“It’s 10pm. Do You Know Where Your Children Are?” This was a 20-year running public service message on TV airing before the local news. I took this line at face value – check that your kids are home at night. Looking deeper, we need to check on where our kids are physically, but also emotionally, spiritually and sexually. How do we have these conversations with our children, especially about sex?
Peggy Orenstein has been researching this matter. In 2016 she published “Girls and Sex” where she interviewed young women ages 15-20. She recently broadened her investigative efforts and interviewed young men in the 16-22 age group. Her discoveries challenge our stereotypes of what animates boys in their relationships with girls.
She found that the core issue with girls is that they are emotionally distanced from “their bodies, needs, desires and limits.” They feel pressure to look and act sexy. It’s on girls not to be assaulted rather then on boys not to assault. When it comes to the boys, Peggy concludes that “for boys it felt like they were being cut off from their hearts”. We don’t allow boys to talk about their inner lives. Young men are exposed to societal pressures which dictates what being ‘a real man’ involves; “dominance, athleticism, and sexual conquests.” Boys are getting their Sex Ed from the internet, porn, TV, movies, games, social media, and music videos.
We need to have real conversations with our kids and address how to be a thoughtful, attentive, and respectful sexual partner. Peggy Orenstein is paving the way. One of her articles appeared in the NY Times, titled: Will We Ever Figure Out How to Talk to Boys About Sex?
Maze has also compiled an extensive list of books about how to discuss sex with your children at any age.