My Story: Dealing with the Stigmatization of Sexuality
By Amy Agigian —
Steph shares an experience with nonconsensual sex and realizes that she was not taught enough about sex. She wishes that she had learned more about relationships and what consent looks like, rather than learning that sex was for married couples to procreate.
Steph: I mean there was that—though we didn’t really talk about sex, there was sort of like the unspoken understanding that sex was just a thing that was going to happen after I was married, so it was something I did not have to worry about before then. So I, for sure, would have loved to know that there were other paths out there, so that I did not feel so much shame and guilt, the first time I did have sex.
I wish that the lessons that we were taught in school acknowledged that sex was about more than just the risks, that sex was about more than just procreation. I wish that it was at least acknowledged that sex could be a way for people to come together and be close and experience mutual pleasure.
OBOS Today: I wonder if you could talk about how the deficiencies in education, how that affected your sex life when you were first having sex.
Steph: So—Lord almighty. So um—the first time I had sex, it was with someone I was dating, but it was nonconsensual— he coerced me into having sex.
So, at the time I was a little bit blindsided because, again, I, even then—again, I was 19—even then, I had just assumed that I wouldn’t be having sex until I was married, so I wasn’t even thinking about it, I wasn’t taking birth control.
So, it just happened, um—and then I just continued to have sex with him, because—I thought that I loved him, and I thought that was the only way that I could keep that relationship going.
So, one way in which I feel sex education is deficient is in teaching us about those other aspects of sexuality. Like leading up to, you know, in early childhood and beyond, like teaching us about the relational decision-making that should occur with friendships, with romantic relationships—teaching us that we have ownership of our sexuality as women, in particular, for me as a woman in particular, that I had ownership of my sexuality, that it wasn’t something that I had to feel obligated to engage in. That I could just be like “No, I’m not ready.”
Like I wish there were conversations around that, and I know that now there are so many programs where in college they’re trying to teach affirmative consent, but that’s—I mean, that’s great, but it’s way too little, too late. So, I feel like things need to start so much earlier and be about so much more than, “Oh my God, here’s all the terrible things that could happen if you engage in intercourse.”