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We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'

The definitions of the word "casual" is not what you should connect with sex.

Sex

I must admit, even when I was sexually active, I never liked the term "casual sex".


I think a big part of it was because I had a sexual pattern that made it difficult for me to see that what I was doing was being casual. I've never had a one night stand. All of the guys I've had sex with, I've known for at least a year. And because (aside from my first love), I was friends with the fellas and wasn't quick to jump into bed, or wherever we decided to do it, with them, I always dismissed the idea that what we were doing was…casual.

Let me tell you something that hindsight has definitely taught me. Someone can be literally inside of you and have a totally different perspective of what's going on — from how the sex makes them feel to how they feel about you, period.

While I was thinking that, at the very least, I was having sex with men who deeply cared about me as a friend, a lot of them were thinking that since we were "close", they could A) talk me out of wearing a condom and/or B) convince me that I shouldn't expect more than some sex and laughs, and/or C) we could be part-time homie-lover-friends while they focused on finding real potentials for something lasting…elsewhere.

I defined friendship as a sacred trust. They defined it as secretive convenience.

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You know what that means, right? Although I might not have been having casual sex with them, they were certainly having it with me. How do I know that for sure? From the very meaning of the word "casual":

Casual: happening by chance; fortuitous; without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing; seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; apathetic; unconcerned

I don't know if it's my age (44) or the amount of time I've been abstinent, but what in the world would make anyone feel good about admitting that they participate in the kind of sex that is careless, apathetic and has no real intention? Even if the only intention is that we're all treated with the care and respect that we so very much deserve?

Just to make sure I wasn't the only one who felt this way, I recently went out into cyberspace to see what others thought about casual sex; otherwise also known as "the hook-up culture". Articles like "Why the Hook Up Culture Is Hurting Girls", "Hookup Culture Is Ruining Everything" (which is written by a guy, by the way), and "How Hook-Up Culture Is Ruining Dating" confirms that I am not the only one who feels the way that I do about casual sex.

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But actually, what I want to pose to you is not that we shouldn't settle for casual sex because being seen as casual should be way beneath our standards, values, and even hormonal needs, I want to talk about how casual sex is something that's actually impossible to do. Because our bodies won't let us do it.

There's a scripture in the Bible that says "There's more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact." (I Corinthians 6:16 — message!) Sex is spiritual as well as physical. OK, now watch how this all plays out.

One day, while doing some research on the hormone oxytocin, I read that science has discovered that whenever we have sex, there is a literal spiritual experience that takes place; that once we climax, we oftentimes feel connected to a higher power of some sort (maybe that's why so many of us say "Oh God!" during sex…something to think about). It's also scientifically-proven that oxytocin causes us to naturally and automatically bond with our sex partners; this is why oxytocin has the nickname "the love hormone".

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Hmm…so sex makes you tap into a higher power and bond with your partner. Not emotionally, mind you. I'm talking about what happens to us physically. Our bodies don't know if it's our husband whom we've been with for 10 years or some random we met at a party last night.

Physically, oxytocin is gonna make us connect with the people we're sleeping with regardless.

OK, let's keep going. A few years back, I watched a YouTube video that truly blew my mind! It was about all of the physical/biological things that happen to a woman during sex.

One thing that was shared is when you conceive a child with a man (whether you keep, miscarry or get an abortion), their DNA remains a part of you — brace yourself — for the rest of your entire life.

Another pearl of wisdom is the fact that our bodies are created to only have one set of sperm inside of us at a time. So, if we have a really wild weekend and have sex with more than one person within a 72-hour period (not-so-fun-fact, I've been there — I once had sex with three different guys in the same week), it's not uncommon for us to catch a cold. Why? Because our bodies are created to only have one sperm in us at a time. When our body notices there is more than one kind of sperm inside of us, it will literally abandon our immune system to try and get that "foreign sperm" out. Just wow.

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So again, our bodies take sex so seriously that when we make a baby with someone, they are a part of our DNA forever and if we have more than one sperm in us, that can literally make us sick.

My personal takeaway? Even if we've mentally and/or emotionally trained ourselves to treat sex casually, our bodies don't. Our bodies don't respond to sex in a careless way; they see intention every time we participate in the act. That alone should make us, at the very least, rethink using the term "casual sex".

So yeah, whether you decide to wait until marriage or long-term commitment, or you're all good with not being in something so serious before doing-the-do, all I'm asking you to do is not consider the sexual activity you will participate or are participating in as "casual".

For one thing, you are far too precious for that. Secondly, your body doesn't see it that way at all. And since you can't have sex without your body being involved…well.

Feature image by Getty Images.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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