Forbidden Words: Sexual Health | It is time to change our culture of shame | originally published on

When it comes to sex, the most uncomfortable people in the room have all the power” Doug Braun-Harvey, Certified Sex Therapist

Few topics in our culture are as fraught with problems than sex and sexuality—especially sexual pleasure. Ironic, isn’t it, that something so central to our very existence and our happiness is so infected with shame and misunderstanding that so many of us feel uncomfortable even seeing the word in print?

This was dramatically illustrated by a recent experience I had while in the process of moving my office to a new location. My practice operates under the name, “The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health.” But when the name was listed on the building directory, I got a call from the building’s owner.

“We want to have a neutral building that doesn’t have any words that are upsetting to people,” he said. A pediatrician in the building had filed a complaint, concerned that her clients—parents and children—who saw the sign would be offended and take their business elsewhere. The owner asked others what they thought “sexual health” implied, and he reported that most thought it meant there would be sexual offenders in the building. It never occurred to me that these two words could be so widely misconstrued.

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