The other day as I undressed my one-year-old for a bath he noticed his penis for the very first time. He looked at it and touched it, amusing me with his fascination. He started making it a routine to check it out every time he takes a bath.
It struck me that my three-year-old daughter is always with us and might notice this habit. I went into a mild panic, wondering what I would tell her if she asked me what this is and why she doesn’t have one. What would I call it? Would she understand if I said it’s a “boy’s thing”?
My panic went from mild to full-blown as it dawned on me that I will some day need to talk to her about sex. I wondered what the appropriate age for this conversation is. What will I say to her? Should I wait till she asks me about it or is it something I should raise? In between the panic I found myself extremely angry that children don’t come with easy-to-use manuals at birth. Just as I was about to start hyperventilating I remembered my new found maturity and gave myself a face-palm to calm myself down.
My thoughts however got me thinking about sex and the unhealthy way parents (and society too) educate girls about it. Because girls bear the brunt of sexual decisions gone wrong, sex education for girls is reduced to efforts that discourage sexual activity.
My own sex education was exceptionally limited. The bulk of it was from my lifeskills educator who would enthusiastically describe virginity as a lightbulb — once broken it can never be put back together again. She would even make a smashing motion and sound when describing how it breaks. We would all gasp when she did that and stare at her with sheer horror. It looked and sounded very painful to me. She’d then go on to say girls with their virginity could choose to break it at any time, yet those without “CAN NEVER GO BACK”. I swear I could hear the capital letters when she spoke.
Sex is (or at least should be) a very pleasurable activity, for both males and females. There is nothing else on earth that gives so much pleasure to the body and such a release.
Not every woman will get to experience this, for many reasons. One of which is that from a very young age girls are socialised to believe sex is bad and solely for the pleasure of men. So when experiencing bad sex they might accept it — believe this is how it should be. It also contributes to why some women choose to ignore pain experienced during sex, which could be a symptom of a medical condition. Many are told of the extreme pain of sex.
But the idea that sex is solely for male pleasure also has a negative impact on men. A woman’s vagina, mouth, anus and in some cases all three are reduced to merely being an orifice in which you do your thing and dump your “goop”. Little effort is made to please a woman.
The thought of my little girl one day growing up and having sex is not a very comfortable one but it is something that will happen. The best thing I can do is ensure that when it happens, she is empowered enough to make informed sexual choices. Isn’t this after all what sex education should be about, not merely about discouraging girls from sexual activity?