My Asian American Perspective: Let’s talk about, what?

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Sex is a natural part of human life, and although a conversation within an Asian/Asian American household will probably be unnatural for some, it’s important to have this conversation now. By speaking candidly about this topic, perhaps this can create an opportunity to speak openly about other “taboos.” (JustaMonster/Flickr Creative Commons)

If you’re wondering what the “what” in the headline is, it’s probably one of the most taboo subjects in the Asian/Asian American community: sex.

Hi Mom and Dad, I’m writing about sex today.

The subject at hand is something rarely talked about in Asian households, as far as I know. In my family, it is rarely talked about, if at all. The closest I’ve ever come to talking with my parents about sex is that it’s something better left for later on in my adult life, for when I’m ready to have kids.

This lack of transparency on sex is dangerous, for a variety of reasons.

For young women, it could make them feel slut-shamed. Sex is an act of physical pleasure, not just a method of producing children. Why shouldn’t sex be enjoyable? Pursuing sex in that way should not be shameful. One should be able to explore another part of themselves and be supported. It truly is an intimate act that may need to be discussed before or after the fact.

Having a family member as a support system to come to for questions, no matter how awkward they may seem, is important in the character development of a young person.

Talking about sex to young men as well will teach them about respecting others. Sex must be a mutual agreement between two people, and teaching that level of respect when discussing sex is essential to putting a stop to the slut-shaming culture that many Asian/Asian American women face.

Women of color have been more prominent and vocal in the #MeToo movement, which thankfully went beyond a social media trend and made it to the desks of real change. However, and maybe it’s because I haven’t been following that aspect of the movement as much, but there did not seem to be much focus on sexual harassment and sexual assault against Asian/Asian American women.

I wonder if perhaps that is because of the lack of transparency in speaking about sex, the sense of perfectionism at all times that permeates the culture and the unspoken rule that your problems are your own and are not meant to be shared with others.

I speak about sex between a man and a woman, but what about sex between others of the same gender? Already, same sex couples are beginning to have their day in Asian/Asian American culture, especially with the recent coupling of two Vietnamese women on “The Bachelor: Vietnam.” Two women confessed their love to each other on the show and are now living together in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

As progressive as this is, if conversations about sex, regardless of the gender of a person, are not had in households, then how progressive is it, really?

I remember taking a short sex education course in middle school. As in, the most that was ever talked about was using protection. I think parents in the Asian/Asian American culture take it for granted that the school will teach their children about this topic; something that can be taught as easily as reading or writing, left completely out of their hands. The class never provided me with any tactics on how to start a conversation with my parents.

I would not know how to approach my parents about the topic of sex at all. I would not even know what we would talk about or how the conversation would go. Is it my fault for not knowing how to broach the topic with them? Or is it their fault for not starting to talk about the topic earlier in my life?

Sex is a natural part of human life, and although a conversation within an Asian/Asian American household will probably be unnatural for some, it’s important to have this conversation now. By speaking candidly about this topic, perhaps this can create an opportunity to speak openly about other “taboos.”


Kimberly Nguyen is the associate managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kimberly.nguyen@uconn.edu.

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