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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Teaching children/young people about boundaries and sex

27 replies

LadyBiscuit · 28/08/2010 10:28

ISNT posted this on the rape in marriage thread:

'I don't remember anyone telling me that sex was supposed to be enjoyable either, TBH.

It was all about pregnancy and STDs, from an education POV, and from friends it was all about what you'd done, not about whether you enjoyed it or not.

All very strange.

Girls are still taught that they "own" sex and it's something to give or withhold, and boys learn that sex is something they should pursue relentlessly as an end in itself, and that for some of them it will mean crossing a line.'

which really resonated with me. I really felt like I wasn't supposed to enjoy sex and that it was something that was 'done' to me rather than something I could be (as a 'good' girl) an active participant in. My early sexual experiences were pretty awful to be honest because of feeling that I didn't have the right to ask for anything because it wasn't about my pleasure, it was about the man's.

As ISNT said, I think that might be part of a wider issue in the way in which we teach girls and boys about sex and giving girls the power and boundaries to own sex for themselves.

I am not sure things have moved on enormously given the number of girls who submit themselves to gang rape as part of an initiation into gangs and have no sense of boundaries. There was an interesting feature on Woman's Hour about this the other month where a woman from the Fairbridge project was talking about the work she's doing with young women to give them a better sense of self-worth to have the courage to say no to being shared around like a piece of meat. See here

Sorry haven't really got my thoughts in order yet so that's a bit bumbling but would be interested in your thoughts

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chocolatestar · 28/08/2010 10:40

When I was younger it really didn't occur to me that I had the right to say no to sex. Even when I wanted to I would not have known how to go about it. I think that if I had been given a chance to develop a stronger sense of right over my own body and greater self esteem that I might not have become tangled up in an abusive relationship when I was 20. The things that man did to me I just assumed were what sex must be like. I believed that either sex was meant to be horrible, painful and unpleasant for girls or that there was something wrong with me and that was why it was the way it was. Never entered my head that it might be that way because I was being treated like shit.

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sunny2010 · 28/08/2010 11:49

I am 26 and I was taught at school that sex was meant to be an enjoyable experience. I remembeer there being focus on that in year 6 and year 9. I had sex when I was 14 and have had sex with quite a few people but have never been forced in to it. I got married youngish at 20 but have never experienced mistreatment from man always had lovely experiences whether short term or long term.

I am different to most on here as I enjoy porn, strip clubs etc. It is because I dont see sex as something a women gives a man. I enjoy it to and I enjoy watching sexy men strip, masturbate, have sex etc. I dont think is a bad thing and it doesnt mean I see men as any less than me. I have a wonderful dad, husband, brother and am friends with most of my exs even casual flings. I just cant help what gets me aroused.

I think if you have a healthy view of sex then you realise many women and men enjoy different things and get aroused by different things and that its not all about men objectifying women as I dont know any men that see it like that and personally I dont either.

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dignified · 28/08/2010 14:55

I agree Ladybiscuit , it was much the same for me. Just a quick glance at the relationship boards lateley show you that lots of women still think its their job to please men, regardless of their own feelings

I also think lots of stuff on tv sends this message too ( mass brainwashing ).

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sunny2010 · 28/08/2010 17:26

Are you all a lot older then because now I think with younger people it is seen as women should get a good experience from sex eg they expect orgasms, use toys, the focus is on men pleasing women also etc. I think as I am younger and grew up with all of that things are a lot different for my generation.

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LadyBiscuit · 28/08/2010 18:12

I'm much older sunny - 45 but I'm really pleased that your experience was so different. How do you account for the gang thing? Any ideas?

Sorry not got time to answer properly now - have a load of people coming round and I'm in my dressing gown but I thought your post was very interesting and would like to talk to you some more tomorrow if I may :)

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Blackduck · 28/08/2010 18:17

Friend was telling me about the sex ed lessons her daughter is to get at school. The school explained how some stuff would be taught together and for some stuff they would be split up by gender and the boys would learn about - mastabation, wet dreams etc and the girls would be taught about periods and other stuff. So one mother (of boys) said 'I hope you are going to teach the girls about mastabation'. Silence...... She also pointed out she would like her sons to know about periods.....
So I am not sure the world has moved that far on.......

