Talking About Sex
It's No Longer THE Talk-It's Just Talk
True sexual education is teaching our daughters how to navigate the emotional, social, and political world so that they feel empowered to make independent decisions. The systems that have been created to protect girls from harm are inadequate and unreliable. We need to arm our daughters with information that will help them feel positive 8 about their sexuality and protect them from coercion, discrimination, and violence.
Talking to kids about sex is hard. If you start early by talking about the basics, the more complicated stuff comes more naturally. Here are some suggestions to make sex talk a normal part of your everyday life.
Why talk about sex
Sex Ed Class is inadequate preparation for the real world.
To be prepared for the world of sex girls must know much more than just the physical aspects. We must teach our daughters about the politics of sex. We must prepare them to enter a sexually exploitative world where they are disadvantaged and expected to tolerate unwanted sexual attention and aggression. Whether we like it or not, our daughters are entering a sexual world where boys are learning about sex through pornography, social media is influencing them to be sexual, 9 and they are bombarded with sexually suggestive texts and images from friends and strangers. As parents, we can empower our daughters by giving them the support, education, and the tools they need to protect themselves from participating in unwanted sexual situations.
If you don't talk to your daughter, who will?
Dr. Michael Garbe on Adolescents and Porn
Dr. Elizabeth Schroeder
Sex Educator Expert
Empower Girls Through Each Developmental Stage
There is a wide range of normal sexual development and maturity in girls. The chart below takes into consideration girls' sexual environment. Anecdotally, girls report that they start getting sexual attention, seeing sexual images, and being in sexual conversations with their friends around age 10-12. This does not mean they are having sex at that age, but it does mean they are trying to make sense of sex, and we need to be there to help them.
Gender Identity is Established
Relationships outside the family become important
Starting to build and express a sexual identity
Sexual exploration experimentation and relationships
What to Expect
Gender roles are established and reinforced.
Gender is a social construct 10 and reflexively, we raise girls to be beautiful, sweet, likable, obedient, accommodating and to avoid conflict.
All of these qualities make girls vulnerable to abuse.
What to Do
Encourage her exploration and autonomy.
Focus on her strengths, not her beauty.
Don't dress her to fit a mold.
Encourage her to be herself, don't force her to compromise so that she fits in.
Encourage her to express how she feels and take what she says seriously.
Empower Girls To Be Independent and Self Expressed
What to expect
Girls start getting crushes on boys and begin to view themselves through the eyes of society. Their friends become increasingly important and they start to change how they act and dress to fit in. This is a very vulnerable time for girls. Many start to criticize their looks and weight and they develop the beginnings of low self-esteem and self-worth which is one of the things that makes them vulnerable to sexual pressure from boys.
What to do
Keep an open dialogue about her relationships and her developing sexuality. Don't forbid her to have sexual feelings or interests. If you do, she will stop talking to you. Show her, through TV, movies, and advertising how society undermines and sexualizes girls and tells her that boys are more important. Help her find ways to feel attractive and empowered on her own terms.
Create An Open Dialogue
What to expect
This is a dangerous time for girls because parents still think girls are innocent and safe, but they are not. Girls start getting sexual attention from boys and men, either negative or positive, and both are damaging. Sexual images are used to exploit, shock, and humiliate girls. The pressure to be sexual increases and many girls start drinking and being sexual with boys.
What to do
Although it may be uncomfortable, this is when we need to really talk about physical sex.
Help her figure out how she feels about sex. Talk about sexual pleasure and how important it is to do sexual things because they feel good to her, not to someone else. Help her build a sense of individual identity by giving her feedback about what is unique and interesting about her.
Talk about manipulation, coercion, and pressure that comes from boys, the media, and her peers.
Tell her that girls often do sexual things they don't want to and explain the reasons why. Teach her about consent in all situations, not just sex.
Talk about the Details
What to expect
Even girls who are late bloomers are defined by their sexual attractiveness to men. There is no escaping the sexual world either from social media or peers. By 16, most girls are having sex. The need to be in a relationship can cause many girls to compromise their real desires.
What to do
Create an environment where you accept her developing maturity. Help her figure out how to safely explore her sexuality without compromising her well being.
Help your daughter figure out how she wants to be in the sexual world and what she is comfortable doing.
Teach her about consent and that she can change her mind whenever she wants, even in the middle of a sexual situation.