Monday, August 30, 2010

The Teenage Sex Alternative

MTV's Teen Moms may be a show designed to chronicle the difficulties of being a teen mom, but I wonder if the impact of television and the media negates the point. Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston made headlines all over the world with their "shameful," yet "celebrated" teenage parenthood. While teenagers everywhere will get an education on young parenting, the delivery and sensationalism presenting the material is confusing.

I am all for young people having the support they need to raise a family. I believe in a woman's (or girl's) right to choose. I appreciate the stories that are shared and the difficult decisions that are involved in pregnancy at any age. I understand that many teenagers are faced with pregnancy, as there were many in my own graduating class. But I am baffled at the lack of sex education we are able, and willing, to present.

My own school district begins teaching basic sex education in 4th grade. But really it started back in Pre-school. My kids were segregated by sex at the age of three, teaching them the importance of gender classification. By First grade, they were read stories about men farmers who worked hard, and the female wives who cooked, cleaned, and raised the kids. It may not be the "birds and the bees," but it is every bit as influential on the overall message of sex in this country.

Instead of open discussions about sex, schools teach the biology of sex... heterosexual, procreating sex. Yes, it is the parent's option to have these conversations, and they should be the ones to create an open environment to discuss these topics. But let's face it, parents are not always qualified to be parents. Who showed us how to parent? Our own parents? Books written for the masses to create a safe and compliant society?

I have come to realize that what is needed is sex-positive education. Kids shouldn't just be taught how men and women have sex that leads to pregnancy; therefore, subliminally telling them they need the opposite sex to lead a fulfilling life. We should be teaching sexuality in all forms. Kissing, masturbation, same sex relations, and how to fulfill the emotional needs that are generally filled by premature sexual encounters.

We shut them off from sex toys and tell them to do their "private touching" behind close doors, and then we're surprised when they find another human being with whom to explore and discover their bodies?

Why not empower the sexuality of our teenagers? Create a judgement-free zone for them to have conversations about their needs, so they can find other safe ways to fulfill them. Then perhaps they won't have to face the more difficult choices of abortion, adoption, or teenage parenthood. It might be brutally uncomfortable at first, but in the end, we are here to teach our children about how to live a happy life.

Sex is a major component to adult relationships. Just like death, sex is inevitable. Instead of sheltering our youth and trying to suppress their natural desires, give them permission to have needs. Then hand them a masturbator sleeve, or a vibrator and send them to their rooms for private time. Sure it's scary to think of our babies getting it on with themselves, and I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but they're doing it anyway.


Anonymous said...

Love the post and totally agree. What's more, as a high school Health teacher I have seen the various sides to this and have done everything I can (within the Ed Code) to give my students the environment of no-judgement and the open information that you propose. And it works, teens come for help, advice and options when they can't talk to anyone else. I'm happy to be there, just as I have been for my daughters.

Miyoko said...

So glad to hear that Joseph! I'm glad to know that there are educators out there who get it.