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TitsalinaBumSquash · 28/08/2010 18:21

Im am 23 so its wasn't that long ag ot that i di Sex ed in school.
I was howere already having sex by them time they taught us at 15.
It was all basic, 'how to put a COndom on' 'only have sex if you love eachother' stuff nothing about the fact that is actually ok to have sex and enjoy sex as a male or female, nothing about porn and the vairous issues surrounding it... there needs to me a much more relaxed attitude to sex in schhols, teachers are always embarrased as are the kids.
The parents dont help though, pulling thier children from class on Sex ed days as they dont want thier precious darlings learning about adult things.

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BertieBotts · 28/08/2010 18:25

I'm 22 and I think that things have changed a bit, but not a lot.

I remember being handed a little card in sex ed at school with a list of "Ways to say no" varying from suggesting doing something else to saying "NO" very loudly and holding your hands up. And some stuff in between.

I remember having separate sex education and I don't remember being taught about masturbation. I remember discussing it with friends and none of us had a clue that the clitoris existed and were talking about things like whether you were supposed to use one or two fingers Confused Someone found a dildo in their mum's drawer and it was a subject of great hilarity that it was blue!

I will be back, DS wants to go and feed the ducks before bed.

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semicolon · 28/08/2010 18:39

I remember watching a documentary about sex ed in the Netherlands where the emphasis was very much on friendship first between the sexes and building relationships. The boys and girls talked about sexual relationships together and thus seemed to respect each other.

Sorry bathtime have to go

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sunny2010 · 28/08/2010 18:58

Ladybiscuit - I have never known anyone be gang raped or have to do anything to be initiated in to a gang and I went to what is known as quite a rough/bad secondary school in the midlands and also went to a secondary school in the south west and never heard that happen to anyone.

I never had any trouble though and even though I had sex young it was just because I wanted to really and I have never felt any pressure. I grew up reading all the teens/womens mags (sugar, bliss, J17, cosmo, more etc) when I was a young teen so knew loads about sex young.

Even when we were 13 at school I knew all the STDS, positions, contraception, how a woman orgasms, how sex works, parts, about sex toys etc. I think it is a good thing that girls get these magazines and boys dont really. I remember all the girls used to laugh at the boys and how little they knew and were always correcting them.

I think things like teen pregnancy etc are usually associated with teens who have experienced very turbulent home lives as opposed to them not knowing what is going on. I had a friend at school who got pregnant at 15 on purpose because her mum and dad had got divorced and she wanted to move out. She had planned it and we all knew but when teachers asked etc she always said it was an accident and she didnt know properly about condoms etc. There were of course cases like that but for a lot of my friends we had sex with boys because we wanted to and it was never a case of them pressuring us.

I do think a lot of boys nowadays do get a bit scared if anything of what girls know as they havent got any alternative publications for them when they are very young. I know my husband was taken aback a bit when we first went back to a hottel together he was asking me if I wanted a cup of tea and was making me one and when he came back I was naked in bed. We laugh about it now but he said he was really nervous as he wanted to impress me. I do think things have changed a lot from what I have heard from many people from what it was like before. I have a 'getting married' guide from 1975 my mother in law as a wedding present she found in a charity shop that she gave me as a joke and I dont relate to any of it.

