Sex Ed double standards hurt us all.

I ran into an old colleague last month and had a quick catch up. After telling him about my sex ed efforts, he muttered about  needing to have ‘that talk’ with his kids soon.  He has a 14 year old son and 16 year old daughter and I have no doubts that there have been some discussions already. Nonetheless, I reinforced that having more ‘talks’ is always wise. He quickly agreed and proudly added that his kids were great and cause no worry in this particular area. I wasn’t surprised – afterall he’s a great guy, with progressive politics and ideas about the world.

Then, without prompting, he made some jokey comment about his daughter specifically and the need to ‘see the guy face to face’ and ‘keep his pants on’. Hyuck yuck yuck.

An aquaintence in the same field as me once said that raising boys is easier than raising girls. I can recall a number of parent chit chats where someone proclaims as much.  Apperantly, boys are really straight forward. One parent told me that providing her son with sex ed was really easy while she needed to infuse her daughter with knowledge and ways to counter destructive messages.

I once had a conversation with a local newscaster before going on TV to talk about sex ed. He acknowledged the work I do by declaring ‘My wife and I are pretty progressive’. He reported that his kids are young (2 and 5) but that he has a clear idea what their sex ed will look like. ‘My son can do whatever he wants but I’m going to interview any guy that wants to date my daughter’.

When you have a boy you only have to look out for one penis but when you have a girl you have to look out for every penis.

To me, all these feel like the policing of our daughters’ sex lives (and messaging that we can’t trust them) and a failure to educate and raise our sons to be righteous men.

These types of comments, all of them, fail all of our children.

I don’t think I need a disclaimer but here it is: I’m raising two children.Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 4.25.08 PM They are male, and seem, for the most part, to be cisgendered* in their orientation. I have no idea what their sexual orientation might be. One likes hockey, one likes art, both like people and I have no idea who they might (or might not) want to fuck one day.

Raising kids is hard. Each and every one of them provides an amazing and enriching challenge to us as parents and caregivers.

Some kids are harder to raise than others – sure – but to make it about gender is to play into the idea that gender make men and women more different than the same. That our maleness or femaleness are more important than our humanity and the requisite lessons for being virtuous, caring and good.

I re-watched the documentary MissRepresentation this past weekend. It’s a powerful doc that exposes how mainstream media contributes to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls.

I get it. I believe it to be so and I lament and fight this reality.

I recently watched Jackson Katz’ Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity. This documentary examines the relationship between pop-cultural imagery and the social construction of masculine identities in the U.S. at the dawn of the 21st century.

I get it. I believe it to be so and I lament and fight this reality.

Our cultural norms and society put all of us into boxes. Dangerous, limiting boxes. We need to nurture and raise and provide sex ed to both our girls and boys (and everyone beyond that binary) so that they take care of and find immense satisfaction in themselves and each other.

MissRepresentation

Boxes… from MissRepresentation

Tough Guise

Boxes…. from Tough Guise

This month’s Walrus Magazine looks at how we’ve failed boys relating to sex education. There’s also a very good podcast.  Have a read and a listen.

 

 

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