I was 14 years old the first time my mother called me a whore. That was the full extent of my birds and the bees talk. That is was what I was told about sex. That I was a whore.
Through conversations with girlfriends about sex and sexuality recently I have observed one very common thread among myself and these women. We all seemed to receive similar messages growing up and they looked something like this…
Almost all of us have had more times than we can count where we directly related (or still relate) sex to feelings of shame. We were made to believe that our sexuality was bad, dangerous, even disgusting. That we were somehow doing sex wrong. Not having sex wrong, but wrong in our doing all together. So in all that wrongness we engaged with our sexuality more and more from a place of shame. And as we have all learned, shame breeds more shame. We learned that in order for sex to be acceptable, for us to be doing it “right,” it needed to abide by a lot of unspoken rules.
The problem was just that: they were unspoken.
Why in the hell weren’t they ever spoken.
WHY WAS NO ONE SPEAKING?
The only spoken messages were degrading ones.
Whore, slut, hussy, prude.
Why did everything always seem so secretive and dark and dirty.
No wonder so many grown women are still struggling with sexual brokenness, because we have never been told or shown what sexual “whole put together-ness” looks like.
I think in order to start, we have to step away from the dark and silent place. We have to let the light in and let the words out. We have to do better. We owe it to the next generation to do better.
I will talk to my sons and my daughter about sex. I’m sure I won’t always have the right words, but I will have words nonetheless. In fact I have some right now.
What I want my kids to know about sex….
First rule of sex: It’s always okay to talk about sex. This is not fight club.
Second rule: No one makes rules about your sex life except YOU.
So let’s start over.
No rules. Instead, lets call them “things I would like you to consider.”
1. Your mind and your body are both always allowed to be there.
If you ever feel like one of them has to take a step back or check out in order for intimacy to happen, then please have ALL of you take a step back. If there isn’t room for every bit of you in an intimate space, then please pause. Love all of you enough to not leave any part out.
2. Allow yourself to be drawn to whoever your soul is drawn to.
Their genitalia or gender does not determine whether or not you have permission to be attracted to them. As Mary Oliver says, “you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” Rise above our culture’s binary and confining views of sexuality, sexual orientation, and all that goes along with it. Love who you love. You do not need to label, define or defend yourself.
3. Speaking of love… I hope you have sex that is full of love.
With that being said, you might have sex that is about freedom or exploration more than it is about love. That is ok. You are not dirty. You should not “be ashamed of yourself.” You are writing your own rule book. You are NOT a whore. You are a human. Your own human who makes your own choices and creates your own experiences.
4. I hope you never speak or accept language around sex that involves the word “purity“ in relation to virginity.
Do you know what the antonyms of pure are? “Dirty, foul, contaminated, unclean, polluted, tainted.” There is nothing you can do that will define you as any of those things. Do not ever internalize any message that makes you believe that the loss of your virginity is tied to a loss of purity. You will be just as pure and whole and worthy after you have sex as you are now. Never allow peers, adults, the church or anyone else make you believe anything different. They are wrong. Sex is not shameful. The distorted message of purity is shameful. I hope you never feel the damage that comes along with that dialogue.
5. Forgive the church for how they handle this subject. I promise it’s getting better.
The church is not perfect because humans are not perfect. We are a part of the church. You are a part of the church. Open up the dialogue, keep the conversation moving forward. Future generations will thank you. The church needs you to talk about sex, sexuality, homosexuality, and God. Because all of those things need to exist in the same place. Its ok if you make people uncomfortable. You are my kid, they will expect it.
6. Please be safe.
This is so important. I might actually call this one a rule. I get to write at least one rule about your sex life because I’m your mom. Be safe.
7. What you like matters.
Spend time figuring out what that is and then have the courage to say it. You are not merely an instrument of pleasure for your partner.
8. You are not merely an instrument of pleasure for someone else.
Your body is yours. It is not to be used, abused, taken advantage of, pressured, guilted, or shamed into anything. Please never use it with the intention of gaining love or worth; it can’t buy you those things, and you already have them anyway. You are allowed to say no. You are allowed to say yes and then change your mind and say no. You are allowed to do whatever the hell you feel like. This applies to everyone else too. Treat every single person you encounter with this same respect and understanding.
9. Be sober. It’s better.
For your mind, your soul, your body, your safety and your orgasm. Anyone who is trying to convince you that intimacy is better drunk is missing out. Don’t dull your senses when it comes to something as vulnerable as sex. Just don’t dull your senses ever actually.
10. It is not weird to talk to your parents about sex.
A lot of people could have been saved from a great deal of pain if sex was an on-the-table topic. So it’s on the table now. We are here. We will always be here. We promise to never shame you, control you, or condemn you. We promise to try to answer your questions, to talk openly with you, to be honest with you, to provide you with the healthcare and resources you need, and to love you even if we see things differently than you do at times. Please forgive us when we stumble our way through the awkward and hard conversations. Please forgive us when we fail. We will do our best but our best won’t always be perfect. You are worthy and you are loved. Nothing will change that.