Sex. The scariest thing in the world?
Dawn really loved this conversation about STI stigma. A recent article in The Atlantic (link below in the show notes) talked about some research findings that show people are terrified of sex.
People judge someone more harshly for transmitting a mild case of curable chlamydia than killing someone with swine flu. Why? Because someone with chlamydia likely had prior sexual encounters and people see that as completely unforgivable.
Unfortunately, our abstinence-only focus on teaching kids how super scary sex can be – STIs can kill and pregnancy can ruin your entire life – means that as adults we simultaneously crave and vilify sex. It’s a recipe for lying about STI status, taking huge risks to avoid shame, and driving behaviors into the closet.
Plus, Dawn got a new therapist to help with some relationship feels and it’s blowing her mind. Permission to be messy: granted.
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- 0:14 – Dylan’s chair sure sees a lot of action.
- 0:27 – Dawn is quizzing Dylan. If 1,000 random people were selected and had unprotected sex, how many would die of HIV from that one sexual encounter?
- 0:49 – Now imagine a different 1,000 people are selected. These people will drive from Detroit to Chicago. How many will die on the trip?
- 1:04 – Dylan is an educated individual.
- 1:09 – A study was done recently by the University of Michigan and they found that people have wildly skewed beliefs about STIs and HIV. Read The Atlantic article here.
- 2:16 – Researchers found that people are basically terrified of sex.
- 2:33 – Because all of our sex education is about scaring kids about the risks of sex, we’ve created a culture that vilifies sex and STIs. Sex is seen as highly risky.
- 5:07 – In a follow-up study, researchers found that a person who transmitted a curable case of an STI was judged MORE harshly than someone who transmitted a non-STI that led to death. KILLING SOMEONE IS LESS OF A STIGMA THAN AN STI, people.
- 5:59 – This vilifying of STIs is super unwarranted. Most STIs are curable and for the ones that are not, they are very manageable with proper medical care.
- 6:37 – We still have such deep seeded puritanical views on prior sexual encounters that we unconsciously punish anyone we see as promiscuous or as a whore.
- 7:27 – Stigmatizing behaviors does not prevent that behavior from happening. What’s that? SHAME DOESN’T WORK.
- 8:38 – Yes, we want people to be aware of the risks, but educators can’t put so much emphasis on risk that it drives people into a panic. That doesn’t lead to informed, healthy behavior in any situation – driving a car, bungee jumping, or sex.
- 9:13 – Dawn has a surprising number of people approach her for sex coaching who are so terrified of STIs they’ve become celibate.
- 9:39 – People aren’t scared of having herpes. They’re scared of having to tell people they have herpes, they’re scared of sex no longer being an option.
- 10:50 – We need to move away from scaring folks about their choices to accepting their choices and making sure they just know how to navigate them successfully. Like bare-backing.
- 12:05 – When you tell young people that sex will kill them (Twilight books, we’re looking at you) or if you get pregnant, you have NO future at all, of course we have generations growing up who shame people for being sexual and who make poor decisions for themselves and lie about their STI status.
- 13:14 – When Dawn recently had some tests, she wasn’t scared of the results and the impact to her body, she was scared of the conversations and how that might change her relationship.
- 13:52 – Dawn has a new therapist that she’s obsessed with.
- 14:35 – Dawn sometimes gets really emotional in her non-monogamous situation, and her therapist asked what she thinks her response is supposed to be. What came next was so freeing and eye-opening.
- 16:35 – You don’t have to do non-monogamy like anyone else. You can do it just how you do it. Find your truth and then work around it in a healthy way instead of trying to force something.
- 19:30 – Having a therapist is rad.