Sexting: Let’s Talk About Sex

Posted on January 6, 2012 by

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Matt Smith, Coordinator at AIDS NB, is our guest columnist for this week’s Sexting.

One of the funnest parts of my job has to be talking about safer sex. I keep saying it, and I am sure that there are those who are tired of me doing do so, but being able to speak candidly about sex is so much fun. There is nothing quite like the look on someones face when I interrupt their valiant, yet unmistakably uncomfortable attempt to say “vagina”, and I tell them to say “twat” or whatever euphemism they are comfortable using to describe female genitalia. You see, I am not subject to the Appropriate Police the way others can be. I am required to ensure that the people I speak with know the biological or textbook terms, but so long as they can properly define the euphemism they are using so that we are on the same page, that’s all I require.

The reason I am afforded the privilege of using euphemisms is because, for the most part, that’s how people talk. Whether or not it’s okay that people use euphemisms is up for debate, but it’s not my battle. My battle is preventing and reducing the spread of HIV, HCV and STI’s in the province of New Brunswick. As you may have read/watched in my last blog post, I also coordinate the Fredericton Needle Exchange Programme. It is in this capacity that I work to reduce the spread of these viruses and infections among Injection Drug Users (IDU’s),  Sex Trade Workers, and everyone else. Not to over generalize, but many of my clients have no fixed address, so you can imagine that using “Appropriate” terms to describe oral sex or intercourse, pails in comparison to where their next meal is coming from, or where/if they will get to sleep tonight.

Having said all that, I am conscious that euphemisms can be, and many are, offensive. This is why I let my clients set the tone of the conversation. I follow their lead, and make a point to inform them that while I may not find certain terms or colloquialisms offensive, other might, and they need to be aware of that. Of course, there are a few that I find offensive and I make a point to mention it if they come up. For the most part I object to phrases that demean someone based on their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, age, etc.  I cannot pretend to know the origin of every euphemism, nor who finds it offensive or why, but I am always on the search for knowledge, and welcome it.

Yes, as you might imagine, I can make people uncomfortable. Well, it’s not so much me as it is the topics I speak so openly about. I am the person who talks about; tea, cars, oral sex, Nurse Jackie (my new favourite show), jeans, injection drug use, road trips, feminism, and condoms, all in the same tone of voice, with little or no hesitation, regardless of my audience. The photos strewn about this post are taken from my office, a most overtly sexualizes place. The photo above, is of postcards from a campaign I fell in love with known as the One Life Campaign. If you take a second look you will notice that there are more arms than there ought to be, making the photos quite creepy. The Slogan at the bottom reads “Each Time You Sleep With Someone, You Also Sleep With His Past.”. A brilliant piece of marketing as far as I am concerned. For those of you who have not been to my office, these photos sit on a shelf above my head, and over my shoulder to anyone sitting at my desk facing me. They’re quite the conversation starter I assure you. The photo to the left is of condom roses, a fundraising initiative that use around Valentines day, and they sit just above the photo array.

The idea is simple, lets talk about sex. Talking about sex is important. Not necessarily because people don’t know about the mechanics sex. In fact, in my experience, the general populations knowledge about the mechanics of sex is quite good. Even information about STI’s, HIV, HEP C, HPV, and how to protect ones self from those things is fair, but for many it is theoretical, and they may not know how to properly incorporate that knowledge into sex acts. This is where talking about sex is important. It may be easy to talk hypothetically about sex, and the risks associated with it, but talking first person about it gets a little more difficult. There can be shame around sex, or squeamishness, I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it’s fair to say that it exists.

This is why I talk so normally about sex, why my office is hyper-sexualized (For those of you who may have studied psychology, this would probably be considered a Flooding Approach), and why I get to use euphemisms, because for me, it’s just sex. It’s important, deeply meaningful for some, not so much for others, but the mechanics are the same. The risks are the same. I need people to talk about THEIR sex lives the same way they talk about their vacations, or their homes. I need them to take ownership of sex so that they will believe me when I tell them that THEY can contract these infections, even if it’s their first time, even if they pull out, even if it’s “only oral sex”, and therefore their options for protecting themselves are: Abstinence or Using a Condom. Because teaching people these things, and having them put them into practice are two very different things. And the latter is like pulling teeth!

for more information or assistance, contact AIDS NB:

http://www.aidsnb.com/

Phone (toll free & anonymous) : 1 800-561-4009 (New Brunswick only)

Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday 8:30am – 12:30pm & 1:30pm – 4:30pm

Fredericton Office
phone: (506) 459-7518
fax: 506 459-5782
e-mail : info@aidsnb.com

Bathurst Office
phone: (506) 549-1215
e-mail : north@aidsnb.com

Address:
AIDS New Brunswick (Head Office)
65 Brunswick St
Fredericton,NB
E3B 1G5

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