What if we thought about sex like shoe sales?
Just, hear me out.
So, let's agree, first, that most things in life exist on a spectrum. Right - wrong; feminine - masculine; gay - straight; monogamy - polyamory; you get the picture.
Next, let's apply this to shoe sales. You can sell one of two pairs of shoes, each on opposite ends of the spectrum.
The first pair is magical. It's the every person's shoe. They are not only comfortable, but they are ergonomically designed to correct your posture which is the domino effect that improves your quality of life. The materials are ethically sourced, in fact, it's made of 90% recycled popscicle sticks (I don't know but I just at a popscicle so that's what you get). Employees are not only paid and treated fairly, they get full benefits including mental health support and doggy (& baby) daycare is provided by the company. The employee's hours are flexible and they are rewarded with quarterly financial bonuses - you get it, ok back to the shoes. They are completely odourless, even in the hottest of months, on the sweatiest, most hard-working feet. They are aesthetically beautiful, stylish, modern yet classy. You offer a variety of patterns and styles so that customers can have a pair for every outfit, because they do go with every outfit. You can do anything in these shoes! Lift weights, run, do yoga, go to the beach, climb a mountain, conquer world hunger... again, you get the picture. The shoes are dope. Everybody wants them. AND THEY COME BACK FOR MORE. When the shoes finally wear out, they come back to you for another pair because they LOVE them SO MUCH! They had such an incredible experience buying the shoes, because obviously your customer service dept is #onpoint, and wearing them out on the Camino De Santiago, that they come crawling back begging for a new pair, and willing to spend their hard earned money because they TRUST your business.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have a stinky ass pair of flimsy flip flops for sale. The materials you're using causes waste and pollution, your employees are treated like dirt, your customer service department blows poopsy bubble chunks, people are developing back problems and bunions from wearing your shoes, they're ugly AF. Like, I'm talking, worse than crocs. Yea, I went there. You can't even walk in a straight line in these shoes. They're uncomfortable, they stink, they make your feet stink in a way that makes your whole apartment stink worse than the cat lady's apartment down the hall. You used false advertising to sell the shoes and no one, I mean, NO ONE, is coming back for seconds. In fact, your return policy is nonexistant, and customers feel taken advantage of. Spoiler alert, you go out of business and everyone in your home town knows you as the ass hole business person that took advantage of the population at large. You are shunned from your village. (Unless you're a man in which case they shun the women than bought your shoes for being a slut).
WHAT KIND OF SHOES ARE YOU SELLING?!
Now that you've endured my metaphors, let's get right down to the nitty gritty of it.
WHAT KIND OF SEX ARE YOU HAVING?!
See what I did there? Let me lay it out for you. Remember, we're on opposite sides of the spectrum here, for the purpose of making a point so just hang in there with me.
You see a person you are innately attracted to. You feel the tectonic plates beneath you shifting to bring you closer, the stars aligning just right so that you could have met exactly now in this very moment. You respect this person. You offer them a gesture of kindness which they accept or don't - in which case you say "I wish you well" genuinely, and move on with your life because it's not mutual and that's okay. But for the purpose of this story... You offer this person emotional support, you are a team, you love them unconditionally, and the sex is magnificent. You use protection, you check in with them along the way to get that enthusiastic consent that is SO sexy, you both orgasm, you venture into unknown territory satisfying previously untold desires and kinks, it's pure magic. That person feels loved, they feel supported, they come back again and again, or not because sometimes a one night stand is fun, but again, for the purposes of the story... You had a great time, they had a great time, and the world is better for it because everybody had an orgasm and orgasms make people happy and happy people are kind people... you get it.
OR, you meet someone who is obviously FUCKED on alcohol, drugs, and may or may not have some emotional trauma they're already working through; you take them back to your place. You fuck them without protection, or permission, after they've vomited in your bathroom - you didn't hold their hair. That person wakes up, groggy, hungover AF, no idea where they are, who you are, what happened the night before... They gather their things and leave, ashamed, regretful, deeply uncomfortable. They later find out that they have HPV which leads to cervical cancer and eventually kills them. Ok I went a little dark there but REMEMBER, we're on the other end of the spectrum here. To tone it down a bit, maybe you went on a date with someone and they said, I'm practicing celibacy right now, and you encouraged them to have a couple more drinks past their limit, knowing that might help your chances at getting lucky. Maybe they accepted your offer to come back to your place for one more drink but they said simply, "I don't want to have sex, we can do other stuff, but I don't want to have sex." and you somehow convince them to change their mind. They're going to leave feeling shitty about that experience. Is that what you want? Is it really worth traumatizing someone just to get your dick/pussy wet?
Pickin' up what I'm puttin' down?
If you're going into business for yourself, and you want to build a successful business, my guess is that you'd sell the comfortable shoes, assuming you have morals. So why not look at sex the same way? Why wouldn't you give someone a safe and positive sexual experience littered with enthusiastic consent instead of one that leaves them feeling taken advantage of? I'll admit, I'm the Samantha of the group. I've had a lot of sex, but the overwhelming majority of those situations, I'd take back if I could. I came across a quote recently that said "No, doesn't mean 'convince me'" and it really stuck with me.
I'm not a therapist, and I don't play one on TV, but there's something about growing up as a woman in this world that makes us believe that we're here for the pleasure of men. Something that prevents us from standing in our power and protecting ourselves from being taken advantage of. I respect that everyones feminism is different, but mine recognizes that although I should be able to be blackout wasted and half naked at the club by my self without being taken advantage of, that's not the world we live in. But it shouldn't be all about self defence either, let's get to the root of the problem. Which - if you ask me - is how we're raising young boys. We need to allow them to empathize with women, instead of telling them to shut down emotionally. I don't have a plan on how to do that.. I just think it's the little things.
If my niece is playing with my hair, trying different styles with clips and bows and my nephew wants in on that, I'm not going to tell him that's for girls, I'm gonna be like "yea, little dude, make me beautiful!" We need to talk about consent in school, so that boys and girls both know what that looks like. We need to let girls know that being labelled a "tease" is just like being labelled a "slut": stupid. We're allowed to be with multiple partners if it's safe and consensual, just like we're allowed to stop when we're no longer comfortable. We need to teach boys how to respond to that in a way that doesn't make the girl feel bad. We need to teach everyone how to masturbate, and that it's okay to do so! After all, how are you supposed to tell your partner what you do and don't like if you don't know! We need to make communication during sex, SEXY! "Are you okay?" "Do you like that?" "Tell me how you like it."
Sex education is important on so many levels, and just like taxes and credit and investing, we can't rely on our parents to teach us. It needs to happen in school. Learning about these things in a group setting - without separating the boys from the girls - can only help take away some of the awkwardness around it. It allows us to be there for each other. Like that kid who encouraged his fellow male classmates to bring pads/tampons to school to help their female classmates. Now more than ever, we need to understand each other because I think that is ultimately the yellow brick road to mutual respect. Aka less raping.