I have just gone and got it this is an extract from it ' It is no good blinking your eyes to the fact that one thing husbands leave hoem for is sex.For women especially it may take some time to overcome an ingrained shyness, the feeling, more common that sex is a bit 'rude' it may be months before they are able to shed their inhibtions and get over any feeling that they are victims of their husbands passion. For most young men their sexual desire is obvious - an urgent need which can and does present itself morning, noon and night triggered off by a pretty face or a shapely figure, orjust thoughts. For many young wokmen sexual desire is less direct. It is often the powerful rather vague longing - a longing idea of a husband, a sense of security, a home and a child

Haha that made me and my mates ROFL when we read that at my hen night. Its not how it is anymore for my generation thats for sure. I expect an orgasm every time I have sex, I expect a man to put effort and if he didnt I would no longer continue to see him etc. Sex, attraction, chemistry etc are important and many women are ashamed to admit that it is important. I think that is dying out a lot and I think it is thanks to womens magazines etc. I thank them for teaching me how to orgasm everytime and what to do at a young age as it has always meant I have been satisfied and able to assert myself to members of the opposite sex. I will also admit that I apreciate watching men as much as they like watching women. Its not a shameful thing to admit and is just human nature.

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sunny2010 · 28/08/2010 19:06

'I remember having separate sex education and I don't remember being taught about masturbation. I remember discussing it with friends and none of us had a clue that the clitoris existed and were talking about things like whether you were supposed to use one or two fingers confused Someone found a dildo in their mum's drawer and it was a subject of great hilarity that it was blue!'

Does anyone remember a magazine called B magazine? Its not out anymore but I remember having a copy of that at 13 and it reviewed all the vibrators on the market and this is probably tmi but I masturbated over the idea of what it would be like to use one. Ha that is so lame now but in a way its a good thing as I knew all about them and the importance of clitoral stimulation. It was in the days before the rabbit but I always remember that article. It was a 4 page spread on masturbation and was very useful for me. It also gave me ideas to tell boys to do when they touched me and for them to concentrate on teh clit instead of just ramming theirfingers up you like young boys at 14/15 used to have the tendency to do. It showed me to say please dont do that, girls dont like it like that its here you need to touch. I think I educated a fair few boys by letting them in on that secret and hope their girlfriends are thanking me now Smile

I got my first vibe at 16 and by the time we were 18 that was when everyone I knew started having a rabbit. I think that by knowing what you want sexually it gives you the sexual confidence to expect a satisfying experience in the future. If you have ever seen sex with mum and dad on bbc3 I aspire to be like the sex therpist on there. I think she is great to teens.

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Gay40 · 28/08/2010 19:08

I'm with Sunny on this one, but with a different slant - no bloke to worry about, and it's a different dynamic with women anyway. No egos to massage, no faking it, NO PREGNANCY TO WORRY ABOUT !!!!!
It's obvious though that many heterosexual women have really distorted ideas about sex. I've never understood it myself. Sex is fun and free, and providing you are safe, low risk. Neither should it have anything to do with morality - that's just an outdated concept from forever ago when men wanted to oppress women.
I don't get women who put up with shit sex and the rest. Life is too short!

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Gay40 · 28/08/2010 19:13

We've done The Talk with DD 8 but she's not in the slightest bit interested as it was quite factual and age appropriate. Other "life lessons" have been learnt as we go along but usually in a different context...for example a true friend cannot be bought < thought bubble above our heads read "You do not have to buy your way into someone's heart" >

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LeninGrad · 28/08/2010 19:16

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sunny2010 · 28/08/2010 19:19

I agree Gay40 but I still dont think that being with a bloke means putting up with faking it. Even when I was that young I used to tell the boys if they did it wrong and I have never faked in my life. I dont care about breaking egos and think that most men appreciate you telling them what you want.

I have never found a man that didnt want to know how to be better and the same as I am happy to know anything that makes it better for a man. No one is born knowing how to be good at sex and its all trial and error

I agree especially with Gay40s comments about it not being about morality. I think women are even worse than men, 'the patriachy' or whatever else when it comes to this. Its women that often say thinks are slutty, or women that like porn, strip clubs are letting the side down or that they dont like men for sex they like him for a nice personality, being a good father etc.

(The last one obviously but sex is still important it shouldnt be an either/or scenario).

I was on a thread recently in chat about me having sex young and I was asked if I had a troubled background, low self esteem, just put up with it etc and the answer to all of these is no. I am sure that is the reason why some have sex but why is it seen that women who have sex cant simply be doing it because they enjoy sex and orgasms? Again it is mainly women that look at it this way.

