FPA: Talking sense about sex

In an age when many people erroneously confuse good sex education with the idea that this can somehow ‘corrupt’ the nation’s children, talking about sex is still often seen as taboo. Kids aren’t given information they need by embarrassed parents and teachers, so they grow up without the knowledge to help them form healthy loving connections later in life. Teenagers are told that they shouldn’t be having sex, and so they don’t feel able to ask for advice. In addition, the government is eroding our hard-earned right to contraception and other sexual health services via a series of policy changes and funding cuts. Things are looking bleak.

But we can fight back. Sexual health charity FPA have been talking sense about sex for over 80 years and, along with Brook, have set up the XES Campaign to fight this backwards approach that the current government has to sexual health services. The FPA’s mission is “to help establish a society in which everyone has positive, informed and non-judgemental attitudes to sex and relationships; where everyone can make informed choices about sex, relationships and reproduction so that they can enjoy sexual health free from prejudice or harm.”

FPA offer advice, information, resources and training. They run community projects, work with the press, and campaign to change people’s perceptions/behaviour and improve sexual health services. It is extremely important that anyone who appreciates the benefit of good sex on their general health and wellbeing gives their support to organisations like FPA. A healthy attitude to sex is extremely important in so many ways, including the positive effect it can have on our self esteem and body image. Last month, Amanda Jones wrote a moving blog post about why she chose to run the London Marathon to raise money for FPA:

As far back as I remember, I had deep insecurities about my weight. My early teens were punctuated with pockets of anorexic or bulimic activity and by my university years I was firmly in the grips of an extreme and devastating eating disorder. […] Even with therapy, medication, love and time – when my value system had been effectively re-written – there remained one problem: though I no longer saw my body as the be-all-and-end-all of my self, I still didn’t like it. At all.

For me, this is where sex came in. Good Sex; loving, informed, communicative and fun sex, was part of the way I reconnected my mind with my body and learned to love it, the way other people seemed to. Being comfortable talking about it, looking at it, showing it – being around people of all shapes and sizes all using their bodies as a tool for joy and connection, as opposed to pain and segregation changed the way I saw myself. It stopped being ‘me vs. my body’ – a concept so loaded with ownership and division – and started being just ‘me’.

I hope this goes some way to explain why, then, when I heard the FPA were looking for someone to run the marathon in support of them, I said yes.

Despite a training schedule heavily disrupted by illness and injury, Amanda gritted her teeth and approached the start line with a steely determination on Sunday. She planned well, paced herself and managed to complete the entire London Marathon course in an impressive six hours… and she was still smiling at the end! If you don’t believe me, check out my photos from the day on Flickr. We don’t all have to show our dedication to the cause in such an extreme way though – after all, Amanda kindly ran the marathon so we don’t have to. You can, however, still donate to Amanda’s Just Giving page. Please give whatever you can and spread the word to help her reach her target. It will be the perfect celebration of a fantastic personal achievement, and will provide much needed funding for a truly wonderful charity.

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