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Sex Positive Education
Sex education is a very important topic. We all agree with this (or most of us do), but it scares us.
So we leave it to everyone else, and like the old children’s story, if everyone leaves it to everyone else to do, then it’s never done. Or in this case, some of it was done, but what was done was negative, and it didn’t work.
The downside of our sex education is that it is fear based. We teach our children, and not only our children, not to get pregnant, not to get HIV/AIDS.
Sexual stigmas and taboos persist.
The awkwardness of talking about sex is still there.
We know it won’t work.
Teenage pregnancy rates are rising.
The number of HIV infections has not decreased, but sexual abuse has increased.
More 12-year-olds are having sex.
We have failed our children and ourselves in an area of our lives where we could have made real, noticeable change.
Why are we afraid to go there?
Because we have to face ourselves and admit that maybe we ourselves don’t know much about sex, about our genitals. It’s embarrassing for us.
So sex education isn’t just about our children, it’s educating society in a new way of being and getting along, with new, healthy attitudes toward ourselves, others, and our world.
I’m often asked, “How do I talk to my kids about sex?”
It’s a simple question, but complex answers challenge us.
First, we have to talk to them openly and honestly, which means no embarrassment, no tact. We can only do this when we are comfortable with our sexuality.
Second, it means we have to acknowledge that our children are sexual animals, even if they act out of curiosity rather than intention. (We can hope they’re not among the growing crowd of 12- and 13-year-olds having sex because, of course, “my kids never will”). Again, it’s always Some body Else.
Third, the education we provide must be consistent with what they see in the media, TV, movies, etc., and what they experience on a daily basis. We must close the gap between old, outdated ideas and the reality they face in the world.
Next we must have open forums to discuss a range of sexual issues. Who we choose to lead these matters. They need to be open, honest and sober, not afraid or stuck in the past. Their education on sexuality needs to be explicit, not filled with myths and misconceptions.
Then we have to offer sexual choice.
Our kids don’t stop having sex once they decide to explore, for whatever reason, boredom, excitement, and peer pressure to name a few.
We can’t stop them, although some people think they can.
But we can make a difference if we offer alternatives and seek out other educational resources.
There are other possibilities for sexual exploration besides penetration. An example is the extended orgasmic technique, no penetration, no oral, no exchange of bodily fluids, including respect and communication.
I find that masturbation is still a huge taboo in our society, but it has many benefits. One of them is that being aware of your body and your pleasure leads to a greater sense of belonging. This leads directly to you becoming more accountable about who you allow to do what to you and what your boundaries are.
Then we look at the East and look at Tantric and Taoist traditions. Sexuality is given its rightful place as an integral and important part of life, and it comes with education. Some of the most important principles these philosophies teach, in addition to their technique, are respect, respect, communication, and context.
From time to time teenagers attend the introductory lectures I give on Tantra. Each of them said they wished all their friends heard these thoughts; it would make a big difference in their sexual attitudes and behavior. In South Africa, given the alarmingly high rates of rape and abuse, the principles of respect and respect are of paramount importance.
These ideas are not meant to create an atmosphere of promiscuity, quite the opposite. By mastering yourself and your sexuality, with real knowledge, understanding the importance of emotions and relationships, we create an environment for meaningful exploration.
If we can teach our children to respect themselves more, that will extend to respecting others, our society, our environment, our world…
Sex education is not just about teaching our children how to avoid pregnancy, it is about educating ourselves to be happy, fulfilled, joyful human beings.
It is educating a society, a future.
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