Talking about sexuality is a conversation that can make folks a tad uncomfortable. Sexuality is always some big dirty elephant in the room — it’s there and obvious but everyone avoids talking about it. That’s because, for many of us, it has been taught for generations that sex is a dirty thing we keep to ourselves. Whether the stigma of sexuality is rooted in religious teachings or just the absence of knowledge, we come up short as a society where sexuality is concerned. There are communities where talking about sex is as common as talking about the weather, but in most places sexuality is still a very taboo topic.
We offer sexual education in some schools, we talk to our kids about the birds and the bees, but beyond that, how often do we ever really talk about sexuality?
Our own sexuality is such a personal experience.
We live in a society where labels are traditionally the way we learn about everything — male, female, gay, straight, trans, queer, and so on. These labels are not only how we put sex out in the world, they’re how we put sex into a box. If what you are or do is outside of that socially accepted box, we as a society have this insatiable urge to label (again there’s that word) you an outsider.
How dare you not like what “everyone” else likes? My question is: how do you know what everyone else likes if you don’t like to talk about it? I think that’s what really baffles me about discrimination involving sexuality of any kind — how it’s possible for discrimination against sexual orientation and gender to even exist.
The heteronormative lifestyle can be such a private endeavor, but it’s a bit hypocritical to be completely okay to focus on the way someone else has sex or who they are attracted to or what they want to do with their own bodies? Let’s talk about what happened in your bedroom the last time you had sex and see how you feel about it? The double standard is there whether anyone admits it exists or not. Example: I see articles often about what happens in a lesbian couple’s bedroom, but I don’t see any lesbian couple chomping at the bit for a play-by-play of what happened in Sue and Dan’s bedroom last week. If you want to talk about sexuality, then I think it’s fair to talk about the whole gamut.
I think as a society we miss this huge neon sign that’s obviously flashing in the foreground: we are all different. We may be aware of that in some capacities but then forget in others. There may be commonalities between people but those should not be the standard. Every person experiences life in their own way. Every person lives, loves, and plays in a way that’s unique to them. Sexuality is no different.
Maybe there would be less of a desire to compare others to what is perceived as the norm and more of a desire to accept and be more open.
As a society, we have a hard time even having conversations about sexuality. We avoid the uncomfortable at all costs. I
think if those conversations existed, there would be a lot less tendency to banish one behavior or trait or difference to the outside. We would then understand there are so many differences in what happens in the bedroom or what doesn’t. Maybe there would be less of a desire to compare others to what is perceived as the norm and more of a desire to accept and be more open.
I’m not an expert, but I have been on two different sides of the fence as far as sexual orientation goes. I see sexuality a little differently than most folks on either side. I believe sexuality goes beyond gay and straight. I think gender is beyond male and female. We are born with a million different physical and personality traits, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to believe those differences are found in our own sexuality either. What is unrealistic is to oversimplify sexuality. We are far more complicated than that.
If we stop being scared of conversations about sex, we can stop being afraid of what’s different.
Comments on Talking about sexuality: the big dirty elephant in the room
This is really poignant. I identify as bisexual (although pansexual is probably more accurate), and I realized recently that one of my best friends probably didn’t know that. She and I became friends in undergrad, and I’d already been with my boyfriend (now husband) for two years before we got close. I’ve been with him ever since–13 years now–so the conversation didn’t really come up. At least, I think it didn’t. Or maybe I just brushed it off, over the years.
Anyway, we did finally talk about it and it was remarkably freeing. I’m rarely attracted to anyone of any gender, so I’m not one to gush about how sexy people are or develop crushes on celebrities or whatever. Everyone knows that, so my relationships don’t really include that, even when my besties are doing it around me. Still, I found the ability to joke about it with her, and to openly acknowledge my personal stake in queer issues, has really made me feel better. Safer. I didn’t expect that.