As we celebrate #BlackLove, I think it's only right to talk about sex.
When was the first time you really talked about sex? In what context was it discussed? Do you feel free to explore what makes your body feel good and what doesn't? Do you practice safe pleasurable sex? How many times will I say sex in this post?
I so often think about Black people and our relationship with sex. I think about our experiences with intergenerational trauma. I think of our experiences with exposure to sex in a way that may hinder some psychological things, particularly for those who are survivors of sexual assault in whatever form that may have been. With all the buzz around sexual assault and who should and should not be in jail for it, I am often disappointed, but not surprised at the ways in which we don't protect and advocate for especially female-identified bodies. It is disheartening to scroll on social media and see the reactions people have when women speak out against the harm that has been done to our bodies or simply women who want to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. There is more concern for the perpetrator than there is for the survivors. This is not to say that some perpetrators were not also victims at some point. It is to say that I am deeply saddened at how quickly "we" stand up, raise money for, and even further the careers of those who have an extensive history of harming women.
But this is not a post to talk about assault or bodily harm, in fact, this post is a very quick crash course in sex ed. In my final semester of undergrad, I was enrolled in a course called Sexuality and Society. We talked about the effect of removing Comprehensive Sexual Education in schools and replacing it with abstinence programs (especially in the South). This is where we see escalated rates of unhealthy sexual practices and increased rates of STIs. If we are not educated on our bodies, and how they work, and hell... what they look like we cannot expect to be able to have healthy relationships with sex. When we aren't informed, we rely on pornography which depicts unrealistic expectations and visuals of what sex is.
Did anybody have the American Girl Book that talked you through the stages of your body? Did you feel comfortable as your body changed? Did you have people you could talk to? I remember when I first started my cycle, I was so weirded out by it, and my mom was even more freaked out by it all (which I found out much later). When was the first time you didn't feel comfortable with your body? Why? In this crash course, I am going to include several comics from a fabulous sex-positive website, Oh Joy Sex Toy and what I love most is that it is inclusive to all. Here we go.
Consent is the agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. It is absolutely necessary and must happen every time, no matter if you've engaged in sexual activity before. You can withdraw your consent at any point, which entails telling your partner(s) at any point that you are no longer comfortable and don't want to go any further. Check out this comic and article on consent.
Safe Sex Practices
STIs are Sexually Transmitted Illnesses and can be passed from person to person during sexual activity. Some STIs are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes to name just a few. There is lots of stigma around STIs, but in the end, we are all human and shit happens, sometimes that shit is life-altering and it is very important to not only be regularly tested but to also be very honest and transparent with your partners around this topic.
Tests can be done by checking your blood, by quick rapid-response swabs, urine, and physical examinations. Getting tested is not scary, it is indeed something to take pride in. By doing so, you are being very intentional not just about your health, but the health of others.
While many expect women to take contraceptives in the form of pills, shots, patches and even IUDs, more contraceptives are becoming available for men. In addition to preventative measures like condoms, there are spermicides, vaginal rings, and dental dams. Read more about contraceptives here.
Lube or Lubricants
Ok, before a few years ago, lube seemed like something you needed if you needed a little help getting moist. Lubricants are there to make sex more pleasurable, safer, and of course wetter. A person's natural lubrication varies with hormonal changes, which can be from a menstrual cycle, pregnancy, medicines and contraceptives, and even stress. Water-based lubes, are good for sensitive skin, and won't stain clothes, items, or sheets. They don't last long though and need frequent reapplication. If you are looking for something that lasts longer, silicone-based lubricants are for you. Do not use with silicone toys. Check out this article to get the tea on lube and this one to help pick which lube is right for you! And if you'd like here is an additional comic on lube. In conclusion, use lube.
BV... also known as Bacterial Vaginosis
BV is nothing to be ashamed of because honestly, it happens from anything, and I mean anything. Fortunately, not only can you visit your local OBGYN, but there are more and more products that can organically help to restore your PH balance and lessen the recurrence of BV. From wipes, to body washes, to boric acid suppositories, we are kicking BVs ass to the curb and taking back our bodies and quite frankly our PH balances. One of my new favorite brands is The Honey Pot Co., which is not only Black-owned and created by people with vaginas, but their products are also organic! Organic feminine hygiene products make for easier menstrual cycles, visit their site and Instagram and let them know For Black Girls Who Have A Lot to Say sent you! Read more on BV in this great article by Planned Parenthood.
A lot of shame surrounding sex stems from a lack of sexual education. Many people do not properly learn about sex until after they've at least graduated from high school. For some, we know that there was a heavy emphasis on practicing abstinence in schools, the removal of sex ed in health classes, or just a crappy curriculum, instead of informing us on how to have safe and pleasurable sex.
Not only does our lack of knowledge lead to unhealthy and sometimes unsafe sex practices, but it also hinders how we get to know our own bodies. I want to note here that you should not engage in sexual activity if you do not feel comfortable.
Being Asexual or Ace for short is nothing to be ashamed of and in fact, there are many other people just like you! Asexual means that you don't experience sexual attraction or desire towards other people, but you may experience romantic attraction.
Sex Positivity is doing what makes you feel good, whatever that is. It is up to you to find out and also up to you if you want to explore that with others. It is being educated on things like consent and testing, and being able to be constantly learning on how to be as inclusive as possible. Read this Safe Sex Guide and be an informed partner, both to yourself and others if you choose to do so, of course.
So let's start talking about sex more often! Let's remove the stigma and make sure that we are taking care of ourselves...and others!