Pleasure is good, yes? We can, I think, admit that experiencing pleasure in life is one of it’s great, um, pleasures. For some, pleasure a great meal with fine wine and friends. For others, yoga, a hot bath or a polar bear dip on New Year’s Day. Pleasures are limitless.
Sexual pleasure is good too. For women especially, sexual shame can get in our way of accepting sexual pleasure as something that we’re all ‘allowed’ to have. In my perfect world, sexual pleasure is something that we all know we deserve.
As mothers, as parents, how do we help our daughters grow into women who are comfortable with their bodies and their sexuality? If sexual desire and pleasure are important components of a healthy and happy life, what is our role in shaping our daughters understanding of these concepts? Can we really be satisfied by the education they will receive on the topic if we don’t play a role?
Teaching our daughters how their bodies work is important. But parents often leave out how female bodies have a fabulous capacity for sexual pleasure. Female orgasm is not necessary for baby-making — maybe that’s why the topic of pleasure is sorely neglected.
With a better sense of and respect for sexual pleasure, women might ask for what they like and may feel worthy of sexual gratification. If they understand that pleasure is an integral part of sexual activity for everyone involved, they might discard relationships that fail to honor it. Equipped with information about their bodies, young women might, without shame, figure out how to bring themselves to orgasm. They might not have to wait until many years into their sexual lives to discover that sex, and their sexuality, is pleasurable.
So what can we do and say so that they grow up understanding the pleasure that their bodies can feel and the right they have to feel it?
- When our toddlers are in the bath and they are having a look about, introduce the word clitoris (and distinguish it from vagina)
- When you explain how babies are made, or what sex is, communicate that sex is not just for baby-making but is for fun, intimacy and pleasure.
- When talking about sex, speak broadly about what constitutes sexual activity and what can feel good.
- If your child masturbates, let her know that she is allowed to make her body feel good in that way. Even if you don’t think masturbation is happening, explain that touching your own genitals is natural and normal and a great way to get to know your own body and what feels good.
- Read age-appropriate books with your kid about sex, sexuality and masturbation.
- When you introduce puberty, let girls know that their genitals will also grow up and may begin to feel tingly when they have a crush.
- Share messages of self-love and body-love. If you’re partnered, consider ways that you (can) model healthy intimacy, love and pleasure.
- Reinforce that all sexual activity must be consensual. Describe what enthusiastic consent is and how sexual activity is best when pleasure is experienced by everyone involved.
These messages of self-respect and self-love, coupled with sound information about sex and sexuality can begin early and can set our daughters up for a lifetime a pleasure.
That’s good, yes?