*This article contains spoilers for season 1 of “Bridgerton”
Fans have been in abuzz about Netflix’s new period drama “Bridgerton” since its Christmas day release. People are rightfully referring to it as the sexed up version of Jane Austen because it is chock-full of steaming hot sex scenes. Yet, there is a stunning lack of sex education for the young female characters of “Bridgerton.” And as the mother of a young girl, I couldn’t help but notice all of the moments that pointed out the importance of sex education for our daughters.
Just in case you haven’t seen it, “Bridgerton” is an adaptation of the best selling historical series by author Julia Quinn. The series follows the marriage prospects of the children of the aristocratic “Bridgerton” family. The first season of “Bridgerton” shares the story of Daphne, the eldest daughter, as she enters the London social scene in pursuit of a husband.
The storyline is set in 1813 during the Regency era that was known as a time of “sexual revolution.” I am going to assume that this “sexual revolution” was more for the men. I will also assume that the lack of basic sex education isn’t that far off base from the reality of high society ladies of the time.
The sexual ignorance of the young female characters of “Bridgerton” plays out in several different scenarios over the course of the season. To name a few, Daphne enters her wedding night completely clueless about what is to come. Best friends Eloise and Penelope sneak around to find out how to avoid pregnancy. Lady Featherington hides her pregnant niece Marina away in a room and tells her daughters to avoid her because she has something “catchable.”
Now granted, we live in a very different time than the Bridgertons. But these experiences ring true today for more young women than we may want to admit. And this show highlights the lack of sex education that we still face today, especially for our daughters.
So what can we learn about sex education, or the lack thereof, from “Bridgerton”?
First and foremost, sex education needs to start at home. We have to get over the idea that sex is embarrassing or taboo. It’s a natural part of life and teaching our daughters this is not the same as teaching promiscuity. As mothers, we have the ability to lay the ground work for our daughters’ relationship with sex. And it is so important that we present our daughters with factual information so that they can make educated decisions about their bodies.
I know in this time of tech overload our children can access information about sex with just a few taps on a screen. And we all know that our kids are talking about sex. But consuming media or talking to peers about sex is very different from having open conversations with a trusted adult. Best friends Eloise Bridgerton and Penelope Featherington came up with ridiculous ideas about what causes pregnancy when they were left to their own devices.
And don’t think that throwing out a few vague analogies will get the job done. Vague information leaves room to fill in the blanks with gossip and false ideas. This plays out when Lady Bridgerton tries to explain sex to Daphne on the day of her wedding. She nervously bumbles on about a “marital act” and vaguely compares the “act” to rain in a field on autumn day. WTH?!? This leaves Daphne visibly confused and completely unaware of what awaits her.
Frankly, this is dangerous. It leads to girls being tricked into participating in situations where they are not fully aware of the consequences. Just think of all the ridiculous things said to you to talk you into having sex. And I am pretty sure none of us want our daughters duped by a Duke like Daphne, even if it does turn out for the better.
Talking to our daughters about sex can be nerve wracking. It signals they are growing up, and that can be hard to come to terms with. But the best approach is to be as direct and honest as possible in an age appropriate way. And yes, it’s easier said than done for many of us but…do it anyway.
And while we are on the topic of things that are hard to talk about…masturbation is an important topic to cover. Daphne managed to explore that one part of her sexuality prior to her marriage. Some may think this is going too far. But teaching girls that it is okay to explore their own body is a good thing. It helps girls better understand their anatomy and what brings them pleasure. Moreover, masturbation should be seen as normal for girls as it is for boys.
Of course it’s important to know the anatomy and biology of sex. However, we also have to teach our daughters that sex is more than just a physical act. They need to know about the emotional and intimate aspects of sex. And also the importance of consent and mutual respect. They all have impacts on themselves and their relationships. Granted these things are learned over time but it is never too early to bring them up.
Understanding these aspects of sex might have saved Daphne and Simon from pitfalls in their relationship. And possibly could have stopped Daphne from committing a sexual act without her husband’s consent. But that’s a big discussion on consent for another article.
Last but not least, it is important to offer a safe space. The topic of sex can be scary, embarrassing and overwhelming. Having access to an adult that creates a safe space for conversations about sex can make a huge difference in a girl’s life. I don’t know about you but I was lucky enough to get that from my mom. And no matter how uncomfortable it may be, I want to be that person in my daughter’s life.
Yes, I am specifically focusing on the need for our daughters to be educated about their bodies, sex and intimacy. Women have been sexually suppressed for far too long. And it astounds me that sex education is still considered a controversial topic. Sending our daughters out into the adult world without a clue about sex is just not okay. It is our job to protect them. And empowering them with knowledge and confidence of all parts themselves, including sexuality, is the best way we can do that.