Hola mi Gente,
I’m headed out for an interview, so I can’t dilly dally. I wanted to sink my teeth into that whole Bill Clinton going off on a racist rant yesterday that had Trump green with envy, but that will have to wait. Wish me luck!
* * *
Childhood and Sexuality
Truth, Fictions, and Myths
We do great harm to children when we withhold sexual information from them. Today, thanks to the dominant conservative voices, sexual education is a joke. Sex Ed, under the new Victorian era, has been reduced to reading from a two-line script: “Don’t do it.” “Get married.”
This is a crime...
Freud saw childhood sexuality as a relentless quest for knowledge. The desire for information didn’t play as a substitute for physical pleasure, it balanced it. From the very beginning, sexuality seeks a language to explain itself. Freud was treated as an outcast for daring to endorse providing children with that language -- with information about their body parts and how they worked, about how babies are made and born.
At the beginning of the 21st century, as the AIDS epidemic persists and our children need information most, the pendulum has swung toward telling them less. A strategy of censorship has emerged and it wears a particularly scary disguise: advice to parents to speak more, to embrace their responsibility as children’s primary sexual teachers. This is a “family value” that the conservatives can get behind and very few can disagree with. However, a seemingly harmless parent-friendly idea can have a less than child-friendly effect.
I expect the sexual prudes who rally against school-based sexuality education are aware of what would happen if the task of sexual enlightenment were left entirely to parents: almost nobody would do it.
And the studies bear out my suspicions. Parents do talk the talk: most agree that sex education is their job. However, when it comes to talking the sex talk, few can bring themselves to do it. One survey by the National Communication Association showed that parents identified sex as the subject they were least comfortable talking about. Similar research with children shows that they rate their parents’ efforts less generously than their fathers and mothers. The first pattern that stands out is the difference between the perception of parents and teens, one study showed. When interviewing both generations of the same families, the kids consistently remembered talking about fewer topics than their parents did. One longitudinal study found that more than half of teens believed their parents understood them pretty well. The bad news was that almost half thought mom and dad got it somewhat or hardly at all.
Even someone such as myself, “Mr. Sexual Freedom,” didn’t have a problem-free sex pass. I remember once entering my son’s room full of 12-13 year-old boys and bringing up the subject of masturbation. My son never forgave me for that one! LOL! Which leads me to state that while teens might tell researchers that they wish their parents would discuss sexuality more, I believe given the choice, they would rather talk to a different confidante (an “aunt” or other trusted adult, for example). I chalk it up to the incest taboo: children don’t want to know about their parents’ sex lives (or masturbatory tendencies) and, from the minute they might conceivably have a sex life, they usually don’t want their parents to know about theirs.
What’s interesting is there is little talk about the dynamic of how trusted adults become substitute sex education teachers for children. I know that if I hadn't been able to get through my son, I would’ve welcomed a trusted friend or family member to step into that role. In fact, sex education teachers are the professionalized version of trusted adults.
Children absorb their attitudes toward love, their bodies, authority, and equality from their families. They are trained in tolerance and kindness or their opposite. Few live in families comfortable enough to discuss the nitty-gritty details of sex. And when we (we meaning all of us -- society) don’t teach our children, guess who they learn it from? They learn it from others who are themselves ignorant (i.e., their peers or people with a sexual agenda) or those who may not have their best interests at heart.
So, if parents aren’t talking to their children and federally funded sex educators aren’t being allowed to talk to their students, to whom will our children turn? I’ll tell you where, on the internet or the street. And most of the information from those sources is geared toward selling sex. In other words, sex on the internet is mostly treated as it is elsewhere in our society: as something to use to buy and sell -- a commodity
Then you guys bitch and moan about the supposed lack of moral character our children? Pfffft!
The myth that exposing children to sexual information before they are supposedly ready is detrimental to them was exploded for me when I took the time to actually listen to and talk with young people. Folks? They get it. Some of them get it better than you, believe it or not. Kids get the wide range of emotions embedded in concepts such as jealousy and desire, for example. Why not prepare them?
What consequences do we suffer as a society when we choose to leave the most important discussion about the most powerful force known to humankind to random chance?
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…