The secret life
In season 2, episode 12, they say the word “sex” a total of 70 times in the 45 minute episode. While the overuse of the word might seem excessive, it is frankly not surprising.
Sex is in our entertainment, in our news, in our politics, in our language, in our science, in our education, in our music. There are a lot of people who really like to talk about sex. While the title of the show may be The Secret Life of the American Teenager, the fact that teenagers have sex is not really a secret.
What is a secret is that there are people who do not experience sexual attraction, it is called asexuality, and it is not really talked about much.
We have come a long way from the Victorian era of sexuality where even thinking about sex was practically obscene. Openness about sex and sexuality has done many great things for society. Openness leads to education about sex, information about how to have safe sex, and it has broken down some of the stigmas about sexuality.
Last November, Minnesotans decided not to enshrine marriage inequality in the state’s constitution when they voted against the amendment proposing that Minnesota define marriage between one man and one woman.
While marriage equality is still not law in Minnesota, there is a lot of political momentum in favor of it, suggesting that Minnesotans are becoming more open about the legitimacy of other forms of sexuality. There are a lot of people who have become very comfortable talking about sex, in both their personal and public lives. However, our conversations about sexuality remain very limited in scope.
Sexuality is actually a more nuanced topic than gay/straight. Heterosexuality is when someone is sexually attracted to someone of the opposite gender. Homosexuality is when someone is attracted to someone of the same gender. Bisexuality is when someone is sexually attracted to both women and men. Polysexuality is when someone is sexually attracted to more than one gender. For some, this might sound a lot like bisexuality, but bisexuality implies that there are only two genders that one could theoretically be attracted to, male and female, but gender is actually much more fluid than that.
Some people say that there are in fact three genders, others say five, I have also heard seven genders as well as nine genders. Don’t believe me? Take a GWS class. Polysexuals do not want to apply the two gender framework to their sexuality. Next is Pansexuality; pansexuals are sexually attracted to people without regard to gender, this is also known as omnisexuality. This is definitely not an exhaustive list of the many ways in which people can be sexually attracted to each other, but additionally, people can also be asexual, where they do not experience sexual attraction to anyone.
Some of these terms might be new to you. For many people the idea that there are people who do not have any desire for sex is practically blasphemy, whether because of one’s own personal perspective of sex or the media’s representation of sex. But the reality is that there are.
I do not think that we should stop talking about sex. But I do think that we should change how we talk about sex. The dominance of media messages can box people into identities that deny why they actually are and it can shame people into closets.
The continuation of those pressures in our own conversations does not help. Sexuality manifests in many different ways, and the conversations that we have about sexuality should do the same.