Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Writing about Talking, Part Two: Open Conversation and Healthy Sex

Since sex is by far the most interesting of the three taboo topics (politics and money aren’t as…sexy…), let’s start there.

For me, the bottom line is that open and honest communication makes for a better quality of life in any situation. Healthy sexual lives begin with open and honest communication from parents.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says:
By developing open, honest and ongoing communication about responsibility, sex, and choice, parents can help their youngsters learn about sex in a healthy and positive manner.
And then maybe when their youngsters grow up to be horny teenagers, they won’t be emotionally scarred or scar anyone else because sex isn’t Evil, Scary, and thus Forbidden. Yay!

My sexual experiences have all be positive because I had a network of support. There was always a friend to call up and commiserate, celebrate, or compare notes with. I was rarely scared or worried for long about whether I was normal or whether he was normal. Sex is just like anything else: when you’re trying something new for the first time, you want to know what it was like for others to gauge your own experiences. Without honest conversation, you’re alone, worried, fumbling in the dark. And that is way less fun.

Gen Y, on the whole, is mostly through the sexual awakening part. Now, it’s about figuring out how sex fits into the discussion: what counts as TMI, what we should be more open about, and what is ok in certain situations.

Let’s take a casual, social situation: Saturday night; drinks at home; mixed company; you know everyone there pretty well.

For the record, 99% of the time I won’t be embarrassed and would love to talk about sex. But like I said, I had a lot of positive experiences. There are plenty of people who don’t feel that way. So my default setting is don’t bring it up, unless they do first.

But alternatively, ask if the person if they are comfortable talking about whatever sexy thing is on your mind. And if the conversation gets steamier, it’d be considerate to check in and make sure no one is getting uncomfortable. Hopefully they’d say something to the effect of “Guys, this is a little much, who wants some more dip?”, but you should probably check anyway.

From there it’s a scale. Maybe if you’re with just the guys (though I’ve heard men don’t really talk about sex like this? Opinions gentlemen?), or with a group of your oldest friends and there’s a higher threshold of what’s ok. If you’re at a party where you don’t know most of the people – I’d say that calls for a very low threshold.

Since lots, if not most, of Gen Y social interactions take place online, however, what are the guidelines for that? This is where our society, and legal system, are still figuring out what’s appropriate. Sexual harassment happens online, and people are empowered by the level of anonymity the Internet affords.

I’d say if you’re writing in your blog, you can say whatever you like and your readers will either continue reading or stop if they’re uncomfortable. Then it becomes about writing for your audience.

Dragging people into conversations, however, is not appropriate. Like, posting sexy comments on a Facebook wall. If you don’t know that person’s threshold, don’t. Plus, you don’t know what their privacy settings are, maybe they are keeping their wall PG for mom and dad’s sake.

And it can become a fine line between being open and funny and being a pervert that skeeves people out instead of contributing to a healthy dialogue about sex.

Don’t be that guy.


  1. I agree with your points here. I am older than you I think but I never had the guy sex talk with my buddies other than very stupid stuff. There have been very few women who I could have honest talk about sex with ever. It seems to be something people my age (38) never ever talk about. Politics and money, no problem. I have never seen a facebook status update that was about sex in any way. Not healthy I think but the way it is with people I know. I do like the savage love podcast for some honest sex talk.

  2. Interesting. I feel like a conversation about sex is just a few cocktails away with the ground I see most often. Though maybe that says more about my friends than anything else!

    And I adore Savage Love and think he exemplifies what I'm talking about - if you just talk about things honestly, whatever you're talking about is not a big deal; totally manageable.