Sex is one topic we don't shy away from in our house. While uncomfortable at times (most of the time, really), I don't want my kids to think there's anything wrong with the act itself, because (with two consenting adults) it's a beautiful thing. Still, when I look at my children's innocent faces and think back to the ways I learned about sex, I know how important it is they hear it from me. This is why I'll be the one to talk to my son about sex, not his dad.
When I was younger than my daughter is now (she's 10), I learned about sex from things like movies, television shows, and, unfortunately, my dad's porn stash. Needless to say, none of those sources provided me with adequate information. My mom and dad didn't take the time to sit me down at any point and explain any of it. Instead, I relied on all of the above, and whatever kids at school had to add, which was usually incorrect. All of this combined with living in a household where sex was to be saved for marriage meant I had next to no real knowledge about what sex was, how it's done, and, mostly, the consequences of not using contraception.
What really saved me from not catching an STD or getting pregnant (since I didn't know about any of it) was puberty, ironically. When I went through it, I gained so much weight, I retreated into myself, losing any sense of self-worth I'd accumulated. Already an introvert and publicly shy, my body shielded me from romantic attention. I was the girl invited to the parties, only to sit in the corner while everyone else danced and had their first kisses. I remember my heart aching; I longed to experience the same things, but something deeply seeded — my understanding of sex, romance, and intimacy — affected everything.
My kids have their father in their life full-time, which is vastly different from splitting my childhood between two divorced parents, but even in having my partner here and willing to speak to our kids — particularly our son — about sex, I much prefer to take the responsibility because, from my point-of-view, the woman's position in regards to sex is so much more delicate and should be treated with a certain level of respect. As a feminist mother hoping to raise self-aware, compassionate beings who will one day make their own decisions, I insist on being the one to handle the one topic I struggled with most of my life. Because maybe, in hearing my views, opinions, and reassurances, they'll understand how powerful sex is — good and bad.
I Want Him To Understand A Woman's POV
Since I have experience being a woman, coupled with my past experiences in witnessing how women are portrayed sexually, I'm able to talk to my son from a place of complete understanding. Don't get me wrong; my partner would do an OK job explaining the basics here — especially from a man's view — but my son will one day be a man. He's already built to understand that view, so it becomes a moot point. I want him to know, intimately, how sex affects a woman's self-worth, self-esteem, and overall feelings about her body if used in ways other than intended.
It's a woman's right to decide what happens to her body and I need my son to accept that, without question. Like how it doesn't matter how far along he and his love interest are in the process — if she says to stop, that's the end of it. Again, my partner could explain this, but hearing all the ways sex sort-of ruined my views as a young, vulnerable girl might put things into a different light so he'll be more likely to make responsible, compassionate choices when it comes time.
I'm Honest, But Sensitive
My partner often uses cutesy terms about body parts as a way to skirt around the tough subjects. Yeah, I'm not about that. While I do aim to be sensitive about my son's age and how much he can understand at any given time, I've always called a penis a penis, a breast a breast, and a vagina a vagina. There's no shame in the names, and using them correctly might help him realize the hard truth about what's involved in sex when it's time for the deeper conversations about it.
Because he's still so young, at this point we've only touched on the subject. Even still, he has a sister, he goes to school with females, and he's being raised primarily by his mother. I will always tell it to him straight so there's no confusion.
So He'll Understand Sex Is Not What The Media Portrays
With my upbringing around all the porn (at such a young age) and inappropriate movie-watching, I know firsthand all of that is complete BS. Teens — particularly boys with raging hormones — might be tempted to look at that stuff and believe that's what sex is and how it should be. In the beginning of my relationship, my partner was somewhat the same.
What I want my son to understand is that it's not even close to what they see in the media, because the media uses women as sexual props. Those visuals are strong and hard to undo, so the best way to explain the reality of what sex is like — especially from a woman's view — would be from me. We're more than props. We're people with emotions and feelings who shouldn't be used for a man's pleasure only. Period.
So He'll Understand The Importance Of Consent
There's no greater reason I want to be the one to talk to my son about sex than how incredibly important consent is. My partner gets it and might get the major talking points across about why it's necessary, but having endured sexual assault in my teens and dealing with the aftermath through the remainder of my adult years, I want him to be sympathetic towards women and completely understanding of anyone's desire to change her mind at any point. Hearing this from me, a woman, might help it sink in that much more.
He Spends Most Of His Time With Women
The fact is, I'm with my son far more than my partner is. He's here with me and his older sister and we're a feminist household. I want him to respect women. Understand them in ways others might not. I want him to be responsible in terms of contraception and to consider a woman's (or anyone's) feelings when sex is being discussed or enjoyed. Most of all, when he's ready to try sex for the first time, I want him to remember all the ways I instilled in him how life-changing it can be. For better, or worse, depending on how he chooses to embrace it.
Since my baby is still very much not interested in other people's bodies just yet, I know I still have some time to perfect my strategies. But with his sister quickly approaching those awkward years that still haunt me, I also know it's time for me to step-up with her. Either way, when they're ready, I'll be there to explain sex in terms they'll understand and willing to answer any and all questions (no matter how loudly I'm screaming on the inside).