Among the many, giant leaps we've taken (as a society) to undo previously accepted ways of thinking, is the push to be a more sex positive. However, this social shift doesn't make teaching sex positivity to your kids any easier. In fact, there are so many reasons why it's harder than you think to raise sex positive children; reasons that aren't easily eradicated by a movement that is gaining momentum but it still constantly questioned.
So, what is sex positivity? Sex positivity is a simple and relatively self-explanatory concept. The goal of sex positivity is to change our attitudes towards sex by normalizing different sexual relationships, sexual preferences, and varying opinions of sexuality. Basically, as long as sex is consensual and safe, it's a great thing that everyone should feel free to enjoy. Instilling these basic concepts and values is part of creating a more sex positive environment for our kids to grow up in.
Years ago (and not all that long ago and, honestly, still today) kids were taught that sex was a taboo thing; that it was something reserved for married men and women and that its sole reason for existing was the sake of reproducing. We were taught that it was "dirty" and an all-around inappropriate topic of conversation. We were made to view ourselves (as well as others) as perverted for having sex or thinking about sex or talking about sex or being viewed as sexual in any way. Thankfully, the conversation has shifted.
Today, the stigma surrounding sexuality is fading (to a certain degree). We're (arguably) able to openly discuss our ventures in and out of the bedroom, as well as the exploration of one's sexual curiosity, without the relenting ridicule of others. Of course, there's still plenty of shame and judgement to go around, but the overall attitude our culture has about sex is changing, and that change is palpable.
We've still got a long way to go, thought, and a big part of moving forward and stomping out any sort of sexual stigma includes raising our kids to be sex positive. There are definitely some things you can say to your kids to help them be more sex positive, however, raising sex positive kids is (sometimes) easier said than done. Why, you ask? Consider the following reasons why you might run into some problems when teaching your kids to be unapologetically sex positive.
Labels Are Still A Thing
Part of sex positivity is eliminating the use of blanket labels. No two people are exactly the same and a person's sexuality isn't a basic black and white concept. There are many other shades than gay, straight, and bi; and when we label someone as "one or the other," we're essentially limiting someone's sexuality (and identity) by categorizing their preferences for our benefits. We're telling them to stick to one genre or group only, just so we can easily identify them. It's laziness at its finest, folks.
Being sex positive means not only allowing people to decide for themselves who it is exactly that they prefer, but also accepting without question that that can be one or all of the aforementioned groups, and that their decision can change at any time.
Teaching our children to not use labels when referring to their own sexuality and the sexuality of others is difficult, because labeling someone's sexuality has been so deeply engraved into many of our upbringings, but it's essential if we are to create a more sex positive culture.
Societal Judgment Is Relentless
When some people think about sex positivity, they are under the false assumption that the men and women involved in that sort of thinking are a bunch of dirty, reckless individuals who carelessly sleep with anyone and everyone. In other words, a "slut."
First of all, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Secondly, we need to just eliminate the term "slut" from our vocabularies because the negative connotations attached to it are completely undeserved. The term "slut" is sexist and so very derogatory. It allows for men to explore their sexuality freely and without judgment, while placing a scarlet letter on a woman's otherwise admirable reputation. It suggests that having sex diminishes a woman's worth. It implies that a woman's worth is attached to how many sexual partners she may or may not have.
Sex positivity is about having a positive outlook on everyone's sexuality. It's about embracing one's own sexuality and accepting that someone else's might be incredibly different.
Consequences Can Be Scary
No matter how great of a sex positive environment you create for your kids, sex can come with some consequences. Whether that's a one-sided emotional attachment that's created after a physical connection, an STD, or an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, sex isn't always as frivolous as we'd like for it to be.
Having an STD is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, nor is an unplanned pregnancy, but both are capable of bringing physical and emotional pain, neither of which are ever pleasant.
Part of creating a sex positive environment for our kids is teaching them that sex is a great and natural thing while also educating them on the potential consequences and how they can keep themselves safe and happy. Sex needs to be accompanied by some form of maturity and responsibility, but that doesn't mean it needs to be a taboo act that people are shunned for experiencing.
Not Everyone Is On Board With Sex Positivity
The ability to be an openly sex positive thinker, varies greatly based on different upbringings, religious affiliations, and regional progressiveness. Certain areas of the world (and the country, for that matter) will always see sex as a taboo or forbidden subject. Raising sex positive kids means informing them of the vast opinions so many other people have, and the respect those opinions and traditions deserve (as long as they don't hurt others) despite not completely understanding or agreeing with them.
Double Standards Exist
Here we go again with the double standards. We live in a world that places sexually active straight men on an idolized pedestal while simultaneously slut-shaming women for their own endeavors and degrading people who aren't cis, white males by haphazardly labeling them as "unworthy" of sexual fulfillment.
It's our job as parents to eliminate the sort of dated sexism and prejudice. We've got the responsibility of teaching our kids that sex positivity applies to everyone.
Rewriting Ancient Concepts Takes Time
It took decades and decades for our minds to be molded into thinking that sex is a hush-hush topic. It could take just as long, if not longer, to rewrite that kind of thinking.
As parents, we have the valuable opportunity to change these conversations with our own kids. We've got a chance to teach the next generation that sex is a wonderful thing, and that participating in it and talking about it (or doing and saying whatever it is that makes them comfortable with it) are acceptable things to do. We've got to encourage our kids to be comfortable with the topic. This all sounds like a relatively straight forward route to take, but it isn't going to happen over night. It could take years upon years for us to unlearn everything we've been taught.
Sex Positivity Has Different Meanings To Different People
To one person sex positivity might mean just being sexually active in a committed relationship; to another it might mean being free to experiment sexually with as many other like-minded and exploratory people they come across. It might mean just being able to talk about sex freely and without judgment or it could even mean choosing to abstain from sex all together.
Sex positivity may have different meanings to different people, but the gist of it all is rooted in the same foundation that sees safe and consensual sex, as good sex. Like I said before, sex positivity isn't a black and white concept, and it's our job to teach our children that each and every varying shade should be embraced and accepted.