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Our First Healthy Sex Column

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Sex. It seems to be everywhere-in our ads, our movies, our songs, and media. It’s something we seek (or often avoid), something that can bond us, confounds us, even divides us. We often can’t even “define” it except to say we know it when we see it. Sex (or at least the study and discussion of it) can define culture, influence morals and law, and even end (or in some cases begin) careers.

So, it seems, given all of that muddle, it might be a good idea to talk about it. Not just in the shallow sense, but really dig in to unravel what it is, how it affects us, and what makes it “healthy” or not, good or not.

And those are loaded terms, “good” and “healthy.” We might well find as many definitions for that as people. What’s good for me, might not be good for you, and what makes me feel healthy and whole might well make you go running for the hills! And vice versa! When we talk about sex and health we often associate that with Sex Ed classes in schools (and some classes are more comprehensive than others). We connect “health” with absence of “dis-ease” such as STI’s, but we rarely discuss healthy sex as the presence of joy and vitality, respect and consent, mutual pleasure and satisfaction.

Perhaps because the subject is so charged, and we have centuries of cultural beliefs about what sex is and isn’t, should and shouldn’t be, we can’t quite define what healthy sex exactly is?

I’ve been studying human sexuality for going on two decades now, more if you count just living in the world trying to figure sex out myself. I’m fascinated with this human condition and have written and spoken about sexuality, gender, relationships in hopes of clarifying what makes our relationships, including our sexual ones, amazing and beautiful and yes, healthy. I’ve been a storyteller, facilitator, and community builder for years and have produced transformational theater events for a long time.
I recently moved to the Rogue Valley and have traveled around the country doing storytelling shows about sexuality, gender, and relationships. I’ve curated over seven years of community storytelling events and have brought storytellers to the stage to regale audiences with some kind of tale about dating, mating, desire, embarrassment, personal change, justice—basically the good, bad, and the ugly of sex.

What’s been fascinating about the show, is how much of our learning and education is a) self taught and b) comes from negative, and perhaps even unhealthy, experiences. We always hoped to tell those stories with vulnerability, respect, and humor, celebrating both the growth, but also the bawdy aspect of figuring sex out. The audience gets to submit questions and concerns and those are then answered by the producers on the stage.

What has this seven year experience of storytelling and reading audience questions taught me? No matter your political persuasion, most everyone has fears and concerns about sex. Nearly everyone wants to connect and have wonderful, fun, sexy, relationships. And finally, there aren’t that many places to talk about either one, the fears or the hopes.

This column will be monthly and explore topics ranging from physical health and how it affects your sexual life to how to talk more about what you want with a partner. I will definitely talk about consent, about sex education, and about cultural norms that either help or hinder the health of our own sexual lives.
The discussions here will support openness but respect confidentiality, use real grown up words, anatomically correct terms, and remain open to different points of view, while holding a few things true: Our bodies matter, education is vital, and sexual rights are human rights. I hope you join me and if you have questions or would like to see a particular topic addressed you can email me at editorial@roguevalleymessenger.com attn “healthy sex column.”

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