Sexual Messages Affect All Our Lives

Presenting to a group of Marriage and Family Therapists and students last Friday at the Austin Association of Marriage and Family Therapy monthly meeting, it struck me how we all…no matter our age, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or gender…are affected by our upbringing, especially pertaining to sex. We receive sexual messages through our parents, religious institutions, society trends, cultures, schools, regions and other communities. These messages can be both positive and negative. Some receive messages from parents that we can and want to talk about sex and your questions about sex. Others receive messages that “we can’t talk about it.” “It’s dirty.” “Just don’t do it.” Oftentimes girls become the “gatekeepers” and have come to believe that “boys can’t control themselves.” Those experiencing non-majority gender diversity or sexual orientation may feel threatened about being open and genuine in the world. These negative messages can lead to repressing sexuality and sexual expression. Instead of opening up healthy communication about sex, sex may go underground, and lead to secret acting out. Think about how you received messages about sex and what those messages are. Then share this with someone close to you, whom you trust. We can become more open as a community, one person at a time.