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THIS MONTH, we celebrate the independence of our nation and our shared values of liberty, justice and equality. These ideals are what unite us as free members of society. However, when we think of these qualities, we often fail to consider them on an individual level. We understand them in the abstract as goals for which we should all strive, but how do we claim our own independence?
Our sex lives share a similar struggle. When we talk about being sexually liberated, what does that really mean? Once again, we think about it in broad terms. Some may claim to be sexually free because they are not confined by rigid cultural norms and expectations. We often express this sexual independence by being open to new experiences with different partners. While these experiences free us from the confines of conformity, we are often oppressed by something much stronger. Constant fear of STIs, unplanned pregnancy and emotional trauma prevent us from being truly free.
True sexual liberation comes on the individual level. Each person needs to discover what satisfies their desire and how to minimize fear. We have agency and choice when it comes to our sex lives. When I talk with people about harm and risk reduction, one thing I stress with everyone is having conversations with partners. There is nothing liberating about the fear of the unknown. Asking questions about someone’s sex life is never easy, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. If a potential partner refuses to have these conversations or is uncomfortable talking about these things, this may not be an ideal partner.
It is very possible to be sex positive and health conscious. In fact, these two qualities combined are the only path to true sexual freedom. I encourage everyone to claim their own sexual independence.