A couple of kids on the playground fight and every circles chanting “Fight, fight, fight!” A boy steals a kiss from a girl and the shouts are, “Get a room!” These scenarios have bothered me since I was a kid. I remember being in my freshman year of high school when I thought about how screwed up this was. How violence was respectable but an act of affection was disgusting. I thought how disjointed our priorities must be. Look at our movie rating system in this country (USA). It’s totally out of whack. A movie with blood, violence and murder can get a lower advisement rating than moderate sexuality. Sex is more scandalous than murder if you judged it by the MPAA rating system.
My personal opinion is that sex is a two part experience. It is physical and spiritual. Somehow, we have forgotten that sexuality and sensuality are beautiful. We’ve compartmentalized our sexuality putting it into little boxes of right and wrong, good and evil. Sex is so taboo, that most of us don’t teach our children how to maneuver through it. A healthy sex life is closely tied to healthy self-esteem and it’s challenging for even the most adept to foster good self-esteem in young people. Now imagine complicating that by teaching them their most natural instincts (in the most literal terms possible) are dirty and must be carefully controlled. We learn that masturbation is bad, porn is bad, sex before marriage is bad, sexual exploration…bad, non-vaginal (oral) sex…bad. Sex for any reason other than trying to conceive…not good. Oh, you’re a girl and you enjoy sex? Bad, bad, bad.
Teach Kids about Sexuality (Not Just Sex)
My daughter is two years old and I do not look forward to the day when we have to have “the talk.” I fear that she will bear the repercussions of our society’s off-balance view of sex. The perspective that is born from early Puritanical religious conservatism and that arguably caused the pendulum to swing the other way to a provocative, overly sexualized popular culture. I believe the two are closely related. Though not intentional, our conservative religious history has stigmatized sex and created shame around it. To stigmatize something is to give it power. The fear feeds it until you end up with a situation that is out of balance. Now we live in this country where sex is polarized. Little is done to promote a healthy sex life. We can’t even agree on what that is.
This is not to say that I want my teenage daughter to experiment sexually. What I want is for her to have some concept of her self-worth. To learn who she is and what she wants and to understand that those things will change. I want her to value relationships and to develop an ability to give and receive in those relationships so that when she is old enough to handle the responsibility of sex, she can do so from a place of awareness and objectivity. (As best as you can when you’re 20-ish) What I don’t want is for her to be so repressed the throws herself at the first boy or girl that comes along out of desperation. Yes, Sex-Ed will teach her about sex, but who will teach her about sexuality? If it’s not her mom, then I’m afraid it’s going to be The Desperate Housewives of Sheboygan, WI or wherever they’ll by from in 2027.
Sex and Marriage
It’s no surprise that I don’t believe in waiting until one is married to have sex, unless abstinence is in your heart and in the heart of your partner, I don’t think it’s helpful. When we are evaluating our partners we look at all aspects of each other to determine compatibility. At least we do now. Marrying for love is relatively new to our culture. Up until only about 200 years ago, marriage was largely a political endeavor and was a means of bringing families and land together. In many places, this is often still the case. We are fortunate that our paradigm is shifting away from such mundane motives and we now have the privilege of celebrating marriage as a union of hearts.
If all other aspects of a relationship are a valid factor in deciding to marry someone (e.g. financial compatibility, educational, spiritual, motivational, familial, chemical, etc…) then why wouldn’t sexual compatibility be just as important? It was my mother that advised me never to marry a man I hadn’t lived with for some solid stretch of time. She didn’t speak of sex specifically, but she knew that once under the same roof, a relationship changed and though she carries no judgment on divorce she understands that it’s every person’s desire to get it right the first time. Getting it right the first time goes for marriage (or one hopes), but it doesn’t necessarily go for sex.
I do not believe that once you get married, every relationship you had before “the one” becomes irrelevant. In fact, I am leery of anyone who badmouths their exes. Ok, one bad ex can be overlooked, but if all your exes are losers then my friend, you have to ask yourself, “what is the common denominator here?” I believe that every relationship is a chance to understand yourself, your partner and to grow personally and spiritually. I rarely believe in regret.
Sex as a Spiritual Act
Sex is many things. It can be exciting and comforting, fun and safe, adventurous and routine. It can be purely physical and heavily emotional. Sex is as much about reestablishing bonds as it is about climax. It is a microcosm of many New Age philosophies. You can practice living fully in the present moment, or you can use it to transport you a million miles away. It is about experiencing oneness with another and about honoring your individual place in the universe. I suppose, as I write this, sex is somewhat polarizing after all, but not in the good vs. evil sort of way; rather it is about succumbing to vulnerability so that we can both give and receive in perfect balance. ∞
What were you taught about sexuality? Do yo agree with it? What do you think we should teach our kids? Share in the comments.