Dr J's Sex Facts

Fun sex facts and accurate information from a clinical sexologist for a hotter and more fulfilling sex life.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Teach Your Children—Part II

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

Asked a Girl What She Wanted To Be

Last week, we discussed how myopic, right-wing politics and politicians tend to treat sexual issues with a blanket we’ll-just-hide-our-heads-deep-in-the-sand-and-legislate-that-BY-LAW-everyone-else-must-do-the-same-and-in-that-way-everything-we-aren’t-comfortable-with-will-either-be-treated-our-way-or-no-way. No backsies, forever and ever and ever. Whew!

She Said Baby, Can’t You See?

This week, we’ll discuss a new approach to educating our kids (and hopefully everyone else within the sound of my cyber voice) about sex in a way that will treat our children—and everyone else—as the empowered, sexual individuals they are. Cyber sound check: am I speaking loud enough for the people in the back row?

As a society, our attitudes and our whole approach to sexuality are still deeply rooted in the kind of 19th century myths that made our great-great-grandparents uncomfortable. To this very day we tend to treat anything having to do with sex as though we don’t value it as an important part of our lives. Tell me if you think children notice the way their parents act whenever the topic of sex comes up? Did you ever wonder WHY it is that kids of any age never seem to be able to talk to their parents about sex?

But You Can Do Something In Between

Parents can’t keep sex in the closet, hidden from their kids and then suddenly expect to have “The Talk” with their 14-year-old about something they’ve pretended doesn’t exist. To provide the proper context, sex MUST be integrated as a positive, enjoyable part of life from the moment of birth if you want to be able to talk about it openly and honestly and comfortably. Do that little thing and then—and only then—can our kids grow up to be sexually healthy. Society can’t seriously expect to keep sexual knowledge hidden away from the kids and then have the schools do what the parents are too timid to do. Then, when the schools finally do start teaching kids about sex, parents get all weirded out about it and tell the schools that they’re doing it wrong. That’s what scared and uninformed people do.

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Here’s an example of how we can all learn to integrate positive information and give our children a solid background so that they can take part in constructive adult behavior before they have any expectation of engaging in it. Kids ride in cars. Cars are a fact of life, and all kids look forward to that day when they can finally drive a car. So we help with a little rehearsal behavior: parents put their kids on their laps while the car is parked in order to let the kids “steer” the parked car, giving the kids both a car seat that’s safe and encouraging and throwing in a little toy steering wheel they can call their own. Parents do more than that: they talk to their kids about cars and about car safety, they use child safety car seats and seat belts—and they do all this before the kids actually learn how to drive.

Just imagine if we, as a society, were to fully integrate sexual knowledge and education in our own families in that same positive and beneficial way! Of course, that would entail talking about it with our kids at age-appropriate levels (what our kids can understand at their specific age—remember when we couldn’t understand how to add and subtract fractions until we were old enough to grasp the concept? Same thing with sexual concepts). To do this, we need to allow our kids to know that we are, in fact, attracted to our present or past partner and that we have sexual feelings too. When I tell parents this, some think I mean being sexual in front of your kids. Please! What I mean is not hiding your sexual identity from your kid, but treating it as an important part of you—one that is experienced in private for sure, but not an off-limits topic. Another way is to have books and art in the house that will indicate to them your healthy interest in sex, etc. As with everything else, sex would then be seen by your kid as just another wonderful part of life, no scarier than the family car.

And She Said, Baby It’s Understood

Then, when your kids are ready to take responsibility for being sexual with themselves and/or with others, they’ll already have a strong foundation which you’ve thoughtfully (and positively) provided for them. In this way, they’ll be less likely to make poor decisions or to allow themselves to be placed in an awkward situation where they might be exploited. In fact, all sexological research actually points to the conclusion that when we take responsibility for our own sexual pleasure, we’re actually providing ourselves with one of the major contributors to not engaging in risky behavior. Self esteem isn’t just empowering, it’s pretty darn sexy.

I Told That Girl I Can Start Right Away

Now that we’ve talked about what parents can do, next week we’ll discuss Part 3; and when class is in session, we’ll examine the role our schools play in contributing to our kids’ sexual health. You don’t have to bring me an apple. See you then.

With Pleasure,

Dr. J

Friday, September 05, 2008

Teach Your Children Well

“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.”

You Who Are on the Road

As everyone knows, we’ve just finished going through the major political conventions here in the U.S.; and during the past week, if you were paying even the slightest attention, you were bombarded with reminders of the abject failure of an “abstinence-only” education. Watching a 17-year-old victim of this policy being paraded before us as if she were some sort of cultural icon of ignorance got me thinking that there’s the distinct possibility that, depending on the outcome of the upcoming presidential election, this horrible injustice may actually slink away when the present administration leaves office—or it may just continue with its reactionary, business-as-usual party line. Can you tell which political party can’t even buy a clue when it comes to sex? Actually, that’s probably erroneous, seems like one party CAN buy a clue when it comes to manipulating peoples’ fears to its own advantage.

Don’t You Ever Ask Them Why

American teens continue to get pregnant and/or contract STDs at jaw-dropping rates, AND they’re doing so at increasingly younger ages in spite of—or more likely because of—federally funded “abstinence education,” which is really just another way of saying no education at all.

Here’s what my college students tell me they learned in high school: In gender-separate (!!) classes, they watched cartoons about reproduction and puberty, and that was that. This is what’s deemed a “well-rounded” education. So where did they get ACTUAL sex information? Some went to the Internet, where, if they were lucky, they stumbled upon some terrific sites with accurate, non-judgmental information, like

The unlucky ones found sites with hidden agendas to keep them ignorant. You know: the ones that reinforce that sex is bad and sinful and preach that you can get AIDS from looking at erotica on a computer, etc.

So what kind of job are the schools doing to educate kids? Below is a brief sampling of some of the questions I’ve received from my 18- and 19-year-old students in just the past year.

Does it hurt to have sex with a boy who’s uncircumcised?
Do Asian women have sideways vaginas?
Does masturbation stunt your penis?
Can a woman get pregnant through oral sex?
Is there an herb/pill I can take to make my penis grow?
Will masturbating prevent me from having an orgasm during p-v sex?

There are endless variations on the above, but you get the picture. Especially sad are the endless myths about self-pleasuring, which is NEVER discussed in these alleged “sex ed.” classes, because if nobody is talking about it, then nobody could possibly be doing it, right?

And Feed Them on Your Dreams

These kids get absolutely no accurate information about sex, and yet they’re expected to ignore all the signals their bodies are giving them and remain sexless “until marriage.” Now in addition to being totally illogical and just plain mean, this policy also assumes that a) everyone will marry at some point, and b) no one has the right to be sexual UNLESS they’re married! Did someone turn the thermostat down to the 19th century? Brrr!

The Ones They Pick

Now here’s a radical thought: How about ACTUALLY ASKING teens what they need from their sex ed. programs? Why does no one ask kids what they're experiencing and what information they could use to help navigate decision-making in sexual situations?

The Ones You Know By

And here’s another: How about soliciting research from actual sexologists when developing the curriculum? Think of it: the people in the trenches who actually work with these kids! Do you suppose they might have some valuable insights?

The important and most effective step to take at this juncture would be to determine what does work, and strive to understand how we know that it works. Let’s look into the prospects of developing a new approach, one that would treat our children as the empowered, sexual individuals they are and then work to make that approach one of our top priorities.
Tune in next week for answers—and more questions.

With Pleasure,

Dr. J