If you could tell your younger sibling one thing about sex, what would it be? If you could teach your younger self what you know now, what would you say? These are the questions being answered by #BetterSexTalk, a comprehensive sexual education campaign and photo series organized and produced by New York University students.
Josy Jablons, sophomore and founder of NYU Students for Sexual Respect, Meghan Racklin, Feminist Society
president, Emilio Madrid-Kuser, student photographer, and Melissa Lopez, student graphic designer, have joined forces to spread destigmatized lessons about respect, consent, confidence, and pleasure. These are topics that are too often missing from sex ed classes — especially for high school students. The photo series features head shots of NYU students representing diverse genders, ethnicities, and communities, alongside text of their relatable, honest responses to the campaign question.
A mission of #BetterSexTalk, Jablons explained to Bustle, is bringing awareness to issues of gender-based violence and "the inadequacy and stigma of sex ed." Jablons' activism is inspired by her own experiences with insufficient education. In an interview with The Huffington Post, she said, "I entered college with no understanding of sexual coercion, with no ability to recognize an unsafe relationship. I entered college with no grasp of affirmative consent, and I blame my sex education for that."
It's no shock that much of the student body longs to tell their younger siblings and younger selves about consent. It is only recently, thanks to the tireless organizing work of young activists, that we are beginning to see consent very slowly make its way into some high school sex education curriculum, yet 74 percent of us have sex before we turn 20; information provided by comprehensive sex ed. is urgent and necessary. We know the horrifying results of a culture that doesn't teach consent: 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in college, 80-90 percent of rape survivors know their attackers, 1 in 6 American women are assaulted in their lifetime, and 44 percent of victims are under 18 years old. Mic points out that teenagers are much more likely to turn to media, the Internet, and friends when it comes to curiosity about sex, and that's why #BetterSexTalk has so much potential to make an impact.
#BetterSexTalk has received a lot of positive media attention and is starting to go viral. One hundred students have already been included in the photo series with no signs of slowing down; they are even reaching out to other universities to create photo series with numerous student bodies. Jablons told Bustle, "Eventually, I’d like to use this campaign to spark greater student activism toward legislative change around comprehensive sex ed. in the US." I'm excited to see it happen!
So, if you could give one piece of advice about sex to a younger sibling, what would you say? Let's hear from NYU:
1. You Don't Have To Justify Anything
2. You Can Change Your Mind At Any Time
3. Doing Something Once Doesn't Mean You Have To Do It Again
4. Silence Is Not Consent
5. Fear Is Not Consent
7. Don't Be Embarrassed
8. There Is Nothing Wrong With Any Act That Is Safe And Consensual
9. Every Single Sexual Partner Deserves Respect, No Matter The Relationship
10. You Should Feel No Shame
11. Sex Should Be Wonderful, So Only Do What Makes You Feel Comfortable
12. No One Has The Right To Pressure You
13. Trust And Express Yourself
14. You Are A Complex Person.
15. Sex Is Complex, Too
16. You Decide The Right Time And Situation
17. Check Yourself
18. You Are The Master Of Your Body
19. Don't Worry About What Other People Are Doing
20. And Again, You Can Change Your Mind At Any Time
If you'd like to take a trip down memory lane, watch the sex myths you believed as a child below (and subscribe to Bustle's YouTube page for more videos):
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Images: BetterSexTalk/Facebook (21)