I recently watched Titanic with my kids. It’s such an epic movie. I can honestly say that I love it. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet are both so hunky, young and vibrant. And that ship! It’s so big, and fancy, and doomed!
There’s a scene in the movie where the two of them have sex. It’s the first- and only- time. They’re hiding from the bad guys in an old-fashioned car in the storage area of the ship. The windows steam from all the steaminess. They’ve finished having sex and they’re lying together, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jack is trembling and Kate Winslet’s character Rose comments on it. Jack replies that he’ll be OK. My nine-year-old asked why he’s shaking and I offered an honest answer. I explained that they had just had sex and that it uses a lot of energy and that there is a rush of adrenaline and endorphins that can leave a person feeling things like exhaustion, joy, elation, and even a little shaky. I explain that sex can do that and that all of those responses are normal. And then I said that I thought Jack was also shaking because of what he was feeling in that moment for Rose. He was feeling love intensely and that feeling was so big that it was causing him to shake a bit. The physical act AND emotions made for a particularly powerful response. My kid seemed satisfied with the answer.
Two days later I was in front of 55 grade 10 students telling them as much as I could about sex and sexuality to best inform their future lives. I spend lots of time talking about trust, respect, justice, joy, communication and power. I found myself describing that scene in the Titanic and told them my explanation for the shaking that I had offered to my kids. Then I paused and I explained that this is important since too many young men do not learn or realize that they can have immense emotions when engaged in sexual activites. I explained that this is important because too many young women think (wrongly) that being emotional about sex is a required feminine trait and not something they can expect from their male partners. I explained that where there is trust and respect in a sexual relationship, there is emmense potential for expressing emotions that can heighten the physical experience. It can even make you tremble.
That evening I was back with my two children (funny how I always end up back with them). I told them how I had been in front of a grade 10 class giving a sex ed lesson and that I referenced our movie night. And I referred back to that scene in the movie when Jack and Rose had sex and Jack was shaking. I told my kids that I explained to the students why that scene and our conversation had been so important. I explained to my kids that the teenagers needed to hear that feeling and sharing their emotions when engaged in a sexual relationship is a wonderful thing. I explained that boys especially need to know that having big feelings is allowed. I communicated (not for the first time) that while love isn’t required, trust and respect are critical parts of a safe and happy sex life.
That’s what I call a successful week in sex ed. No crashes.