This was published in the Tulsa World today. A fitting conversation to have on Mother’s Day!
Last night I had the opportunity to be participate as a panelist after screening the movie It Happened Here. This moving documentary explores sexual assault on college campuses through the personal testimonials of five survivors who transform their experiences into a springboard for change. Find a screening near you! For those of you in West Michigan, Loutit Library has a copy you can check out.
Our young people are simply inundated with adult sexual content – without being given the tools to deal with their own sexuality and the repercussions of their choices. We have traditionally framed our approach to sexuality in the context of shame based teachings. Shame is not an effective tool for experiencing healthy sexuality. If we are going to reduce sexual assault, we need to talk realistically about sex in a way the builds a foundation of self respect. People who respect themselves, do not disrespect other people.
- Sexual assault and abuse need to be criminalized. Young people need to know that their actions will be taken seriously. They need to know that there are stiff criminal penalties and real life consequences awaiting anyone that violates another human being.
- Our culture needs to stop glorifying male sexual conquests – that only creates an unhealthy need to prove one’s manhood through sexual encounters.
- We need to recognize that college students are watching and using internet pornography and that this affects their world view. We need to talk candidly about the differences between pornography and reality. We need to understand that pornography provides a lens for objectifying human beings so that we can present forums that re-humanize people and offer tools for healthy relationships.
- We need to talk realistically about sex in a way the builds a foundation of self respect because people who respect themselves, do not disrespect other people. When we use shame-based teachings, we tell people that they are not safe sharing their true thoughts and feelings. We take away opportunities for insight and growth and drive unhealthy thoughts and behaviors deeper underground.
- We need to make it clear to young people that there is never an excuse for abuse and it should never be tolerated. We need to give them tools to identify abuse in their own lives so that they choose to make healthier relationship choices.
Society is polarized between the idea that sex is a sin and sex is a sport. We need to find that healthy place where we celebrate our sexuality and treat it with moral integrity – a place I call Sextegrity.