Lets talk about about sexuality
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 11:02
Students Advocating Gender Equality presented the last of three showings of “The Vagina Monologues” Sunday in Pratt Auditorium. The show, which features a collection of women’s stories that are at times funny, sexy, heart-wrenching, poignant and challenging, has encouraged us at The Penn to start talking.
We are going to start talking about vaginas.
But not just vaginas. Also, penises. Oh, and sex (or the lack thereof). Virginity. Health. The things we want, the things we don’t want and the things we need.
We want to be more open about something that affects all of us - our sexuality.
“The Vagina Monologues” was originally written by Even Ensler in 1996. She conducted interviews with 200 women about sex, violence, relationships and, of course, their vaginas. Her purpose was, first, to “celebrate the vagina” but it transformed into a movement to stop violence against women.
This purpose, in its celebration and message, was conveyed to the audience in Pratt Auditorium. Those who took part in the event, like Amanda Wade (sophomore, economics), felt that more open communication about sexuality can “only be a positive thing,” and she hopes that the message they helped to deliver in their performance will only spread farther.
“You’re talking directly to a group of people and facilitating dialogue,” Wade said. “[In the play] you’re allowed to say cunt and vagina, and it is accepted by the audience. It’s like the quote about ‘being the change you want to see in the world.’ This was just a small microcosm that hopefully leaks out.”
Being open about sexuality isn’t always easy. First, one must understand what sexuality is. Robert Heasley and Betsy Crane define sexuality in “Sexual Lives: A reader on the theories and realities of human sexualities” as “all that we are as women and men including the ways that we relates with other women and men in our lives.”
It seems simple, but, as we know, it gets complicated. Complicated in the way society views sex, how we are brought up, our past experiences, the taboos surrounding the various components of sexuality, the origins of those taboos, the gender scripts that we follow or don’t follow, the various sexualities we encounter, the symbols that make up our social environment and ourselves.
Because of these influences, talking doesn’t always come easily.
“It depends who it is,” David Holiga (junior, geography) said. “If I am close with a person I am more likely to talk about intimate things. It makes a stronger relationship, but I feel like it’s personal, like they don’t need to know.”
“When you’re more open, you’re more willing to fall in love,” Garrett Rodriguez (junior, fashion merchandising) said. “It takes being comfortable with who you are and sharing that to have a strong relationship.”
Yeah, it’s a lot to think about, and it’s a hard task to undertake. But we hope an open, vocal attitude towards sexuality - ours and that of those around us - will not only break the shroud of mystery surrounding not just vaginas but how we interact as humans, will benefit everyone.
In Europe, programs like International Planned Parenthood Federation are also being vocal about human sexuality. Through its 65,000 service points worldwide, IPPF has delivered over 89 million sexual and reproductive health services in 2011 including efforts to inform and assist in efforts concerning HIV and AIDs, contraception, women’s health, sexual rights, abortion, advocacy, humanitarian, gender equality and youth and adolescents, according to their website.
In a report released by IPPF concerning sexuality education, a review of European countries has shown evidence that sexuality education can be effective in reducing sexual risk behavior, is not associated with increased sexual activity (it often delay sex or reduces the number of sexual partners among young people), and has a “positive effect on knowledge and awareness of risk, values and attitudes, efficacy to negotiate sex and to use condoms, and communication with partners and parents - all of which have been shown to lead to healthy behavior.”
This translates, according to the study, to lower incidents of sexual violence and teen pregnancy, a higher average age at first sexual intercourse, and a happier sexual life.
This is why we want to talk about sex. And you know what?
We are excited. Because if we can break down the awkwardness, the hesitation, the foreign nature and the taboos that surround all that it is to be sexual - something we are born into - we are breaking down one of the hardest things to talk about and creating a happier, healthier society to live in.