I don't have kids, which usually makes me feel sad–but then again, it means I don't have to take advice from Ellen Friedrichs, parenting columnist for Everyday Feminism.
Friedrichs is also a professional "sex educator" (her resume includes a stint as public-programming director for San Francisco's Museum of Sex (warning: NSFW!). She's currently coordinator of the "health" department at St. Ann's School, the famously avant-garde (and famously expensive) prep school in Brooklyn where the students don't have to worry about grades because there aren't any. As you might suspect with Friedrichs at the helm, the "health" classes at St. Ann's are largely focused on…you guessed it: "sexuality."
And so are Friedrich's "parenting" columns. Here's her latest one, titled "4 Easy Ways to Incorporate More Sex Positivity Into Your Parenting."
Uh-oh. Isn't sex already kind of "positive," in the sense that it's what most people think about most of the time? Maybe a column on "sex negativity" might actually accomplish something more useful. But as Friedrichs explains to parents, shelling out up to $41,000 a year to have your kid sit through Friedrichs' health classes at St. Ann's just isn't enough. Moms and dads need to start "reinforcing at home what they’re learning in school" so as to help the youngsters "grow up with a healthy view of sexuality."
Naturally one of the four "easy ways" is all about "consent," because yes means yes, and yada yada. But the other three are doozies:
Most of the ways in which we talk about sex with children is in reproductive terms. From answering the “Where do babies come from?” question to having a conversation about puberty, the link between sexuality and procreation is a constant one.
But for almost all children, and for most teens, this is not the most salient aspect of sex.
Yet separating sex from reproduction can be hard to do. That’s because then you need to talk about desire, and pleasure, and as I did recently with my nine-year-old, things like oral sex.
My nine-year-old? Oral sex?
3. Remember That Sex Takes Practice
Imagine if we gave sixteen-year-olds the keys to our cars and told them to go for a spin even though they had never sat behind the wheel before, let alone obtained a license….
And while there are ways for kids to practice sex, many teens are forced to do so in secret. This can be the result of parents’ rules. But it also happens because things like looking at porn or sexting are illegal for minors.
And while such laws are ostensibly designed to protect children, particularly when it comes to sexting, they can do more harm than good.
So, hey, let's let our kids spend their waking hours sending pornographic photos of themselves to each other.
And finally, get this:
4. Allow High Schoolers to Have Sleepovers
For a lot of American parents, the idea of allowing a teen to have a sleepover with a boyfriend or girlfriend, let alone with a casual hook up, seems either like excessive permissiveness, or actual negligence or harm.
I know that was something my parents worried about when the issue came up for me as a teen. Ultimately, they let me stay over at my boyfriend’s, but they also made it clear that they were only doing so because they wanted to know where I was.
We all knew that they were pretty unhappy with the whole situation, and as a result, my return home the mornings after a sleepover were uncomfortable for everyone.
But in reality, permitting sleepovers with a partner can be one of the healthiest ways to keep teens safe since they are getting to learn about having sex in the security of their own homes – not drunk at a party, in the back of a car, or in a park where things often go terribly awry.
Right, it's so ultra-"healthy" to let your 15-year-old daughter have all-night hookups with some guy she just met–as long as it's at his home, so secure. And why stop with high-schoolers? Won't middle-schoolers also "learn abut having sex" if they, too, are allowed to have horny sleepovers? Why deprive them of this "healthy" experience?
And please, Mom and Dad, don't make that walk of shame home the next morning an "uncomfortable" experience for your little darling! That would be extremely unhealthy.
As I said, reading one of Ellen Friedrichs's parenting columns makes me glad I don't have kids.