I will never advocate being pushed in to something you dont want to, but whether you want 1 partner in your whole life or 50+ thats up to you. As long as you are safe, dont lie to the other partner that you want more or are not cheating then I say go for it you only live once Grin

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BertieBotts · 28/08/2010 19:57

Sunny, I think your attitude is fab :) I wish I'd been as confident etc at a younger age.

I think maybe the most important thing is the attitude to sex at home maybe? My mum has never been very open about sex, and even now I find it very hard to talk about with her because her sexual history is very sad and involves abusive situations. My dad was too embarrassed (parents divorced so only saw him in school holidays anyway) and my stepmum was just bizarre - asking me questions like how big my first boyfriend's penis was. I was very late to learn things like oral sex, the idea of masturbation, the idea that you could have sex in anything other than the missionary position, etc etc.

I wanted to have sex with my first boyfriend at 16 but looking back neither of us were ready - and it didn't work. The next guy I was with was more experienced and I lost my virginity to him (at 18) just to prove to myself that I wasn't a freak and I could do it! How screwed up is that? My sister is 19 now and hasn't even had a relationship let alone had sex and I admire her - she seems to have much higher boundaries than I have ever had.

I think for me though it was all tied up with the high school popularity thing and wanting to be like everyone else and just desperately wanting someone to like me.

Consensus among all my friends though was pretty sad - a general idea that boys our age just wanted sex anyway so you might as well go along with it if you want to have a relationship at all.

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BertieBotts · 28/08/2010 20:12

Sorry, wanted to add - the little card with ways to say no on it, is a good idea I think, but in a way I think it focuses too much on the idea that boys just want sex and girls don't - the wording on it is gender-neutral, but they were only handed out to the girls at school. Actually there is a copy on the website still - the thing that struck me about it was it doesn't seem to take into account the sheer amount of pressure there is at one moment, and how it doesn't always feel like or bullying - if everyone you speak to has the same views, you don't think of it as peer pressure, you just think it's true. It's hard to recall it now even, and it wasn't that long ago and was quite a major theme in my life at the time. So how on earth can we write good, helpful advice for teenagers if we can't remember ourselves what it's like?

It reminded me at the time of a book I read, "My Darling, My Hamburger" (took me ages to remember that title!) where the teacher tells the girls at school that if they don't want to have sex they should tell their boyfriend they want to go for a hamburger instead. The girls in the story conclude that this is ridiculous advice and that the teacher must never have had a boyfriend.

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LadyBiscuit · 28/08/2010 20:23

I think your attitude is fab too sunny. It didn't take me that long to get confident enough to actually enjoy sex but it's really only in the past 10 years that I've felt I can say do that, not that. I'm not in a LTR so that probably doesn't help.

I'm finding it very interesting reading different younger women's experiences of sex education - some of them sound scarily like mine in the 1970s! We didn't have to separate by gender (I also remember my teacher showing us a diaphragm that had been one of his wife's - she was also a teacher at the school :( ) but don't remember learning anything at all about masturbation. It just wasn't discussed

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MillyR · 28/08/2010 20:36

Sunny, I remember you on the other thread. The things said about you were a disgrace and I said so on the thread. It all got very Stepford. I found it very sad that so many women are still very uptight about sex and have these ideas about what 'nice girls' do.

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sunny2010 · 28/08/2010 21:44

Thank you MillyR. I didnt take it personally when other people were saying things in the thread but I just thought they had very preconcieved ideas. Even though I went to a school in a disdvantaged areas I was one of the pupils from a more affluent background. My parents have been together many years and are both professionals. I have normal interests and am now happily married (all though both of us 'window shop' when we are out together. I admit to my husband that I am attracted to others and vice versa and it isnt something either of us feel threatened by.)

