For some sex can be a simple equation “intimacy + pleasure = sex”

… but then to many sex is something that can vary greatly and can hold its own range of binaries: “good/bad,” “healthy/traumatic,” “affirmed/stigmatized,” “with self/with others.” We have an expectation that sex is intimate, stimulates pleasure, it’s the bridging of the emotional, spiritual and physical. However, for some sex may not be any of these things. When we came together on April 4th at #sexspeaks we – a group of Women of Color – answered this question “what is sex?” and here are some of our responses to start the conversation…

Sex is the expression of one’s intimate needs. It’s a quest for pleasure.

Intimacy – physical & emotional but also oral, vaginal, anal, consensual.

Sacred, intense, feel good exchange of passion.

A conversation, dialogue, intimacy, self-expression.

Something that can vary greatly! – (good/bad), (healthy/traumatic), (affirmed/stigmatized), (with self/with others)

Loving yourself enough to share emotions and physical self with someone special.

Sex = intimacy + pleasure

Intimacy = Love

Physical connection

The act of an expression of the power and love which we all hold within.


A physical check-in with your intimate partner.

Appreciating someone else while appreciating yourself.

Sex can make you feel the closest to someone or the furthest away from someone.

Sex can be an experience that can be engaged on an individual level or with one or more partners. Sex does not “require that individuals or their partners are a certain gender, or that a person’s body looks or acts a given way or has a certain set of abilities. Some people engage with sex later in life, some may decide not to. Sex is highly individual and isn’t based on a person’s gender, sexual orientation, age, shape or size, race, character, religion or anything else like that.”

Sex is a variety of many things and there is no right or wrong way to engage or participate but at Get Smart B4U Get Sexy we support only consensual behavior and do not support nonconsensual behavior and sex. We believe that sex involves wants, freely choosing and agreeing to do and actively participating in – no one should ever feel pressured or forced to do anything that they don’t want.

Sex is many things but one thing that is crucial to sex is communication!

Communication that is honest, expressive; which supports and acknowledges all acting participants’ voices. Communication that respects different opinions, ideas and wants. Communication that balances power and does not support oppressive systems and silencing.

Communication that openly discusses everything and where no one is shamed for any question or answer, for example…

How does that feel?

That feels great. I like to be kissed before doing anything else…

Would you want to do this _____ ?

No but I am interested in this ________. Is that something you are interested in?

When was the last time you were tested or had unprotected sex?

I use condoms with any new partner. I was last tested a month ago and I haven’t had any new partners. My test results were negative for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV.
I was tested 6 months ago and tested positive for chlamydia. I got treatment and got retested 3 months afterwards and my results have since been negative.

Do you like to cuddle after sex?

I sometimes fall asleep after sex so please don’t take offense if I do and can’t cuddle.
I like to be cuddled after sex.
I don’t want to be cuddled.

Daring to ask questions and being brave in being truthful to your response is hard but it is vital in really creating trusting, healthy relationships. If you feel that you don’t feel safe asking or responding to a question take that as a sign that this may or may not be the best situation for you and that sex may be out of the question.
There should be no shame in asking questions nor shame in your response so if there is a sense of uncertainty this could be a clear indicator that you may be in a questionable situation where you are not going to experience a life giving, affirming, pleasurable, respectful…experience. Know yourself and make your own decision before someone makes a choice for you that may go against what you want. Questions are a way for us to assess a situation; asking questions can be a survival instinct and can spark innovation. Welcome questions and be prepared for answers and always acknowledge the important questions around consent!

Communication is key because it allows us to actively be in control of what we want and don’t want. By breaking silences and discussing everything we can feel more in charge of our safety, health and well-being. Sex is many things but communication is everything to sex.

Have communication questions around sex?
Ask Get Smart B4U Get Sexy.
Send questions to [email protected].

[1] Scarleteen, “What’s Sex?”