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Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

Dear Cam, I've always been a sexual person, but I haven't been dating in the last few months because of life – school, work, family, that kind of thing. Because of this, I've been unintentionally celibate for a few months, and sometimes I feel like something is wrong with me. Is celibacy still valid even when you don't plan for it or have a super deep meaning, like for religion, attached?  -Accidentally Celibate   Accidentally Celibate, Celibacy doesn't often get enough love in the sex education world, but sex positivity means empowering everyone to make the best choices for themselves by providing information on everything. And if other sexual acts can be pleasurable and valid, why can't celibacy? For those who are unfamiliar, celibacy has a variety of definitions, but it's best known for being interpreted as the abstaining from sexual activity. Google dictionary defines it as "the state of abstaining from marriage and sexual relations", but that seems very detached from how we regard other forms of sexual expression in our lives. Where sexual activity is often connected with other parts of our lives, celibacy is too often seen as separate, disconnected, and "less than". It's a looked down upon choice because the norm in our society is that everyone should want to and be able to have sex. That simply isn't true.

Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

Cam, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on manifesting and channeling your sexuality in a positive way. How to own your own sexuality and confidence without succumbing to extremes? -Spiritually Sensual Spiritually Sensual, This question got me really excited with its complexity. Firstly, it's important to understand exactly where your sexuality is coming from? These are questions that you can write down and figure out through journaling, meditating, or talking to a trusted person in your life (to yourself works as well) but some places to get started:
  • When you think of your sexuality, what comes to mind?
  • Do you associate mostly positive or negative emotions to it - and how do you want to be feeling about it?
  • What areas of your sexuality do you want to change? What areas do you want to celebrate?
These are just guiding questions to get you thinking, of course. But it's important to understand the totality of our sexuality; they are not passive, one-dimensional light switches that we turn on and off whenever we choose. They are part of us, just like our fears and other desires. Sexuality is a healthy, natural, human spectrum of desire and action that deserves to be celebrated! Of course, the ways in which we're allowed to celebrate and own our sexuality have varied throughout culture and history. BIPOC - women and femme folks in particular - have often been demonized and punished for expressing their sexuality. Today, while mainstream feminism acknowledges the need for everyone to feel as sexy as they choose, that privilege is often extended solely to cis white womanhood, as if sexual liberation is the height of oppression for all.

Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

Dear Cam,  I've been dating for a few months, and there's one person in particular that I've been really into. Our dates have been fantastic, but I'm ready for something more. When is the right time to move to getting physical with someone new? -Taking The Plunge Dear Taking The Plunge, For many of us who date and have sexual experiences, this is a frequently asked and pondered question. In monogamous culture, there's an assumption that there's a timeline that folks need to hit to ensure that the relationship is "on the right path"; at certain times, we're expected to date, kiss, become exclusive, and everything after. There's an expectation that everyone who dates has the same goal of falling in love, getting married, having children, and living happily ever after – there's nothing at all wrong with these things – but isn't it kind of fucked up to assume that everyone will want these exact things, in that exact order? Whether you're monogamous or not, there's no escaping the cultural pressure to subscribe to this kind of dating and relationship model. The first part in my response to you, TTP, is something that you might already know but is worth reiterating: you don't have to hit a timeline or do things by a certain time for them to be valid. Every relationship – romantic, platonic, monogamous, non-monogamous, and everything in between – evolves at its own pace, and placing a one-size-fits-all model to how relationships should look does a disservice to our individuality and places unnecessary pressure on the folks in that relationship.

Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

  Dear Cam, How exactly do I address consent in casual relationship settings? If I'm in a longer-standing relationship, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to talk about literally any topic....but if I go on one date with someone and I'm not vibing them then they kiss me or grope me or touch me in some way that my body is adverse, I get uncomfortable and can't find the words to defend myself in the moment. Sometimes it's because I shut down, other times I just prefer the out that I can ghost them and use that as a way to avoid the in-person confrontation. If I don't know the person at all, I'm fine. You creep on me at the bar or catcall me I'm telling you to your face to not sexually harass me, but it's this weird in between where I almost feel a sense of either guilt, or obligation, or fear that clouds my ability to speak out. -Casual Consent   Dear Casual Consent, I think your question is an increasingly important one. There's so much conversation lately about the ways that desirability, consent, and autonomy spill over into our everyday (*ahem* sexual) lives, and I think that we don't really allow much space for navigating these things in ways that are free of confusion and awkwardness. When I first read your letter, I immediately thought that this wasn't so much a question of consent itself – you already seem to have a firm grasp on that – to me, your question speaks more about boundaries. Boundaries are a tricky thing in itself – for women and people who have been conditioned and socialized as femme folks, we've been brought up with this idea that other people's needs should come before our own. Empathy and compassion for others are admirable traits, but because conversations about autonomy and boundaries weren't accompanied, the message that most of us received was that what we want and need aren't as important as our partner's wants and needs, whether they identify as cis-het men or not.

Ask Cam is not going to be a sexuality column that you're used to - it is a space where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

As intersectionality becomes more of a buzzword and an opportunity for mainstream (*ahem* white feminism) to co-opt Black-specific labor, I can't help but see similarities between social justice activism and how we explore, talk about, and navigate issues of sexuality. I've written before about how sexuality affects how we view our identities and navigate the larger world. But in my time exploring how social justice affects marginalized people, I find that we rarely have space to talk about how sexuality plays into all of this. And not just the basics of the act of sex - the where, how, or how long? How does social justice and intersectional spaces make space for us to navigate the nuances of this, the cracks of sexuality where identity, internalized oppression, and individual awkwardness spill together to create something new?

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