Let’s Talk about Sex

April 30, 2012

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. A few weeks ago, Holly Kearl suggested some ideas on how you can be involved in raising awareness about sexual assault and violence.

Before this month ends, I want to discuss another important issue — healthy sexuality. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, which organizes the month of awareness, chose this topic as the 2012 theme.

Why is this topic important? Because healthy sexuality is about equality. It’s about consenting adults making decisions about how they want to express themselves. It empowers women and men to make their own decisions about their sex lives. Talking about healthy sexuality can also teach the difference between healthy and unhealthy behavior — between coercion and choice.

We all have the right not only to be free from sexual violence but also to express our sexuality as we choose. For some, this may be abstinence. However, when others make different choices, having inclusive health information is important. This is one of the reasons that AAUW advocates for comprehensive sexual health education in schools. In so-called “abstinence-only” programs, there is often misleading information, and the participants are more likely to end up engaging in riskier behavior when they don’t have all the information they need.

Healthy sexuality is about much more than sex. It is, according to NSVRC, “having the individual knowledge and sense of empowerment to express sexuality in ways that contribute positively to self-esteem and relationships with other people.”

That’s something we should all be talking about.

By:   |   April 30, 2012

2 Comments

  1. Vivian says:

    I am so glad to see the topic of healthy sexuality addressed as it relates to sexual harassment. “We all have the right not only to be free from sexual violence but also to express our sexuality as we choose.” One terrible form of sexual harassment is being forced to express your sexuality in a particular manner. Expressing can simply mean you don’t actually wish to share with people you don’t know well. But far too often I’ve seen women labeled as ‘cold fish’ around an office because they don’t accept advances or openly discuss their sex lives and this can affect them promotion wise, salary wise, etc.. In my case, I was severely harassed in school to the point of being called incompetent. I chose not to discuss my perfectly healthy sexuality in class (in classes that had nothing to do with sexuality) because I felt it was not appropriate, invasive and unrelated to the class. I was bullied, my grades were affected, and my life after school was affected because I was considered too incompetent in my field (a field in which I excelled) to receive job placement assistance from my school. All this because I was not considered sexually open enough and was labeled as needing “assistance” in “discovering” myself. My comment may be in a slightly different light than the author was addressing, but we should definitely all feel safe to express our sexuality as we choose, and I choose to only express it with my loving significant other.

  2. Amy says:

    If you’re interested in doing more to help survivors of sexual violence, RAINN is a great organization doing great work. I’ve been working as an Online Hotline volunteer for about a year, and each and every week, I’m amazed at the strength of survivors. You can get more information, make a donation or sign up to become a volunteer at http://www.rainn.org. :)

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