What does it mean to make sex normal? To Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University and sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute, it means discussing sex openly and honestly in everyday life. Her new project, Make Sex Normal, shines a spotlight on all the people who do this — and the many avenues they utilize.
Herbenick was initially bummed out by the 2012 election season, when various political snafus highlighted the unfortunate state of sex education in the country. She thought about how discussions about sex are often confined to sensational media portrayals, with little room for a multi-faceted, realistic approach. The light bulb went on when she considered her own experiences:
. . . she realized that she and all her sex-positive colleagues “have experienced firsthand how quickly sex becomes normal and everyday when we’re in a bubble of people who talk about it, who have sex books on their bookshelves, who teach about it, and who talk about it like it’s no big deal.” She wondered, “If more people engaged in everyday acts of sex-positivity, would change happen more quickly?”
We can only hope! Herbenick’s idea is to give a virtual pat on the back to the people who help make sex, bodies, and gender a part of everyday conversation. So far the project features photos from sex shop owners, bloggers, sex educators, sexuality conference attendees and presenters, writers, sex therapists, students, and regular ol’ folks, with photos of everything from sex-positive burial tombs to vulva art and crafts.
It’s great to see the ways in which even single individuals are making a difference: a creator of a deck of cards meant to spark conversation around sexuality, a person who casually leaves sex-themed books on their bookshelf for friends to peruse, a mom who blogs about sex and motherhood, someone who hands out safer sex materials at Pride parades.
The site also features the Redhead Bedhead, whom visited us for her Superhero Sex Shop Tour back in December (the tour’s over now, but she continues to publish profiles of the shops she visited — check ’em out!). Also, as big fans of Early to Bed in Chicago, we loved this picture of owner Searah Deysach’s mom helping pack up vibrator kits. And you cannot stop your heart from being warmed by this picture of legendary sex educators and partners Carol Queen and Robert Morgan Lawrence at the closing keynote of CatalystCon. Their talk was extremely moving.
If you’ve been into She Bop, you probably noticed that we also follow a philosophy of normalizing sex. It’s not hard for us — we’re used to talking about vibrators, dildos, and lube all day. We also understand how tone, body language, and word choice can help put customers at ease. But most of all, we believe that sexuality is healthy and worthy of discussion and attention. With Make Sex Normal, we know that are not alone in this crusade.