March is Women’s History Month and one of the issues facing women and not often spoken about out loud is sexual health. Lynette Medley, founder of the group No More Secrets, would like to change that.
No More Secrets is an organization dedicated to providing a realistic approach to sexual health. By doing that we have an open, honest discussion around sexuality, awareness and religion,” she said.
Medley founded the organization after realizing that public institutions such as those in the religious, mental heath and education sectors often did not hold such conversations.
“I wanted to start having these open conversations so people can start making more informed decisions around their sexuality that directly affect their life choices,” she said.
Sexuality is more than just physical intimacy, according to Medley, and it has ramifications far beyond the bedroom.
“A lot of times people just assume that sexuality is just reproduction and safe-sex practices but sexuality has to do with how you carry yourself and self-esteem,” she said.
Because sexuality encompasses so much of a person’s life, Medley says that No More Secrets discusses such things as etiquette, domestic violence, breast cancer survival, building self-esteem and abstinence, among other things.
No More Secrets works with religious groups, which often promote abstinence for unmarried people. But No More Secrets goes deeper, helping participants to understand and learn to value their bodies and to understand the decisions they make concerning them.
“We also work with schools and universities around sexual awareness and have open and honest, candid conversations to evoke realistic transference of learning as opposed to putting stigmas behind it,” Medley said.
Because of the stigma placed on sexuality in many circles, Medley said she is often confronted with the issue of sexual identity which is very common. Yet a significant number of those she meet in her sessions say they have not found forums to openly discuss this topic.
“A lot of time that identity is put on us from an external source as opposed to internal,” she said. “Even mental health professionals are having issues around sexuality and mental health because they don’t know how to put them together. They don’t know how to ask for a sexual history because they are uncomfortable really having that conversation.”
Gender roles are given to us from the moment we are born, according to Medley. How males and females act and what tasks they perform in the home and society are externally derived but a problem can occur if circumstances change. Yet ideas about respective roles are inflexible and unable to account for such changes.
If men are defined by having financial success, a home, car and children, for example, those males who are not financially successful, do not own a home and don’t drive a car may compensate by doing the only thing defined as manly left to them in this society: procreate.
“They say to themselves, if I can’t have a car, a house or a job making lots of money then at least I can be a man and make babies,” Medley said.
More information about No More Secrets can be found at nomoresecretsmbs.org.