People...I often get called names. Not the ones you’d expect like, “Hey Lady Stud Muffin,” or “Oh Most Holy Bringer of Orgasms”. No, the names I get called are unpleasant and to be honest, quite rude. It doesn’t bother me when people call me “Satan’s whoremonger” or “Shameless smut peddler”, but it does make me feel sorry for them. You see the things that I talk about (hint: it’s sex), make a lot of people very uncomfortable. And the fact that sex still makes people uncomfortable, makes me sad.
Sex shouldn’t be a source of discomfort or even confusion. Sex should be as simple as pursuing the things that you enjoy with as many like minded, consenting adults as you desire.
Instead sex is something that we still refuse to properly educate our children about on an academic level, let alone talk about on a personal level. And if we’re not educating them and we’re not talking to them, why are we still surprised and outraged when they turn to the internet, porn and ill-informed peers for their information? I guess what I’m saying is, will someone please think of the children?!
Humanity has a long history of not talking about things. Personally, I blame the British, but then I forgive them again, because crumpets and tea.
Throughout history, people have systematically avoided talking about the things that they deem “inappropriate”. And good god how I hate that word.
It’s a way of saying that certain things don’t fit a certain mold. It’s inappropriate to have blue hair if you’re working in an office. It’s inappropriate to discuss politics at the dinner table. It’s inappropriate to have that tattoo. Inappropriate is a way of making people feel uncomfortable about expressing themselves. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that might be rude, or disrespectful (like playing "Ding Dong the witch is dead" at your great aunt's funeral), but these things are not inappropriate, they’re inconsiderate and that’s a huge difference.
Inappropriate is the lemon sucking pucker of distaste for a thing that confronts you and challenges what you think is ‘proper’. Inappropriate is the reason that for decades we never discussed mental health and mental illness. Instead we politely locked away the people that were behaving inappropriately. We put them in institutions that lacked the funding to research said inappropriate behaviour and so treated them worse than animals.
Inappropriate is a word we ascribe to things that we don’t want to understand or people we don’t want to associate with. But we never stop to consider the implications of this, and trust me it has some fucking big implications. When we decide that a certain topic shouldn’t be discussed, we are saying that there is an element of shame attached to it. We did this in a spectacular fashion with mental illness and it’s taken until now to begin to undo the stigma attached to talking about ones mental health (and we're still a long way from perfect).
I’ll tell you right here and right now, I have a major depressive disorder and I often think about suicide. I’m telling you this because there is absolutely nothing wrong with me saying that. I’m not ashamed and I’m not going to apologise. I’m lucky, because I don’t give a single fuck about discussing my mental health, which means that when I’m having a depressive episode I’m not embarrassed to ask for help. My friends know, my family knows, my partners know and that means I have all the support in the world when I need it. My lack of shame has helped other people save my life. Unfortunately not everyone with a mental illness is so lucky. Some people still believe that they should be ashamed to have depression, or anxiety, or bipolar, or any other quirk of chemistry that makes their brain different. And when they’re at their lowest they might be too afraid to reach out, because no one talked to them and told them it was okay. Because it’s inappropriate to talk about mental health.
We did the same thing with menstruation. Up until the last two decades it was considered a topic that shouldn’t be discussed in polite company. The result of this has been that most women, throughout most of history, have been taught to be ashamed of their own bodies. Once a month, for a whole week, these women were convinced that they were unclean, unsavory and that their suffering (because yes, periods do cause suffering) was inappropriate to discuss. So many women grew up not knowing what was happening to them or how to deal with it, because someone felt it was inappropriate to talk about it. If you spontaneously started bleeding out of an orifice tomorrow and it didn’t stop for a week, wouldn’t you prefer it if someone had given you a heads up? Perhaps told you that despite the pain, the bleeding and ongoing discomfort, you weren’t in fact going to die. Instead they look at you and say “Oh don’t be gross, that’s not something we talk about. It’s inappropriate.”
We did it the same thing with domestic violence. It was improper and inappropriate to discuss other people’s private lives, even if it meant that a person was being systematically abused. We would rather let people be beaten, verbally abused or sexually assaulted than have the fucking conversation to end it.
The result of this is a society who will blame the victim of domestic abuse by asking “Why didn’t they just leave?” instead of asking the right question, “Can I help?” We made victims feel ashamed of themselves, because we didn’t want to talk about the fact that a man was beating his wife, or didn’t want to address the fact that a partner was systematically abusing their spouse. When we don’t want to talk about something, we’re sending the message that there’s something to be ashamed of and yet we then wonder why a victim is too afraid to ask for help.
All of this is why I say “Fuck inappropriate”. When you tell someone that something is inappropriate or any variant on that word, you're telling them “you should be ashamed and I’m embarrassed by you”. And that makes you a mean person.
When you tell me that I shouldn’t talk about sex, that it’s inappropriate to discuss my vagina, to have a dialogue about masturbation or to address the issue of sex work, you’re saying to me and the world “You should be ashamed to talk about this.”
Well, I’m not. I’m not ashamed because there’s NOTHING wrong with talking about something!
Conversations breed information, they open minds and help to develop curiosity, so why in the name of Hugh Hefner would I want to avoid that?!
Mothers worry about what their sons will find on the internet, that porn will distort their views and expectations of sex.
Fathers worry about daughters getting pressured into having sex, or into performing sexual acts that they’re not comfortable with.
And yet all of this worry and concern isn’t enough to prompt an open and public dialogue about sex.
When you tell people that something is inappropriate, when you make people feel ashamed about talking about it, you’re either forcing them to get their information from other avenues, or worse, denying them access to any information at all.
This is how we end up with people who don’t understand what constitutes rape, people with distorted views of what “normal” sexual practices and expectations are, people who spread infections and disease because they don't understand how to be safe, and people who are so ashamed of the act of sex and their bodies that they will never be able to enjoy it.
Why would you want that?
If you feel that talking about sex is inappropriate I want you to do me, and the world, a huge favour. I want you to sit quietly in your own home and close your eyes. And I want you to ask yourself a very important question. Why?
Why does talking about sex make you feel uncomfortable. I don’t want you to do this lightly either. Don’t be satisfied with the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t tell me,
“Because sex is private and we shouldn’t talk about private things”.
Push further than that. Why is sex private? Why shouldn’t we talk about private things? I’m actually begging you right now, on bended knees, please ask yourself the question. Because until you do, until you start asking yourself why it’s inappropriate, why it’s wrong, you’re going to keep making other people feel ashamed. And my guess is if you’re unhappy about conversations about sex, there’s probably a lot of other discussions in life that make you unhappy. I don’t want you to be unhappy. I don’t want anyone to be unhappy. I have depression remember, I know what it’s like to be miserable and I wouldn’t wish it on all the people who have called me “whore” or “slut” or “fugly mole person”.
The reason I talk about sex is because sex is a wonderful thing that has the power to make people happy. It has the power to bring people together and give them beautiful exploding orgasms. Why wouldn’t you want to talk about that? So please, please ask yourself the question and don’t stop asking the question until you get an answer that you think is good enough. An answer that really addresses why we shouldn’t talk about things. An answer that you can apply to mental illness, domestic violence, menstruation, homosexuality, infidelity, suicide, terminal illness and the litany of other topics that we have proven fall into the same category of “inappropriate”.
And if you can’t come up with an answer? Then maybe, just maybe it’s time you started talking about it.
That is all.
You may go now.