Thinking back to your school days, what was your sex ed like? What did you cover, and more importantly what did it leave out? I grew up in the 80s and 90s and I think the terrain was a little different then to how it is now.
My understanding is that until more recently, there was a big gap in where the sex ed should have been. It simply wasn’t on the curriculum. This horrifies me somewhat, especially as I was brought up the in era of the, quite frankly, terrifying AIDS public information campaign (anyone else remember that?) and had at least two good solid sessions with my class mates, primarily focusing on the biology of sex, and then of course, the main focus of how not to get pregnant.
I think I remember a session that in one fell swoop covered how to use towels and tampons and then saw us watching a condom being but on a cucumber which was both slightly intimidating and confusing at the same time. With the benefit of hindsight, I understand back in those days the level of teenage pregnancies was the issue that the government wanted to curb. And in some quarters, curb it, it did. Again, it put the fear of god into us! (Another conditioning that my generation had to break down when we actively wanted to have children).
However, one area I think we can all agree on where our education was lacking was around the issue of consent. It simply wasn’t on the radar, in so many areas of life. This feeds into a bigger picture of consent around sexual harassment, personal space, the work environment, medical consent.
Let’s face it, consent especially for intimacy is a big one, and much more nuanced than it may originally appear. I think we are (I hope) all aware that initial consent is essential for any sexual encounter, but just because someone says yes once, that isn’t an automatic assumption of yes for each time. Nor that a yes for one activity is a yes for all activities.
Sometimes the confusion may come in because we feel stifled in our communication in an intimate setting. This can be for many reasons. Maybe we feel ashamed about our desires and are worried they will be derided by another. Maybe we have difficulties communicating in this relationship in particular. Maybe we are not used to being so open. It can feel near impossible.
Often in respectful intimacy, then fear of rejection is the thing that makes us clam up. However, this is one area where we can borrow from ideas often adopted by the polyamorous community. Even if we do not identify in this way ourselves, the idea of communication prior to an encounter can be a great way to discuss your desires, what you would like to do, include your partner by suggesting to explore them together, and make clear your boundaries, with love and respect. Screening shot and send pictures of things you would like to try, or share links to see what they think can be a great way to introduce a topic. Practice gentle communication. Gentle on you and gentle on your partner. Discussions prior to an encounter may feel forced, but it gives a less pressured environment to have the conversation. And practice makes perfect. Start small and the more you get used to it, the easier it should become and the more active consent you will be bringing into your sex life.
How hot to know you’re both open to what each of you wants and what to look forward to. Truly a loving and respectful thing, both honouring yourself and your partner. Consent truly is sexy.