Yes, it’s true, contraception and sex is not something that we talk about often on Her Agenda, but if we’re being real, it is a major factor in our lives, especially when it comes to the shame many women are unfairly saddled with because of it.
Earlier this month, Her Agenda founder, Rhonesha Byng, participated on a panel at a Wine + Gyn event hosted by SheKnows Media and Plan B One-Step. At the event, which sought to tackle misinformation about emergency contraception, a backup method if your ‘Plan A’ fails, Byng shared her beliefs and opinions about all things birth control and sexual empowerment. “It’s something that’s necessary when you’re thinking, ‘what is the plan for my life and what are the circumstances for me to achieve it?’” she said. “People like to use the term ‘behind closed doors,’ but what happens there affects how you feel in the real world.”
Byng was glad to have been a part of this panel because she understands the importance of talking about emergency contraception and how it can be accessed. She believes it’s okay to enjoy your sexuality while focusing on your career, without having to worry about a slip up or fumble in the dark. Sneaking off to buy Plan B on your lunch break, for example, is something many women, including Byng, have done, yet it is also something that many women would never admit.
Byng feels that we truly need to start having these conversations and weaving them into our everyday lives – whether it be at the dinner table, in group texts, or even in classrooms. Kait Scalisi, an event attendee, brought up an important point when she said that “shame thrives in silence, so when we bring people together, it creates a lot of healing and a lot of freedom.”
Wine + Gyn felt like a sex positive cocoon where women could ask and say anything without feeling judged. There was true joy in the room because women felt free and more importantly, felt safe. Panelists like Byng were open, raw and vulnerable, laughing through the stories as they shared intimate details about their past sexual experiences.
Another event attendee, Tiffany Patterson, commented “I’m really sex positive and I like to see events like this, where women can feel comfortable talking about their bodies, while expressing themselves in a safe space.”
Kendall McKenzie, a sex educator with 15+ years of experience, who was also a panelist at the event, raised an excellent point when she said, “acting like [sex is] some scary thing that only happens when grown-ups get married doesn’t work. [Kids] don’t believe you and they’re not going to feel comfortable coming to you with questions, and that’s what we want young people to do.” Teaching girls and boys about this at a young age can help to develop confident decision makers in healthy relationships.
Ultimately, not feeling comfortable having these conversations doesn’t benefit anyone. Stats provided by Plan B One-Step show that:
- 18% of women incorrectly believe emergency contraception is the same as the abortion pill, when in fact it is not and won’t affect an existing pregnancy.
- 29% of women think a prescription is required to purchase emergency contraception, when in fact you can buy it over the counter and there is no age requirement to purchase it.
- 51% of emergency contraception users did not tell their partner they used it.
- 57% of women still think there is a stigma around emergency contraception use.
Whether you’re 15 or 50, having these conversations with someone you trust can be difficult. Courtney Cleman, Co-Founder of The V. Club, and another panelist from the event, believes partners can effectively converse about EC with the ‘sandwich approach.’ This requires starting with something positive, adding in the main points that need to be discussed (like emergency contraception), and ending with something positive.
Use your voice ladies! Whether you’re in the boardroom or the bedroom. You’ll be glad you did.
This post is sponsored by Plan B One-Step and SheKnows Media.