Open conversations about sex lead to safe practices

Abbey Whittington, Columnist

Our sexuality is a fluid concept that we often do not dive into, because of our discomfort with the “taboo” topic.

We all know what the overwhelming, tense feeling of awkward silence is like. A lot of us are very familiar with this feeling, especially when the conversation turns to sex.

This conversation is one that no one seems to commit to. When we hear it get brought up, we run away.

Like many others, I have had firsthand experiences of the awkwardness that comes with talking about sex. Or I have at least felt the tenseness in the room, even if I did not feel the same discomfort.

Sex is an experience that comes with a lot of responsibility, and the more we open up conversations about it, the more education there is about the potential dangers of intercourse.

There are many functions in our sexuality that require attention, including consent and protection.

When we grow up, it seems like we are taught not to have intercourse until marriage — which is fine if that is what your morals follow, but often, the scare tactic is used to get young adults to wait.

I find this tactic even more dangerous than the consequences of sex, because fear often coincides with ignorance.

Not only are there issues with avoiding the conversation, but also with these functions that come with the concepts of sexuality.

Without this education comes rape culture and increased rates in unsafe sex, which can also lead to sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.

The taboo nature of sex makes us view the act as something bad and forbidden, unless it is happening within marriage.

While sex can be a bad thing if it is violating consent or if there is not protection, this mindset can still be very damaging.

People who are having safe, consensual sex are not bad, dirty or immoral people. They are just exploring a physical want or need, and there is a lot of shame with this mindset, mostly directed toward women.

When we sit down and talk about sex, we are able to talk about what to avoid and how to be safe.

The more we know about infections and diseases, the more we know about how to stop the spreading and how to treat them.

We also gain an understanding of what consent means. Is a person comfortable and aware enough of their surroundings to engage in a sexual act? Is this person ready? Is there clear, verbal communication of yes and no, and what does it mean if it is unclear?

As soon as the conversation is initiated, then we can learn that yes means yes, no means no and the way we dress, or not giving a distinct answer, is not an invitation to engage.

Consent and protection also have an intersection. There should be open conversations about the use of birth control, and if you or your partner have an infection or disease, so there are no unpleasant surprises later on.

The sooner we are open and honest, and the sooner there is education, we can stop viewing sex as a forbidden fruit, and more as an activity that can be done responsibly.

Abbey Whittington is a junior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].