Thu May 1, 2008
Today being the first day of the SexyMamaBlog project, I’m sitting down now with my cup of coffee to write about topic one: Sex Positive Families – what does it mean, and how do you create this in a rather sex-negative culture? How do you model being a sex-positive mom?
I don’t think I grew up in a particularly sex-negative household, it was more of a sex-apathetic household. My mother was a volunteer for Planned Parenthood for at least a decade (probably more) counseling teenagers about birth control options and reproductive choices. That said, I somehow got the feeling that she was exceedingly embarrassed to talk to her own two daughters about anything at all. I learned plenty about HALF of the important things: how to protect myself from unplanned pregnancy and STDs, but not the other important thing: the pleasure principle. If anything, I grew up thinking sex was normal but overrated. Then, marrying a man who was a product of a conservative sex-negative religious upbringing, I didn’t really have the experience or tools to have any pleasure in our sex life.
That was eons ago, but I want a better experience for my daughters than I had. My take on sex-positive is this: good sex is an integral part of our lives, necessary for physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. And that is in whatever form is right for the person involved, be it gay, straight, bi, queer, poly, monogamous, kinky, ‘nilla, or whatever inbetween of any of those. The other part of being sex positive, to me, is to make myself available for questions, but not to foist information on them before they want it. They have access to tons of reading if they’re uncomfortable asking me things. They have their Aunt Heather if they want another adult to talk to, and their Auntie Natasha as well.
I don’t know how well I’m doing – what I do know is that each person is so unique, there isn’t one right answer. My oldest daughter will probably never speak to me about anything relating to sex. It’s simply not in her comfort zone. My middle daughter has already come to me for advice, birth control, and talked Auntie Heather’s ear off time and again with questions. I have tried to convey my opinions, which are to be safe, and to make sure sex is pleasurable for BOTH parties, something too often lost in teenage relations. That said, I also have my own limits with my daughters – my own comfort levels with what I do and don’t want to know. I may know that my middle daughter is sexually active with her longterm boyfriend, but I don’t want to be her best friend and hear the details, any more than she wants to hear about what Elliott and I do or don’t do. I think it’s important to respect boundaries there on both sides.
I will say that I am not the parent I thought I’d be. Now that they are teenagers, the reality of my emotion about things is not what I’d envisioned it might be. My oh-so-enlightened “anything consensual is ok” attitudes have been tested, with middle of the night worries. What it always boils down to is wanting to spare your children unhappiness or injury, physical or emotional. Unrealistic, definitely, but completely normal to wish for. Are we a sex-positive household? I hope so, but it’s not something I wake up thinking about how to do. It’s more of an attitude along the way, the little comments as issues are encountered. Saying something when awful mainstream media messages pop up in front of us, instead of letting them slide.
One of the things that’s always interesting is how a kid’s perspective differs from the parent. My own mother now claims that she never made the comment “sex is overrated” (which she did, repeatedly, when I was growing up) because she remembers herself being more openminded. How my own daughters will remember their upbringing remains to be seen, but I can almost guarantee they’ll remember it differently than I do. :)