You know what? Sometimes, consent is NOT sexy. Sometimes it’s awkward, sometimes it’s annoying, sometimes the person says no when you were really hoping ze’d say yes, and it’s not sexy, at least not right then. And that’s okay. You need to get consent anyway, because it’s the right thing to do, sexy or not.
this kind of needs a million notes.
Today I would like to address the stigma that exists around Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s).
I feel like everyday I hear a new STI-ist phrase that states how “repulsive”, “disgusting”, or “unwanted” STI’s are or how “dirty” or “disgusting” individuals with STI’s are. But here, let me tell you the facts:
- one in every five people has genital herpes (but 80% of these people don’t know they have it).
- Approximately 80% of American adults have oral herpes (so, cold sores).
- At least 1 in 4 people will catch an STI at some point in their life.
- Approximately two-thirds of the individuals with an STI are under the age of 25.
And there are loads more statistics and facts. But the point here is that STI’s are common. In fact, they are clearly extremely common. And this whole notion that STI’s are “gross” I feel stems from the very sex-negative stance that society holds.
Think about it: people have sex. And people should have sex if they want to, as much of it as they’d like and with as many people as they’d like, as long as it’s consensual. And sometimes one of the outcomes of sex (besides great orgasms, and beautiful forearm muscles) is an STI. and it’s not gross, nor is it the end of one’s sex life.
Now, why are these two statements often the first things that come to our minds when thinking about or discussing STI’s ? Well, I’ll tell you what I think: 1) people are douche-bags 2) people are uneducated 3) we live in a sex-negative society 4) The kind of sex-education we do receive tells us that getting an STI is one of the worst things that could happen to us when engaging in sexual activity. In fact, that and the possibility of pregnancy are really the only two things that are covered in good sex-education. It’s not pleasure based at all, but instead just informs us of the potential dangers or harms of sex.
But this is what needs to be pointed out, again: STI’s are not, I repeat, are not the worst things that could happen to you during sexual activity. They really aren’t even that bad. At most I would call them a nuisance, similar to that of a cold. They are something we can catch when we are particularly close to other people. Also, in case everyone has forgotten (which it seems they have) STI’s are treatable. There is medication that exists for every STI to either remedy the STI, or at the very least manage the symptoms of an STI.
Furthermore, individuals who have STI’s obviously still have sex, and great sex at that. I believe that with every sexual partner it’s very important to be open and honest about your sexual history, what you want out of this particular sexual engagement, and your sexual health (which is not to imply that having an STI makes one unhealthy, because it doesn’t). After this it is up to each individual involved if and how they would like to have sex with one another. There are obviously safe-sex practices that can be employed and should be considered regardless of one’s sexual health status. Like I said, an STI is not the end of one’s sex life and I believe that they also shouldn’t be the deciding factor for whether or not you should have sex with someone because that, my friends, is a frame of mind that is buying into the fear mongering mind set of sex negativity.
STI’s do not make a person. They do not change a person, nor do they affect how great (or not so great) someone is in bed. They are a normal part of life. And SO MANY PEOPLE have them. So next time you go to make an STI-ist remark, consider this: you may have an STI and not know about it (or you may unknowingly get one in the future), the people around you may have an STI, your sibling may have an STI, your parents may have an STI, your friends or partner may have an STI (and likely some of them do). The comments you make hurt people.
This shouldn’t be such a taboo subject, especially when so many people have first hand experience with STI’s. There needs to exist acceptance and recognition that individuals who have STI’s have sexual validity and there also needs to exist positive dialogue around the subject of STI’s where it is repeatedly stated that a high percentage of individuals will get an STI at some point in their life, and in no way does this make them “dirty” or less sexually desirable.
To all of you out there who are now conscious of the STI-ist remarks that you may be saying, check your shit and get educated. And while you’re at it, educate the people around you, so that slowly we can create a more accepting, inclusive, and sex-positive community.
(bolded text for emphasis added by me) i feel like this is really important, and it’s great that jessica’s honest and candid (and yes, imperfect) response to someone’s ask about herpes lead to some of these conversations. these attitude changes do not happen overnight, and people need to take the time to get informed before they make assumptions. i grew up in an incredibly sex-negative environment, and never had a sex ed class that covered any of these topics. i had to learn thanks to my friends’ mistakes. reading this made me feel all kinds of good.