Home LIFESTYLE Sex and sexuality – making the youth aware and responsible

Sex and sexuality – making the youth aware and responsible

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Sex can’t be defined in a sentence, a paragraph or a page. To define sex adequately one must define life, and life is far more complex than anything made by man.

The word sex, unfortunately, is in bad repute. Every time a speaker prepares a lecture on sex education, he must camouflage the title and take refuge behind such wide-meshed screens as “Social Problems”, “Life Problems”, “Family Living” or “Social Hygiene”, which could mean almost anything from good table manners to community sanitation.

The word sex is derived from the Latin verb sexus; meaning to cut, to divide. Literally, it translates to “the sum of the anatomical and physiological characteristics that make an animal or a plant distinctively male or female.”

Sex education is a broad term used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse and other aspects of human sexual behaviour. Sexual health is considered to be a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity as defined by the WHO. To build a strong foundation for lifelong sexual health one must acquire information and attitudes, beliefs and values about one’s identity, relationships and intimacy.

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On a holistic level, the skills adolescents develop from sexuality education are linked to more general life-skills such as communication, listening, decision-making, negotiation, learning to ask for and identify sources of help and advice such as parents, caregivers and professionals through one’s family, community and health and welfare services.

Though not very different in its repute and status, the term ‘sex’ differs from sexual orientation. ‘Sex’ is the term used to refer to a person’s sexual anatomy (his or her sexual body parts) whereas ‘sexual orientation’ refers to a person’s sexual (erotic) feelings. So, when we talk about a person being homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, gay, straight or bi, we are talking about that person’s sexual orientation. Different yet from these two is the term ‘gender’ which is used to refer to how a person feels about himself as a boy/man or about herself as a girl/woman. ‘Gender identity’ is the term for how a person self-identifies in terms of being a boy/man or girl/woman – when you say “I’m a man”, you are stating your gender identity. Therefore, one can say that ‘sex’ refers to one’s biological orientation while ‘gender’ denotes one’s cultural or social orientation. Knowing your sex and sexuality apart from each other gives one the autonomy over who they are along with the confidence to make their own decisions and follow through without any second thoughts running at the back of their minds.

Educating oneself about sex includes healthy reproductive practices and the knowledge of one’s body structures and growth, but education about sexuality is a totally different ball game. It involves the introduction to a whole other class of genders that exist and the possibility of same-sex marriages along with instilling acceptability towards it or even identifying with it.

EMERGENCE OF CONVERSATION

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It is high time that we talk about such neglected but much-needed conversations on these topics to prevent making ourselves, and especially our children, susceptible to feelings of insecurity and uncertainty of who they really are. The lack of education about and inclusion of sexuality in our daily conversations with our children is the reason for the latter’s fixation on identity confusions or inferiority complexes, leading them to resort to unlawful websites to fulfil their needs. Adolescence is a highly dynamic period characterized by rapid growth and development, yet today’s youth has access to very limited knowledge about sexual and reproductive health. They know little about the natural processes of puberty or about sexual health, sexuality and reproduction. Lack of information and misinformation both have made them self-conscious about naturally occurring physiological changes such as pubic hair, facial hair, developing body parts, etc. These changes make them prone to insecurities and vulnerable to low self-esteem even though our repressive society is at fault for such feelings instead of them.

The older generation considers the young ones to be more mature and growing faster than they ever did but still, they neglect the urging need of providing them with sex-education in a safe and accepting environment. Now is the time to show the youth how much elders actually mean what they say. If there is anything that one should learn is that the topic of sex and sexuality is here to make a change and we need to change with it to move forward in progress.

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Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh
Currently head of Department of Holistic Medicine & Wellness at Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh is a mental wellness expert with expertise in relationship, lifestyle & stress management. The founder and director of The Mind and Wellness Studio Dr. Rachna Khanna has worked with leading hospitals like Fortis Escorts, Dharamshila Cancer Hospital. Her specialties include stress management, lifestyle management for heart diseases, supportive care for chronically ill patients, work-life balance, parent-child bonding, cancer support care, ante/postnatal care, relationship counselling, pre-marital & marital counselling, adolescent counselling, psychiatric & psychological illnesses like depression, anxiety, insomnia.

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