Anonymous said: what should i do on sad days?
Take a lot of baths. Walk somewhere quickly. Don’t write tomorrow off
Today is World Sexual Health Day, a day to advocate and celebrate sexual well-being.
The World Health Organization, as well as the organizers of WSHD, the World Association for Sexual Health, define sexual health as follows:
Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.
Just yesterday I was responding to speaking requests from colleges and universities. It struck me that again and again, the requests were for “The Female Orgasm”, a program on the right to seek sexual pleasure, “Sex: Am I Normal?”, a program that advocates for showing compassion and refraining from judgement about the sexual diversity that exists among humans, and “Virgins and Sluts”, a program on why attempts to control free expression of sexuality is damaging.
What I have not gotten a request for is “Safer and Sexy”, my safe sex/condoms/STI workshop. 5 years ago, 90% of my speaking requests at colleges were for workshops on sexuality as a health hazard. Now 90% of the requests are for workshops on sexuality as a social justice issue; the right to pursue pleasure, the right to exist without sexual violence, the right to not face discrimination and cruelty because of your sexuality.
Growing up, sexuality, if ever discussed (in school, by politicians, on the news, etc) was always discussed from a one-dimensional deficit model; sexuality is a problem (it can kill you!), and sex ed aims to give you some tools to not die. Starting out as a young sexologist, I promoted a new paradigm for sexuality education; sex should be fun, pleasure is good for you, free expression of one’s sexuality is a vital part of being human, and everyone has the right to enjoy their sexuality without fear of violence.
My idea was that preventing disease was about 1% of what it meant to me to be a sexual person, but the rest got ignored with the deficit model of sex education. Sexuality is a complex interaction of the body, mind, and social domains that change and evolve throughout the life cycle. It’s not all bad; some of the best physical joys the body can experience and emotional highs are related to sex. It’s not all good either; there has been so much suffering and exploitation tied in with sexuality. It’s just… human, and I believe should be acknowledged and celebrated as such.
The fact that there is now such a thing as World Sexual Health Day, and that it acknowledges “sexual health” as so much deeper than just disease prevention, and the fact that I’m getting asked to speak on sexual pleasure and justice instead of gonorrhea, leaves me optimistic that that paradigm shift from sex education = disease prevention education to sex education = social justice education is actually happening. It’s not happening on its own, of course. A lot of people worked really hard for a really hard time for these changes to begin to be felt. But it’s happening, and that is something to celebrate on World Sexual Health Day.