Monday, April 9th, 2012
Blogs | Sociology of Sheena
What Is Sexuality? ~ S.A.A.M.
Each year the National Sexual Violence Resource Center highlights a campaign to be the focus of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This year the topic of conversation is healthy sexuality. In this campaign they want to start the dialogue and provide tools and resources on promoting positive expressions of sexuality and healthy behavior.
When I read that, my first thoughts were What are positive sexual expressions for young children, for instance, a 5 year old? How about 16? 21? 30? 50? 80?
If your 6 year old son wanted to masturbate because touch is pleasurable in that manner, what would your reaction be? Would you shame him? Would you feel uncomfortable? Would you tell him to never touch himself? Would you tell him that he should do that in the privacy of his bedroom? Would you tell him that at this point in his life only he should ever touch himself like that and no one else? What would you say?
What about your 16 year old daughter? What are healthy, positive expressions for her sexuality? How would you promote empowerment beyond preaching on abstinence?
¬†Try this. Take out a piece of paper and for one minute write every word, phrase, color or thought that comes to mind when you read the word SEX. I’m going to do it right now.
Bed. Rough. Men. Touch. Yes please. Pleasure. Desire. Positions. Doggy style. White. Red. Fire. Passion. Foreplay. Latex. Kissing. Desire. Sex sells. So does rape. Violence. Consent. Monogamy. Open. Him. Him. Yes. Public. Voyeur. Fetish. Ass. Lick. Touch. Taste. Missionary. Breasts.
Look at what you wrote. How many “positive” or affirming word were used? How about “negative”? How do you even define positive and negative? Where do your notions come from? Who taught you right from wrong and what was the reasoning behind it?
I think that in order to approach the topic of healthy sexuality, one must deal with ingrained judgements and personal understandings of the topic at hand. You have to name your filters to begin an informed discussion on understanding sexuality.
The question has been posed, what does a healthy sexuality look like? I think you have to determine what is sexuality. There are some people who hear sexuality and all they hear is sex. Then they are uncomfortable. Or they believe topics like this are private or reserved for the bedroom or perhaps only within marriage. Are you one of those? Why are you uncomfortable thinking about the topic of sexuality?
First, let’s define SEXUALITY. (This makes me laugh. As if that can be done in a simple blog post.) From a few quick searches on various online dictionaries I found a couple of definitions.
1. Sexual character
2. Recognition of or emphasis upon sexual matters
3. Involvement in sexual activity
4. An organism’s preparedness for engaging in sexual activity
5. The sum of a person’s sexual behaviors and tendencies, and the strength of such tendencies
6. One’s degree of sexual attractiveness.
7. The quality of having sexual functions or implications.
Honestly, some of these definitions confuse me.¬† I also looked up the etymology of the word SEXUALITY. When did we start using it? Why?
Considering how we define sexuality and the history of its use and our understanding of it, I wonder if SEXUALITY is a social construct or intrinsic to humans? What about asexuals? Are asexual humans self defined because of an absence of all sexual organs? And who was the big gun who defined what a sexual organ was? Why is sexual organs only limited to that which is involved in reproduction? So is there another word for sexual body parts? I mean, my ass is sexual, my breasts are sexual, my skin, lips and tongue are sexual. Don’t they get to go on some list somewhere as to pertaining to sexuality? My entire body is a sexual organ. SHIT! In regards to the definition of asexual humans, there is another one besides an absence of sexual organs which must only mean select body parts, which I don’t necessarily agree with. There is the definition of one who is free and unaffected by all aspects of sexuality. Who the fuck is that person?
I ask this because from what I’ve gathered from a non scientific search, including what I learned in “Sociology of Sexuality”, sexuality encompasses all the below but is not limited to…
1. Sexual identity
3. Anatomy & Physiology (Body image)
4. Sexual Acts
5. Thoughts & Fantasies (Passion & Pleasure)
6. Desires and Longings. (Attraction, Energy & Chemistry)
7. Reproduction, Birthing, Abortions. (Have you ever seen “The Business of Being Born?)
8. Contraceptives & Birth Control
10. Deviances, Crime, Assault & Abuse
12. Menstrual Cycles, Stages of Erection and Ejaculation
13. Fetishes & Sensuality (Expression)
15. Self identity & Social relationships & Culture
Considering this is some, not ALL, of what sexuality has to do with, how is it possible to be asexual? I could be missing something. Please explain to me.
