More and more frequently, in my discussions with other parents about sex positivity and parenting, and being sex-positive parents, I hear mention of how they are so sex positive that they have condoms in their homes for their teenaged children to use. ‘Better under my roof and using protection than out in a field, and not,’ is the rhetoric. And, yeah, grand. I get that. If my daughters – or yours, or your sons – were having sex, I’d prefer they were doing so somewhere warm, and comfortable and that they were using contraception and avoiding disease. It’s not really that radical to say that we’d prefer our children to be safe, is it?
If you are a parent who wishes sex to be a glorious experience for your teenager, please read on. Much of what I’ve written here is focused on the female experience, and centering it, but you can be sure your sons, as well as your daughters, need to know this.
But – when is the last time we spoke to our children – particularly our daughters – about their bodies and about loving them? Even the most ‘positive’ of these sex-positive parents don’t say to their daughters ‘It’s time you got to know your own body.’ Even the most ‘positive’ of these sex-positive parents don’t talk to their daughters about satisfying sex, or about masturbation.
When was the last time you sat down and spoke to your daughter about the importance of foreplay? Or – for that matter – spoke to her boyfriend about it? Or, when was the last time you told your sons that they need to ensure that they sexually satisfy the woman they are with? Can you even be sure that your daughters know what sexual satisfaction feels like?
Sure, we give our daughters the names of the parts of their bodies, but it’s framed around procreation and contraception. The male gaze and male satisfaction is what girls are taught about sex. I wonder when you last suggested your daughter might hop on online and choose masturbation aids for herself? Boys’ masturbation is accepted, expected, joked about. Nocturnal emissions are taken as a normal part of male puberty, but do we expect, suggest, and allow that our girls would also have orgasms?
Have you ever had a conversation with your daughter around explaining her own body? Have you ever told her that it’s okay – no! it’s more than okay, it’s necessary for her to touch her own genitals? Have you spoken to her about being turned on? Have you told her that being ‘ready’ for sex is more than just the presence of sufficient vaginal lubrication to facilitate penetration? Text books and books on sex tell us is the signifier that a woman is ready for sex. It’s the ‘green light’ men look for – and this misinformation leads them to believe that as soon as they detect a dribble of fluid in, or around, a vagina, said vagina is desperate for their penis. And it’s simply not true. Good sex – sex worth having – involves so much more. Why do we not educate our girls about the tingles and trembles associated with female arousal?
Why do we not tell our daughters about how sexy sex can be? About how getting really turned on, and just being that way, is really enjoyable? About enjoying the feeling of being really well lubricated, of feeling her sex organs engorged, of enjoying feeling sexy and attractive? When is the last time you talked to her about being focused on the sensations of her own body, and to listen to what it is telling her? When was the last time you reminded her to enjoy her body simply for he sake of enjoying it? Rather than in preparation for being a receptacle for someone else – a vehicle for someone else’s pleasure?
Because I can guarantee you this: If you don’t talk to your daughter and encourage her to find out what she likes, what her body likes, she will be far more susceptible to being told by some boy her own age, or older, what she likes. And he will be porn-informed.
He will take it upon himself to tell your daughter what she does, and doesn’t, like. If she doesn’t know herself, how can she correct, or contradict, what he tells her? Even with no malice, even with no intention to harm your daughter, any boy – or man – whose information comes only, or largely, from pornography, will not centre your daughter’s experiences. So, it’s up to you to encourage her to insist that her pleasure is centred.
To do that, you need to ensure that she knows what works for her. Talk to her about kissing, and how it’s an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. Talk to her about insisting that her body is ready before anyone enters it. Teach her to deny access to her body – all of it – until she feels ready to ask for touch; until she really wants it. Tell her that ‘sex’ is not just about genital contact. Leaving condoms readily available is not sending a message that you are sex-positive. Rather, it just sends a message that you are pro-fucking, and they’re not the same thing.