This post is prompted by this. Go read it. I will wait. It takes a while. She had a lot to say.
I am aware that this post sounds preachy. I do not use the pronoun we lightly. I need this sermon as much as anyone reading it.
Here is how we stop this. We stop being uptight about sex. Parenting duties do not end with the birds and the bees. We don’t stop even with the physical details of the basic sexual acts. As hard as it is, as awkward as it might feel, we talk about the way sex comes up every day. We discuss the ads, the TV shows, the reason why women wear skimpy outfits and men have bulging muscles in all kinds of places. For all the subliminal messages that bombard our children, we must be the clear voice of explanation, telling them the difference between what is right and what is commercialism.
Most importantly, we talk about consent. This means we all have to accept the fact that our kids are going to be like we were. That’s right. No different. The hormones will start kicking in in the tween years. Remember? Think back. Yeah….
Your kids will be doing all of that too. They will be thinking about sex. Wondering about sex. DO NOT let them find their only answers out there: from friends, from music, from media, from, god forbid, the internet. We lead the dialog. Not talking about it does not mean they are not doing it. It means they are doing it dangerously. It means they become victims, or worse, they become the perpetrators of assault. Silence creates a vacuum, one that will be filled with the idea of privilege, the idea that all women want it like in the porno the kids watched at the friend’s house when they cracked the computer password. It means boys don’t know that they can be preyed on by people like Sandusky.
If we are frank and open, it will make less victims. It will make less rapists.
It will be admitting we don’t have all the answers. It will mean giving answers that might make us blush. It will mean accepting that kids grow up into sexual beings at an age we might think is too young. Too bad. Accept that and educate them. That is the only way to protect their innocence. Innocence is not the absence of knowledge. It is the absence of brutal awareness forced upon you. It is the difference between knowing there is a bogeyman and having him attack you.
It will mean explaining how wonderful sex can be on all the levels. Help them understand that the physical pleasure needs to be accompanied by emotional pleasure and that means everyone must feel safe in every sexual encounter. Yes, we have to talk about the good stuff too. Yes, your kids are going to realize this means you have sex. I promise, you will all get over it.
Say these words….
It is not OK to have sex with anyone who is drunk or high, especially if you are drunk or high too. Just don’t. It’s safer that way. And being drunk does not excuse your behavior. Drunk rape is as much a crime as drunk driving. Being drunk isn’t a crime, but, whether it is fair or not, it makes you vulnerable. You can have fun and be sensible. Do not ever make getting wasted your goal. I know it can happen accidentally. I remember college. And maybe a little after college. Just remember a little drunk is more fun than blacking out.
This is not OK…. (from a tweet) “You can’t “blame” the woman for being too drunk and then “excuse” the man’s actions because he had one too many.” I would go one step further and say victim/woman. It can happen to a male too.
It is not OK to have sex with someone unconscious.
Watch out for each other. Say something if you think someone else is going to make a mistake. Protect each other. Educate each other. If you can swap porn site passwords, you can talk about consensual sex.
It is not OK to have sex with someone who hasn’t said yes even if you have had sex with that person before. Ask what your partner wants. Keep talking. If you are too uncomfortable with that then you shouldn’t be having sex. Trust me, that is way more romantic than rape. This is also a good time to bring up birth control and STDs. Protect your health while you protect your soul.
Kissing, groping, fingering, dry humping, all count as sex, so all of the above apply.
Now I would also go on about when sex is OK. People have differing ideas about that, so you do what you think is right. Personally, I plan on accepting the fact that my kids are going to be teenagers with teenager hormones. I will equip them with knowledge and materials to make sure they are educated teenagers who will make smart decisions. Fingers crossed.
You do what you think is right. But do not skip the NOT OKs.
Do not assume they just understand that. Assumption is a privilege we cannot afford. Assumption makes victims and ruins lives.