That talk with your daughter about how she got here? Yeah, not the most anticipated of discussions.
But the chat must happen, and it generally does, through three prisms.
One is the abstinence-only approach. Discourage any sexual behavior short of marriage and espouse the virtue of patience for that “right one.” There would be noble if it wasn’t hammered home with steady doses of fear tactics and sex demonization.
Then there’s the other approach, one of full disclosure. Lay out the real deal, the natural urge, benefits and consequences. Provide prophylactics. Be free. This would be a commendable route, but it is too yielding and tends to marginalize self-control and sexual discipline.
The third school synthesizes the best of the two prior approaches. It should be too obvious that there is little synthesis and the dual arguments run rampant. The major unintended consequence of this ideological clash is the message it sends to our youngest: People place a high value on what women do with their private parts.
Boys and girls tend to be indoctrinated to sex differently. In my neighborhood growing up, boys were encouraged to exercise moderation. Women were encouraged to lock it up and wait. From the gate, cognitive dissonance was established (a mental disharmony I’m still shedding).
The implications of “virginity culture” among young women is harmful because it reinforces that the most important thing about them is their vagina. It commodifies their existence. A woman can be intelligent, hard-working and a hardcore empath, but if she gets loose in the bedroom with “too many” people, then she has lost a great part of her worth.
The virginity as sine qua non mystique is a relic from historical customs that equates a woman’s character with her chastity. For a man (or woman), getting with untouched women was a status symbol. “I was the first to have her” is akin to conquering uncharted territory. It’s undoubtedly vain and undoubtedly common.
Since the beginning of the age, men have used “gender superiority” to control women’s choices, namely of the sexual nature. But times are changing. While the practice of male chauvinism is still pervasive, the number of voices speaking against it are louder.
This brings us to the critical point in our human discourse about a topic that has been improperly conveyed to many growing minds, present company included. The challenge of separating morality from dogma lies at the root of basic miscommunication of sexual matters.
In a Judeo-Christian society, morality and religion are like a double helix. The coils are linked thick and sex is at the intersection. The sexual metaphor is ubiquitous because of its ease of connectivity. We all come from sex. Sex is what spurs the population. It’s inherent in every human culture.
Full-scale candor on sex education may not happen, but at the very least, the point of emphasis in curriculum and our discussions can be on instilling respect for the sexual process and its consequences. Present it as it is: a necessity of life. Just like anything, there is a time and place for it. Respect that time and place. Then allow them to choose.
Bad choices about copulation has led many teens — and adults — down a path of confusion and pain. It can derail careers, development and irrevocably alter any chance of being able to freely enjoy sexual liberties (hello STD’s).
When harnessed within a loving relationship, sex is a pathway to holistic fulfillment. While it can be thrilling without the attachment, certain repercussions come from haphazard engagement. The ultimate aim is to encourage decision-making steered toward long-term benefits over short-term indulgence.
The way we rear our youth is a mirror of how we treat each other. It’s impossible to have frank chats with your children if you approach sex talk like a cop, which is oddly how many people approach one another on the same topic.