The other day, while visiting with my grandmother, my 22-month-old daughter required an expedient diaper change. Little did I know, that this moment in time would provide me with the perfect opportunity to exercise all the things that sex-positive moms do differently. I continued my conversation with my "grams" while simultaneously taking off the baby's diaper and preparing a fresh one. As soon as my daughter's old diaper was removed, her hand went (rather immediately) to her crotch (as it often does, because kids are wonderfully curious and fantastically free from the confines of a patriarchal society that has ridiculously assigned particular stigmas to certain body parts.). "What's this?!" she asked delightedly, only she wasn't really asking. Instead, she was merely prompting me to engage her in the discussion she wanted to have and, honestly, one we've had many times before. "You know what it is," I replied. She smiled. "Vagina! My vagina!"
"Yes, darling. That's your vagina."
"My vagina," she repeated, "I touch! You touch? Noooooooooooo! I touch myself!" My grandmother laughed the way she does whenever she thinks I'm doing something sort of insane but ultimately harmless and clearly out of her control because I'm the mother and she's the grandmother (like my black lipstick phase).
"Not even two and she knows that word. What ever happened to wee-wee?"
"She knows the words for her head, arm, and toes, too," I pointed out and then, as unpretentiously as I could, clearly and unapologetically said, "We use anatomically correct language with kids. I mean, honestly, what's wrong with 'vagina' or 'penis'? They're just body parts."
"Well," replied my grandmother, "I'm getting an education."
When my husband and I talk to our children about their bodies (and, truthfully, all bodies in general) we do think of it as being a part of their overall education. The words we use and the approach we take to certain topics like body autonomy and sex and relationships, are carefully considered. Sex positive parenting is something that is incredibly important to us and, as a result, that means we sometimes do things a little differently than what our society has considered "normal". So, with that in mind, here are 10 things all sex-positive moms do, because (sometimes) going against the grain is the best possible option.
We Don't Use Euphemisms
We don't spell out S-E-X and penises aren't "wee-wees" or "winkies" and vulvas and vaginas aren't "coochies" or "cha-chas". Coming up with these cutesy names gives kids the impression that genitals are somehow embarrassing and shouldn't be discussed and are worthy of secret code-names because in no way shape or form should they be referred to by their proper name. Sure, these areas are private, but they're not shameful or worthy of judgement and hushed tones and secret fake-languages that only toddlers can understand. After all, everyone's got something down there, so what in the world is the point in trying to pretend that isn't the case?
We Let Kids Know Sex Isn't Just About Making Babies
If the only goal of sex were to make babies, the world would have collapsed under the sheer weight of inevitable humans, centuries ago. Yeah, sex can lead to babies, but that's not why people are having sex the majority of the time, and it's okay for kids to know that sex doesn't automatically mean and/or end in procreation.
We Make Birth Control Available
Sex positive parents are acutely aware that taking birth control on a regular basis (or inserting a form of birth control that gives them the freedom to not take a pill every day) doesn't suddenly make your kid go out and hump everyone or anything that crosses their path. They know that making birth control available means that if your child is going to have sex, they're far, far more likely to go about it safely. Honestly, that's the ultimate goal: no one wants (or should want) to police someone else's body. In the end, it's all about giving our children the tools to be independent adults who make their decisions not only of their own volition, but safely and consensually.
We Talk About Sex Beyond Saying "Don't Do It!"
Sure, we talk about being emotionally ready for sex and definitely about consent and "no means no" and how there isn't a single human being who should feel obligated to have sex with someone else. In the same breath, we don't forbid sex or set it up to be something vulgar or dirty or capable of subtracting from any one individual's self worth. Instead, we talk about "yes means yes" and safe sex and the very real possibility that even when consent is given, it can easily (and justifiably) be revoked.
We Don't Presume Heterosexuality
Setting up and/or entertaining the idea thats sex is exclusive to "a married man and a married woman," is not the name of any sex positive mom's game. For one: you don't have to love anyone to have sex with them, so why lie and pretend that exclusive, deep feelings are a prerequisite for fantastic sex? Secondly, sex can happen between any gathering of genders and any number of (consenting) people. Assuming your child identifies (or will identify) as heterosexual, only serves to alienate and/or guilt them into one specific way of living their lives.
We Don't Freak Out About Masturbation
Kids masturbate. Some kids masturbate a lot. That doesn't distress sex positive parents. A healthy dose of self-love is a marvelous thing, and any sex-positive mother knows that masturbation is nothing more than an expression of sexuality. Honestly, how difficult is it to facilitate masturbation? You give your kid some space, you make sure they wash your hands, and you're good to go. Easy peasy.
We Actively Fight Slut Shaming
We don't support their school's stupid, anti-female dress codes that ridiculously enforce an unhealthy message that women are responsible for men's actions and/or reactions. We don't force our child or children to stop being friends with someone because that friend is having sex and must be a "bad influence." We don't look down on a friend of theirs who has had an abortion. We don't look down on them for having sex or having an abortion. We understand that there are multiple choices to any situation, and every single one of those choices are valid and worthy of respect and support.
We Make No Connection Between Virginity And Virtue
Abstaining from sex is no more laudable than having sex. Depending on age and other factors, it's fine for a parent to express that sex may not be advisable (or even legal), but these are not issues tied to the idea that "respectable people wait" or "girls who have sex are like chewed up gum." Your character lives in your heart mind and soul, not your genitals and the ways in which you choose to use them.
We Talk To Our Kids About Attacks On Women's Reproductive Rights
Because they should know what they are up against and what's at stake every single election.
We Don't Have "The Sex Talk"
Because a subject as complex and multifaceted as human sexuality isn't something you can cover in a single conversation. Sex positive parents share age-appropriate information over the course of their child's life, starting with the basics (proper anatomical terms), to more technical and complex terms over time (where babies come from), and then maintained and constantly upheld, open lines of communication as the kid has continued questions about their own sexuality.