As Scarlet Ladies Chief Stigma Smasher I was there every step of the way during the creation of the #ITalkSex campaign. Initially we wanted 10 women as part of the campaign when we realised “Hang on, we are women with a story, too!” And so Jannette and I decided to include ourselves.
One of my many roles is to organise all of our events. The events are amazing and spending time with our members, hearing their stories, being part of their journey to discovering their sexual selves is absolutely wonderful.
Sex is a natural part of life and I think it is unhealthy to shroud it in so much secrecy and shame. The amount of times someone has approached me to tell me of their relief to find they were “normal” is mind boggling. I hear it too many times from women that they feel ashamed and even guilty to experience pleasure. Imagine feeling no shame being naked, no shame communicating what you want and need. How incredible would your sex life be?
The #ITalkSex campaign is sooo important and I hope it has and does reach many women across the UK and, indeed, the world. How can we expect women to have fulfilling or at least satisfying sex lives when we don’t talk about how this can be achieved?
#ITalkSex because silence enables sexual predators.
My campaign contribution was my story of rape, which is of course a very vulnerable thing to share. I was worried about putting it out there and did lose sleep over it. During the campaign any worries I had dissipated. Both the women who were part of the campaign and those on social media shared their own stories which made me feel like I was not alone and that there is hope. It was such a powerful and inspirational experience.
It is fascinating to me that, on the count of rape, it seems to be more shameful to be the victim of this heinous crime than it is to be the perpetrator. I realised that we will not be able to smash that shame unless we stand up and speak about our experiences. I do, now more than ever, truly believe that women can create the change we want to see for true equality in the world.
We have seen this recently in the Weinstein scandal. I hope that in the future it does not take dozens of women to stop one perpetrator. Hopefully, in the future we will be more inclined to believe one woman (link to busting rape myths).
Since the campaign the most significant thing for me has been the power of women coming together. It drives me to keep going with Scarlet Ladies to give women a space to talk about sex openly and freely without judgement or shame.
I’d tell my teenage self that it is OK to have needs and desires and that it is not selfish to want to have these met. I realise that a worthy sexual partner takes pleasure in my pleasure. In a way I have been denying my partners that pleasure when I did not allow them to focus on me. It also meant that I tolerated selfish lovers when I really did not need to. After all, I doubt anyone has ever looked back on their life from their deathbed thinking “I really wish I’d have had less orgasms.”.
I do talk about sex a LOT these days. Sooner or later every conversation leads down that path. Whenever my conversations go there, people are so willing to open up and spill the beans, as if they’ve just been waiting for an opportunity to come along to finally let it all out.
Talking about sex has changed my life. For one, I have decided to be abstinent for a prolonged period of time. After having been raped I tried really hard to remain “normal”, go on dates and have sex. However, those sexual encounters were always at the least unpleasant and at the worst very triggering. So I decided to not have sex with other people (I do masturbate, y’all) until I feel it is what I want to do for the sake of myself only.
From my personal experience, I cannot emphasise enough how cathartic my period of abstinence is being. Knowing your boundaries, your triggers and listening to your gut instinct are all basic essentials if you want to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling sex life.
Masturbation is also key. Knowing your body, how it feels, what it looks like (all areas of it) and what feels good in terms of how you like to be touched is important. If you know how you like to be touched from touching yourself, it’s much easier to communicate that to your partner.
There seem to be really no downsides to talking about sex. Being your true sexual self gives confidence that you take with you into all other life situations. Without fulfilling that part of our personhood, how can we be whole?
Scarlet Ladies Talks to…The #ITalkSex edition. We are revisiting our #ITalkSex ambassadors to talk; life after the campaign, teenage regrets, sex positivity and all things female sexual empowerment.
Photocredit: Faby and Carlo for #ITalkSex campaign