Let’s all close our eyes and take ourselves back to the 5thgrade. It’s time for that sex-education health class everyone has been talking about for weeks. Some of your friends are not going because their parents “are not comfortable” with them learning about sex just yet even though every song on their childs’ Ipod Nano surely makes a reference to it. One thing I will never understand is how they separate boys and girls to learn about sex even though in heterosexual relationships, that is literally who you will be sexually active with so why not learn together. I could go on, but I want to address the issue at hand.
What is the stigma around talking about sex, STD’S/STI’S and sexual health and why? I’ll first start with that society and schools have shaped us from a young age to be apprehensive to talking about sex, and that these institutions have also stigmatized the act of sex itself and sexual health! My health teacher said something I will always remember, “When a man and woman want to have a baby…”. Um, no. Sex is not only for reproduction and I honestly cannot believe it came out of his mouth, yet here we are. Sex is for pleasure too and never let anyone tell you differently. I think I can speak for most people my age when I say a lot of us were raised to not talk about sex because ‘sex’ is a dirty word. when in reality sex is honestly a really beautiful thing for more than one reason. The most common reasons for this stigmatization in my opinion stems from religion in a household, parent’s customs from how they were raised, and schools.
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I can personally attest that my elementary school made me feel strange about it, and they created my ideas about STD’S/STI’S. They use sex as a weapon in the form of saying if you decide to have “x” amount of sex you will get one of these infections and they honestly make it seem like the end of the world and that you are dirty for having enough sex to contract one. In reality, it is not about the amount of sex you have, it only takes one person. What’s more so, I think my school focused more on scaring us and telling us sex is sacred rather than educating us properly. I have talked to girls who are ashamed to go get STD/STI tested because they fear someone will see them, I have talked to girls who are scared to have sex because “having sex out of wedlock” is immoral! Who even came up with that? I think a big part in normalizing talking about sex is normalizing good sexual health practices, including women not having to hide a box of condoms they want to buy for fear of nothing more than a generalization and stigmatization.
The fact of the matter is we have been nurtured to think of sex and STD’S/STI’S in a certain way rather than just forming on our own practices of how we want to think or talk about it/them. The sex revolution is alive and thriving, so let’s hope we get rid of all these older generations opinions. While STD’S/STI’S are obviously something to be conscious about regardless of your sexuality, they are so much more common than we are taught, and that person shaming you for having one and/or going to get checked has most likely had one. To further that point, we need to normalize women talking about sex specifically, because sometimes we are afraid to for fear of slut-shaming. We all have sex, and frankly, someone else’s sex life isn’t yours to judge.
James Madison University’s Health Center provides information about sexual health, safe sexual practices, and resources for STD/STI testing at an affordable price for students. Visit The University Health Center website for more information.
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