Considering this is some, not ALL of what I believe sexuality encompasses, what is a “healthy” sexuality?
Question. What informs your philosophy of sex and/or sexuality? Is it what you’ve been told? Is it what your religion tells you? Is it based solely on your experience? That porn you saw when you were younger? What happened on Dawson’s Creek or what your friend said in school back when you were in 3rd grade?
What if you were to start with a blank slate with all those words I listed above? What if you were to take “social norms” out of the equation? What if you were to take away what your parents told you to believe, your personal traumas, government restrictions and religious text? What if you took the time to form your own opinions about sexual issues based on research, experience, case studies and more? What would be your version of healthy sexuality?
It seems to me that sexuality is one of the few things we don’t want people to explore. Other things would be religion and the extent of people’s voice and personal power.¬† I don’t find that surprising though. It seems right in line with the historical precedent we’ve set.
Let’s get back to “healthy sexuality.” When I think of what makes someone or something healthy, I realize it involves engagement. There is no passivity in healthiness. So why do we insist on a passive, distant approach to topics of sexuality? To be healthy one must exercise. There is progress and improvement. You have to nourish whatever it is you are bringing to health. Health involves movement. Remember, no passivity. So when it comes to sexuality, we can’t be mum. It can’t be reserved to the bedroom or for married couples only. It can’t be limited to only what the bible says. (Otherwise the only recourse for the bible is for every believer to follow it to the letter of the law and NEVER deviate from it.)
As I was thinking on a healthy sexuality, I began thinking of what would be considered “unhealthy.” Of course we’d label non-consenting violence, assault and abuse as unhealthy. But after that the rest of it gets murky.
I know we want to repress the urge in girls who seek sexual attention. But why would that be labeled unhealthy? Who was the person who determined wanting attention was wrong? Perhaps the ways we go about it may not be healthy but that desire is not morally reprehensible? Or perhaps whorish people are unhealthy and therefore we should strive to NOT be whores and sluts?
May I ask you a question? Who taught you what a whore was? Was it your parents? Did they teach this in subversive ways by telling you what good girls do. They sit with their legs closed. They don’t bend over. There shirts are never cut low. Did you learn about whores from porn which is basically entertainment? Do you think that’s a well thought out way to base an opinion on? Is that what informs how you think of the entire world…what you see in movies? Did you learn about whores because your daddy was caught with one? Or was that woman named a whore because your dad decided to cheat & your mom was mad? Have you ever met a self proclaimed whore?
Considering that I believe these things encompass what sexuality is about with each having the possibility of being its on field of study, what then is there to say about healthy sexuality? What are you teaching your kids? Have you hit on all those points? Have you found books on all those subjects? Have you thought about all of those points and researched various philosophies & schools of thoughts? Can you name a leader in each of those fields? What has been your experience with each of the 15 points mentioned above? What is a healthy expression of each point and an unhealthy expression? Who determines the health?
What is a healthy sexuality?
(Including titles such as My Princess Boy, Heather Has Two Mommies and Be Who You Are. They should have included My Body Belongs to Me. What is your reading list for your children at the various stages of their life as it relates to sexuality?)
(I wish this show still existed. I think it was really awesome.)
My Personal Musings
Musings On My Erotic Manifesto (My personal “coming out” story)
I create videos as a way to share my story. You can watch three related ones by clicking the titles below.
If you are a victim of abuse and assault and you would like to seek help or report your crime, please find all kinds of resources at RAINN. If you would like to share your story with me privately, be featured this month either publicly or anonymously or you just need an encouraging word, please shoot me an email at SheenaLaShay [at] Gmail [dot] com.