Most of us are familiar with the health class scene in the 2004 movie Mean Girls when Coach Carr shouts, “Don’t have sex because you will get pregnant and die! Don’t have sex in the missionary position. Don’t have sex standing up. Just don't do it, okay?”
This comedic take is actually not far off from the mediocre sex education available in schools today. Without any federal law mandating sex education in the United States, it is left up to states and local legislators to establish sex education guidelines. Did you know that even in 2021 only 9 states require the importance of consent to sexual activity to be covered?
Consent should not be considered an afterthought in sex education! It is the first & most important part of engaging in any form of sexual activity. American society continues to undervalue open, honest conversations about pleasure when we teach younger generations with fear-based messages, not factual knowledge.
“What about healthy decision-making in relationships? What about kissing? Is it normal to masturbate? Am I the only one of my peers who does this? Am I weird or am I a lot more normal than I realize?”
These are the kinds of questions everyday people have. And there is no shame in asking any of them. Yet, what credible resources or positive media messages are available to youth and adults alike? It can be difficult to find relatable, trustworthy information online or in the media about sex education.
That’s why at Emojibator we are proud to celebrate World Sexual Health Day and Sexual Health Awareness Month, which happens every year in September. Sexual Health Month was established by the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) in 2010 with the goal to improve sexual health awareness around the world and break the general taboo regarding human sexuality. Their first theme was “Let’s Talk About It!” with the idea to break taboos and talk about sex in new ways.
Like-minded companies are also taking the opportunity to celebrate. Plant-powered sexual wellness brand, Personal Fav Co., kicks off this month by encouraging its customers to communicate more with their partners, friends, and family. Their mission is to diffuse the shame and stigma around sex while empowering people to prioritize their pleasure.
Besides, knowledge is power, and understanding the depth of human sexuality is more likely to benefit us than harm us, right?
4 Reasons Why Sexual Health Month Matters
- Because formally mandated sex education is limited. According to research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, only 29 states in America, including the District of Columbia, mandate that sex education is taught in some form.
- Because even when formally mandated sex education exists, it still isn’t comprehensive. Research at the Guttacher Institute also shows that 19 states take an abstinence-only approach, stressing the importance of engaging in sexual activity only within marriage, and 17 states that require sex-ed programs to be medically accurate typically only focus on anatomy, reproduction, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Because our sexual knowledge should reflect the diversity of gender and sexual orientation. According to Gallup, 5.6% of U.S. adults said they are LGBTQ+, which is the highest percentage since the polling firm began tracking this in 2012.
- Because times are shifting to a digital age, we need to know how to navigate that. A study run by the Kinsey Institute shows that 52% of singles and daters say they are more likely to use online dating services and go on virtual dates, post-COVID.
Recognizing Sexual Health Month is pivotal for creating awareness around all factors relating to sexual health. Though our society has become more sex-positive throughout the decades, there’s still a need for increased sexual health education and awareness in the interest of responsible decision-making, better health, and improved quality of life.
Below are a few ways you can celebrate Sexual Health Awareness Month this year:
- Get tested for STIs. A great way for sexually active people to take ownership of their sexual health is to get tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections. Personal Fav co-founder Hannah Hutton notes, “Pleasure is on the ballot this year during midterms since the overturn of Roe v Wade so educate yourself how you can help those who do not have the freedom to their own body.” If finances are an issue, some Planned Parenthood centers offer STI testing for free.
- Visit a resource center for sexual health. There are organizations around the world that offer educational resources, workshops, research opportunities, and more! Two of my personal favorites are the Center for Positive Sexuality and The Pleasure Chest
- Try a new toy. When figuring out what your needs are in the bedroom, it’s a great idea to experiment. So, why not add a toy? Emojibator has various options from a Strawberry emoji vibrator and suction toy with 8 vibration and 8 suction settings or the small but mighty Tiny Wand vibrator with 10 powerful vibration settings. Pair these with Personal Fav’s water-based Whet lube, safe for use with silicone toys.
And remember, even though this September is Sexual Health Month, every day is a great time to prioritize your sexual health!
Written by sex blogger, intimacy & dating expert, and soon-to-be therapist, Tatyannah King