Making sex normal
The first seven minutes of Ms. Herbenick's TED talk was quite good. She talks about how repressed people were in past generations about sex and related her own experiences with her mother and grandmother. Her stories are powerful and point to the need for parents to be open with their kids about sex and to have healthy discussions about sexual matters to discourage it from being taboo and stigmatized.
After going over some of the pitfalls of living in a society, community, or family that can't talk about sex and asserts that parents, politicians, and schools are incapable of changing attitudes about sex, Ms. Herbenick gives some suggestions for how individuals can affect change:
"Openly read sex books, not on your digital devices, on planes, on subways. I've been doing this for years it's an amazing conversation starter."
Now I'm fine with her suggestion to read sex books out in the open, but if you watch the video, you'll notice the slide she has on the screen when she mentions this has a photo of women reading "Fifty Shades of Grey." Is that really considered a healthy sex book? I read the first book out of curiousity and, aside from the lousy writing, I found the whole premise of the book is exploiting people's inhibitions. It doesn't seem like the best example of a good sex book if you want to start conversations about sex with random strangers on the plane or subway.
"Get sex-positive books for kids and donate them to schools and libraries. Celebrate sexual diversity by going to sex positive art events, walking in or hanging out at gay pride parades, going to marriage equality celebrations..."
Okay, wait a minute. I was on board with most of what she was saying up until this point. I'm a heterosexual man (or MOSTLY heterosexual if you subscribe to Kinsey) so I'm not interested in attending any gay pride events. I'm not opposed to gay people celebrating in that way, I'm just not interested in participating and it's not because I'm repressed or a prude.
It seems like what she's saying is that for society to have a healthier attitude about sex, we need to throw monogamous heterosexual relationships out the window and promote lascivious and licentious sexual behavior. Again, I disagree and it's not because I'm quaking with inhibition.
Why can't we teach our kids that sex is awesome in the proper context, teach them that it's normal to have sexual feelings before you're an adult and it's normal to have the desire to act on those feelings? Why can't we engage in open-minded, healthy sexual behavior in the privacy of our homes with our significant other and call it good?
I'm curious what others think? Is it necessary for society to accept and promote what has long been thought of as unhealthy sexual behavior (e.g. rampant promiscuity) to develop more "healthy" attitudes toward sex?
Are future generations of teenage girls going to continue to feel incredible amounts of shame about their menstruation if we don't tell them it's totally okay to sleep around or participate in any kind of sexual behavior anyone dreams up? Should we abandon all standards to eliminate shame? Can't we just help kids feel normal without promoting what I would call "immoral" sexual behavior?