones” or anything on late night TV we see a lot of it, much to the dismay of a wide array of people. So why is it still taboo? Why do we shame people (mostly women and LGBT folks) for having it? Slut, whore, ho, harlot, thirsty, and tramp are all words we use to describe people — mainly women — who have “too much” sex because let’s be honest, the same standards aren’t applied to women and men. If women enjoy something, there must be evil afoot!
Sex between same-sex couples is also unfortunately demonized. As soon as I came out as gay I was warned of the dangers of HIV/AIDS, I was labelled as “promiscuous,” and a scarlet ‘A’ was pinned to my chest. This never happened when I was having sex with women, even though opposite-gender couples face a risk of HIV and men can be “promiscuous” as well.
Even the word “promiscuity” exists for those who have “too much” sex, but no word exists for someone who eats too many hot wings. I’m certain hot wings pose more of threat to my actual health than sex does. Are we really critiquing people for having too much sex? “You got us! We enjoy doing it! Gasp!” In the secular society that the United States is supposed to be, sex shouldn’t be a controversial issue. Educating our kids about safe sex shouldn’t be a debate topic.
Talking to your kids about sex shouldn’t awkward and/or fear-inducing. It can be as simple as P TÉ — “Please wear protection. Always have consent. Talk to your partner. Enjoy yourself.” Sex isn’t the demon under the sheets; our society’s standards are. When we refuse to educate students in school and teach abstinence instead, teenage pregnancy rates rise.
Honesty should be the best policy. Down the road at Dacula High School, we were taught about the dangers of sex such as STDs, unintended pregnancy, and heartbreak. Safe sex was touched upon, but at the end of the day, abstinence was taught as the end-all, be-all solution and we even had a guest speaker to tell the guys not to masturbate because it wouldn’t be right to give into our urges. Thanks but no thanks.
Wouldn’t it have been easier to teach us correctly and honestly? Teach boys about consent. Teach girls that it’s okay to have and enjoy sex if they want to and put an end to slut-shaming. Let’s stop pretending that they’re not having it. This problem persists in college and beyond. I had a professor who couldn’t say “vagina” in an academic setting.
There are students who giggle when you say “penis,” “vagina,” or “clitoris” as if they weren’t the very organs on their bodies. I’m not advocating for students to spill the details about their hookup last night in the middle of class, but if we can’t have a frank conversation about the realities of sexual activity and our bodies then where are we at as a society?
Perhaps if we moved a tad further in society then I wouldn’t have friends tell me their biological parents never had sex because they were too pure. Or that lesbians couldn’t have sex because neither of them have a penis. Or ask me what a clitoris is.
Can we just be frank about our body parts? Can we have an honest conversation about sex and not include slut-shaming? Can we get to that point at least? No? Okay then. Let’s just achieve a brazen and educative dialogue about sex. Let’s reduce the misconceptions that lead to STDs, unintended pregnancy, sexual violence because doing otherwise is a disservice to our children, to ourselves, and to society.