In a world in which sex is constantly being made into such a big issue I just can’t believe my eyes when I read articles about what children/teenagers nowadays learn – or rather not learn – about sex, from both their parents and in school. Such as this disturbing article by Julie Zeilinger on mic.com: These Old-School Myths Everyone Keeps Telling Girls About Sex Need to Go, about sex education in the US. I summerize:
- If sex education even takes place, the big message is abstinence.
- Sex is only legitimate when it occures between two heterosexual people of different genders.
- The penis is a magic wand that will change a girl’s life. Virginity and losing it is therefore a life-altering experience for girls only.
- For women sex is about making babies. For men it is about satisfying their natural urges.
- Sexual Trasmitted Infections (STI) are hardly being spoken of. If a woman has a STI, she is being told she’s damaged goods and must have done something to deserve it.
- Sex should be consensual so no means no, but if a girl at some point decides she wants to stop, she is a bitch because she doesn’t let the guy finish.
The overall conservative idea is to keep young people in the dark for as long as possible. The less information the better. This strategy might work in another world, one in which sex is not everywhere we look: not in commercials and advertisements, not in music videos, not in TV series and movies, not on the internet. But that’s not the case.
How can adults expect young people not to wonder about the most natural thing? Haven’t they seen the Blue Lagoon? Small children masturbate by default. When puberty hits, their bodies change. Hormones start spraying. They fall in love. Youngsters will have sex one way or another and that should be completely normal. The only way to make sure our children will have wonderful, positive sexual experiences, is to give them multifaceted, broad-spectrum information.
Not just girls by the way, as the title of Julie Zeilinger’s article seem to suggest. I wonder why she did not speak with boys about the topic as well, for they have their own set of problems concerning sex. Other than that we can clear up girls all we like, but if their male opponent still believes sex should only be fun for him, it is a waste of energy. This by the way is something I can get super worked up about!!! I do not understand why there are so many men out there who do not care if the woman is having fun in bed as well. They want to fuck, come quickly and are happy? Really? He may have had a great orgasm, but we all know that does not stick. The memory of an orgasm wears off. I am not saying there should be love involved, not at all. But I am convinced a sexual encounter with either your partner or a hook-up is so much better – and sustaining – if you are able to give pleasure to your counterpart.
For me it does not make sense to have sex with someone without also wanting to please that person. First of all, if all I want is an orgasm, I just do it myself. I am emancipated that way 🙂 If I desire to have sex with someone, his pleasure is not only a compliment but also my lust-catalist. If two people understand what the other one needs to be sexually happy, if they sexually fit together, that’s when sex gets mindblowing – and worthwhile. A man does not give a damn should just lube his fleshlight, watch porn and get it over and done with. Feels the same, saves him the trouble of finding a girl and trying to convince her she will have a great time with him. Costs less too – no need to spend money on drinks.
I don’t see any reason why someone would want to have sex with another human being if he does not want to be a good lover. As Tracey Moore writes on her website Jezebel: “….the essential part of what it means to be a good lover is to take pleasure in giving pleasure. It means moving past the squeamishness we’ve all had in some way or another about sex parts and treating sex as a mutually respectful, very fun way to relieve stress that both partners should benefit from. Bad casual sex between hetero men and women may have reached near epidemic levels, so listen up, boys: why not get over yourself and be part of the solution?”
Let’s get back to the topic of sex education, the birds and the bees. What can we adults do to help our offspring having the best possible, respectful sexual experiences? We can start by being completely relaxed about the topic of sex in general – it’s just sex, for heaven’s sake – and inform our children. Don’t give schools the complete responsibility to clear up your child about sex. Most information should come from people children trust – and those people are/should be mum and dad. This is how I’d do it:
- Don’t be weird about nudity. Don’t feel uncomfortable when your toddler sees you being naked. Let your child be nude. It feels great and there is nothing abnormal about it.
