Sex in today’s age is still a relatively taboo subject. Granted, sex is often a large part of our day to day interactions with media and entertainment but what happens when you talk about sex beyond a marketing point?
Most people shy away and are reluctant to talk about it. This mentality can have repercussions. Studies show that sex education in public schools is unreliable at best. Standards of sex education between provinces vary widely.
“A recent report by the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health suggests that schools should be doing more to educate students about sexually transmitted diseases,” says Shelly Sidval with the ATA (Alberta Teachers’ Association).
Because Alberta schools are lacking in their sex education programs, “STD rates in Alberta are high and there’s a general lack of knowledge around them,” said Dr. Brian Parker. Because of this lack of knowledge, people may be making uninformed decisions that lead to injury and disease.
“Thirty thousand people reported injured due to sex in one year,” said Parker, who speculates the numbers are actually higher due to a stigma of taboo around sex. People are too embarrassed to talk or report about it. Places to go for help are the Compass Centre for Sexual Wellness, the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton and the Alberta Sex Positive Education and Community Centre. The Sexually Transmitted Infections Clinic (previously, Sexually Transmitted Disease Centre) includes free and private testing, treatment, pregnancy testing and referral, emergency contraceptive pills and needle exchange.
“It’s extremely important for people to know safer sex practices,” said Parker. Sex safety doesn’t just involve STDs. Kink and fetishes play into some safety issues as well.
“People who engage in [fetish play] often explicitly discuss, negotiate and agree upon the activities that will take place within a particular scenario or scene before any activities commence,” said SIECAN (Sex Information and Education Council of Canada) in a 2015 report.
Communication often is key to preventing injury. Places such as the Traveling Tickle Trunk are known to have sexual items for kink and fetish play that are well researched and stocked. Informed sex lives make great sex lives.
“The average person doesn’t know a lot about sex safety or awareness,” said Parker. Making sure that you are informed about sex safety will give you a better, healthier experience with a sexually active lifestyle.
“It is important for public health professionals to have basic information regarding sexual assault,” said SIECCAN in a report.
Another problem regarding sexual ignorance is consent. How do people know where consent is given, how it is given and when to give it? These questions should be obvious answers to everyone but, unfortunately, not all can say the same.
“In 2014, there were about 20,700 police-reported sexual assaults, the majority (98 per cent) of which were classified as Level 1 sexual assault,” states Statistics Canada.
SIECCAN summarizes sexual assault from the Criminal Code as “any form of sexual activity forced on another person (i.e. sexual activity without consent) or non-consensual bodily contact for a sexual purpose (e.g. kissing, touching, oral sex, vaginal or anal intercourse).
Level 1 sexual assault involves minor physical injury or no injury to the victim. Conviction for a Level 1 sexual assault is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Needless to say, sexual awareness can be raised by educating yourself and others on best practices, consent, safe places to go for help and how to get help. Communication about sex is imperative and it is time Alberta’s population learns to be open with this subject and turn taboo into common knowledge.