The Case for Teaching Kids ‘Vagina,’ ‘Penis,’ and ‘Vulva’ – Catherine Buni – The Atlantic

The Case for Teaching Kids ‘Vagina,’ ‘Penis,’ and ‘Vulva’ – Catherine Buni – The Atlantic.

I am posting this because I found this article useful and fascinating, but mostly it allows me to get on the soap box regarding one of the issues I am most baffled about: America’s attitudes towards sex.  I’m not the first person to comment on the fact that America has a problem with sex, but I am not sure that people have quite gone all the way into the issue to its most logical conclusion:

Collectively, we – as Americans, as Westerners, as humans – think sex is inherently wrong.  Immoral.  Dirty.  Talking about having it is wrong, talking about ways to have it is wrong, talking about the parts that you use to have it with is wrong, watching other people have it is wrong.  We restrict the age of people who can have it, we restrict when and where people can look at others having it, we even restrict when and where people can look at the parts you use to have it.  Nothing in our society is as stridently debated or as universally discomfiting as issues regarding sex.

And I have no idea why.  When did sex become so demonized, and why? Everyone does it.  Heck, almost everything does it.  But it is more socially acceptable to discuss the status of your latest bowel movement than to talk about sex.  Talk to a seven year old about poop and they will dissolve into fits of giggly hysteria, but if you talk to the same kid about sex you could be facing jail time.  Or if you are in Ohio, perhaps a $5,000 fine.  But it is less dangerous to a teen’s health than drinking, smoking, driving, or even walking, but it seems that not nearly as much effort has gone into preventing teens from doing these activities as trying to prevent them from having sex.

The saddest part of this sex-negative culture is that it is not only unproductive, but egregiously counterproductive.  Not talking about sex and ways to have it does not stop teens from having it.  It creates a culture of ignorance and fear where people get little to no reliable information and sex crimes are severely under-reported.  It also leads to a bizarre (in my mind) fetishization of virginity, which, when taken to its own logical conclusion, leads down the path of slut-shaming and female sexual repression, and from there to suppressing the rights of women altogether (in short: Virginity is good = sex is bad.  Ergo women who have sex are bad.  To protect women, let’s keep them from having sex. How? Keep them away from men!  This totally works and women love it, just look at Saudi Arabia).  Our hangups about sex leads angst, mental trauma, and even suicide among sexual minorities like homosexuals, transexuals, transgendered, crossdressers, swingers, bisexuals, and everyone else who lives and loves outside of the “norm.”

Discussions about sex and who can have it and when almost always turn to the topic of consent and, by association, the philosophical idea of agency.  Most things done to a person are wrong if they are done without their consent, but our ideas of when a person is able to give their consent are terribly inconsistent.  Tattoos? 18.  Piercings? 18, unless you are the parent, in which case you can get your child’s ears pierced any time you want as long as they are too young to say no (does that seem fair to you, really?). Driving? 16! Jail? People as young as 15 can and have been tried as adults.  Alcohol is 21, of course.  Thankfully you are allowed to have sex at the same time you become old enough to go to war, otherwise life would really suck for our young soldiers.

So ask yourself this: do you think sex is wrong? If no, do you caveat it with anything other than “if both (all) people consent”? If so, why? If you say “yes”, I would really like to know why.  Unless the answer is “my religion says so,” in which case there is no point discussing it, I suppose.

 

 

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