Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Winging it

Let me tell you a secret: even the most Magical of all Chickens would have been a fluffy wee chick once. And long before my adult plumage appeared, I knew I really liked them Roosters. (Yeah, yeah, I'll save you the trouble of saying it - this Magical Chicken was into Cocks.)

Children, as Badly Drawn Pig so ably expounds, have sexualities. And sometimes they will explore them. This shouldn't be alarming. Many people find that life is a lot better when they enjoy a little friendly human contact which helps them get off every now and then.

So I second my porcine friend's call to give children some room in which to experiment with one another without having their sexualities judged, even as I repeat my urgent advice to adults ("Don't fuck children").

Children do not benefit from condemnation for having and acting on sexual feelings. They benefit from the information, skills and social environment that will encourage them to make the decisions that best serve their interests. They should know:

  • the health risks associated with sexual activity, including the possibility of unwanted pregnancy;
  • that many people experience sexuality as something private and emotionally significant, and that they may be one of them;
  • that they should be able to relax and live in and from their bodies so they know what they enjoy and what they don't, and feel confident in saying "no" to anything which doesn't suit them;
  • that sexual activity with another human being requires paying attention to that person's needs and desires, and communication and trust are important.

    And they should not feel tainted by the process of figuring themselves out. Sometimes you try something and it doesn't work for you. You move on, and you don't do it again. No fundamental tear has appeared in the fabric of the universe.

    Freaking out about sexuality because it is sexual may, ironically, lead to more of the teen sexual activity that so horrifies the defenders of Family Valuez. Their portrayals of sex communicate something brutal, dirty, and compulsive, best regulated in the confines of heterosexual marriage, and even then as a kind of dreary duty by wives who must satisfy their husbands' "urges" (a distinctly erotically unappealing word). Any sexual contact other than some piston-like penetration seems not to be imaginable.

    It's hard to understand why, in this vision of sex, anyone would genuinely, positively, healthily want to do it. And if you don't know why you might say "yes" (except that you absolutely mustn't until you get married and then you absolutely always must), it becomes difficult to weigh this up against the reasons to say "no".

    There's a hair's breadth between Family Valuez and porn culture:

    Conform to seXXXay visions of womanhood for social approval. Ensure you look modest for divine approval. Get as many notches on your belt as you can, "score", to prove your manliness. Real men save it for marriage. Don't have sex because it makes you a dirty slut. Don't reject sexual advances because that makes you a frigid prude.

    It is wrong to assume you can only swap one set of commands for the other. In fact, the two are mutually supporting. We should drop the command approach altogether - stop slut-shaming, and decry sexual objectification wherever we can. Boys and girls who are secure in their own individuality, sexualities and self-worth, who are taught that their feelings and autonomy as well as those of their sexual partners matter, will be confident in saying "no".

    Rather than mapping out the True Path to Enlightenment and chaining others to it, I humbly recommend winging it, and creating for children the space (and giving them the appropriate navigational skills) to do the same.

    1. Thank you! I couldn't have better enunciated the whore/virgin framing of our sexualities as espoused by Family Fighters, although I think it's reasonable to argue that men are shamed less by it.

      There's always the very charming, very dangerous and sexual Bad Boy™ whom everyone wants to save or at least have fun with, and under whose 'tutelage' one is taught the finer points of the karma sutra is a much more successful theme in our collective minds.

    2. Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that officially men are not similarly shamed by it; it's just that somehow the Bad Boy™ has gained more traction to evolve into everyone's Sausage Stud McMuffin anti-hero because of the shaming.


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