Over 60 students sat in a lecture hall in complete silence. A fog of discomfort and tension slowly suffocated the room. Everyone bowed down their head in an attempt to avoid eye contact, their tense body’s statuesquely frozen to their chairs. I skimmed the room in hopes of finding one at ease face. Instead, I was witness to shallow breathing and silent pleas of anxiousness from a bunch of 20-something-year olds across the room. The lecture was covering one of the most avoided topics; sexuality and sex…I couldn’t help but wonder, if sex is a normal part of human life then why is it so awkward to talk about?
Sex is everywhere! It is interwoven in all aspects of our culture. It is reflected in magazines, TV advertisements, music, fashion, art, TV shows and movies. You’d think a society that is constantly exposed to sex would be capable to openly and comfortably address the topic. Oddly, this is far from true.
There seems to be a certain stigma that makes the subject of sex extremely difficult to talk about. Sex is a sensitive and awkward topic that seems to usually be accompanied with feelings of embarrassment, shame or inadequacy.
Growing up no one ever really explained to my peers and me, sex or sexuality. Fully Alive,
in my day, gently skimmed through the different reproductive organs and ended as soon as snickers and giggles filled the room. Sex Ed in high school was merely a quick tutorial on how to put a condom on a banana. The notion of sex seemed to have negative undertones. Actually, it was similar to the sex ed talk in Mean Girls; “Don’t have sex because you will get and pregnant and die.” Outside of school my parents rarely addressed the topic of sex. Like most parents, it was a topic they thought was suited best for when I was more mature …or married…
Given all the negative messages most of us received from a young age, it should not come of a surprise as to why the topic is so difficult to discuss. The lack of sex education means majority of us don’t even have the relatively basic information. It seems sex is just not an appropriate topic of discussion in our society. As facts state, the less we address certain subjects the more ignorant we are when it comes to them. Sex is a vital part of our relationships so as a society we should be able to talk about it openly.
However, open sexual communication makes us take a step out of our comfort zones. Talking to our intimate partners about sex takes a degree of risk. We become vulnerable to criticism, judgment and sometimes rejection. It’s intimidating to reveal your sexual wants or desires. It’s even harder to talk about sex if your partner is uncomfortable entertaining the topic. This calls on feelings of humiliation or shame, or worst the fear of hurting ones feelings.
I’ve had a couple of friends, both male and female, turn to me worrying that their discomfort regarding the topic was really dawning on their relationships. If you think you’re one who finds talking about sex difficult, you’re not alone. In fact, there was a lecture hall of over 60 students who could not, for the life of them, mutter a word associated with the subject.
It seems growing up we’re just expected to know everything about sexuality and sex miraculously overnight. It seems no one wants to address the issue because as humans we are expected to instinctively know all about it, which in reality is not true. From a young age we are taught different basic human tasks and social norms. However, if sex is a natural part of human interaction, how are we expected to just wake up one day and know all about it? In reality sex ed is crucial knowledge that we all lack, and sex is a subject we should feel comfortable discussing within our relationships.
Sex is an important part of a relationship. Yet, I find not many couples are open with each other when it comes to the topic. Sex being an intimate act leaves people feeling vulnerable and uneasy. The fear of not preforming well, rejection, body insecurities or anxiety expressing certain sexual desires makes it hard to communicate freely. Ultimately, this only puts a damper on our relationships.
The only way to be comfortable with ourselves, our bodies, our relationships, our partners is to talk about sex. We need to educate ourselves. If sex is deemed normal then we need to stop acting so awkward whenever the subject springs up(no sexual pun intended). As a society we need to stop being so discreet about sexual education. We should be able to address sexuality, genders, female/male anatomy, sex positions, techniques etc. more comfortably.
When it comes to intimacy we need to be more open with our other half. Sex is important, it sparks the relationship, adds desire, can add confidence and bring a level of closeness between two people.
There was a TED talk presented during my lecture by sex educator Debby Herbenick titled Make Sex Normal. Her definition of normal incorporates making gender, sex, bodies etc a ordinary part of everyday conversation. She emphasizes the idea that the more comfortable society is talking about sex, the more in tuned each individual will be with their sexuality, likes and dislikes. Thus, the more capable people will be to address the topic in their intimate relationships.
We claim sex is a normal part of human life. Yet, many of us don’t know how to address the topic with our parents, friends, physicians and partners. Its only evitable that our inability to communicate can cause our relationships and health to suffer because we are not forwarding vital information to the right people. That’s why it’s so important to be able to talk about sex like it’s no big deal ..