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In the progress of growing up, I have heard many adults warn that sex is not the "human" part. Our society portrays sex as filthy and inferior. We’ve been told that talking about sex, regardless of aspect and attitude, makes you despicable and inferior (Sex = shame).

In school, I was taught a little differently: humans are mammals, more precisely, homo sapiens. It is a scientific fact. Whether I am embarrassed or not has nothing to do with whether it is right or not. Although our perception is quite superior, we basically eat, sleep, and excrete like many species. We have sex first to maintain our race, and then to show our desire, intimacy and love. Most of the people here to read these lines, with human eyes and handwriting, are sexually dependent. Sex does not exist independently of humanity; it is part of humanity. Talking about sex is about the human experience. Normalizing sex has a humanitarian aspect

Based on my own life experience, many times I would scream for help when I was abused, then kept silent, but I also found it wrong so I ignored it. Many victims had to stay silent due to the stigma and the lack of support from others. The day the #MeToo movement broke out, I was dumbfounded at the short text that was filled with news feeds. Who teaches us to be shameless, and do they still want to keep quiet if they get hurt themselves?

Frank communication about sex is to remove the shame behind which a person may be suffering alone. It gives them a safe space to seek help and begin their healing journey. It also gives us the insistence of wanting to protect our loved ones - something my parents at that time, in that society, did not have.

The public health needs a conversation about sex

Dr. Teodora Elvira Wi from the World Health Organization affirms that to fight sexually transmitted infections (STIs), we need to start talking about sex. Like COVID-19, if out of shame, suspected infected persons do not dare to test and it is very difficult to control the epidemic in the community. Also at the World Health Organization, Dr. V. Chandra - Mouli said that open communication will improve the quality of sex and sexual education. "Talking about sex with teenagers is like drawing a deer path." - I have heard this analogy too much, so I would like to replace it with a new example: sex is quite like a ... knife. All are tools of human survival. Essential in life. Parents hope their children won't get hurt when they have to use it. And the safety depends on the firmness of the holder. We cannot teach a young person to use a knife by… hiding the knife. We teach them by allowing for moderated interactions, and through careful, honest conversations.

We teach (and learn!) by starting to talk to each other!

How do we start talking about sex?

From the philosophical, medical and security aspects, sexual dialogue has many positive points. Philosopher Alain de Botton believes that the ability to confidently and healthily express a sexual need is a milestone. But what kind of dialogue is healthy? These are the 4 things I learned: 

1. Remove prejudice and shame

Behind every shame lies the loneliness of not being able to say important things. Every time someone tells me about a sexual experience, I find myself listening more about their lives than about sex. If someone trusts you enough to tell you about their experience, the best thing you can do is listen. Don't tease and taunt them. When a person feels safe, they open up more. Chances are, by speaking, we will know we are not alone.

2. Prioritize understanding over victory

"If a person who is lesbian loves a man, are they still lesbian?" was one of the first heated debates during my first college hangout. It turns out, a lot of questions surrounding sex have no right or wrong answers. Perhaps the idea of right or wrong should not be the important thing, but should be an excuse for us to find out what constitutes that view. As such, we gain from the conversation new knowledge and empathy. It is also a kind of win.

3. Always clarify context and purpose if it’s involved with controversy

When I receive mixed comments, I often take a breath and ask myself: Why is this conversation important? What do we get from debate? Did I explain the context enough? 

If there are enough reasons, I will respond to comments. If not, I quietly accept the difference in opinion, and quit watching Netflix. Sometimes differences, even opposites, can coexist without causing too much damage.

4. Like sex, dialogue should come from a spirit of voluntary 

Don't force other people to listen to what they don't want if it's not necessary. And also don't stay in a conversation you don't want to join.

I understand that it might be uncomfortable to talk about sex at first with your loved ones, friends and family members but it is important that we promote and raise awareness on sexual health. Sex is essential to our life as it allows you to understand your needs, your expectations and your boundaries. It is time to remove the stigma surrounding with sex and start normalizing sexual health as it is a way of self-care and self love.  


Jeanne double major in Health Studies and Biology, and minor in Global Health. She enjoys doing photography, stargazing, hiking, snowboarding, cooking, eating and making memes during her free time. Her goal is to become a doctor without border focusing on women health, reproductive health and community health because she is passionate in serving the underrepresented communities around the world and advocating for their needs by creating effective intervention and provide affordable health services.
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