Growing up, sex was an omen.
The picture drew by my parents, relatives and teachers was that sex equals disgrace and death. Mind you, this was problematic for me especially in my school going years where I learned that children are made through sex: so how could sex still equate disgrace and death?
I was fortunate enough to have some level of skepticism, even when I learned about sex from pornographic materials. Luckily, once I joined university back in 2014, I met a man who would go on a journey of sexual discovery, acceptance, consent, and even pleasure with me. By this time, my childhood had instilled fear in me about sex; if I had sex, I believed, I would end up pregnant and a disgrace to my family. I could contract sexually transmitted diseases, specifically AIDS, and if I had sex before marriage I would go to hell.
That was all well and good, and some concerns were valid, however what was I to do with my longing for the sexual gratification between two people sharing their bodies? Where was I to direct my questions?
Fortunately, I had a very understanding and compatible man with me. He treated me like an egg, he would never pressure me into having sex, and through this I came across consent. This was my first valuable lesson: even in a relationship, consent is key. I ended up reading a lot of articles and stories on sexual consent and armed with this knowledge I explored my sexual experiences a little bit more informed than before. I shared thiswith my sisters, younger and older, and even with my friends. Never let anyone, even your soulmate, force you into sex!
It took me a while to share my virginity, since psychologically I was still equating sex to disgrace and death, making my first attempts at sex a bit uncomfortable. However, I realized that I loved the person I was with, and I wanted to partake in this wondrous activity, not only for childbearing, but for sexual expression and consensual sharing of bodies. So, I once again read articles to understand what exactly sex is, what it means to share one’s body with another and how I, as a woman can enjoy sex to the best of my ability.
This search led me to the realization that candid sexual communication is not common. Not from parents or the education system. It’s a figure-it-out-by-yourself kind of deal. I never blame youngsters who indulge in sex because they are responding, just like all of us ‘grownups’, to their natural longings. So, valuable lesson two was to de-program everything I had been taught or exposed to about sex by my parents, teachers, religious leaders, pornography, Tv, peers, and even myself. Once again, I shared this knowledge with all who dared approach this subject with me. I told them sex is very personal.
With that, I come to my third valuable lesson: take care of yourself before you take care of anyone else. Sex can be dangerous physically (health and security wise) and psychologically (consent, setting boundaries and unhindered exploration). Hence, armed with healthy sexual knowledge and sexual experiences you shall ensure that whenever you engage in sex you will have comprehensively insured yourself, to the best of your ability. This is where contraceptives come in. It is sad that women are heavily engaged with contraceptives compared to men, but that is a debate for another day. I always advocate for condom use regardless of whether someone is the love of your life or a one-night stand. Use a condom not only to prevent pregnancies but also sexually transmitted infections.
So, one, consent to it physically and psychologically. Second, be open to sexual information beyond pornography and sex-bashers. Learn about sex from healthy information sources and most of all, take care of yourself before you take care of anyone else.
If we are receptive and accepting of our bodies getting sick, then we should be receptive and accepting of sexual hormones, thoughts and desires plaguing our bodies, until further notice.