Let’s Talk about SexApril 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.