Saturday, February 15, 2014

5 Things to Think About Before Having Sex



I hope no one took my post last week seriously. I forgot to use my favorite sarcasm font when writing it.


I obviously have a huge problem with abstinence-only education. I’m totally okay with parents or churches teaching teenagers their values about sex within the confines of marriage, but I don’t think a public school’s responsibility is religious, moral education.


That said, I’ve always supported sex (and abstinence) as a personal choice. Whether you’re thinking about having sex for the first time or the 100th time, reflect on these five factors.

Birth Control

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If you’re thinking about having sex, especially for the first time, I’m going to take a wild guess and say you’re not currently ready to be a parent. Have you educated yourself on the different forms of contraception? Their pros and cons? Here in the United States, the only reasonably inexpensive and fairly reliable form of contraception is condoms. The Pill and other hormonal forms of contraception can be both cost-prohibitive* and age-prohibitive. Have you and your partner discussed your preferred method of birth control? Do you trust your partner to use contraception correctly? This is a legitimate concern to have before having intercourse for the first time, or with a new partner for the first time.

Emotional stability 

No two people have the same feelings in regards to sex. Right now, the feelings of only two people should matter: yours and your partner’s. Are you ready to have sex? Or are you feeling pressured into it? How do you feel about being physically intimate for the first time? There is no magical “right time” when everyone suddenly feels ready to hop into bed. You might be 16, or 21, or 28, or however old. None of your friends have had sex… or all of your friends have had sex. Who cares? Be honest with yourself about your feelings. Are you ready? If your answer is yes, the next question is equally important. Is your partner ready? Sex is a decision made between two people, NOT a decision made by one and forced upon another.


Religious beliefs 

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I am a self-proclaimed Christian who does not believe the Bible teaches against premarital sex. That said, the Bible can be interpreted in many ways, and it is hardly the only religious text of the only “true” religion out there. There are people who mock religious beliefs as a legitimate reason to abstain from sexual intercourse. I am not one of those people. If you are a follower of any religion, you should study that religion’s sacred texts, read the writings of renowned religious scholars, listen to your local religious leaders, and pray/reflect on what you’ve learned. After I examined my faith, I concluded Christianity’s push for abstinence stemmed less from spiritual belief and more from patriarchal traditions. But my interpretation is my own. If you believe your religion supports abstinence until marriage, and you genuinely want to follow those teachings, no one has the right to ridicule your decision. Sometimes you may feel alone, but I assure you, others out there will support your choice… And maybe even agree with it, and eventually fall in love with you, and marry you, and enjoy awkward honeymoon sex with you. I’m just sayin.’


Physical health

I’m taking a wild guess to say that most folks reading this are young and healthy. I am also young, but my health comes and goes. I have Crohn’s disease, and sometimes, I am incredibly ill and weak. It can be difficult not to be sexually available in a loving, committed relationship, but if your significant other truly loves you, s/he will understand. Never let another person push you to do more than your body can withstand.


Lack of desire

At the end of the day, you might not be able to vocalize why you don’t feel like engaging in sex. That’s okay. You don’t need to have a valid reason. Not feeling ready for sex, not feeling in the mood for sex, not wanting to have sex—you always have the right not to have sex, even without being able to provide a rational explanation. Your body and your sexual experiences are completely your own.


I consider myself a sex-positive feminist, but I also understand better than most how individual sexuality is. Sex should always be on your own terms, in your own time—as long as your partner is equally ready and willing. 

*Under the PPACA, hormonal contraception is still not "free." It is available without a co-pay, assuming you have paid for health insurance. But first to get a prescription, you have to visit a doctor, which still requires a co-pay. Typically you have to visit your doctor at least once a year to get a refill for this prescription. So yes, it is still cost-prohibitive, even with the PPACA.
 

9 comments:

  1. I completely agree with everything you've said here. I lost my virginity at age 15 and I was definitely too young. I gave my virginity away to a boy that did NOT deserve it. Later he used sex as a way to control me. I wish I would've thought about it more before I did it, but at the time I thought it was what I was "supposed" to do. He was my first love and I assumed that I had to have sex with him to keep him (he was a virgin as well, but wanted it much more than I did). Anyway I wish I would've read this about 10 years ago, LOL, it would've been very helpful at that time (and probably would've swayed my decision too). ;)

    xo, Sarah
    Hustla, baby.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear that your first sexual relationship was so negative. :( This is why I think consent and respect should be a mandatory part of sex ed. No one should be pressured into sex.

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  2. this is great, Belle - and you've listed totally valid things to consider just just before you lose your virginity but before every new partner (if you choose to have more than one) and, I will say as a married woman, before you're intimate with your significant other no matter how long you've been sexually active together!

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    1. Thanks, Betsy! I'm obviously a big proponent of safe, consensual sex. You're right that even within an established relationship, you still have to think about it. That was actually a huge feminist win, in the 1970s, I think, that laws changed to acknowledge that marital rape is a crime.

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  3. this is really really great. wish all teens could read this!

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  4. I haven't read your blog in so long, and I don't know why, because you are just such a refreshing breath of fresh air. I love that you couple what most people would think to be very different belief systems in a logical (to me) way. And that you do are understanding of people's ability to choose for themselves.

    And as for the post itself, all those points are so spot on. I never thought I would be a virgin until I got married (I wasn't) but I always wanted to make sure I loved the person I had sex with. And while I did slip on that 2 times, overall I stuck with what I said and never regretted any choice I made. And because I trusted and cared for the people, as did they with me, all of the questions and decisions that you listed were much easier to broach and work together on.

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    1. I'm okay with prodigal readers who come back after a hiatus! ;)

      Thank you for the compliment. I'm glad to know my reasoning makes sense!

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  5. I am so grateful that, even though I grew up in a conservative evangelical family, I received an outstanding sex education from my parents. I would wager I knew more by high school that most kids about all kinds of stuff, including birth control and consent. My parents were always available to answer any and all questions, no matter how awkward, and I credit this in significant part for making my sexual experiences with my wife less awkward and more loving than average.

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