Please support however you are able, the National Bail Fund Network https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory.
“The National Bail Fund Network is made up of over sixty community bail and bond funds across the country. We regularly update this listing of community bail funds that are freeing people by paying bail/bond and are also fighting to abolish the money bail system and pretrial detention.
In addition to their day-to-day work of freeing people and upholding the presumption of innocence, we believe that bail funds can be a potentially catalytic tool in the fight to end money bail and that their connection to broader reform efforts is critical.”
What happens when you leave a health problem alone for too long? If you ignore that pain or lump or suspicious-looking mole until it becomes critical? Eventually, the doctors will have to cut out more, use harsher drugs, or be more aggressive with your treatment. This applies to your mental, emotional, and sexual health too!
If you wait until shit is falling apart the road to recovery is much, much harder!
All of you reading this are past this point for yourselves. You can’t turn back the clock to when you were a toddler, kid, tween, or teenager and learn about bodies, sexuality, and self-care in a positive and comprehensive way. You can relearn these things now. If you are reading this and raising children then you can implement these steps for them right now.
Use correct terminology when talking about body parts i.e. genitals are not “down there’s” or “cookies” or “precious bits.”
Body parts are body parts. Genitals are no different than an arm or a leg. Learn what they do. Learn how to use them. Treat them with care and respect.
Consent. Who touches your body? Why are they touching your body? When can they touch your body? No means no. Maybe means no. Drunk means no. High means no. Authority figures cannot ask for consent! Talk about power dynamics. Talk about consent. Don’t force hugs and kisses from kids to elderly relatives. Teach young males that taking what you want is wrong. Teach young males to give and ask for consent. Teach young males to respect bodies. Teach young males that sex does not make you a man. Teach young males to love themselves. Teach young males that all emotions are valid and expressing sadness, guilt, fear, etc. without resorting to anger is powerful. Be a role model!
Masturbation is healthy. No need for shame. Teach about private spaces versus public spaces.
Learning about sexuality allows for informed and respectful decisions. Having all the information before hormones start changing one’s body and creating a drive to have sex is empowering. Youth (and adults!) are then able to handle changes, make clear decisions, and not feel overwhelmed, scared, or driven to prove themselves.
You are your best lover. Respecting and loving your body is vital to someday sharing that body with others, if you so choose.
Feed your body
Read to your body
Comfort your body
Explore your body
Take your body on walks
Say nice things to your body
Celebrate your body
Tell anyone who demeans or disrespects your body to fuck off!
The middleThere is a cultural sense of freedom to becoming an adult and doing whatever or whomever you’d like. No parents hovering with their “outdated” values. No more laws prohibiting who you can have sex with based on age. Unfortunately, most 18-year-olds reach this point with little to no information on how to be responsible, health-conscious, and consenting sexual beings. Sex is like alcohol or drugs — it can feel good to use them and it feels even better when we make informed decisions about how/when/why we use them.
When I think of this sexual phase, I think of all the myths that prevent positive sexual experiences.
Myth: Sex has to result in an orgasm.
Fact: Orgasms are not the only way to experience pleasure. It is important to do away with this myth because goal-oriented sex can be frustrating for all parties and prevent the actual achievement of the goal. (Ha! How’s that for circular logic?!)
Myth: Sex is wild and untameable, there’s no time for consent.
Fact: As a responsible sexual being, there is always time for consent. We are trained not to talk about sexual behaviors so we have few examples of how to incorporate consent into a sexually charged moment. “May I kiss you?” can lead to “I want to rip your clothes off and fuck you against this door, yes?” The more you practice the better you’ll be.
Myth: It’s better/easier to go along than to communicate individual needs and desires.
Fact: This is a significant pitfall in sexual relationships. It is vital that everyone has a clear voice during sexual activities and can define what feels good and what does not. Agreeing to behaviors because you don’t have all the information or it is embarrassing is hurting your sexual experiences.
Myth: Smiling, flirting, and being nice are all secret, subtle hints that a person wants to have sex.
Fact: Smiling, flirting, and being nice are smiling, flirting, and being nice. That’s it. You do not know if someone wants to have sex unless you ask them. Flirting, especially, is a separate behavior from sexual behavior and is not a secret form of consent for sex.
Myth: Sex with multiple partners is gross/bad/slutty.
Fact: A person’s sexual preference, activities, and partners are their business and not up for judgment by others. If you are busy judging other’s sexual lives, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on your sexual life. Introspection is life-changing.
Myth: Romantic relationships have to include sex.
Fact: Dating and married folks are not automatically enrolled in the sex club of life. There is no rule beyond social/cultural norms (and they suck!) that requires sex. The people in the relationship need to communicate their desires and expectations, including what their long-term sexual lives will be. Caveat: Sexual lives evolve over time so be sure to revisit desires and expectations.
Myth: Talking about sex takes away all the fun.
Fact: This myth feels like a fact because we don’t know how to talk about sex. This is a skill we need to exercise to develop comfort and ease for talking about sex. When we talk about sex every day, make it a part of our general living, then when a problem arises we have the ability to talk about it clearly and without shame.
The endHuman bodies are fully capable of engaging in sexual behaviors as we age. The reality is that in order to meet the changing needs of our bodies we need to be able to adapt. This includes being able to clearly communicate what needs to change in sexual relationships to meet the adaption. Being horny is not just reserved for teenagers, however, contorting bodies into a pretzel shape for sex may be for younger, more bendy bodies.
The end is not really about age but about how we recognize when what we’ve been doing has to change or evolve. I don’t want you to wait until you have a problem in your sexual life to learn more or seek help. Talk to a sex coach or therapist while your sexual life is good, positive, and thriving! Let’s build skills, good habits, and create tools now so you are well armed when there’s an issue or bump in your sexual journey.
Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze. Want more? Visit www.positivesexed.com