Sex is a basic human need but the conversation around it is so censored and limited that people still don't have a complete understanding of something as basic as sexuality. With an increasing number of women and men, owning up to their sexuality and taking control of their sexual experiences, it is important to start having open and safe discussions about sex, sexual health and all that it encompasses.
The World Health Organization defines sexual health as "Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled."
This is a comprehensive definition and it includes everything that needs to be discussed about sexual health. The first thing to note about the definition is that it mentions that sexual health is not only a state of physical well-being when it comes to having sex - but also emotional, mental and social. It's not important to start having sex when your body is ready for it but when you are mentally and emotionally ready for it as well. It isn't something that you're supposed to do by a certain age or under peer pressure, it is an act you want to indulge in because, and only because, YOU want that.
But, a very important aspect of sexual health, is having a 'positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships'. This statement comprehensively covers everything about consent that we've been talking about for so long. It is important, in fact crucial, at this point in time to ensure that all your sexual interactions are positive and respectful. Whether it is a one night stand or a long-term relationship, ensure that consent is explicitly given and the partner is under no duress to have sex with you, whether you're a man or a woman.
However, this positive approach does not stop at the two of you. You need to ensure that you create a safe space for the people around you so as to help them feel protected and not judged for their choices and needs. The spectrum of sexual activities is very wide and not everyone's preferences land in the same place. What is important to remember, in the end, is not how they differ from you but how well you accept these differences. That is why the definition says that rights and choices of everyone around you must be 'respected, protected and fulfilled.'
The need to have an open discussion about sex, sexual health and sexual rights is at an all-time high, considering the recent #MeToo movement that happened. With the overwhelming number of people, both women and men, that came forward to talk about experiences where they had a sexual interaction either under threat or against their wishes make it even more important. It is important to remember that the only body you have a right on is your own and nobody else's.
So, this International Women's Day, women want more. More control of their sexual rights, more conversations, more acknowledgement of their sexual needs and more right over their own bodies.
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