April 21, 2013

Sex Ed, Puberty, and the Modern Age

I know, I've been on a tear lately about sex and the Feminine Divine and all that.  The subject is hitting closer and closer to home as my daughter matures.  You see I didn't have much sex education growing up, as a matter of fact, I had practically none.  Had it not been for my sister breaking out some library books for me around 13 or 14 years old, I'm not sure where exactly I'd have been.  By the time I was 19 I'd had plenty of extra-curricular and plenty of boyfriends and had never been to a gynecologist.  Had no idea what they did or why.  I was terrified.

There have been articles and things floating all over Facebook, THIS being one, that have given different opinions and outlooks on teenagers and sex.  There are plenty of people that don't believe sex education should be taught in schools.  There are also folks who are bound and determined to keep the flow of information as handy as possible.  I am one of those.  Vehemently as it were.  Now don't get me wrong, I do fully believe that sex ed starts at home.  That was one of my biggest issues growing up, my "talk" with my mom was short, sweet and to the point.  Sex is for procreation, not recreation, I can be nice but that's not what it's about.  Oh, and make sure you wash up afterward.  That was literally it.  My dad's wasn't much better, as he'd never raised girl children before my sister and me...and we were the first of his children he really had an active involvement with.  So, I started having sex far too early for all the wrong reasons.  It was another 4 years before I knew what birth control pills were, much less took them. 

There are debates going on right now within city, state and federal governing bodies that argue the finer points of sex education, abstinence and the message it all conveys.  Like I said, I do believe the education itself should start at home, moms, dads, grandparents, whomever, should actively prepare their sons and daughters for what is going to happen to them once puberty hits.  More and more we see and hear about children and young adults experimenting or going to parties where things are happening that the parents don't know about, this isn't new.  It's simply more in the open than it used to be.  Teen pregnancy has been around for eons.  We have evolved from cultures where a girl became a woman upon menstruation and a boy became a man upon testicle descention.  They were marrying age a few hundred years ago!  It's still acceptable in some countries and legal in some states for a girl as young as 14 to be married to man twice her age.  It's modern societies moving and growing that has pushed back the acceptable relationship ages. 

  With those changes, we've developed into a society that sees young women, 16 and 17 years old being drugged, raped and then laughed at or chastised for it.  These girls may or may not have been promiscuous, they may or may not have had steady relationships.  The idea of violating a person and then blaming that person for their own violation is wrong on so many levels, and here we are trying to eliminate the very education that could prevent such happenings.  We live in a society where sex sells and looks will get you the fortune you seek, but what is the cost of said fortune?  We have devalued sex to such a degree that it's beyond taboo at this point, it's a social stigma.  You're a prude if you don't do it, but if you do then you're a whore.  Women get the "whore" title much more often and much easier than than the men do, which is silly considering the times.  You'd think with all that evolution, we'd have gotten past that. 

Sex is for procreation not recreation!

There are people who will say that teaching birth control instead of abstinence is saying that sex out of wedlock is OK. That's not necessarily true. Sometimes, it's simply about protection, period.  Personally, I'm not one to believe that total abstinence is correct, I think it's against nature.  However, I do believe sex should be kept to serious relationships and both parties should be consenting and agreeable to what is going to happen.  Young people should know that relationships are important and that sex is an important part of the process.  It isn't something to build a relationship on, neither is it a tool to "keep" or to use the other person and the word "NO" always means just that.  Each family has it's own message and view of how sex and birth control are to be handled.  For some conservative families, birth control education is a non-issue because the only message should be abstinence.  Others use it to maintain the number of children they want to have or perhaps how far apart they are.  For still others is about protecting your daughter when you can't be with her  In the media, young women have come under scrutiny because of the happenings at Steubenville.  She was someones daughter and she certainly didn't invite what happened to her.  What if she'd become impregnated by any one of the boys involved?  Making birth control wrong because it's used wrongly by some people doesn't make up for all the evil acts that are carried out daily. 

I will make sure my child is educated to the best of my ability.  If the schools can't or won't teach it, I will.  I have access to internet, books, and anything else necessary to make sure she knows what can happen if you are unprepared.  Can I totally prevent her from doing what comes naturally?  No.  And I won't pretend that I can.  What I can do is make sure she goes into the decision armed to the teeth.  Knowledge is power, and I want my girl to be as powerful as humanly possible.  She will know as much self defense as I can provide and will have a grasp of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.  Will it devastate me if she comes home pregnant?  No.  If she's in a relationship or if it was an accident, or if she was taken advantage of, we will deal with it and she will have all the help in the world raising that baby if that's what she wants to do.   

We have to remember also: none of us live in a bubble...just because one child is taught to abstain or to enter a relationship with caution doesn't mean another child has the same family luxury.  Some children don't have parents, some don't parents who care.  At some point they need to be taught, formally, so at the very least they have a dog in the fight.

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