Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sex Ed series

I've been thinking about sex ed lately, both because of my kids beginning to ask questions and because of issues that friends are dealing with. This was one of the areas in which my own parents were very weak, and one which my husband and I have intentionally worked at with our children. It is so important that we teach them the physical stuff, as well as the emotional/relational stuff, (disease prevention, biology, contraception, consent, respect, intimacy, etc) and that we avoid turning limits of morality into shame. I came across the following series on another blog, and I thought I'd share. I don't agree with every minute detail here, (there are areas in which this blogger is probably a bit more conservative than I am) and I don't agree with everything else on her blog or that she links to, in case anyone is wondering. However, I thought it was generally very good, very balanced, and well worth sharing.

The above is a link to all the posts (they're generally quite short) in the series. A few quotes:

"Perhaps the biggest distortion I see is the idolization of virginity.  So many portray it as the be all end all standard of sexual purity.  First of all, I think that sexual purity is just as important after marriage as before, and in fact, more so.  Furthermore, sexual purity isn't just lack of vaginal intercourse.  Such a narrow focus on outward behavior causes us to lose sight of the heart issue.  Some wind up doing everything except for vaginal intercourse, and have no idea of the possible consequences of things like oral sex, pornography, and other forms of sexual activity.  Others who do have sex feel that they are forever "second hand goods".  Both are terrible distortions of what sexual purity really means."

 also find the double standard with gender that many adopt to be deeply disturbing. Sexual purity is for men as well as women, and the stereotypes of men as slavering beasts and women as cold manipulators are both inaccurate and degrading.  Both men and women are created with a strong sex drive.  That is a good thing.  And both are capable of self control.  That is also a good thing.  Women should be able to be themselves and dress comfortably without being consumed with worry about "causing their brothers to stumble".  Guys shouldn't be automatically viewed as predators simply because they have a penis.  Sex should never be seen as a commodity to trade in exchange for emotional security, and women shouldn't feel ashamed of wanting sex."

"Romance novels and romantic comedies have been called “porn for women.” It’s not just because some of the scenes can get steamy, but because of the unrealistic expectations they set up. Just as all bodies are perfect or airbrushed and exaggerated in proportion in a girlie magazine, all life is unrealistically centered on romance in those entertainments. The souls and emotions of the people portrayed in the pages and on the screen are no more real than the bodies enhanced with silicone, makeup, lighting and digital wizardry in a pornographic image or film.

These are not the messages I want my daughter to grow up with.

Not only does it objectify the male gender as a means to fulfilling romantic dreams, but for me at least, it resulted in a limited understanding of my own value as a human being, and a reduced ability to trust God with my romantic future. "

We teach our children about gender stereotypes from our first observations.  Do our girls hear that they are strong and powerful?  Do our boys learn that we value tenderness and sensitivity?  Our society is so proficient at marketing gender roles that by age three, most girls and boys know that pink is a girl color, and blue is for boys, that girls are princesses (passive and prissy) and boys are tough and active.  As toddlers, my little girl loved blue and Spiderman, and my son loved dolls and sparkly clothes.  Within just a couple of years, though, they were telling each other that blue was for boys and dolls are for girls. I believe that colors are gender-neutral, and that both sons and daughters grow up to be parents.  But we must speak up if we don't want our children to think there is something wrong with them.

"We teach our children about body image through our own.  Do they hear us putting ourselves down and criticizing our own bodies?  Do we point out our flaws or gripe about our weight?  Do they hear us make comments about other people and laugh at their appearance?  Each word nails in deeper the truth about our values, and what their own bodies are worth.

We also teach them about sexuality when they first begin to say no.  Comments like, "Give grandma a kiss or she'll be sad!" teach them to ignore their own body boundaries and give feigned affection to placate adults.  Acknowledging and respecting their right to say no to unwanted touches is vital.  It may mean intervening when relatives or friends try to bully them with unwanted hugs, kisses or tickles.  The message we send about their right to say no is far more important than a miffed adult."

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