I often post things on social media that people find too explicit or too sexual. Poems, articles, what have you. I talk about these things for a very specific reason: I wish someone had talked about them when I was young, or in my 20s, or in my early 30s.
When I grew up, nobody talked about sex. At least nobody I knew. Not family, not friends, not teachers, not religious leaders. Sure, as teens there were sometimes short conversations about things we didn’t really understand, and most of us were experimenting in our early teens. But other than “don’t have sex or you’ll get an STD or AIDS and die, or you’ll have a baby” there was almost no useful discussion at any level about sex.
Because of that, I never had any idea what it was I wanted from my sex life. To me sex was mystical and often scary. That sounds ridiculous to me now, but it sure didn’t for most of my childhood and adulthood. And it harmed me greatly, and led to relationships I should never have entered.
Now I live in a college town where there’s a new sexual assault every week. I don’t think our national reluctance to talk about sex is the only cause, of course, but I sure do think things would be better if we took sex out of the realm of a conquest, or a prize to be won, and moved it to the level of a normal part of human interaction. We should teach young men about their bodies and about women and about how to express sexuality, and about non-heteronormative ideas of sexuality, too. (We should also teach them not to rape women.) We should teach young women the same thing, and also not teach them that if they dress or act a certain way they have it coming.
Sex can be fun and funny and romantic and beautiful. It doesn’t have to be all those things all the time. Most importantly, it should be consensual and informed. People should decide to have sex — or not — based on actually knowing what the hell they’re talking about, and what their options are. Maybe then we could start to dismantle our rape culture and our Puritan notions of sexuality and move to a place of mutual respect and pleasure.
Anyway, I’m going to keep talking about sex. And as always, nobody has to read any of it if they don’t want to.