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what did they tell u?

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"shhhh – sex is not spoken here.” ~they (image courtesy of printablesigns.net.)

They told me next to nothing, well, except how to understand my period. That I grasped fully ’cause it was presented to me in great detail – first at home, then at school, and then reinforced at home. I can’t help but wonder what life would have been like if the entire sexual spectrum had been approached that openly and comprehensively.

Unfortunately, I’m not alone. When I ask women, “What did your parents/pastors/teachers (outside of sex ed) tell you about sex?” The answer is typically, essentially, “Nothing.” Of course, we know there were variations of the admonition not to have sex until some threshold of readiness – 18 years old, college, at least engaged, married, self-sufficient (“out of my house . . .”), etc. Technically, then, it was not nothing.

Nothing means no one helped her understand her urges and how to handle them realistically, especially if she is supposed to abstain until she’s married. (Realistic management of sexual urges does NOT include keeping an aspirin between our knees.) No one allowed space for her to like girls instead of boys or to like both rather than one or the other. No one prepared her for all the ways boys have for trying to overcome her objection to sex. Nothing means they said, “Just don’t do it.”

Of course, they are our parents, pastors, and teachers. Their silence means that we learn a whole lot about sex from friends, siblings, love interests, TV, movies, books, and popular songs – and what we make up, I mean conclude, in our young imaginations. The problems with understanding and embracing sexuality in our culture are at the feet of the people initially charged with our education, the authority figures. If they present balanced and holistically healthy lessons and options regarding sex and sexuality, any misguided and/or biased information we receive from other sources will not stand an influential chance.

What did they tell you?

What are they telling you now?

What do you say?

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

8 responses

  1. Guess I was one a the chosen few, who was actually educated about sex by my mother with both books and conversations, BEFORE, my first period. And my freshman high school (1960) General Science teacher, a Sister of Mercy I might add, taught those, who didn’t have a clue, about human reproduction, not intercourse of course. Parents were expected to teach their own children what they wanted them to know. It wasn’t until my junior high school year that I realized others had not been as fortunate. A classmate was sweating bullets because she thought she could get pregnant from the kiss she was sure her prom date would want.

    I’m not sure when or how educational systems took it upon themselves to give instruction on human sexuality. But school systems now seem to exercise Parental Rights as though parents no longer have the right to keep their own children in the dark about something as personally important as heterosexual and homosexual love making. And, of course, the entertainment industry, including television, heralds whatever sells soap as “information.”

    Maybe that’s why those parents, who still try to insist that they are in charge of their children’s education, are considered backwards. And why children who don’t want to follow their parents’ guidance can “report them” to some authority and, in effect, raise themselves according to the images broadcast on everything from billboards to the “smart” phones they carry in their pockets.

    Guess I was extremely lucky to have parents who offered information and answered my questions according to their beliefs about what was best for me.

    • @valetta – thx 4 sharing ur story! i’m thankful 2 hear 1 of parents and teachers giving u what u needed.

      wow – there’s so much 2 navigate! i’m wondering if society’s leaders searched 4 solutions 2 what they deemed 2b problems re sex & sexuality n our youth’s population & determined that changes needed 2b made n sex ed classes, curriculum, etc. 4 me, knowing that 2 many parents don’t talk 2 their children n real time re sex & sexuality – 4 lots of diff reasons – makes me a proponent of the availability of the information n school & @ church. of course, w/ families being able 2 opt out – or maybe we ought 2 offer 2 or 3 versions of sex ed families can choose. & i suppose, there’s always home schooling.

      a bit ago i ran across an article that i posted on facebook abt a sex ed teacher whose approach & class i fell n luv w/! i remember it being a northern high school, but i can’t find it right now. this blog post is close 2 the 1 i remember. http://www.ourbodiesourblog.org/blog/2009/10/a-real-sex-ed-story-a-teenager-recalls-lessons-from-our-whole-lives

      yep, i agree – u were extremely lucky! 😉

      • Yes, I was. However, government interference between parent and child is not the answer in a “free” society. And public schools are run by the government. The PTSA does NOT create and implement policy in grades PreK through 12. If parents are not stepping up to that bar, then it is those parent in need of education. To presume that ANYONE is a higher authority over one’s own children, except in cases of extreme abuse, is to deny the most basic human liberty, the liberty to raise one’s own children according to one’s own beliefs.

        If this discussion is to uncover ways to positively impact child rearing practices regarding sex education, then as my grandmother used to say, “Charity begins at home. Then you’ll ‘have’ something to take abroad.” In other words, how are we to influence how the children in our own families are guided through their sexual orientations, including the boys, who will be fathers, uncles, lovers, husbands, and friends to our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, and sisters-by-choice?

