Conversations with the next generation: Let's talk about Sex.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


I see your horrified judjy face. 

"Finally... she caved into the blogging pressure!"

Relax! This conversation is not about that kind of "talk". (Your unholy mind!) Rather, this conversation has its roots in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement.

We have witnessed unprecedented revelations of sexual misconduct globally, with more people opening up, and speaking out about past sexual harassment and/or abuses suffered.

Indeed, this period will forever remain etched in history as the era when the chicken finally came home to roost.

Organisations are setting up structures to prevent future occurrences of sexual harassment at the workplace and in schools. And activists daily encourage more people to stand up and call out any perpetrators, thereby setting the stage for the next generation to not see sexual harassment and predatory behaviour as "a normal thing".

Instead, that "No means NO", and the mandatory necessity of mutual consent at EVERY point, in any given dalliance.

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have proven that there is no greater deterrent to perpetrators of sexual harassment than the fact that their victims will no longer be silenced. Thus, the culture of letting the actors walk free away free is visibly being fought against (thankfully).

But it is not assured that predators will suddenly be wiped out in one fell swoop, and acts of sexual harassment will automatically cease. Even as we turn the spotlight on the predators, it is important that we also have certain conversations with the younger ones in our society – the next generation – so as to equip them in fighting this evil, and ensuring it does not survive to the generation after theirs.
Unfortunately, in the most of these conversations, there is one vital part we do not often talk about or fail to talk about ENOUGH, particularly in our African settings:

Sex.

A lot of focus is placed on the acts leading up to unsavoury incidents, and the aftermath, creating the need to speak up.

But seldom adequate attention is given to the uncomfortable in between, in which sex may or may not occur.

It is as important to have these conversations around sex; to enable the next generation understand from a very early age, that the only person with the rights to your body is yourself.

To spread the message that "giving-in for peace sake" does not solve the problem, but may instead, rear other problems in its wake, along the spectrum of which could feature STDs, unplanned pregnancies, the permanent trauma, loss of self-esteem, etc.

That despite (possible) threats from predators, there are no ‘consequences’ for speaking the truth. Rather, this will ensure that more harm is avoided.

It is important to let the next generation know that despite everything else in the world (from Social Media to weekly shows) literally screaming that "everyone is doing it... Just Do It!", there is nothing 'uncool' about not being ready to have sex at a given time. There is nothing wrong with refusing to cave in to the peer pressure to have sex, even at frat parties.

Especially at frat parties.

Our conversations should fundamentally equip younger people with foundational knowledge that there is nothing wrong with them for not wanting to "get down with it", so that they do not fall victim to reverse-psychology antics of "it is just sex".

It is never just “sex”. It is YOUR body, your life, your future.

And there is no shame in a blatant NO.

There is no requirement for a reason.

In these conversations, it is important to teach that when one is being harassed with unwanted sexual attention in the guise of “flowery advances”, the object of this undesired affection should point-blankedly remove any such coatings, call it out for the harassment it is, and in reporting any such incidents should be unashamed to clearly articulate the harasser’s wrong actions.

No sugar-coating like "s/he wanted us to be closer, more than friends. I did not really want it”. Or "s/he wanted us to 'hang-out' at the hotel".

Rather, "s/he wanted us to meet at the hotel. I asked what for and if there was going to be sex. S/he said maybe, and I said I was not interested”.

It is important that we equip the next generation with the power to be direct in conversations surrounding sex, in order to clearly establish boundaries, and ensure that their desired boundaries are not broken.

They should not be afraid to talk about sex, even without (necessarily) engaging in it. There should be no 'discomfort' or 'awkwardness'; just plain-cut conversations as should be.

And if despite all these, somehow, the predator still gets their way, we should strengthen the next generation to understand that there is no shame in being a survivor of unwanted sex or sexual harassment/abuse. 

It is important that survivors own their own narrative in speaking out, rather than caving in to the harmful culture of being labelled a “snitch”, and invariably enabling the proliferation of the culture by keeping silent.

This way, we can totally to demystify the silence that comes with rape and sexual assault, and build a tell-it-as-it-is culture, where predators realise they will be called out,  shamed, and made to face the full wrath of justice.

Again, what better deterrent than this could we possibly have?

Paz,

Meg.

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