Let's Celebrate Sex + Sexuality

Anne Sexton

The modern world has given us many wonderful things — Wi-Fi, low-cost air travel, YouTube cat videos, and the freedom to enjoy sex in ways that would have been unthinkable a few short decades ago...

One of the great things about modern Ireland is that we are no longer afraid to talk about sex. Because it wasn't always like this!

How and why have things changed? Many forces – social, cultural and political – came together to sweep away the resistance which had existed here to the very notion of individual sexual freedom. Of all the influences, it is fair to say that the most important was the emergence of increasingly reliable methods of contraception.

The ability to control our fertility has altered women's – and men’s – lives enormously for the better. At its most effective, contraception allows single men and women to engage in sex, with only a minimal risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. It also allows couples to plan if and when to have children, and indeed how many. The benefits of this ability cannot be overstated — for any woman, it enhances quality of life, career options and, of course, finances.

Contraception and medical progress have not only improved countless people’s ability to enjoy sex, they have helped to shake-up our attitudes too. We may not have had our own Summer of Love in Ireland, but gradually, as more and more people were able to access the pill and condoms, we moved from a society where pre-marital sex was hidden and risky — particularly for women — to one where it has largely been accepted.

Thus, the availability of contraception helped remake Irish society into a more liberal place and gradually eroded moralist thinking about sex. And so the important thing now is for us all to make sure that as far as possible we contribute to making the world a better, nicer, safer place for everyone to have exactly the kind of personal relationships that they feel are right for them – including the freedom to be fully sexual men and women, free of the risk of unplanned pregnancies.

Of course, things aren’t perfect. Navigating your way through the landscape of modern relationships is fun, but it is also challenging. Online dating and hook-up sites have given us more sexual options than ever before. But, in the end, it is meaningful relationships that really count.

It might be different in Utopia, but we know from first hand experience that modern sex lives can sometimes be complicated and difficult. We are human beings, after all. Which makes it all the more important for us to always be prepared. So, remember to be safe, sane and smart with your sexual choices. With great power comes great responsibility. Use yours wisely. Now, read on...

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