- Call every bodypart by its name. Penis, testicles, vulva, clitoris, labia, vagina, buttocks. Doing this is the first step to be able to have a normal, future conversation about sex.
- If a toddler touches your genitals, don’t freak out. It is just curious and it has no sexual meaning. Just gently put its hand away and say that it’s your penis/vulva.
- If your child comes into the bedroom early in the morning and sees your morning erection, just call it what it is, say that this sometimes happens and that it is normal.
- If a child starts asking questions, it is ready for the answer. Of course you don’t have to be detailed or very specific.
What is sex? It is an activity between two grown ups who like each other.
What is masturbation? It’s what you do when you touch yourself.
What does gay mean? That’s when two men or two women are together.
- When a child is touching itself next to you or when other people are around, just ask it to continue in its room. Don’t say it is weird/dirty/… That’s the beginning of making sex into something to be ashamed about! The child is exploring its body and that’s a good thing!
- I can’t speak from my own experience just yet because my child is only four, but I strongly believe that when I do the things mentioned above it won’t be that awkward for her to talk with me or her father about sex. If she doesn’t want to, I will show her all the books I have on the topic and she can get informed by herself. So: have books and magazines and don’t hide them.
- A teenager is bound to ask what the first time is like. Don’t transfer your possible negative experience onto your child. Don’t say that it is no fun at all, that it will be over before you can say blueberry pie, etc. It doesn’t have to be this way. It also does not have to hurt and a girl does not have to bleed. Tell your child that when both are ready, it can be a good experience. Explain that it is important that he/she wants to have sex and does not feel pressurized by his/her boy- or girlfriend or his/her friends in general (“because everyone is doing it”, or “you can’t still be a virgin!”).
- Answer the questions your teenager has in a neutral way and let him/her form his/her own opinion.
- Pornography. It is out there and your child will get in contact with it. Here it is important to explain what pornography is and what it is for. Pornography are converted sexual fantasies to get turned on by. Although people may do some of the stuff they see in porn movies, it is not the reality of sex – certainly not for unexperienced teens. I think I will probably say I would prefer my daughter not to watch it because I don’t want her to get the wrong impression. I would offer the option to watch some ‘alternative’ erotic movies on her own. But the reality is that I probably won’t be able to prevent her seeing whatever else is out there.
- You sense your child is about to have his/her first sexual experiences? Buy some condoms in different sizes so that he can try out which condom fits best and she has them with her as well. Also offer to discuss the need of condoms or give something to read about STI’s. Sure you can get your girl on the pill to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, but that does not do much against (throat) chlamydia, (throat) gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, HIV, aids, etc., now does it?
- When you feel you have cleared up your child the best way you could, show that you have trust in his/her judgement to make good decisions. Showing trust means a big deal to a teenager! Trust your child and your child will trust you when it needs your advice or help.
- Sexual anatomy and biology, obviously. Kids should already learn about their sexual anatomy and conception in general at home. School can get in to the details.
- Information about STI’s, condoms and how to use them properly. Just now I read that in the last couple of years the number of people catching STI’s in the UK and Germany has been increasing. Syphilis was as good as extinct, now it is having a huge comeback! This information is important! Schools should not try to use this information to influence kids not to have sex. They should mention the possibility, explain the symptons and consequences and tell kids what they can do to prevent STI’s. I also think practising putting a condom on a dildo should be part of sex education.
- Neutral information about sexual identities. No one should grow up anymore thinking that homosexuality is not normal or even a disease. We can fall in love or feel attracted to any gender.
- Ideally it would be great if kids could have group discussions about sex and (s)expectations. There lies a chance to talk about all the things the girls in Julie Zeilinger’s article mention, what boys worry about, peer pressure, internet and pornography, online dating, our oversexualized society, etc.
It is very simple. If we continue to focus on sexual abstinence and not answering the questions children and youngsters have regarding sex, the number of unwanted pregnancies, STI’s, prejudice, sexual objectification of women and bad, unwanted sexual experiences will continue to grow. I certainly say NO to that!