Let's roll back the clock a few years to high school or middle school, or whenever it was that your school offered sex education — if they even offered it at all. Do you remember talking about consent, enthusiastic or otherwise? What about power dynamics in a sexual relationship? Or orgasms — did your teacher even mention the "O" word?
For way too many millennial women in the U.S., the answer to all of those questions is no. As Taryn Crosby, a sex educator and therapist in Brooklyn, remembers it, no one even told her that sex should be pleasurable. Instead, they focused on how not to get pregnant.
It's no secret, of course, that sex ed is failing just about everyone — we've been talking about it for years. But in the rash of sexual assault and harassment conversations taking over social media since Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was outed as a serial abuser in October, it's easier to see exactly how this dearth of sex-positive advice is affecting the lives of millennial women. The line between bad sex and #MeToo is likely thinner than many people would like to think.
Obviously, it's not 100% on women (or any one person in a sexual scenario) to avoid bad sex; it's up to everyone involved in a sexual encounter to pay attention to their partner's needs, Crosby says. And while we'd never suggest the responsibility of safe and consensual sex be put entirely on women, maybe if we'd had a few more of those conversations in sex ed — talks about power and agency and pleasure — then women would be better prepared to recognize the root of coercive or bad sex for what it really is: the societal norm for a woman to please and for a man to take.
In an effort to finally learn these important lessons, and unlearn others, we've talked to several sex-positive educators about pleasure, consent, orgasms, and never settling for sex you don't want. This is the sex advice many millennial women never got — but should have.