Let’s Talk About Sex: Part Two

I recently spotted this month’s issue of Glamour in the waiting room of my doctor’s office:

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There are a number of really invigorating, inspiring aspects to Glamour, including the Woman of the Year Award and a feature about college women around the US who are extraordinary in their community service, academics, and career achievements. Glamour supports and cultivates strong women, which is empowering to girls and women of all ages and walks of life.

However, I had a real problem with one of the headlines from this particular issue. Any guesses? Bottom right corner. This one:

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My problem with this headline is not that it uses the phrase “woman card” (what does that even mean?) but that good sex is labeled a “right” at all.

Yes, everyone should have good sex all the time. Yes, women (and men) should feel cherished, loved, adored, cared for, protected, and desired by their partners.

But that’s not a right. As I’ve come to understand it, any form of real intimacy is a product of open, honest human connection. In my experience, good sex doesn’t just happen. It develops through trust, reciprocity, mutual admiration, and the desire to make a partner feel everything you want to feel. Intimacy, then, is about acknowledging and accepting your own humanity.

When I first mentioned my frustration with the headline to my mum, she pointed out that Glamour writes for a wide range of women, and many older women have grown up with very different attitudes towards sex. When sex is viewed as a marital duty and obligation to which women submit because that’s what men want, it’s a very different conversation.

Thinking about girls and women today, however, makes me wonder whether that narrative has changed. Do we still think of intimacy as male-dominated and male-oriented? Are women viewed as a second thought? We tell girls and women to be careful how they dress so they don’t attract too much attention; do we tell boys and men to treat girls and women with the respect that they, as human beings, unequivocally deserve? There’s a lot in the media and even in the news that indicates that sex, as told by pop culture, is very much the domain of men.

That’s a problem. And that’s why I propose changing the conversation. Here are some questions that I’m considering. I’d love any and all thoughts and feedback!

  • How can we talk about sex as a product of human connection?
  • Does the nature of intimacy change if we see it as the natural result of deep feelings of care, respect, openness, reciprocity, and mutuality?
  • Can we have a conversation about intimacy that centers on the feelings and actions that lead up to it?
  • If anyone has a “woman card” at all, it’s a product of being human. How should we make human-ness, rather than divided roles as men and women, part of a better conversation?
  • What messages should we be sending young people about intimacy that are not currently transmitted?

If intimacy provides opportunities for us to be our most vulnerable around one another, we need dialogue about what makes us human and how we seek connection with those around us. That’s what I see as missing from that headline.

PS You can take a look at my first post about sex here.

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