Now a’days, sex is a lot less taboo than it used to be, but a lot of work needs to be done before everyone is comfortable talking about sex. Ella Dawson is a 23-year-old living with herpes simplex virus type 1, or genital herpes in Ella’s case. She is an amazing woman for feeling comfortable enough to share her story with the whole world and to be a supportive person to so many people she will never know. Before you delve deep into my sex positivity post, I suggest you read this story on Ella, as I will be referencing her article a lot.
Across college campuses, STD’s are raging, mostly going unnoticed. They also aren’t the easiest things to talk about. Who honestly wants to call their ex hook-up and explain to them that you have an STD? No one.
Ella is taking such an awesome approach to having herpes simplex virus type 1. Even though she talks about how hard it can be to be open with ex-partners, it’s the right thing to do. The fact that she has such an outpouring of support from her friends and takes her experiences to make videos that show other people that they aren’t alone is awesome.
This isn’t to say that everyone will have such a positive experience being open about contracting an STD, a lot of this is very situational and all about the privilege you have. None the less, if you have the ability to be open, sometimes that vulnerability will create a system of support stronger than you could ever imagine.
One thing that I love that Ella brings up is that she initially thought about how she felt like she was being punished for doing something morally wrong. Then when she discovered that herpes is actually very common, it made her realize that she wasn’t a bad person.
The idea that having an STD is a punishment for having sex is one stigma that bothers me, and I think some of the reasons why people aren’t more open about their sexual history. There is so much judgement behind having more than a few sexual partners, and even more judgement if you have contracted an STD.
Having sex is your decision, no one else’s. It is your body and you should be able to do whatever the hell you want with it. If there are people that are judging you for having more than a couple partners, they can sit down and shut up. It’s none of their business to know how many partners you’ve had, and even if that number is high, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
The other thing that bothers me is when people assume that just because you have an STD, you are unsafe. As Ella talks about in her article, she was safe and only had protected sex. With herpes, there is no full-proof way to prevent yourself from getting it besides just not having some kind of sexual contact ever.
I think Ella is definitely brave to put videos of herself and blog about her experiences living with herpes, and she drives home the feelings I have about sex and sex positivity.
It is important to own your body and use it how you want. If you want to have sex, go for it as long as you’re being safe! If you don’t want to have sex, don’t, but don’t judge someone else for their decisions.