Welcome to Positively Sex Ed! (an introductory post)

Welcome to Positively Sex Ed! This is a sexual health education blog that focuses not only on the nitty gritty of sexual health (how can we be healthy sexual beings?), but also on the philosophical (how can we be happy sexual beings?). It touches on the concrete (what are STIs and how do people get them?) and on the less tangible (how do I talk to my partner(s) about Sexually Transmitted Infections?). It reiterates and expands upon run-of-the-mill sexual health topics (what are reproductive organs and how do they work?) and the marginalized, often-ignored topics (what are sex toys and how do I use/get them?) This is a place for hard questions and open, truthful, sometimes frustratingly incomplete answers, for insecurities and vulnerabilities, for shared knowledge and teamwork. It is my hope that this space will eventually become an encyclopedia of sorts for the sexually-interested individual, for the people who are tired of the standard high-school sexual education curriculum (or the lack thereof), for the people who know that sex ed must be more than information about body parts and reproduction. There is no judgment here – just the best information that I, with the help of my sexually-aware social network, can provide. This space is what you make of it – this is Positively Sex Ed.

Why Sexual Health Education?

I believe that our sexual education system is deeply flawed. I read a lot about sex – about sex educators and sexual health classes and sexual health statistics – and there are very few examples of comprehensive, successful, and useful sexual education classes for young people in the United States (for one of the good examples, see this 2011 article in the New York Times). It is clear to me that young adults are not learning nearly enough in their sex ed classes. Human sexuality is a wonderfully varied beast – there is no single “correct” way to be sexual or to have sex – and yet the majority of sex ed classes in America teach exactly the opposite. In these classes, students learn about a human sexuality that is heterosexual, cisgender, and monogamous, and also implicitly white, upper-to-middle-class, able-bodied, and vanilla. These classes are as “safe” as a class that mentions sex can be, because they do not question societal norms, do not encourage the students to explore their own unique sexualities, and, most importantly, do not examine how the facets of someone’s personal identity and experiences might change or complicate their sexual experience. In short, the United States’ sexual health education system does not equip young people with the tools they need to be healthy, happy sexual beings. The way I see it, my job is to explore the uncomfortable questions that the average sex ed class overlooks. I want to provide young people with the tools they currently lack.

How This Blog Works

If I could have it my way, I would work on this blog 24/7. Sexual health is my passion, and I would love nothing more than to read and write about sex all day. Unfortunately, this is not an economic reality at the moment.

Here is my promise: I promise to produce an excellent product; to make this the most thorough, well-researched blog that I possibly can. I promise to write comprehensively about each subject in language that people can understand. I promise to tackle non-normative, difficult subjects, to take risks, to write about things people actually want to learn. Here is my hope: I hope to update this blog at a minimum once every two weeks. Each post will consist of an extensive entry on a sexual health topic. These topics will initially be of my choosing, but I hope that, as people read this blog, they will suggest topics that they wish to learn about. I will accept suggestions in the comments section, or in personal emails. In addition to maintaining this blog, I want to answer reader questions by email. I hope to answer each email I receive, to the best of my ability.

With that said, here are the topics I hope to tackle in the following weeks (not necessarily in this order):

  1. Human anatomy – penises and vaginas, innies and outies, and how bodies are different and the same
  2. Gender (and, by relation, sex) – what it is, how we think about it, and what society tells us to think
  3. Sexuality – how many different sexualities are there; how many can a person be?
  4. What is Sex? – do we even have a definition?
  5. All Kinds of Love – monogamy, polyamory, polyandry, polygamy, and so much more!
  6. Consent – what is it, how do we get it, and how do we know that we’ve gotten it?
  7. Systems of Oppression (and how they influence our sex lives)
  8. Sex and Physical Disabilities
  9. Sex and Mental Health
  10. Desires, Fears, and Communication
  11. What the Fuck is an Orgasm and How Do I Have One?
  12. Protection – So many forms of contraception, and so many forms of STIs

A Word on Sex Positivity

Positively Sex Ed, as its name suggests, is a sex-positive space. It is important to acknowledge that sex positivity is often misunderstood as the simple idea that people should be happy about having sex – that we should all claim our status as sexual beings and have awesome, mind-blowing sex and never feel ashamed about sex again. But this definition is too simplistic, and, as Kelly Rose Pflug-Back pointed out in the Huffington Post in 2013, problematic. Plug-Back writes, “…the face of popular, ‘sex-positive’ feminism…still seems to be a movement geared towards middle-class, mostly white, liberal, cis-women for whom liberation may indeed be a simple matter of achieving greater sexual satisfaction, ending the culture of slut-shaming, and re-appropriating femme aesthetics. For people who face more obstacles in the path towards reclaiming and realizing their sexuality, this sort of uncompromisingly positive and monolithic view of sex can come off as anywhere from frivolous to brutally alienating.”

I cannot stress this enough: This is not my definition of sex positivity. By saying that Positively Sex Ed is a sex-positive space, I want to communicate that there should be no shame here – no shame in the desire to talk about and have sex, and also no shame in having negative sexual experiences, being confused about sex, or not wanting to have sex. To me, sex positivity means embracing all expressions and experiences of sexuality and recognizing that not all sexual experiences are positive – but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t talk about them. This is simply a safe space for people to talk about and learn about sex without anyone passing judgment. I believe that everyone has a right to be informed about their bodies and sexualities, so that they can have the tools to make responsible, informed decisions when and if they decide to have sex.

Last Words

As I am trying to make this blog as inclusive as possible, it is also important to recognize where I come from in this conversation. I am a woman in my mid-twenties. I grew up with class privilege and received an excellent education. I am not overweight and thus experience thin privilege. I am mixed-race, but I often receive white privilege. I identify as heterosexual and cisgender and I am able-bodied.

My identity – my cisness, heterosexuality, race, gender, class, age and body – inform my understanding of sex and sexuality. I cannot change that. But I also know that my understanding of sex and sexuality does not apply to everyone. On this blog, I will not assume that my sexuality, or that of anyone else, is the norm. I will avoid normative language. I will use gender neutral language. I will include perspectives from as many different identities as I can.

But please understand: I am learning too. I will make mistakes. And when I do – please let me know. Hold me responsible for my mistakes, and I will change. This blog is meant to be an educational space for everyone, myself included.

And there you have it – the introduction to this blog. Check back in a week to see if I’ve updated! I promise at least a few fun pictures, along with some words.

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