Can you hear that song in your head? Can you hear all the good things and the bad thing that may be?
Let’s Talk About Sex.(C) 1991 – Salt-N-Pepa The Island Def Jam Music Group
Just take a walk down memory lane and listen to the first 59 seconds of this video. The lyrics are below.
Let’s talk about sex
Yo, I don’t think we should talk about this
Come on, why not?
People might misunderstand what we’re tryin’ to say, you know?
No, but that’s a part of life)
Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about sex
Let’s talk about sex for now to the people at home or in the crowd
It keeps coming up anyhow
Don’t decoy, avoid, or make void the topic
Cuz that ain’t gonna stop it
Now we talk about sex on the radio and video shows
Many will know anything goes
Let’s tell it how it is, and how it could be
How it was, and of course, how it should be
How it should be… those are some pretty key words.
My world is all about teenage hormones, growing pains and expectations. It is a world filled with adult conversations, parental guidance and setting limits. We have three children: 13, 16 and 18 years old. The girls are the oldest and my son is younger in many ways. They are at a time in their lives that they are no longer little kids and many of the actions that they take are part of their own decision making process: Will I wear this or that?… Do I need to shower everyday or every other day?…Does that boy like me?… Do I even want to date right now?
All of these questions involved some sort of input into how one human being is relating to another one. Is it all about sex? God No! Is it all about experimenting? Uhm, I hope not. Is it about learning it all? In part yes. In part no. Stay with me for a minute .
A few weeks ago the Ontario provincial government rolled out new content for sex education and health in the elementary and high school curriculum. Since it had not been updated since 1998 (an age before sexting, on-line predators and Game of Thrones), the curriculum had to introduced a few concepts that may not have been in mainstream conversations in 1998. Today, however, it is just par for the course.
What we see on television and in movies is so very different today than when Toy Story and Stuart Little came out in theaters. Cable TV has become standard viewing and not just TV that we watch ‘when the kids are in bed’. Do you remember the on-going gag when Ellen DeGeneres was almost coming out and not coming out of the closet on Ellen in 1997? Her show was eventually cancelled because of this personal admission – she was a lesbian. In an interview later on, Ellen admitted that she didn’t get any calls for acting jobs for about three years after the end of her show. It was big news back then, admitting you were gay. Fast forward to 2009 when Glee introduced us to a young gay teen named Kurt. Mainstream television was coming of age. Fast forward again to today where you see soap opera storylines that include gay couples (Days of our Lives, Bold & the Beautiful), transgender parenting and cross dressing teens and their transgender teachers (Yes, Glee).
These topics have become more and more mainstream. They are no longer ‘behind closed doors’. Do your kids watch Glee? I know my kids did when it first came out (pun intended) and we had a lot of frank conversation. Sometimes it is not easy to carry on conversations about touchy subjects and I think every parent knows talking about sex is the worst. Or is it? I think that talking about sex education, health and healthy relationships, bullying and mental health issues are all things that are helpful to have in school curriculum.
I remember as a child asking my mom about what ‘those Stayfree commercials’ were all about. I also remember my brother groaning and making an exit out of the room very, very quickly. There are parents that feel that having those very personal conversations should be between parent and child but I always go back to my parents and know that they were not comfortable with any part of the sex talk.
So in 2015, I think that it behooves us to support our premiere when she and the Minister of Education, introduces a new progressive sex ed. curriculum. All you have to do is read the post I wrote last year about having a very frank conversation with a couple of boys grade 12 boys about… well, reproduction. I constantly go back to that conversation because I realized right then and there that we are not teaching our teens enough about the importance of abstinence, good planning, the consequences of waiting to have children and the possibility of dealing with infertility. I am a strong advocate for helping Ontarians build their dream families and that does not always happen without the help of IVF. I am not shy to discuss this topic because I live it e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y. Everyday, my children are exposed to so many things that it feels like a never ending battle for clarity. I know, there are some that will not agree with this point of view but I believe strongly that knowledge is power and we need to help our children, big and small understand. I am here to discuss these issues with my son and my daughters. We have frank conversations about intimidation or bullying in a relationship, how to talk to women, how you talk to men. How your actions, what you wear or what you say can be misconstrued incorrectly or inappropriately. We have conversations about 50 Shades of Grey (I swore I would not every write those words in my blog, but there you go). It’s a conversation about consensual sex.
When they were younger we discussed gay relationships and the dynamics that are associated with having two mommies or two daddies. Whatever it took to make their queries, anxieties and insecurities seem like par for the course. That is what you learn when you are growing up in 2015.
I listened again to Kathleen Wynne today on CBC Radio discuss sexual harassment in the workplace. One of the points that really hit home was that she mentioned that it is not just the older generation that needs to rethink how their actions are in a workplace environment. It is imperative that we teach our children from the beginning what is acceptable behaviour. What consent means and what is appropriate or inappropriate. It is helping them now to create a future of well informed, confident teens making better choices.
Infertility advocates and patient groups like Conceivable Dreams support the changing curriculum, but wish that there had been more information about fertility and infertility in the content of the new curriculum. In Denmark, a country that recently changed their curriculum and also funds IVF, the new curriculum contains information about fertility and infertility. Denmark’s health and education policy work hand in hand to support healthy family building and declining fertility rates.
If you think that these kids are not talking about sex you are sadly mistaken. It’s time to talk about sex, all the good things and the bad things that may be.