I never thought, as the mother of a three year old boy, that I’d have to spend so much time angrily fighting for his future right to explore his sexuality without judgment. Sadly, the internet is full of articles shaming teenage girls for taking selfies in their bedrooms, arguing that homosexuality is a choice, and, most recently, this little gem that uses a high school sex ed class as a springboard for railing against premarital sex and those who have it.
The overt meaning of this most recent article, by Matt Walsh (an expert, because he has tattoos and used to be a DJ), is that abstinence is great and without shame. I have no problem with this message. I wouldn’t cry myself to sleep if my child chose not to have sex until he was married. That’s a great idea, in theory. It’s the underlying messages in the article with which I take issue.
Underlying message #1: the teacher in question was teaching that abstinence is outdated and shameful.
“A less charitable translation of her actions would lead me to the conclusion that she was actively attempting to pressure and humiliate people like you.”
–A realistic translation of her actions is that she was acknowledging the very real fact that abstinence-only education is unrealistic and a time-tested failure. Studies have proven time and again that anstinence-only education doesn’t result in fewer instances of premarital sex, but it ALSO increases the likelihood of teen pregnancies and STD exposure by reducing the use of condoms. The fact is, teens have sex. I was a teen once. I had sex, despite my parents, teachers, and church leaders telling me that it was a good idea to wait until marriage. That advice goes out the window pretty quickly when biology starts surging hormones through the body, and your wrestler boyfriend has super-hot abs. So it’s a damned good thing that my teacher ALSO chose to fumble her way through putting a condom on a cucumber, or I’d have a whole bunch of offspring tromping around right now.
Underlying message #2: premarital sex will ruin marital sex for you and your partner.
“Are you satisfied that what you give to your spouse is now secondhand?”
–The truth is that sex is different with each and every combination of people. You and your new partner will have different, special, unique, and wonderful sex, even if you already had sex with someone else in the past. Unless you are running a train, there is no such thing as “secondhand” sex. Anyone who will judge you for having sex in your life before meeting them, isn’t someone who deserves to have sex with you right now. One could argue that having premarital sex teaches you what you like, what you don’t like, and who you will click with sexually. Although that part isn’t necessarily something I’d tell my son…I’ll let him figure that out on his own if he so chooses. Bottom line: sex isn’t something that gets used up or goes bad once opened. Sex with your spouse is special and new and delightful, regardless of what you maybe did during college.
Underlying message #3: Having sex outside of marriage makes you worth less.
“What, we’ve broken the Shackles of Purity and Love and run gleefully into the Meadows of Pornography and Herpes? Because that’s all that our sexual liberation has wrought. A lot of confusion, a lot of porn, a lot of disease, a lot of emotionally desperate, psychologically battered, spiritually broken people wandering around, searching for another stranger who’s willing to go in for a few more rounds of sterile, shallow, pointless sex.”
–Of all the judging that takes place in his article, the worst for me is the judgment that people who have had sex are broken, damaged, and worthless. Elizabeth Smart was a child who was kidnapped and repeatedly raped by her captor for 9 months. She was rescued, and now speaks out as a victim’s advocate. She was raised in an abstinence-only education environment, and her exact words on how that education effected her thinking during captivity are as follows, “I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.’ And that’s how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value,” Smart said. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.” What a harmful, hateful message to send to our children. Considering the statistics that 1 out of 4 female children and 1 out of 6 male children will be sexually abused by the time they are 18, we are loudly devaluing a pretty large percentage of our children by perpetuating the message that Matt Walsh presents. Sex, like any experience, doesn’t change your value.
I am not a DJ, and I only have one tattoo (a tramp stamp, thanks for asking), but as a mother and a sexual human being, I feel comfortable speaking to my son openly and from experience. I hope to teach him that sex is something he can share with his partner, when he and his partner are both ready. That it’s a way to show love. That it should always involve respect and joy. That it’s a big responsibility, and with it comes the responsibility to protect himself from STDs and unwanted pregnancies. That everyone is ready at different times, and there’s no shame in waiting. That sex is beautiful, and when he chooses to have it, it will change his relationship, hopefully for the better. I cannot instill an override to his hormones. I can only install a sense of respect for himself, his body, and his partner. And if he makes a mistake in choosing with whom he shares it? Well, that’s okay, too. He’s still a pretty awesome human being, and anyone will be lucky to have him as a spouse someday.
Kristie Webber is a stay-at-home Air Force wife and mom who writes sarcastic commentary and swear words about food, fitness, and babies at The Spiteful Chef. She feels qualified to do so because she’s a Culinary Institute of America trained chef, an ACE certified personal trainer, and the mother of a wildly impulsive toddler boy. She enjoys eating cake, drinking wine, entering and losing athletic races of all kinds, and being a giant nerd. You can also follow Kristie on Twitter and Facebook.
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