I dont want to appear that I was saying everyone must do it or boasting (I was made out to be showing off by a number of people on that thread)but its something I feel strongly about. It doesnt matter if you choose to wait until you are 25 or do it at 14 its that you use contraception, you know whether to say no or not and you do things when you want to. I know that may be contraversial as the age of consent is 16 etc but the way I see it is a lot of young people are going to do it anyway as it is just a natural thing as long as they are doing it for the right reasons then why not. The same goes for number of partners I know many friends who lie about how many people they have been with etc and I just dont see why.

I was on a thread the other day on AIBU regarding a 9 special needs boy being in the changing room with the females. Someone on there said something along the lines of all men look its in their nature. Women dont really do that unless its someone as attractive as Daniel Craig. Of course that isnt true but I dont know why women feel it is shameful or shallow to admit they like looks in the opposite sex. It doesnt mean you want perfection, only want looks etc and everyones idea of good looking is different but it doesnt make you a bad person to admit sometimes you are attracted to people and have normal sexual urges.

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SolidGoldBrass · 28/08/2010 21:51

I do think that probably the most important thing we should teach young people about sex is that it's supposed to be ENJOYABLE. And therefore, if someone is not enjoying it then it's time to stop and work out why it's not being enjoyable. Sex (in the right circumstances ie being attracted to the other people involved, not being worried about pregnancy or disease because you've taken precuations, the other person not being clumsy or unkind) is enjoyable, that's why people do it.

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sunny2010 · 28/08/2010 21:56

BertieBotts - Thank you. My mum and dad got married in the 70s and have been together since their teens and my mum used to talk about how little she knew about sex when she got married. She did used to talk about sex but not in depth just about condoms, stds etc. I always knew that if I had a baby young she would kill me etc! I think even though she wasnt really open and in many ways is very conservative in her views, I do think that always knowing I was secure and loved and seeing my dad be a good husband etc made me see men as not just out to get something off me.

Of course I know there are many men and boys that are like that but I think its teaching young people to respect themselves and teach them that a good man will treat you right (even if its only a casual thing). I havent got the first clue how to do this in practice though as I realise everyones home life and experiences are different.

I think with masturbation it just sort of came as an urge to me at 12. I used to do the rubbing myself against pillows etc but it was through magazines that I learnt why it felt good there, the clitoris, about females needing to have extra stimulation. Again I think there is still a hang up from Freudian theories that if you need extra clitoral stimulation then you are abnormal. Men do learn that through some mainstream porn and never have a chance to learn how it all works. Then women are too shy to say and put up with men doing it wrong. I do think the vast majority of men do want to get it right and I have been with men that I have said I like it when you do... etc and they have done that. I have had a couple which when it came down to it have been wam, bam thank you mam style but I think you can tell the difference between the ones who are just in it for themselves and ones that maybe are nervous or just unsure of what to do. If they are the first then I just havent done it with them again or broken things off.

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SolidGoldBrass · 28/08/2010 21:57

And the thing that isn't being taught but REALLY needs to be taught is: is the person you are having sex with enjoying it? If that person isn't participating with enthusiasm then maybe she or he is not enjoying it and therefore stop and check! If we started teaching young people that sex is enjoyable for all concerned and that it matters whether the other person is enjoying it, wouldn't that make for a better world?

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sunny2010 · 28/08/2010 22:02

Oh and BertieBotts can I say sometimes you are dammed if you do and dammed if you dont. If you have sex early you are a slut if you wait your frigid. I did encounter some people have that attitude when I was at school but I think a lot comes from insecurity and worry that everyone is doing the opposite of what you are. I told my close friends when I had sex/gone further sexually but I made sure it wasnt a publised thing or I went around telling the world.

A lot of my friends after primary school went to different secondary schools so I mixed in different circles so the people I had experimented with werent all at my school which I think made a big difference. A lot of people never knew what I had done and thats why I didnt get subjected to teasing but I think either way someone will have a problem with it, but then as you grow up you realise its the same with most subjects!

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chocolatestar · 28/08/2010 22:14

I don't feel that relaxed about sex even now. I feel quite jealous of those of you who do.

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