  2. well, this discussion is abt how all the typical authority figures n a young person’s life – parents/guardians, teachers, clergy, etc. share lessons & guidance re sex & sexuality.

    most of us can probably agree that our public education system needs quite a bit of improvement in lots of areas.

    i don’t know what the % is, but i hear more abt how ptsa’s in public schools struggle more 2 get majority #s and consistently active participation from parents than i hear how ptsa’s celebrate the same. so i wonder if society took as assertive approach of offering sex education 2 parents 2 teach/guide their children, how many would do it. i have heard of communities offering workshops from time 2 time re how 2 talk 2 ur child abt sex.

    honestly, n my generation, if our authority figures wanted 2b ahead of the curve, they started abt 3 years too late. my catholic school classmates & i began talking (giggling mostly) abt our body curiosity & what we saw on tv (even w/ parental monitoring) n 2nd grade. we weren’t separated by gender 2 c a film strip on our bodies & their development ’til 5th grade. i would expect similar or greater disparity w/ younger generations.

    i’m thinking that a parent votes her choice w/ her silence as well as w/ her voice. n that case, no 1 has denied her freedom 2 raise her children. she’s given it away.

    • Maybe I’m just a Libertarian, because I sincerely believe that parental decisions, like most other kinds, are best left up to the judgement and in the hands of parents. It’s not that parents “own” their children. But children are in their parents’ care, not the state’s.

      I know there are parents with as little sex education, themselves, as their newborns. And I also know that it is my responsibility as a member of society to offer assistance to those in need. But because a parent does not respond to my offer does not mean that s/he is somehow giving away her freedom to raise her/his children the way they see fit and IN SILENCE. The silence is not a vote. It’s more like turning off the TV to the evening news.

  3. 😉 i’m not sure how my thoughts categorize me!

    i do agree with you – parents ought 2 raise their own children according 2 their family’s faith/belief systems.

    4 me the reality is that our family’s faith/belief systems exist within a society that operates on the squeaky wheel getting the oil. if u don’t speak up, u don’t get any oil and no 1 comes around 2 make sure ur sure u didn’t want any. we tend 2 show up 2 help when their going w/o oil becomes an issue 4 the larger community.

    • The minority has always been an “issue” for the majority… thus Jim Crow Laws. I’ve been told Mother Theresa became a living legend, when she acted on inspiration to offer help to the next person she saw who needed helping. What will prevent “a society that operates on the squeaky wheel getting the oil” from doing more harm than parents would have, if left alone? If “society” could really be trusted with children’s welfare, its public schools would not be miseducating every race, color and creed of its student body. Know anyone dealing with society’s “child protection” system because an angry child phoned? Is foster care now a model of child welfare, because it speaks “4 the larger community”? Is the sexual education of anybody’s child become something else “society” is supposed to fix? If so, then I repeat my question of March 9.

      “…how are we to influence how the children in our own families are guided through their sexual orientations, including the boys, who will be fathers, uncles, lovers, husbands, and friends to our daughters, nieces, granddaughters, and sisters-by-choice?” Since first parents must, somehow, learn there is more they could easily be doing, before would expect them to respond to our offers of help. In other words, they don’t know what they don’t know any more than I know what I don’t know.

      Have you seen the animated film, “Chico and Rita”?

  4. so, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes … those of us who see/realize all of this must be like mother theresa and go tell people. ur right – none of know all that we don’t know. i know what i know ’cause somebody told me. right?

    but the people who r concerned abt it have 2 do it – some w/in the systems & some beyond it.

    like the thing w/ women who seek greater sexual affirmation & freedoms w/in the church. WE HAVE 2b the ones who initiate & fight 4 the change. this is 1 thing that came out of my research that i’m running with, running 2 tell as many as i can & hoping/praying women will rise up & “reclaim their goodness as sexual & spiritual beings.”

    if there needs 2b a movement 2 help parents reclaim their places as parents re sex ed & anything else – do it. same thing w/ reshaping the roles society plays when parents are absent 4 whatever reason – do it. anything else that’s awry – fix it.

    the larger picture may seem daunting, but as i heard n a sermon sunday by rev. david anderson hooker, “the fractals of our faith,” all we have 2 do is work 2 change whatever area n which we operate, no matter how small it is b/c the principle of fractals will b @ work 2 expand the effect of our efforts.

    no, i haven’t seen it; i’ll look up chico & rita.

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