Change Your Words

WLLC Student, 2015-2016

When considering ones wellness, much of ones perceived wellbeing is based on their interactions and relationships with others. In the transition into adulthood, relationships with those around us change drastically with the introduction of romantic and physical relations. The point arisen by Al Vernacchio in his TED talk, “Sex Needs a New Metaphor,” is that we as a society have an innately unhealthy relationship with sexual activity due to the common colloquial metaphors we use to describe it. This observation is completely valid, and something that should be looked at seriously in order to improve future generations relationship with sex.

Vernacchio identifies that a conversation in America about sexual activity could easily be confused with that of baseball due to the many common phrases and comparisons. He addresses many ways that this comparison fosters unhealthy conversation; however the main ones are that this metaphor is innately sexist, bias towards heterosexual relationships, and addresses sex as a mere scheduled act rather than an action of need or desire. The alternative conversation that Vernacchio offers is to think of sex as one would pizza. This alternate metaphor encourages better conversation to happen as it categorizes sex not as a game to be won, with opposing players and an ultimate objective; but rather an experience that is always different depending on circumstance.

While every point mentioned above is excellent and reason enough to make the personal switch of metaphor, I feel the most important point that Vernacchio raises is the difference in connotation with consent. He tells of a baseball game being a scheduled event, in which a player is never really able to tell the coach “hey, I think I’ll sit this one out.” But rather, when it is time to play baseball, you have to play baseball. Pizza on the other hand is something that one is more than able to refuse. If you recently ate, are on a diet or just don’t feel like pizza, you are always more than welcome to just not eat pizza. You can tell your partner, “I’ll have pizza tonight but only if it’s thin crust with mushrooms,” and your partner can than decide if they also would like that kind of pizza, or if they wouldn’t. After you order a pizza, you can also decide not to eat it and have something else for dinner instead. The main difference: relationship with choice.

In a culture striving to create a healthy sexual activity, it is vital to consider the hidden message that words have. Making constant effort to communicate the topic of sex in a way that fosters a healthy understanding of what it is to have physical relations with someone is vital when considering that persons are becoming sexually active in their early teen years. Starting the conversation early and making it very clear to younger generations that sex is a mutual experience that no one is entitled to, but rather required to have permission and enthusiastic consent for is how we can bring up a generation that has less incidences of forced sexual activity. While conversing about sexual relations is uncomfortable for some people, it is important in order to set a standard of what we as a society expect to be thought of sex in order to mold how future generations to feel about the issue.


Source: Vernacchio, Al. “Sex Needs a New Metaphor. Here’s one…” Ted. N.p. Mar. 2012. Web. 03. Mar. 2016.

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