This is a bit from an ourbodiesourblog.org article entitled “Sexuality, Pleasure, & Safety: How to Know What You Really Really Want.” In it, the author reviews and excerpts a book of practical sexual education, ”What You Really Really Want.” I think the book is a great blend of engaging, interactive tools (the kind that they are attempting to incorporate more into sex education in schools), and a broader scope of exploratative information. In terms of sexual education, there are several lenses one needs to engage with, including the global, cultural, and media perspectives, all as relating back to the personal.
“Friedman also provides a concise summary of confusing media messages that limit women to a “teeny window of ‘correct’ sexuality” combined with artificial ideals, followed by a dive-in exercise on media representations of women:
Dive In: Think back to some adolescent media crushes—that song or album you listened to over and over, the magazine subscription you thought would change your life, the book you picked up again and again, the movie you imagined yourself starring in, the video game you played and played and played, the TV show you just couldn’t miss. What drew you to these particular experiences? What, if anything, did they say to you about sexuality? What lessons did you learn from them that you’ve since rejected, and what did you learn that you still adhere to today? If you could go back and tell your adolescent self something about your media choices, what would it be? Get out your journal, and write about it for five minutes.
“What You Really Really Want” gradually shifts from looking at external influences that can prevent women from developing their own sexual identity to exploring different identities and assumptions about sexuality. Following sections on gender and sexual orientation, readers encounter this exercise:
Dive In: Make a list of all the words you can think of that you’ve used yourself or heard someone else use to describe someone’s sexual orientation. Don’t hold back—list the slang and slur words right alongside the more formal terms. Next, cross out every word that you think no one should ever use about anyone. Then cross out every word that you personally would never use to describe someone else. Then, of the remaining words, cross out every one that you wouldn’t want anyone else to use when describing you. Lastly, cross out any word that’s left that you would never use to describe yourself.
Write all of the words that are left in a new list. How do they make you feel? Do they describe your sexual orientation? Are there facets of your orientation that words don’t exist for? If you feel like it, invent a word that helps fill in those gaps.
It may seem like a lot of self-analysis, but that’s exactly what’s needed. As The New York Times Magazine article points out, teens have a difficult time articulating their own desires, in part due to the abundance of manufactured sexual imagery that creates false and harmful standards for what we (or our partners) should look like naked and how we should act.”