Let’s talk about sex baby

It’s Valentine’s Day! Love is in the air! But what comes before love? That’s right, sex education!

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We won’t tell the kids what this really means

Last year, as we had a meeting about how we should design our school’s sex education policy, one of my colleagues was completely against the idea of explaining sex (in purely anatomical, literal terms) to children around 8-9 years old. She said they were too young and it would ruin their innocence. She said she didn’t have the puberty talk until she was 10, and the sex talk until she was 14.

It seemed like a very Puritanical argument. They shouldn’t find out about sex, because it will somehow ruin them? She said over and over that they would lose their innocence. How very Garden of Eden. Just one bite from the tree of knowledge and you’re suddenly a knowledgeable, competent adult? As though if you know something exists, you lose all childlike wonder and fascination and presumption of good will, and now only jaded sighs and cynicism are possible.

I think there must be vastly different connotations of the word “innocence” in this disagreement. There seems to be the virgin/whore dichotomy, as though you are either pure of heart with good intentions and a clear conscience and no sexual desires, or you know what sex is and suddenly all you do is sin, or at least want to have sex all the time. I think it’s unfair to think of sex as an either/or.

She said that teaching them what sex was (again, purely biologically, with the addendum that it is for adults) would sexualize them. The problem is, knowing about sex is not the same thing as being sexualized.

Being sexualized is often done involuntarily. We sexualize girls when we tell them they can’t wear certain clothes because their bodies are too distracting to boys. That tells them their role as an object of sexual desire is more important than their comfort or fashion sense. We sexualize women by breaking their bodies into parts and consuming those parts as detachable from the whole, consuming them as vehicles to sell food, jewelry, cars, clothes. Understanding or not understanding sex does not stop this process. A 10-year-old girl not understanding sex won’t stop a creepy man from making disgusting, sexually-explicit comments to her as he walks by her on the street. Even if she doesn’t know what it means, she can still tell that it’s gross and knows the queasy feeling in her stomach.

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Yes, I’m just going to illustrate this piece with pictures of weird public art installations

Knowing what sex is and having a vague understand of the components involved, as well as who should be using it (a.k.a. adults, not children) is important and not at all going to “ruin” a child’s innocence. If children don’t understand what sex is, they will misinterpret things they see on TV or in movies or on YouTube. I know, because my class last year and seen some stuff in videos that they were talking about non-stop, although it was very clear they had only a partial understanding of sex.

If you don’t teach children what sex entails and why it is not something for children, they will not understand what is happening if an older family member or friend assaults them and why it is inappropriate to do so. There are so many facets of our lives connected to sex, and young children see and hear way more than we think they do. They need to have a full understanding so they don’t get bad information from each other, or from someone older trying to manipulate them. And most importantly, just because you learned about something at a certain age does not mean it was the best way.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

16 Replies to “Let’s talk about sex baby”

  1. We so often underestimate kids and their ability to notice and understand things, not just sex! I agree, the education can only empower them, help them manage it better we they come across different sorts of situations and navigate the world better generally really. But it’s so much easier for adults to just push it away and talk about it as late as possible… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. haha I love how you ended this post with ‘happy valentine’s day’.
    – but on a more serious note, I fully agree with you! As mentioned above, they’ll definitely find out from other sources before they’re 14 or whatever so it’s better to educate them properly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. this is well-written
    and you’re right–being educated about sex isn’t the same as being sexualized, and being knowledgeable about sex gives children the ability to discern against false/manipulative info
    happy valentine’s day! lolll

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Totally with you on this. I think the attitude that they shouldn’t know about it is coming from a place that says sex is bad, which is cray cray if you ask me. Have you heard of the porn conversation? Lots of information about how much kids know about this stuff anyway, and how to talk to them about it so that they don’t take negative messages away from what they see.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Totally agree with you. Sex ed is SO important. I can’t believe we’re still having debates over this. On top of that, we have tons of misinformation in the sex-ed classes when we finally have them. I strongly recommend reading Woman by Natalie Angier and Sex at Dawn. It revolutionized so much of what I had been “taught” by the modern sexual evolutionists/my body/being a woman. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, most country’s sex ed policies need some serious updating. Poland is still quite conservative, and I think the US is even more so! Places like the Netherlands start talking about body autonomy and consent with kids as young as 3-4!

      Liked by 1 person

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