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How can we have a better, more engaging, and less harmful conversation about sexuality?

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Host: Dr. Lindsey Doe

Directing/Filming/Editing: Nicholas Jenkins

Titles: Michael Aranda

Executive Producer: Hank Green
[Intro]   I think there are ways we can do less harm when we communicate about sexuality. I think we could be smarter about language so that what we say is better because of how we say it.   These aren't rules, they're suggestions.   Starting with the word 'Both'.   For example, we say "When getting ready for sex, both people should wash their hands." But unless you know you're speaking to a monogamous couple, 'Both' ostracizes non-monogamous couples from the conversation.   The same goes for phrases like: "Both ways", "Both men and women", "Both tops and bottoms"   My suggestion? Think outside the binary black and white. Avoid adjectives like 'Both', 'Neither', and 'Either', and use adjectives like Many', 'All', 'Every'. So it would be something like: "All genders experience some form of discrimination" or "All sexes need STI protection."   I understand the confusion here. These terms are used interchangeably in day-to-day speech; they're synonyms. But, used correctly: 'Sex' refers to the hormonal, chromosomal, and anatomical traits that characterize someone as male, female, or intersex. 'Gender' refers to how the individual identifies - socially, behaviorally, psychologically; it's how they identify in terms of their femininity, masculinity, androgyny, or undifferentiation.   As we continue to learn more about ourselves, there will be even more terms to describe the complexities of nature. Until then, try to remember that 'Sex' is a physical, genetic, chemical makeup, whereas 'Gender' is the performance, the feelings, and the expression.    Menstruation falls under the category of 'Sex'; carrying a purse with tampons in it -- under 'Gender'.   If you don't know how a person identifies, it's okay to ask. And it's really easy to start with a "Hi, my name is...." and wait for a name in exchange. After that, build a little rapport, and then ask what the person's preferred gender pronouns are. They may be 'They', 'Their', 'Them'.   Singular plural? WHAAAT?!   I know that schools and society at large have been telling us that we refer to a single person as 'They' or 'Their' we're grammatically incorrect. Alternatively, 'It' would be disrespectful.    English is very dichotomously gendered - 'He', 'His', 'Her', 'Him'. And it's been this way for a really long time.   If someone prefers the pronoun set 'They', 'Their', 'Them', break the rules! This is respect.   This one is hard for me.   I enjoy swearing; it's like a jolt of power. And I appreciate a sharp insult when it makes its point - "Don't be a dick." for example.   Here's a sex problem. When I say "Don't be a dick," what I'm telling the person is "Stop being mean.". Same with other [beeped out swear words] "Wanker." 99 of the 100 most offensive slang words are sexually related. Ughhh.   These terms. These sex terms are so ingrained with attacking others that they're actually inappropriate to use in sex education. I'd like to be able to say [beep] when referring to the vagina. Or, [beep] when teaching about anal sex. But because sex is so rampantly associated with hate and anger, I'm censored.   Solutions? Focus more on my shortcomings so I have more to do than criticize others for theirs. And expand my vocabulary.   "Lindsey, there are people who can't, won't, or haven't had sex. There are people who are angry about it. Sexual information can be a trigger."   "Some people can't see or hear you, some people are differently abled; they need chairs, slings, caregivers." There are people who are perpetrated and people who have been hurt everywhere.   This is where I need to be aware of my erotocentricity - my sexuality is not necessarily THE sexuality. So when I'm figuring out how to talk, this is where I'm working the hardest to be better.    Just because there are sexual majorities, doesn't mean that the majority of your audience is sexual majorities. Communicate that way.   I do. Non-verbally I look at people respectfully, I move playfully, I laugh at myself, I show my human-ness, and this is all with the goal of safety without shame. When I open my mouth I try to tell my story about others, rather than speaking for them. I acknowledge asexuality and abstinence upfront. I include gay, bi, and poly characters in my scenarios.  I don't talk about perpetrators as bad people, and I don't talk about victims as broken people. If I use sexual euphemisms I go with something relatable like 'Doing it' or 'Playing', rather than 'Making love' or 'Bumping uglies'. I try to dodge verbs like 'See', 'Hear', 'Speak', 'Watch' and replace them with more unifying ones like 'Communicate', 'Understand', 'Learn'.  And I don't coddle - there's no "That's too bad" or "I'm sorry" because for someone else the same experience could have been positive and they don't deserve to be judged by my sorrow. Okay?   See if you can tell the difference.   Intact versus uncircumcised. Rapid ejaculation versus premature ejaculation. Yes - sure. Different sex drive - frigid. Partner - husband. Adventurous - promiscuous.   I like language that motivates self-acceptance and creativity, so I choose words like 'Rapid ejaculation' and 'Intact' - the left side of the list.   There are thousands of choices I make to reframe sexuality, because I know its effect.   Practice up and stay curious!   Sexplanations is having an anniversary - June 10th marks one year of this amazing process. Also, I want to let you know that I will be driving across country, from Missoula to Stowe, Ohio, and maybe up to Niagara Falls, and you are welcome to catch me along the way.    A special thank you to all of our Subbable subscribers - this show would not be possible without you. If you'd like to join us in that effort, as an anniversary gift to yourself or to us, please do so by clicking right here. A new perk is Nick and I doing a commentary of the first episode of Firefly. Awesome.