Let’s Talk About Sex w/ Natasha Helfer Parker

029 Let’s Talk About Sex

The sex experience can be very confusing; on one hand, it is pleasurable and we desire it but on the other hand, it’s associated with shame and disgust. Healthy sexuality is also important for your wellness; it can help with chronic pains, and stress, and also contributes to the prevention of some types of cancer.

Sex is not only a taboo in our cultures but even in the professional world. Think about how uncomfortable it makes you think that your parents and adult siblings have an active sex life. Religion, government, inheritance, and our upbringing all work together to give most of us a fear-based sex education which is hard to get over later on. This can lead to a lot of confusion and internalization of certain beliefs around sex.

Think about it for a second, what was your introduction to sex like? Was it pleasure-oriented or reproductive-based? How many times have you felt guilty or dirty/grossed out by sex? What do you think led to these feelings? What are some of the limiting beliefs about sex that you have carried with you for years?

Although there has been a sexual revolution since the 70s with the advent and widespread use of modern contraceptives, people haven’t adjusted because the change has been so dramatic and occurred in a short period.

Incorporating sex-positive activities in your life

Having already established that sex is rigidly approached by a lot of cultures, the question then becomes; how do we make a shift to a more positive mindset? What can you do at an individual level to change the narrative and incorporate sex-positive activities in your life?

  • The first thing we need to realize is that sex is an important part of our wellness. Sex finds its way into all other aspects of our lives. Sex affects our health, relations, and even private lives more than we are led to believe.
  • Secondly, we must acknowledge that sex and vulnerability go hand in hand. Imagine just how hard we struggle to be vulnerable in other facets of life outside of sex, how much vulnerability do you think sex requires? It is on a whole other level of vulnerability.
  • We need to create an environment where we can negotiate our sexual preferences in a manner that is healthy, honest, authentic, and vulnerable.
  • For us to enjoy a healthier sex life, we must start by healing our sexual wounds.  Society has us believing that a man should be sturdy and know how to please their woman sexually while a woman should be the sexual object and attend to the guy’s needs. This has expectations that are often unrealistic and unspoken, and often end up hurting us and wounding our egos. We need to get ourselves educated and use the right resources to address such faults in the system. This type of healing just like any other takes education, practice, consistency, and patience.

What makes for good sex?

A lot of what most of us think of as healthy sexuality actually has nothing to do with it. We’re used to thinking of sex as a moral issue. Think about the social stigma that many people face for having premarital sex or having several sexual partners.

Most of us have a complicated relationship with sex because we have been taught/conditioned to think and respond like that. We have been taught to link sex with the following things:

  • Love
  • Self-respect
  • Self-worth
  • Virtue

Rarely, even in sex education classes are we taught of sex as just sex. Has anyone ever sat you down and told you about the essence of enjoying sex? Did you know that prioritizing the other person’s pleasure counts for healthy sex?

Society may lead us to believe that anyone in a long-term, committed relationship is having healthy sex. However, that is not always the case. Rape in marriage is more often than we can imagine. Also, people in committed relationships often have their way sexually through manipulations, exploitation, guilt-trip, withdrawal, nagging, and many other ways of punishing their partners.

Many factors contribute to healthy sexuality and a healthy sex life; these include physical, mental, and emotional factors. Here are the six principles of healthy sexuality:

  1. Consent: All involved parties should be fully onboard
  2. Being non-exploitative: Sex should not be exploitative and manipulative
  3. Protection from unwanted pregnancies and STIs: Health and wellness over everything else
  4. Honesty: Be honest about erotic preferences and expectations. Encourage openness and a judgment-free zone
  5. Shared values: The involved parties should feel safe enough to articulate their values and expectations, which should be respected. You might even have a conversation about what sex means to you.
  6. Neutral pleasures: Sex should never be one-sided; it’s a two-way (or multiple-way) street. It’s not about a single person. Do things that all parties are in agreement with. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to please your partner in the way they desire, but you should enjoy this to some extent too.

You can also check out our tips for a better sex life!