Let's get real about the sex talk
In light of recent events, I've been reflecting on my personal sex education both in school and at home. While most of my sex education came from the media and my peers who always seemed to know more than I did, there are small bits I took away from health class and my parents that I want to unpack here in a more modern and approachable way.
When I was in middle school my mom came into my room with a magazine in her hand, thumb tucked halfway through to mark her page and talking point. She handed me the magazine and told me there was an article in that she would like me to read, and simply left me on my zebra print comforter to digest the words myself.
The article was about a young woman, in her 20s or 30s talking about how she had never had sex and how happy she was with her choice. I remember reading it and thinking "cool, doesn't apply to me, thanks anyway." Looking back, it did apply to me and the fact that I remember it shows that it was impactful. While I'm not here to shame anybody who decides not to have sex (a perfectly normal and okay choice) I do want to highlight that idolizing and praising a sex-free life until marriage can be harmful to young minds.
Growing up my view on sex was that it was something I shouldn't do. Whether it was church, my friends, a magazine article or my mom, that was the message I was thrown repeatedly. The angle these celibate messages always approached me with was that I would become damaged goods if I were to have sex, and that it should only be done in wedlock. And frankly that's just insanely bad advice to give to a kid who is just starting to explore their sexuality and enter a new realm of romantic encounters.
Had somebody sat me down and told me the actual tangible consequences of having sex with somebody you shouldn't, having unprotected sex, or having sex at a young age I truly believe the message would have been received better and actually helped steer me away from having sex during times (I believe) I shouldn't have been.
In my life I have had sex too young, had sex with people who didn't truly care for me and dabbled in unsafe sex. The consequences of doing this hurt me more than the looming threat of going to hell if I slept with somebody who wasn't my husband. They left me feeling hurt, confused, alone, used and kind of stupid.
Having sex with somebody is a deeply intimate and energetic experience. While I never gave myself to somebody or lost part of who I was to sex, I did become lost trying to find out where I stood with certain men and how my choice to become intimate had impacted the relationship. If we're being honest, it is hard for a lot of people to not catch some type of feelings after having sex with somebody, and if you aren't on the same page about where you stand with your partner these feelings become more and more scary.
I wish when I was younger somebody would have told me that having sex would make me feel more intense emotions than I have had before, and that when the person leaves the relationship or your life it will hurt and you may regret your choice. I wish my parents had focused more on making sure I was being intimate with people I trusted and cared for rather than telling me to completely abstain from sex until marriage... because that's just not practical.
Growing up I've had to learn how to guard my own energy and emotions by taking the time to asses people and situations. Casual sex for me only works if I am also 100% okay with meaning nothing to the other person, like I'm talking wanting nothing to do with them and not being interested in their lives. It sounds bad, but we've all been there. And sex with people I'm dating also now comes with building a deeper emotional and spiritual intimacy before heading to the bedroom.
Another big thing that I had to learn myself was the art of saying no. Since my sex education consisted of my health teacher slapping a condom on a banana while middle school boys laughed and my mom instructing me to wait until marriage I was unsure how to navigate sexual encounters. I often feel guilty when saying no and tend to sugar coat my "no" with excuses or loose phrases like "chill out." While these have worked for me, a simple "no" will and always has been a valid way to turn down sex. If we close off the ability for people to come to us with questions about sex they are left in sticky situations where they are forced to learn on site.
Young people growing up now deserve to know that their bodies and their personal self worth will never be impacted by how much or how little they are having sex. Instead we should be teaching them about the emotional repercussions of entering sexual situations that were not safe or well thought out. Let's help them develop the tools they need to discover what they need to feel empowered by sex and their partner, and how to deal with the feelings that come with having sex.
Sex isn't something that is designed to be swept under the rug and glared at. It's meant to be shared energetically and enjoyed through various stages of life, and once we start embracing that part of human sexuality we can start to see more educated choices and more open conversations around sex.