With Valentine’s Day coming up fast and hard (no pun intended) many minds turn to romance and sex isn’t far behind. Today I was lurking on one of my favorite writers groups following a conversation about sexuality, age appropriateness, and double standards in society when it comes to boys vs. girls. I found myself enthralled with the conversation and agreeing with a number of points made during said conversation.
In a society where we’ve advanced so far in technology, accomplished so many things we are still, as far as I’m concerned, living in the dark ages when it comes to one of the most basic things all humans have–sexuality. From the moment we are born we are sexual creatures despite our society trying to stomp it down and hide it behind closed doors. Sex is a part of every person whether we want to accept it or not. From the moment as children we discover our private parts and the difference between mommy and daddy, we learn by example. If our parents have issues we more than likely will have them ourselves. Kids are not stupid; they see, hear, and take in everything around them.
One of the things a great number of us have learned from our parents is shame. I speak from experience here. My mother for example refused to talk about sex with me when I started to ask questions. She made sure I knew about the typical girl stuff aka menstruation because she started at a young age (9 years old if you believe that). She was blunt about it and to the point. It’s just something we suffer if we want children. To a nine-year old it didn’t make sense why we had to suffer it, but hey whatever. She was right in talking with me I stepped through that door at 10 almost 11.
When it came time for me to ask what sex was her answer was lacking in the informative arena. She gave me the sour face she always did when unsavory subjects came up and gave me the following answer.
Sex is something a married woman and man do to create babies. It’s not meant for pleasure.
All right then, was my immediate thought, if that’s the case why even bother doing it? Why even worry about it until I get to the married thing. As I grew older and began showing signs of physical maturity dear old mom became crazed about trying to hide the fact that I had hips and God forbid breasts. She hammered into my head they were there just because. Just because what? Because you needed to feed the babies. Now I was completely confused. Most of my friends growing up were guys and I had to wonder if the breasts were just there for feeding babies 1) Why did I have them? and 2) Why were my guy friends so fascinated with them?
To be honest my true sexual education was a self-education. There were no conversations about boys other than don’t let them touch you. I discovered masturbation on my own and had no idea what you called it. Learning about sex and all it entails is confusing as shit on your own. I didn’t even have a female friend as a teenager to talk about these things with. Once I was out of my parents house at eighteen I then had to deal with the disbelief of the people around me that I was still a virgin. I had a conversation or rather argument with a nurse when I was nineteen after she told me I might be suffering from morning sickness and could be pregnant. When I told the woman I was a virgin she called me a liar. What it’s impossible for a nineteen year old to be a virgin? Good gravy. *rolls eyes*
Once I did take the step and have sex for the first time (I lost my virginity at 24) the universe became a bizarre place. It opened new doors I’d never imagined. For me the way I was raised sex=love meant they were interchangeable which is such a load of crap it isn’t funny. When my first relationship failed I became a mess of feelings of doubt and inadequacy, even attempting suicide. I grant you it was a lame attempt, but it could have been successful. Lucky for me some part deep inside me didn’t want to die and some decent friends helped me through it.
Unfortunately, I continued equating sex with love despite what I’d went through. It took a great deal of time and many a failed relationship to discover I could have sex, enjoy it, and not expect anything else beyond it. I learned a great deal on my own, but the greatest thing I learned was the double standard we as a society have leveled upon our heads.
Men who sleep around are just sowing their wild oats. Women who do the same are sluts.
I’m quit sure at some point my mother wondered what she’d done wrong; why was her daughter a slut? I wasn’t a slut then. I was enjoying sex, getting to know my body, and leaning the truth about the misinformation or lack of information I’d been spoon fed as a kid growing up. Years, after the fact I discovered the reason for my mother’s dislike of the subject and her hell-bent need to make sure no boy looked at me twice. It opened my eyes even further.
As a seventeen year old girl she’d had an affair with an older married man. Now if a parent discovered such a thing, the man in question would find himself sent to jail for statutory rape. In my mother’s case her sister discovered her sneaking out to meet the man and reported it back to my grandmother. My grandmother sent a letter to the man’s wife telling her to keep her husband away from my mother and that was the end of that. Or so you would think. Not so. Living in a small town it’s hard to keep such things a secret. Town gossip basically marked her with a Scarlet S aka Slut. It didn’t matter she was seventeen and this was a supposedly mature married adult male–it was her fault. I know of at least one time my father ended up slamming some guy against a wall because of this gossip.
So why is it still to this day, young women as a general rule believe it’s unacceptable for them to be sexually active without being branded with the dreaded Scarlet S. Or even worse if they are a victim of sexual violence they must have asked for it. This double standard needs destroyed, but the double standard goes both ways.
If a teenage male has sex with an older woman generally there is little hoopla and eventually backs are patted. The women who have sex with these under aged boys end up being treated with kid gloves when arrested. A teenage girl does it and she is weak-willed and easily manipulated. Then men they’ve slept with have the book thrown at them. Hello, the boy and girl are both teenagers and neither are mentally mature. The woman and man both did things they had no business doing and they both know its wrong.Why the difference in treatment?
Until we start educating our children about sex in a frank straightforward way they will continue to make mistakes. Young girls who feel the only way they can get love is to have babies by having sex will continue to do so. Young boys will continue running around using the old blue balls routine to get themselves off never realizing all it takes is one time and you’re a daddy. Our country is running rampant with teen pregnancy and STD s including HIV and AIDS yet we still refuse to see the truth.
Knowledge is power and by educating our kids we’ve empowered them to make better choices. If they do have sex at least they will know to use a condom along with other types of birth control. Responsibility is not just in the hands of the girl or the boy it is a 50/50 issue. That goes for every sexual relationship no matter race or sexual orientation. We need to get past the things we experienced in our sexual awakenings and be open with the next generations as they mature.
So as this day we celebrate love, romance, and sex (don’t even look at me like that) draws near think about what you put out there as a parent, grandparent, or friend. Both girls and boys need to understand and accept their sexuality and those relationships which evolve from it. If you wish the best and healthiest life for your children do what’s right and put your own discomfort aside.
For more information on sex education check out these links: