Ever since expanding into violence prevention work, I’ve been on the search for other folks who want to reduce sexual shame by talking more about sex and pleasure. Like me, they feel that sex-positivity and violence prevention don’t have to work against each other. This week I’m excited to introduce you to one such person: Jodie Layne. She’s totes my new girl crush and I want to be her BFF because she stands for everything I believe is good in this world.
Her basic message is one I deeply resonate with and which was recently shared at an advocacy training I’m taking:
To talk about sexual violence, we must talk about sex.
Shame comes from secrecy and when it comes to sex, pleasure, and intimacy, there’s a whole lot of both. You can be that trickles down to survivors of violence and plays at least some part in swaying their decision on whether to report the crime or even tell someone else.
Shame is why my first reaction to, “How much do you cost?” was to check with friends whether my outfit was “too” provocative. Shame is why I have clients experience unexplained genital pain months after an assault. Shame is people victim-blame and think that sexual violence is caused by anything other than the perpetrator.
The more you can talk about sex to family, friends, and partners, the more you help reduce sexual shame.
Your conversations give others permission to talk about the good, bad, and ugly of sex too. And you help set a precedent that sex doesn’t always have to be hidden. This, in turn, makes it easier for every survivor to tell their story and begin working through their experience. As an added benefit, more sexy talk leads to better sex! It lets you learn about new techniques, tricks, and toys and are more comfortable asking for what you want. Basically, its a win all around.
The best part about this is, each and everyone of us can do this within our own little circles. Maybe you have that friend who is a bit shyer and you just say, “Last night x and I tried this and it was so fun! I definitely recommend it!” Maybe you don’t know how to tell your partner that pattern really does work or that you want to try out something new. Maybe its your middle schooler who wants to know what a boner is and you explain in simple terms. It doesn’t really matter what so long as you approach it from a place of positivity and openness, and the assumption that sex is neither fundamentally good nor bad.
Do you know someone who struggles with shyness or shame around sex? Be sure to share this post with them. You might just change their life and relationships.