We are all aware of the issue going around today involving sexual assault and harassment. While some cases will always happen (as there will always be bad people out in the world) I like to hope that many of the others could be avoided if only people were better educated.
This is something that needs to be talked about. As a 25-year-old woman, I lived through an interesting (but wildly unhelpful) era of sexual education that extended well into adulthood. This stemmed from a massive lack of discussion from peers, parents, or media, creating a dangerous lack of understanding for young people.
How do romance novels fit into this? Keep reading, I will talk about that after my (mostly justified) rant about sex ed.
In elementary school
I was taught about menstruation, and where babies come from. I was taught about anatomy I had no reason to know about for at least another few years. Not once was anything important mentioned, like:
- Healthy Relationships
If I had been taught from an early age to only be around people that make me feel good, treat me well, and respect me, I could have avoided a lot of awkward experiences in middle school.
In Middle School
This round of sex ed we were taught more advanced anatomy, how to use a condom, and were shown videos about STDs and how they spread. I even vividly remember a terrible animation with a lightbulb and a toaster trying to explain that men get turned on faster than women. Important, I guess, but they were still lacking something huge:
- CONSENT, CONSENT, CONSENT
- Information about how to communicate a lack of desire or diffuse unwanted attention
In High School
Now we are getting to the interesting part, high school. When some people actually have sex for the first time. It is awkward, fumbling and mildly dangerous. Emotions are high, libidos even higher. People fall hard, then turn around and cheat, spreading who knows what to who knows who. Hearts get broken and there is usually a baby or two thrown into the mix.
Turns out I was lucky, my school taught about contraception, not just abstinence, but I still had a couple pregnancy scares and had to go behind my mother’s back to have any access to birth control pills or condoms.
Why is it so hard to teach safe sex? Kids have sex. Everyone has sex. So why aren’t we talking about it and preparing them to have healthy relationships?
I don’t have a sexual psych degree, nor have I studied them with a magnifying glass, but I can still see the biggest cause of many of today’s problems, teenage pregnancy, rape, sexual harassment, abusive relationships, and painful sex (and yes, this is an issue for many women). I could go on, but unfortunately, everyone has had their fair share of uncomfortable situations. So, what is the cause?
It is because people don’t talk about sex enough!
Most people learn about sex and relationships through trial and error, either their own experiences or their friends. Most of the time it works out, but some blunders can be disastrous for themselves or others.
This is where romance novels fit into the discussion.
A vast majority of romance authors thrive at writing healthy, successful relationships with a massive variety of people. They highlight relationship faux pas and mistakes and show how to overcome those issues (like proper communication).
This image may be true, but romance novels are so much more than that…
Women who read romance novels get exposed to numerous relationship types, they see different sexual fantasies, and really start to discover what they are looking for in a person, without having to deal with the trial and error.
Men who read romance novels learn how to act in a relationship or while dating. They learn what women like and what is okay behavior.
And, let’s be honest, both genders who read it learn some kick ass sexual moves and discover desires they likely would have never found on their own.
Want to learn how to pleasure your partner? Want to learn how to pleasure yourself? Read a couple books and you will be on your way to expert.
The most important thing about romance novels is it allows for communication about sex without the awkwardness talking about it out loud can bring. Which, believe me, will start to disappear as you read more. Why be embarrassed about things everyone likes?
Everyone’s ideal relationship will be different and you shouldn’t have to fly blind and hope for the best when trying to find your perfect one. Expose yourself to stories, learn from other people and don’t be afraid to seek out what you desire.
And for the love of god, start talking about sex.