4 Ways To Fight Old School Sex Views

I recently came across a YouTube video of a woman discussing gender fluidity and the controversy of a subgroup of people wearing a different bracelet every day to indicate which gender they identify with that day. The intention behind wearing the bracelet was to let the people in their lives know what gender they should refer to that person and she was debating why this was a bad idea.

Now I honestly couldn’t get into the video as I was distracted by the thought that there are so many people out there quick to make comment on why someone does something they don’t agree with or why a certain way is good or bad. Our culture has become so analytical about the way others live their lives which I believe takes away from the daunting and sometimes painful task of looking at ourselves and why we harbour judgements towards others in the first place. I believe that the amount of negative energy we invest into other people-either in the form of blame, anger, shaming, being jealous of or just being cruel towards-could at times be an attempt at offloading the negativity we put onto ourselves.

Difficult sexual lifestyle discussions
Image: Confrontational discussions

I am realistic enough to know that we cannot make our judgements of others disappear. In fact, being judgmental is a trait that once served humans – It was our ability to judge a situation that kept us alive (e.g. Is that lion walking 100 metres away going to run over and kill me?!).  I do however believe if we are to become more loving and compassionate human beings, it’s important to be aware of the judgements we have in regard to how other people choose to express themselves and know how we can ourselves live in integrity without condemning others for their ways.

How to navigate difficult conversations

I completed a Sexual Attitudes Reassessment intensive week for my Sexology degree which was a process of observing and assessing the judgements, opinions and biases we hold towards ourselves and others in a sexological context. Our lecturer told me something so simple yet so profound that changed my approach to all my interactions with others, especially when discussing controversial topics that trigger emotions. He said instead of telling or lecturing, instead of trying hard to make someone see something another way, instead of condemning them for their beliefs and judgements, approach the interaction with a genuine sense of curiosity. Ask them questions about why they feel a certain way about something. Be curious about getting to know the deeper reason behind their opinions.

Sexual attitudes reassessment
Image: Angry confrontation

It seems so easy but to put this into practice takes a great deal of self-awareness and a commitment to avoid emotional reaction. It’s so easy to project your emotions onto someone when they say something that makes us angry, confused or upset because it’s often the only way we know how to behave. To step away from reacting from that place and to dig deep into where they are coming from makes way for greater connection and greater understanding of others in the world. From this place, we practice empathy and compassion for others.

I want to put this into an example so you can understand this more clearly in context. Imagine you are in a conversation with a new friend about legalising gay marriage in Australia and they say something along the lines of “I don’t think they should be allowed. I just don’t understand gays, it’s not natural.” (I have heard this).

Showing empathy and compassion
Image: Practicing empathy and compassion

Depending on your own beliefs and values, reading this alone is likely to trigger an emotional response. It is easy to get angry or upset with that person if you believe in the right to marry for all people regardless of their sexuality and that any sexual preference is acceptable. Yet how you approach this conversation can mean the difference between that person retreating further into their opinion or changing it to a more accepting and less judgmental opinion. With a sense of curiosity, it may involve asking that person why they think that homosexuality is “not natural” or what it is about homosexual people getting married that they don’t like the idea of.

Often people carry outdated ways of thinking throughout their lives from the conditioning of parents, teachers and governments without giving much thought into what is true for them. (Believe it or not, there used to be ads on television warning young people of homosexuals as they were a danger to young children). Just by asking these questions you may be a catalyst for that person expanding their awareness and changing their opinions.

Integrity and courage quote
Image: Integrity quote

There are some points I feel are important to consider when having a conversation with someone whose opinion you do not agree with:

Ask questions

Questions lead to exploration of oneself and just by asking them, you trigger a curiosity and greater self-awareness for that person

See it as an opportunity to grow not a confrontation

A conversation with someone that has a different opinion than you is a perfect chance to practice compassion, open mindedness and acceptance for others. It doesn’t need to turn into a s**tfight!

Be kind. Understand that you are in no way perfect

Uphold your boundaries and avoid conforming to their way of thinking in order to people please yet be sure to maintain an open mind.

Don’t waste energy trying to change people

People are going to live their lives exactly how they desire, all you can do is stay true to yourself and practise love and compassion for others.

Author: Stephanie Curtis, Sexologist

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Meet the newest member to our team of experts. Stephanie Curtis is a sexologist with a huge capacity to care. Involved in spirituality and tantra her articles are professional, articulate and interesting. Enjoy Steph’s writings at the adultsmart sexual wellness and health blog.

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