Behind the Scenes
Sex Issue Out Now
Illustration: Erin McPhee
About a week before this issue went to print, Shameless won an award for Choice in Media from Planned Parenthood Toronto. I was proud to accept it on behalf of our little indie mag, not only because we’re hardcore fans of the vitally important work that Planned Parenthood does, but because for the past eleven years, we’ve seen honest, accurate, accessible information as central to agency and choice-making.
This is especially true when it comes to sex and sexuality. I grew up in a home where we did not talk about sex. Period. We did not talk about periods. Period. I grew up understanding that there were only two genders — and that those genders were determined at birth. For a long time, I thought that men were just tall women who sometimes had beards, and I thought that babies were made by getting married, filling out a form at your doctor, and then taking a “birth control pill” which made a baby grow in your tummy.
I was wrong.
It took me way too long to figure out even the basics of old-school, cis- and hetero-normative sex and sexuality, and even longer still to figure out the complexities and nuances of the spectrum of sex. It’s much more beautiful, messy, empowering, heartbreaking, generous, draining and transformative than I had originally thought.
There are as many ways to learn about sex as there are ways to experience it. And, when we’re given spaces to talk about it openly, to ask questions, and to assert our own feelings — in our peer groups, in our families, community, media, schools — it becomes a lot easier to do the same when the stakes are much higher.
Here, at Shameless, we don’t see it as our role to provide a rundown of all you need to know about the birds, bees and beyond, and it’s definitely not our role to tell you what to practice and how to practice it; it’s to create a safe (media) space for open, accessible, representative, positive and non-judgemental dialogue, so you can take the first steps in figuring out what you need and want and make informed choices that feel right for you.
And that’s where we’re at with this issue. You won’t see any articles about sex-as-paperwork (I’ve come a long way!), but we do unpack sex-as-self-love (p.33), -complex relationships (p.12), -politic (p.18), -decolonization (p.32), -fun (p.24), and -work (p.28). We challenge media representations (p.15), explore the relationship between food and sex (p.32) and the relationship between colonization and gender (p.14). We do this knowing that there are as many ways of framing sex are there are people who practice it, and with the hopes of opening up a space to ask for what you need to make the choices you want.
Yours shamelessly, Sheila