Take a breath and do better

by DGO Staff

Alright, listen up folkx, it is possible to interact with other people and be respectful about it. I’ve been stewing for months about shitty situations that I’ve been reading or hearing about, and I understand that what is obvious to me may not be obvious to others. The common sense of “Don’t be an asshole” can be hard when faced with a situation that is so flummoxing a head might pop off. Take a deep breath and do better. Mother
Nature is giving us enough of a spanking that we don’t need to beat each other up as well.

Scenario 1: A sexual encounter where one of the participants gets mad about using protective contraception.

Let’s break this down:

– Any person, at any time, during a sexual interaction, can ask for the use of a condom, female condom, dental dam, gloves, cervical cap, diaphragm, spermicide etc., etc., etc.

– When asked to participate in using protection, the only appropriate response is either, “Yes, thank you!” or “No thanks. I will leave to go pleasure myself, all by myself, now.”

– Yelling, manipulation, sweettalking, shaming, promises of cleanliness, anger, and so on are all wrong ways to act in this situation.

– Forcing, physically or through emotional manipulation, sexual behaviors after anyone says no is sexual assault and makes you an asshole and a criminal.

– If partners can’t agree on protective measures, sex is shelved until an agreement is reached.

– Of course, there are gray areas and less harsh suggestions than what I have laid out above. However, I’m talking about adults in these scenarios, and I hold adults to the higher standard of DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE!

Scenario 2: A person shares that their pronouns have changed on social media, and a previous sexual partner drops into the comments with nothing nice to say.

Let’s break this down:

– Pronouns are the easiest thing to use when referring to another person. When in doubt, get on the motherfucking bandwagon and use they instead of he or she. They, as a singular, is not going to break us promise.

– If there is nothing nice to say, shut the fuck up.

– How another person identifies does not hurt other people. It may be offensive to some folks, yippee skipee doo. Chances are those folks are offensive to other people too.

– If this issue is not understanding or wanting to learn, do not ask the individual. It is not their responsibility to teach strangers, acquaintances, or casual friends. They have enough on their plate to educate their nearest and dearest. Google. Find a book to read. Sign up for a workshop or private session with someone like me!

Scenario 3: A boss is a sexist, misogynistic pig who makes comments and jokes that sexually harass colleagues. Others laugh at the jokes even though they don’t think the jokes are funny.

Let’s break this down:

– The discomfort at the thought of not laughing is nothing compared to what colleagues who are targeted daily are feeling. Staying silent is being complicit in this shit behavior.

– I guarantee that the verbal abuse extends to inappropriate touching in one-on-one situations.

– Working together is not an open invitation to touch another person! Even professions that require touching people are (or should be) preceded with an ask to touch. Doctors. Massage therapists. Manicurists. Athletes.

– Borrowing a term from the patriarchy, man up! Stop laughing and file a complaint to help fire this asshole.

Scenario 4: A sexual partner asks for the addition of a new sexual behavior to the routine.

Let’s break this down:

– Don’t say, “Yuck,” or “Gross,” or “That’s nasty!”

– It’s OK to say, “No, thank you,” and you’ll probably want to learn more about why your partner is asking.

– One sexual behavior should not be the end of a relationship. If it is, there was other shit dragging that relationship down.
– Take this opportunity to talk about what sexual behaviors everyone likes and desires. Grow!

– Respect is more than Aretha’s anthem; it is the soul-saving, moral obligation that we as humans should be striving for every day of our lives.

Homework(!): When you read this column did you automatically fill in the gender of the alleged persons? If so, ask yourself why did you pick that specific gender? What if you fill in another gender identity instead of the assumed one you started with? How does that change your perception of the scenarios?

Also, go do something nice without expecting anything in return.

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


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