Ongoing right now is the Scarleteen sex education blog carnival, coordinated by the always-active AAG. Many sex bloggers write erotically about the sex they have, but I often don’t. One reason for my reticence on the subject is because, believe it or not, sex is a personally painful topic.

I don’t currently have a sex life I’m happy with. I have sexual experiences I’ve enjoyed, and when I’m really fortunate these experiences happen in sequence. But a sex life? Sex as an ongoing, continual part of my experience in the world, like walking, or exercising, or relaxing, or breathing? No, I don’t have that.

When I speak to sex educators, many of them tell me the same thing. We struggle, just like you probably do, with having sex that satisfies us, with finding sex partners who freely share their desires so we can satisfy them. Despite the stereotype, just because someone knows a lot about sex doesn’t mean they do it often.

Shouldn’t we all “exercise more”? Shouldn’t we all “walk more”? Why shouldn’t we all have sex more? Not as some monumental occasion but, like exercise, or relaxation, as a mindful and intentional addition to a healthy lifestyle.

Sex and sexual expression is a part of life, like breathing. The desire for sexual fulfillment is as much an innate part of us as the desire to breathe. While we won’t literally die if we don’t have sex, nor do we require breathing education to learn to breathe, lacking a satisfying sex life can be as emotionally devastating as breathing in a way that doesn’t feel right can be physiologically damaging. Would you ever tell people who engage in certain, unconventional breathing exercises—as is the case in many meditative practices—not to do so? Then why do so many people feel justified in telling others not to have sex, either with others or with themselves?

It’s too easy to hate when you feel like you can’t fuck how you want, and that’s why I advocate for sexual education: to destroy a cause of hate.

One of the first sex education resources I ever found was, a website dedicated to male masturbation. (Jill Diddler is their unfortunately much smaller female-bodied counterpart.) What made it unique was that rather than being an erotic presentation with gratuitous cock shots plastered everywhere, it was a detailed, extensive, and user-generated collection of how-to guides for different methods of male masturbation, health information associated with each, and a community of (usually) respectful people who answered questions.

JackinWorld was, and is, the male masturbation equivalent of sites like How-To-Meditate (for example), just as valid yet unnecessarily controversial.

Another site that’s just as valid and yet unnecessarily controversial is Scarleteen:

Scarleteen has been the premier online sexuality resource for young people worldwide since 1998, and has the longest tenure of any sex education resource for young people online. We have consistently provided free, inclusive, comprehensive and positive sex education, information and one-on-one support to millions, and have never shied away from discussing sexuality as more than merely posing potential risks, but as posing potential benefits, something rarely seen in young adult sex education. We built the online model for teen and young adult sex education and have never stopped working hard to sustain, refine and expand it.

Scarleteen is “controversial” for two main reasons. First, that bit about sex education “posing potential benefits.” Sexuality is so often framed as a negative thing, that merely remarking on the potential benefits (never mind asserting its actual benefits), is deemed risqué, that it will somehow damage people to have this information. This negative-only framing is equivalent to limiting discussion of breathing exercises to the warning of, “You will hyperventilate, so don’t learn anything else about breathing!”

Second, unlike JackinWorld, Scarleteen’s focus is young people. So many people believe sexuality is inherently dangerous (thanks, sex-negative framing brainwashing) that it must be censored from young people. It is this desire to promote censorship that strikes me as abusive. When such vital, age-appropriate information about their own bodies and desires is withheld from children, I consider it a form of societally-inflicted child abuse.

We can all agree it is abusive to force people to breathe in a particular, prescriptive way, or to deny them the opportunity to do so healthily and safely—in fact, it’s not merely abusive, it’s called torture. Why do we not yet all agree that it is abusive to force people, through shame, guilt, or outright criminal prosecution, to have sex in a particular prescriptive way, or not at all?

Information about sex and relationships is critical not only for adults, but for young people as well. So support Scarleteen, and help lift sex education, like breathing education, to a higher plane.