Friday, April 10, 2009

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!

Yesterday’s Oprah….yeah – that’s a phrase I never thought I’d see myself write…was about sex. Not totally surprising in and of itself.

But it was about how to talk to your teenage daughter about sex and the right age to being talking about it. These conversations, they advised, should not cover just the mechanics but should also “touch on” (pun intended) masturbation and oral sex.

I was fascinated.

A mother talking to her ten-year-old daughter with diagrams of both the female AND male genitalia. 

Showing her the ovaries, etc. all your basic hot spots AND explained what the clitoris is and the fact that many women find it “pleasurable” when touched. Are you KIDDING ME!? I even learned a few new things!
I was in awe. In amazement. Thinking, this lucky little girl. Her mom is explaining in a very clear and matter of fact way that a penis gets hard when aroused…that sometimes men and boys get rejections for no apparent reason. The only anatomy lesson I ever received was in the front seat of Joey B.’s Mustang on a back country road. 

When I feel in love for the first time with Harvard in 1998 and the “world wide web” was still in its infancy – I used it as a resource to figure out where exactly my “clit” was. I didn’t even know I had one! Harvard didn’t know what or where it was either, but he told me that we needed to find it so that I could have an orgasm. At one point I just gave up looking and figured some girls had them and some didn’t! Obviously I ended up figuring out the great clit mystery. Oo la la.

The show encouraged mothers to talk with their daughters about making “smart” sexual choices. About self esteem, respecting their bodies and to have enough confidence in themselves to know when they’re REALLY ready for physical intimacy. To tell the difference between being ready and wanting a boy to like them.

It was an enlightening to say the least. 

I love my mom. She’s great. I can talk to her about anything…now. Only after a tortuous struggle with my guilty sex-laden conscious did I confess that virgin white was no longer my color. In the Wallmart parking lot of all places. Talk about an intimate setting. I was positive, so sure that she would disown me. That she would be so ashamed of my choice to have premarital sex because. And why shouldn’t she? I was ashamed. Because no one had ever told me what was normal and what was OK. 

The truth is…because I didn’t feel OK about it the first time…yes, I was in love…but not ready…and that’s not the same thing. I felt damaged – like I had nothing else to offer the world. Like …I wasn’t worth much after the fact…and I acted accordingly thus perpetuating the vicious cycle.

I’m not blaming my mother’s lack of comfort with this topic for my choices, but I can only imagine what an open, honest conversation with her circa 1996 might have helped me to understand my body and gain some kind of…I don’t know…perspective?

I would have liked her to tell me much more than “When two people love each other and are married and ready to have a baby…the penis goes into the vagina”. Which is about all the information I got. 

I would have liked to hear:

This is what a period is….

This is a diagram of a woman…of a man…this is how this works…blah blah.

But also something along the lines of:
I know you’re feeling a lot of conflicting emotions right now. None of which you want to discuss with me, I’m sure. You’ve grown into a beautiful and attractive woman and I’m sure you’re getting more attention from guys than you used to. That attention can feel liberating, wonderful and a bit overwhelming. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t express your feelings in a physical way when you’re with these boys – while of course I’d like you to stay my little girl forever, this is a very exciting time in your life and I want you to enjoy it. However, I hope that you realize what an incredibly special and beautiful person you are and you should treat yourself that way. Don’t waste your love and/or physical affection on anyone who’s not worth it and no one is worth it who doesn’t respect your decisions to wait. Always hold on to what you feel is right not what someone else wants. It’s scary, and its exciting but it’s also very serious and important. All forms of physical intimacy can be wonderful and are a normal part of life and its OK to experience them but they should never be taken lightly. Always know that you are a wonderful and valuable person and I am here for you if you ever need to talk.

Or…something like that.

Its amazing how some of the choices a girl can make when she’s so young and so…uninformed…and unsure….can linger on even a decade later when there’s no one to give you that talk but yourself.
Because you could wind up a clueless 27 year old still wanting to know the answers.

A little too much information? My apologies.


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