My daughter subscribes to Teen Vogue, and after I learned about an article they published, which ran on July 7, titled “Anal Sex: What You Need To Know,” my first thought was “Dear God, now she will surely go out tomorrow and try illicit sex positions and get an STD.”
I’m not an idiot.
My first thought was actually “Good, it will be a great way to start an important conversation.”
There has been incredible controversy about the article, but unlike some mothers, I am not going to boycott the magazine. And I am certainly not going to record myself burning it in a fire and publish the video on Facebook like The Activist Mommy did, because as far as I’m concerned, the only things that need burning are her sense of superiority and prejudice.
Because if you think your teens aren’t talking about all forms of sex, think again. Come back to reality, please.
If you want to keep them from knowing about sex (and it’s various forms), then you should hide them away under the nearest rock, with ear plugs, because that’s the only way they are not going to hear about it.
Teen Vogue is a publication that has unapologetically empowered teens and young adults to do what they want with their bodies. After all, they are the ones who have the final say. If anal sex is something our kids are curious about, then they should get the facts. Unfortunately, they won’t always get their information from a trusted source, or their trusted source may have have misgivings about the benefit of a comprehensive sex education, so an educational guide in a popular magazine is a fantastic idea.
In fact, the first sentence of the article is right on stating, “When it comes to your body, it’s important that you have the facts. Being in the dark is not doing your sexual health or self-understanding any favors.” Exactly. Standing ovation, Teen Vogue.
Anal and oral are forms of sex. And we would be ignorant to think our children are solely going to engage in missionary style intercourse for the rest of their life, and as the article points out, there is not a lot of educational information out there on the subject: “Obviously there is a lot of stuff on the Internet about anal (we don’t suggest you Google it), but most of what you’ll find is either porn or advice for experienced sexual persons looking to try something new. What about the teenagers? What about the LGBTQ young people who need to know about this for their sexual health?”
I believe we need to address these topics rather than hide, ignore, or burn them. Yeah, certain subjects make us a bit uncomfortable, but if we never have these conversations with our kids, how are they going to learn? It’s not a valid reason for publications to stop producing educational content. I would rather be a little uncomfortable discussing this with my kids and have them be educated on the subject, because even if they never try it, the subject is going to come up because it is something people do, and enjoy, and will talk about.
And newsflash: Straight folks like anal too.
So essays like this are geared toward keeping everyone healthy and safe and normalizing their (normal) curiosity and feelings.
Besides, our kids have heard more about sex at school or from their peers than we may realize. Maybe they didn’t tell us about it, and maybe they don’t understand what they are hearing, but they have heard things and they have questions. We talk about sex education all the time in our house; it’s too important to dismiss.
So, no, I won’t stop getting Teen Vogue for my daughter. I will read it with her, then we will talk about it, because I am her mother and I’ll be damned if I am going to let her learn about sex education solely from her peers — or from bigots like Activist Mommy.
And I’ll be double-damned if I think I am going to keep her safe and unharmed by not discussing different forms of sex that can be so wonderful between two consenting individuals. It would be nice to think our children are not going to experiment or feel like sexual beings until they are 25, but let’s face it: The curiosity and experimentation starts way earlier than that for most of them, and we aren’t helping our kids when we live in denial.
So why not prepare them and have peace of mind knowing you’ve created a safe place for them to discuss anything they have on their minds?
Teen Vogue Digital Editorial Director Phillip Picardi’s epic thread of tweets sets the record straight. And reminds all “EDUCATION doesn’t equal ENCOURAGEMENT.” It equals education, period. And the more our kids know, the more confident they will feel about their bodies and decisions. Now, I’m off to renew that subscription.