As a teen I used to watch a lot of movies with my dad and my siblings. Especially Friday or Saturday night we would get a movie (always selected by my dad) and cuddle up to watch. My mother was never a fan of movies, but since the TV was in the living room she was present when we watched.
My dad’s choice of movies was quite appropriate to watch with teens. But sometimes he hadn’t vetted one properly and there would be a sex scene on the screen. My dad was never perturbed, but my mum would always yell from the sidelines, “Disgusting, fast forward!” The interesting thing is that she never said that when there was violence on the screen, only sex.
Similarly, as a 16-year old I was allowed to read some of my dad’s books. Michael Crichton and Robin Cook (thriller/horror) were allowed, but if my mum ever caught you with a pocket romance, the world was too small for her wrath.
Now, you can argue that this was about 30 years ago and surely times have changed. No, they haven’t. When it comes to sex in books, movies or games, we make sure that only person age 18 or older are allowed to watch. “Adult content” reads the warning, or “Over 18s only” on channels or accounts dealing with subjects of a sexual nature. But we don’t plaster the same warnings on content that is violent in nature. Show a boob on the screen and you are slapped with an 18+ rating, but it’s alright to show people killing each other.
I am baffled with this juxtaposition. The idea of sex being something bad, dirty, disgusting is so entrenched in our society that we often don’t even question it. I recently had a conversation with my sister about some sex issues she was having. After the conversation, she said to me, “I love how you talk about sex as if it is something normal.” At the moment she said it, I took it as a compliment, but later on it sank in how bizarre that comment was.
Sex is normal. Sex is part of our every day life and without sex no one would be here on this earth. Violence, on the other hand, is not normal, or at least shouldn’t be. Sex is positive: it’s two (or more) people trying to make each other feel good in whatever way works for them. Why don’t we want our children to be exposed to that? Why are we happy for them to view people killing each other, but not people making love?
I think that if we allow children to be exposed to sex in an every day setting, we will be able to eradicate a lot of issues when they grow up. If children can view sex as normal, they will be equipped to ask questions, talk about it openly and communicate with their sexual partners in a frank and open way. They will have better sexual relationships because of this.
Sex education is horribly lacking in every respect. At most young people will learn the mechanics and are taught how not to get pregnant and how not to get a STD. They are not taught that sex can be messy, fun, and oh so pleasurable. They are taught that sex is something girls “put out” and boys “get”. And voila, there is the seed of your rape culture.
It is time to change and do better. As a parent I realise that I can’t leave it up to the school or the government to educate my children. This education starts at home. I am open about sex with my kids and will answer any question they have. I am conscious that this is just a very small beginning, but you have to start somewhere. Change starts small and I am a true believer that change starts with yourself. If I change how I talk about sex in my home, with my friends, with my siblings, with my kids, then maybe they will follow my example and we can create a ripple effect that will flow through society and change the tide.