I just took Heather Corinna’s survey on attitudes about casual sex. It’s a good survey, with lots of wiggle room and open-minded curiosity. Please go take it, especially if you’re a boomer or older, or a person of color. She’s doing research for a book, but her work in general reflects values that I support, and her first book rocks–it’s Our Whole Lives (UU and UCC sex ed class) for youth and young adults, crammed between covers.
Any time I get reminded how much sexuality education matters to me, I end up poking around the internet a bit more, where I unearthed this article at Kinsey Confidential, about how there is no universal definition of “have sex”. Corinna’s study reminded me of this as she carefully defined what she meant so she’d get some meaningful results. There’s nothing like coming out to really clarify the muddiness. If you can’t have the kind of interaction most commonly understood as “having sex”, then you have to rethink what it all means: what is sex, what is virginity, and when someone loses their virginity, can they find it under the couch? The language that we use is vitally important because to some extent our thoughts are formed in language–even when we think, we tend to use words–which means that things without names cannot be imagined, or at least it’s much harder. Imagine a sexually experienced person who has never had a sexual experience with another person in the same room. Imagine an intensely sexual experience that does not include, imply, or lead to orgasm.
Staying loose, staying flexible, keeping an open mind is a fundamental part of liberal religious practice. We cannot live liberally authentic lives if we aren’t constantly asking “what is structurally excluded?” “Who is not at the table?” Language is one of the most basic structures of our lives. What can’t you imagine? How will you imagine it? How will you allow it to stand or fall on its own merits, and not prejudge it for being different? The tools of life coaching are the tools of exactly this: picturing your life outside of what you have predeterimined to be possible. Imagine what you can’t imagine–it’s the only way to start.