Let’s talk about sex: consent, communication and connection

Sex is something that I speak freely about. I’m not obsessed by any means, but it isn’t a conversation that I shy away from. I’ve only really started speaking about my own thoughts and experiences of sex in the last year or two. It was a topic I avoided for a long time; it was a scary subject, and I never felt comfortable in myself to ever entertain the idea of sex, let alone engage in the culture. Now, it’s a different story. I find it funny to talk about my own terrible almost one-night stands, things that guys have said during sex which has resulted in me darting towards the door. Times that felt good and, unfortunately, times that really, really, did not.

it is your body, and you can do whatever you want with it. You shouldn’t let someone else’s opinion influence your own

Sex shouldn’t be a shameful topic at all. We need to be able to talk about sex and anything related to sex if we want to – STDs, abortions, contraceptives (and where to go if they fail!). In addition, consent and communication is vital. It’s so important that we allow students on this campus to be able to talk more openly and feel safe when it comes to sex. The universities need to do more for their students. Although Exeter has demonstrated research into sex culture, nothing is directed towards the social wellbeing of students. Falmouth however has showcased sex-themed creative projects but, again, has little to do with supporting their students with sex culture. The universities do not engage with this culture in the way that they should.

Personally, I don’t think that STDs should be seen as something that’s overly embarrassing or shameful. Things happen. Condoms break, you might not be aware of symptoms, and sometimes other people don’t disclose STD information when they absolutely should. Chlamydia, for example, can be hard to spot in certain cases and dangerous if left untreated. However, if caught early on, antibiotics can be given, and the problem is usually solved. Self-testing kits can be done at home and are easy to do. Results usually get back to you quickly, and help is there if you need it. SH24 is a popular online health clinic, and their packaging is discreet and easy to use (and the kits are free!). For Falmouth and Exeter students, Brook has a sexual health clinic in Falmouth. Sexual Health also offers broader online information with any sexual health inquiries if you feel more comfortable doing your own research first. If that’s not available in your area, other providers are available, and walk-in clinics are always a good option. You can find your nearest one here through the NHS website.

Another big topic is pregnancy and abortions. Before I talk more about them, there is one thing I want to make absolutely clear: It is your body, and you can do whatever you want with it. You shouldn’t let someone else’s opinion influence your own.

If you feel that abortion is what you want to do, that is okay. If you want to proceed with your pregnancy, that is also okay. If you don’t know what to do and your lost, that is also okay. It can be a hard decision to make for some, and if you need to take time to think about it, you are 100% allowed to. Help is readily available if you need it, regardless of your choice. Organisations such as Pregnant at Uni provide plenty of information on your rights and where to go if you need support during your pregnancy. Equally, if you want to terminate your pregnancy, the NHS page on pregnancy terminations provides a plethora of information and guidance.  

What I really want to talk about in particular is consent and communication. My friends and I have been in situations where we felt pressured to do things that we didn’t want to do, and times where we engaged in sex purely because the other person wanted to. There’s been situations which made me feel like I got taken advantage of, and it impacts me a lot more than I want it to.  

You can say no. You don’t need to provide a reason for saying no. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. Feeling pressured to have sex isn’t consent. Consent is being enthusiastic. It is making sure that each party involved feels safe and is able to communicate without judgement. Sometimes, boundaries and safe words need to be included, and in those circumstances, each party involved needs to be aware of said boundaries. Sex can involve anything you want it to. How you define sex is up to you.

I really hope that this article has provided some help for you and has allowed for sex to be less taboo and easier to talk about. I’m not a professional by any means, but I am someone that wishes they knew about this sort of stuff when I was younger. Even more so, I wish I understood more especially before coming to university.

It’s okay to enjoy sex, and I hope that if you engage in it, you always enjoy it.