For the past month, I have been outlining the efforts that the CDC has been making at affecting positive change in a variety of public health realms. The last topic that the CDC has listed as being a Winnable Battle pertains to reducing the use of tobacco products.
While this is an extremely important issue, and a fight that the CDC, the US Government, lawyers, medical providers, educators, business professionals, farmers and interested individuals have made huge strides towards influencing, I am not going to talk about it in this article.
In the spirit of the holiday (a Halloween twist/trick!) and because this will be my last submission as a contributing writer, (sob, sob!) rather than explain the tremendous litigation victory of resilient-people over evil-system, that the fight against tobacco represents, and what you can do to sustain it (friends don’t let friends start smoking!!) I thought it would be fitting to talk about everyone’s favorite subject: obviously -- sex. More specifically, the importance of discussing it.
Perhaps as an empowered reader, you are quite comfortable bringing up subjects like “How Exactly To Touch My Clitoris,” or “Signs That I Might Have Chronic Yeast Infections,” or “The Effect Birth Control Has On My Discharge Consistency,” or “Positions I Can Do That Make Olympic Gymnasts Jealous”.
But the truth is, a large majority of the population is not comfortable even THINKING about these subjects, let alone bringing them up with a partner, parent, provider or the public. This is why networks like EmpowHer are SO important for women and everyone who has ever interacted with someone who identifies as a woman.
It is the constant stream of shared experiences, critical commentary and probing questions from the millions of diverse perspectives that make EmpowHer powerful.
To illustrate, imagine your annual check-up: It is likely that your health provider won’t spend more than 12 minutes examining you. The sterile environment and awkward/exposed positions you are asked to assume can make your questions feel silly or not worth asking.
Or think about your interactions with a partner -- even if you are extremely open and honest with one another, certain subjects (put my finger WHERE?/you like it when I WHAT?/your body does that, WHY?) can be difficult to bring up over morning coffee.
Or even more telling -- remember your 12-year-old self, going through a multitude of physical, emotional and social changes that you never anticipated or were given advice on how to handle. The messages you see/hear in the media, from your friends, from your teachers, from your parents, from your doctor -- they are all different!
You feel uncomfortable asking your parent/guardian to help you do laundry, let alone asking about information on sex, drugs and rock and roll! (Which obviously, your parents never experimented with anyway ...)
But online forums have the ability to provide an outlet for these questions that we are too nervous to bring up in a face-to-face context. They allow us to get feedback from people around the world who have experiences similar to ours, or who can share their new and unique perspectives.
Of course, the anonymity of a blogosphere also carries dangers and caveats: in the words of a character in the recent movie Contagion, “blogging is just graffiti with punctuation”. It is true that one should not believe everything he/she reads on the Internet, and that certain sources of information are based more in opinion than in fact.
I admit readily that I am guilty of incorporating my opinion into a large percentage of my articles! But I promise -- the statistics and medical information are all from respectable sources! (That comment is for you, Dad.)
Therefore, it is truly each of our responsibility to be active -- not passive -- readers. Only by sharing our experiences, posing our honest and most uncomfortable questions, thinking critically about the information available, and expressing our opinions/points of view will we continue to be the amazing, empowered group that we are!
Each person who comments, who asks a question, who writes an article, who tells a friend about something they read, is allowing our society to become better informed, better connected and better equipped to achieve holistic health and wellness. This is empowerment. This is what I am grateful for in the EmpowHer community.
Be well! Be safe! Be sexy! Thank you!
Edited by Jody Smith