September 9th, 2018 is World Sexual Health Day. Why do we need an entire day to devote to the discussion of sexual health? Because if we don’t designate one, we likely won’t talk about it. Sure, there has been a surge of people talking about consent and abuse. This is great. Now, we need to start talking about all facets of sexual health.
World Sexual Health Day is a way of bringing awareness of sexual health to people around the world.
In our culture, and many others, sex is something of a taboo subject, something discussed clinically in schools—if at all. Sex is something that is “private,” “secret,” and whispered about or laughed about behind closed doors. While sex is private, and secret, and intimate, and sometimes painfully personal, there is a major consequence to the alienation of this subject: shame and misinformation.
Sex is a part of being human.
It is a part of our humanness that often goes overlooked—or unappreciated. Sexual health is just as important as physical or mental health. Let’s tend to it.
What is Sexual Health?
Sexual health is so much more that than the physical health of your sexual organs. Instead, sexual health refers to the health of your body image and confidence in relation to your sexual organs—your genitalia and your reproductive organs.
Sexual health encompasses your mind, body, and spirit—all parts of you that are sexual.
Sexuality is an expression of our preferences. It’s our agency over our bodies and how we use our bodies to come together with another person.
Sexuality is a claiming of ourselves.
Why Talk About Sexual Health?
Sexual health is a bigger issue than the physical health of sexual organs. It tends to be a neglected part of what makes humans human. We have to talk about sexual health because if we can remove the taboo, we can start making people’s lives better around the world. We need to talk about sexual health to stop moving backwards.
Being able to normalize discussions about safety, consent, pleasure, education, and exploration we will empower kids to ask questions when they are older and feel comfortable seeking out the right information. People don’t know what they don’t know, and by neglecting these conversations, we are neglecting the empowerment of sexual expression and the positivity of pleasure and sexual exploration.
Additionally, we are denying people basic rights and education. We all have a right to protection, safety, making our own choices—being empowered to make our own choices—and basic tools for sexual and reproductive health. These tools are things as tangible as tampons, condoms, and birth control and as intangible as knowledge and ideas about sexual positivity and sexual confidence.
What Should We Be Talking About?
I do not, of course, mean to say sexual health is not discussed at all. I do not mean to imply that you specifically are someone who is not talking about sexual health. There has been an increase in people discussing these very issues. This is exactly why we need to start now. Small scale. In your homes, at the dinner table, with your friends, and in your schools. For example, we will never solve the issue of high teen and unwanted pregnancy rates if we fail to give people the education and tools to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And we may not know to give people the tools to prevent it if we make the subject in itself shameful and unapproachable.
We have to start talking about sex and sexual health. It’s plain and simple.
- Reproductive justice
- Sexual positivity
- Sexual dysfunction
We can only change things if we talk about them and give people the tools to change things. It starts with us. It starts here, in our homes and at our dinner tables. One action might not change the world, a bunch of little actions can. An entire movement can start with one idea.
Enjoying sex is not shameful. Embracing your sexuality is a human right. Being a sexual person is a part of your humanness. Let’s start talking about it.
As we come up to World Sexual Health Day, spark up a conversation. Even if only with yourself. Journal. Sit down with a glass of wine and your partner. Ask your kids if they have any questions.
Be honest. Tend to your own sexual health. Healthy mind, healthy body; healthy body, healthy mind.
What do you need to talk about most? Where do you think we should start?