What I Wish My Mother Told Me About Sex
What I Wish My Mother Told Me About Sex
“Why do we make young people feel bad for screwing around when it is a natural function?
"At age 16, the average human body is mature enough to have sex. Couple that with the flood of hormones encouraging them to do so, and yet we still shame and discourage, especially our young women. How is it any different from guilting a 10-month-old baby who tries to walk?”
I questioned my parents as we sat around a plastic patio table.
There was an extra beat of silence, long enough to let me know that I had stepped on a few eggshells. They both then began with the kind of rhetoric that we’ve all repeated but surely don’t really believe: “Good parenting is about protecting your children from harm.”
As an adult, when I think about sex, “harm” isn’t in the top 10 descriptors that come to mind. But this is the logic that most parents lead with in belief that lessons on sexuality should parallel our singular lesson on fire: If you touch it, you will get burned. Sex in a parent’s eyes is the literal dead space beyond the kiss of the streetlights—a dark, unpaved road with imminent dangers too large to evade and too far away from the nest for anyone to hear your screams. With this mindset, in North America teaching your kids about a healthy sex life really and unfortunately doesn’t seem to be the goal.
Mom, I want to tell you something before I go on to tell you some things I would have liked to have learned: there is nothing you could have said or done to stop me from having sex. It isn’t your fault, or it isn’t your credit. At 16 my body was on its own covert mission to get laid—we had been troubleshooting and experimenting heavily on our own since 14 and finally we were ready to launch. The only problem was I had no idea how to make rocket fuel. Furthermore, all I had access to was Kool Aid so naturally I failed at my first mission.
To be honest, I failed a lot after that as well. And while I survived the “live and learn” model of sex ed—I can’t help but wonder if I could have avoided some burns if I knew a little more than the basics about the road ahead. With all that said, here are three additional things I personally wish my mother told me about sex:
1) This is your clitoris. Take your coat off, you’ll be here awhile…
I wish you told me that contrary to every love scene I saw, dirty book I read and porn I stole a peep at, I would not explode with pleasure from just penetration. Did you know the first time I ever heard the word clitoris was in grade 10 gym class as the teacher awkwardly waved her hand over a vague diagram of the vulva on a cheap projector? I remember vividly thinking, okay I guess this clitoris thing is inside the vagina, I just need a big dick to reach it then viola! It took a few partners to realize it wasn’t the size of the penis, but the puny size of my knowledge on anatomy that was the problem.
**Tip** mothers, please don’t be horrified, but I’d like you to do two things: Buy your daughter a small vanity mirror then get an awesome, labelled print out of the female genitalia. And I am not talking about one that identifies the cilia and ovaries I mean one that shows where the clitoris is, how the clitoral system works, where the nerve endings are located—you know, the good stuff. Sit her down and explain this in detail then hand her that mirror and encourage her to identify these parts for herself.
1) Sex is Monopoly money—you can have fun with it, but don’t try to take it to the bank honey!
Sex is meant to be fun, enjoyable and celebratory if you are doing it for any other reason, you’re playing with fool’s gold. I wish my mother empowered me with the knowledge that I had the right to pleasure, but also armed with the truth that giving others’ pleasure was not a guaranteed means to any end. In other words, there is really no other reason to have sex other than for your own enjoyment. Having sex with someone will not make them love you, like you, marry you, pay for you, save you so the least you could do is get an orgasm out of it!
3) Birth control is a bumpy ride but it’s better than the other bumps sex can give you…
Finding the right birth control for women is not dissimilar to finding the perfect best friend. It’s a process and you will probably need a trusted source to go back to in order to figure out what’s right for you. Because I had a hard time acknowledging to you that I was having sex, since it seemed to break your heart, I had to go through this process alone.
Furthermore I felt guilty for even keeping condoms so often I went without being empowered in that way. Again, I couldn’t stop myself from having the urges so you certainly could not discourage or ignore them away—so why not help me make the right choice rather than pretending it’s not an option?
I’ve run out of space, but let me squeeze in a few other quickie lessons I think all mothers should bestow on their daughters: Pee then wipe up after any sexual contact always; you’re boobs look great, don’t worry; no, you don’t smell funny, but if you’re very concerned, eat more plain yogurt, wear cotton underwear; and finally, put that vegetable down, let’s get you a real sex toy.
Thank you mom for giving me courage, wits and perseverance—tools that led me to my own sexual education, eventually. I know you did your best and I love you deeply for that, this just would have been the cherry on top.
What do you wish your mother taught you about sex?