Healthy Sexuality: We Need Open Communication Over a Working Definition

Healthy sexuality includes knowledge, an acceptance of one’s own needs,and expression that respects the self and any potential partner by being considerate, communicative, and psychologically beneficial to all parties involved. That is a working definition, and campus should evaluate and customize it.

Please,push back against that definition if you like, because communication is the only way to improve it. We are all, to a degree, complicit in how our community views and discusses sexuality. We contribute or withhold ideas about what is healthy or not, and how those ideas are influenced by individual and communal senses of morality.

EMU’s demographics include a 44% presence of Mennonites, as well as students of other Christian denominations.  A Christian context can assume a cultural repression of sexuality. I attended a private Wesleyan high school from seventh to eleventh grade, where we were taught sexual education for a few days in ninth grade Health. The class divided into male and female groups, and we were instructed to not kiss our boyfriends for very long or we would have sex, be rejected by God, become pregnant, contract syphilis, hemorrhage during childbirth, and die. I exaggerate, but the active repression of sexuality was very clear.

Abstinence is a perfectly tenable approach, but conversations need to exceed that stance to promote health. Administrations that advocate only abstinence will be irrelevant to an important segment of their constituents.

In a setting where students are fined for being found having sex, in accordance with the CLC commitment to “refrain from sexual relationships outside of marriage,” sexual repression could be the norm. Thus, I was pleased to hear about a discussion Applied Social Sciences professor Carolyn Stauffer led last week, which openly address questions about sexuality. Topics, as I was informed, ranged from personal, interpersonal, communal, and cosmological respect to the taste of semen; and this is precisely what campus needs.

We need as many places and people as possible to honestly talk about the profundity and mechanics of sexuality. This fosters a positive understanding of ourselves and others in sexual contexts, and I encourage campus to continue the precedent Stauffer has exemplified.

-Randi B. Hagi, Co-Editor in Chief


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