Whether it’s with a friend, a toy or your right hand, a majority of us have had some form of sex. And after going to SEXPO this past September, I would like to say that Case Western Reserve University students are still really curious about sex.
SEXPO did an excellent job of creating a dialogue about sex positivity on campus. It embodied what sex is: fun and exciting but also awkward and kind of uncomfortable. I would like to think that sex positivity is the expulsion of the stigma around sexuality as well as the embracing of people as sexual beings, so long as it is done in a healthy and safe manner. College campuses need to be sex positive in order to keep all the students safe and prepared for any kind of sexual encounter. Being sex positive is easy. It just requires you to be somewhat knowledgeable on the topic and being genuine with yourself and those around you.
It is impossible for you to take care of your own sexual health if you lack the knowledge of how to do so. When it comes to sexual education (sex-ed), we all start college on an uneven playing field. Some of us came from high schools that had fully comprehensive sex-ed classes. However, most of us were taught from programs that were extremely biased. I vividly remember my teacher stuttering for five minutes straight while blushing beet red when I asked her about homosexuality. And besides that question, the LGBT spectrum was never mentioned again. Experiences like that, awkward talks with your parents and hasty Google searches made out of curiosity are probably why we do not have a full understanding of sex.
Our lack of education made us reduce sex into simple mechanics instead of acknowledging the intricacies and risks that come with sex. And to understand them, we need sex education to be treated like an active sport. You don’t have to know everything, but you need to do your best to research resources, health facts and more so you can help not only yourself, but the people around you.
I’ve always said that good sex is honest sex. To me I think that honesty comes in layers. First, you have to be real with yourself and get rid of any shame you may have about your sexual practices. If what you’re doing is done with consent and doesn’t pose a danger to yourself or anyone else, then there is no need to feel bad about what you’re into. Even if you are not sexually active, then by all means stick to your guns and the reasons why you are not having sex. There is no need to feel bad for your own personal choices.
Once you’re able to get past the shame, you are able to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. From a physical standpoint, the banishment of shame allows you to be honest with your body and lets you figure out what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not. Being truthful about physical sensation allows you to be truthful with your health. Planned Parenthood at SEXPO was a great resource because they helped me realize that STIs were “social diseases” and that the reason people are hesitant to get tested is because they are afraid they will be judged. There should be absolutely no stigma around getting tested. The act of caring about your own sexual health is the act of caring about your current partner’s and/or future partner’s sexual health.
Being conscious of your physical and mental well-being is not shameful at all. You need to be in tune with your emotions because your state of mind could drastically affect the way that you see your partner and even yourself. You make good sexual decisions if you’re able to give yourself a proper mental check-up. Getting feelings for someone or growing distant from a mate is all normal, but these feelings need to be communicated. In fact, every honest thing that you’ve discovered for yourself needs to be communicated with your partner. To me that is the last level of honesty and sexuality, because you should be able to take all of your feelings, tell your partner without any fear of judgment and then have them treat you accordingly. Do not forget that you also need to look out for your partner and listen to what they have to say. You both need to be honest with one another.
I’ve talked about sex positivity in terms of self-perception and also intimacy with a partner, but I can’t emphasize enough that sex positivity is for everyone. I want us to advocate for each other. With the proper education, we can take care of our friends should any situation arise. We need to start asking and answering questions for those who are too afraid to ask them themselves. College is a time for us to come into our own and form an identity. Your sexual identity should be a part of that journey. We should be allowed to explore our bodies and someone else’s without shame so long as it is done in a safe, constructive and healthy manner. Sex positivity is a continuing conversation. So remember that the way we treat and discuss sex now will help future generations down the road embrace their sexuality. I truly believe we can stop the sex stigma but it all starts with us simply talking about it.
Stephen Kolison is a fourth-year student who doesn’t know about you but he’s feeling 22.