Sex positivity is all about having a healthy and positive attitude toward sex and sexuality, one that emphasizes consent and safety for all involved. As feminist parents, we know it’s important to raise our kids with a sex positive philosophy. However, many of us also recognize that specifically raising sex positive daughters — in a world where they are assaulted at higher numbers and frequently shamed for embracing their sexuality — is vital to their well being. Thankfully there are tons of sex positive things we can say to our daughters that will assist them in (on day, when they're of an appropriate age) understanding that sex is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
It's not uncommon for many people to assume sex positivity is an attitude a person can only begin to develop once there're well unto adulthood, but that’s not necessarily true. There are plenty of ways to be sex positive that aren’t even directly related to sex. Feminist parents know we don’t have to wait until our kids start having sex — or are even at an age where they can start to understand sex — to begin teaching them the basics of sex positivity.
By focusing on topics like consent, clothing, self-pleasure, and acceptance of others, we are able to set a positive foundation for more complex aspects of sex positivity later on. So, with that in mind, here are just a few sex positive things you can (and should) be saying to your daugther.
"Wear What Makes You Happy"
There’s a very backwards ideology that suggests certain articles of clothing somehow make you a “slut” (the word slut is also part of backwards ideology suggesting a woman has “too much sex," which we know is copmletely sexist garbage).
Girls tend to be shamed most for what they wear. We need to make sure that they pick out their clothes and are comfortable with what they decide to put on their body. We also need to make sure they understand that their clothing choices do not define them, nor do they make them any one specific person or "label."
"No Means No"
Consent is a big part of sex positivity, and teaching a child the importance of the word “No,” is essential to their understanding of safe and healthy sex. We need to teach girls that they should never be afraid to say, "No," when something doesn’t feel right, when they’re uncomfortable or unhappy. We should also teach them that the same goes for anyone else that says, "No."
"It’s OK To Touch Yourself"
Many of us grew up in households where we were told that certain body parts were off limits not just to others, but to ourselves as well. However, as sex positive parents, we want to let our kids know that exploring their bodies isn’t something to be ashamed of. So long as they do it in a healthy, safe, and clean manner (and not in public) it is perfectly alright for them to touch their bodies.
"There’s Nothing Wrong With Masturbation"
As kids get older, they’ll eventually realize that touching oneself can often lead to pleasurable experiences. Younger kids should be told they are allowed to look at and touch their own bodies. Older kids should also be told that it’s OK for them to masturbate. There will be others in the world who will try to suggest that masturbation is "wrong" or "dirty," (which is essentially saying their bodies and their sexualities are "wrong" and "dirty") so it’s important that we let them know that just isn’t true.
"You Are Worthy Of Love And Respect"
Kids need to know that they are worthwhile, they are important, and they are loved. Having a positive sense of self will take them far, especially when they start having sex. They need to understand that they are deserving of respect, and they should only ever be with partners who will respect them and their needs.
"Never Be Afraid To Speak Up"
This is a big part of consent, but it’s also a big part of developing a healthy sex life later on. Kids should know that it’s OK to say, “Hey, I really like it when you hold my hand!” or “It makes me happy when there are sprinkles in my ice cream,” as that will translate later in life to being able to let their partners know what they enjoy.
Don’t we all, as parents, want our kids to grow up into happy, consenting adults who experience pleasure rather than frustration or boredom in their sex lives?
"Do You Want To See A Gynecologist?"
As your daughter gets older, there will come a time when she will need more than just the care of her pediatrician. Some parents ignore their children’s growing health needs and decide to stick to a pediatrician until they age out at 18, but I suggest asking your kid when they feel ready to go see a gynecologist. It’s not always something girls will want to be up front and honest about, so it’s up to us to bring it up in conversation with the hopt that they'll understand that getting proper health care is important and another part of sex positivity.
"Want To Go Get Vaccinated Against HPV?"
Understanding how to have safe sex is a big part of sex positivity. While the CDC recommends pre-teens as young as 11 should be getting vaccinated against HPV (which affects about 14 million people), it’s not currently part of a vaccination schedule the way polio and measles shots are. However, let’s face facts: teenagers are having sex, many of which may not use birth control properly and all all the time, and many others who won’t get regular check ups. So, you may as well be proactive in teaching your kid about being responsible about their sex lives.
"Let’s Talk About Birth Control"
Sure, some kids will feel embarrassed that their parents are talking to them about contraceptives, but it’s an important conversation to have, and one that is in line with being sex positive. You want your kids to be able to come to you if they need condoms or want to go on the pill. You want your kids being responsible and protecting themselves against unwanted pregnancy and disease.
"There Is Nothing Wrong With Abortion"
Sex positivity means never shaming people for their reproductive choices. Let your daughter know there is no shame in having an abortion. Should she ever need one, you’ll want to be the one to be there for her first.
"Have Sex When You Feel Ready (And If You Want To Chat, I’m Here)"
Many parents spend so much time trying to make sure their kids don’t have sex that they don’t realize it’s probably already happened, possibly even under their roof. You can’t really stop teenagers from doing the deed, but you can make sure that you’re available for any and all questions and advice they might need.
"Girls Can Have And Enjoy Sex Just As Much As Anyone Else"
Let your daughters know that it’s OK for girls to have and enjoy sex. Let them know that contrary to what they might see and hear, it’s not just OK for boys to have sex. Make sure they understand this so they never settle for less, or end up hating themselves for very real, normal, and natural urges and feelings.
"Everyone’s Sexual Orientation Should Be Respected"
Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re probably a feminist parent, meaning you’re probably LGBTQIA-friendly (or actually a queer parent yourself). Another important aspect of sex positive parenting is being open to all sexualities and raising your kids to be the same.
Teach your daughters to respect folks of all sexual orientations, and that she should never, ever be afraid to come out to you should she someday want to.