I don’t plan on having kids but I often imagine what I would be like if I were a mother. I imagine all the things I would have to teach my kids to put them on the path of being a good person. Then I imagine how they still may not turn out as I hoped. I imagine all the great things they will do, all the challenges they will face and what the world might be like when they are in it. When I was a kid I would say that I would rather have a son than a daughter.
There was no reason for this decision at eight years old but I have the sneaking suspicion that I understood that being a girl was maybe a little bit more difficult. Sex is always more complicated for girls. We’re told from birth how we ought to be in one way or the other. Real information is withheld from us because we are too young. The things we love like magazines, celebrities and movies may not communicate the best ideas about what it means to be a girl who has sex.
Yet, it always seems to me that girls know about sex before boys. They know that strangers are dangerous because of sex. They know that boys want it before boys know they want it because when we wear skirts we’re told to close our legs. I hope that for our daughters sex might be a little better but for right now, if I were to have a daughter these are the things I would teach her about sex.
1. Don’t be afraid of it.
2. It’s OK to be afraid of it.
3. Don’t believe what any boy tells you about sex. You don’t know what their motivations, qualifications, experience, worldview or beliefs are so their opinions can’t be trusted as fact.
4. Don’t believe what any girl tells you about sex. You don’t know what their motivations, qualifications, experience, worldview or beliefs are so their opinions can’t be trusted as fact.
5. Figure out what sex means to you on your own.
6. Learn about sex. Read books, stories, personal essays, medical volumes, other cultures’ views, anything you can get your hands on about sex.
7. Ask anywhere between 1 and 1 billion questions about sex.
8. There is no “right” number of sexual partners.
9. You don’t have to wait until marriage.
10. You can totally wait until marriage.
11. When you feel it’s the right time, it’s the right time to do it.
12. It’s OK if you thought it was the right time but realized maybe it wasn’t.
13. It’s always OK to change your mind.
14. It’s always OK to stop in the middle of things.
15. Never do anything that makes you uncomfortable.
16. Don’t mistake sex for love.
17. Don’t mistake attention for affection.
18. It’s OK to want attention and sex.
19. It’s not OK to measure your self-esteem or self-worth by how much attention or sex you get or don’t get.
20. Be attracted to whoever the hell you want.
21. Do not use sex or sexual politics to hurt others physically and/or emotionally.
22. Your personal preferences and views on sex are yours and only yours. Do not enforce your personal rules onto others.
23. Do not allow others to persecute you for your sexual choices.
24. It’s OK to be an early bloomer.
25. It’s OK to be a late starter.
26. Learn about your own sexual pleasure before you learn about sexually satisfying any boy or girl.
27. It’s OK to masturbate.
29. It’s OK not to masturbate.
30. It’s OK to experiment.
31. Your personal safety always comes first.
32. While it may be painful to know some men are sexual predators, it’s more important to know that it’s not yours or any woman’s fault.
33. If someone hurts you sexually there is no “right” way to handle it but there are people, support groups and organizations that want to help you with handling it.
34. Sometimes sex will be bad.
35. Sometimes sex will be messy.
36. Sometimes sex will be embarrassing.
37. Sometimes sex will be unexpected.
38. Take ownership of the sexual choices you make, the things you do and especially of your mistakes.
39. Sex can be used to oppress you.
40. Sex can be used to liberate you. (Please, choose this option.)
41. There is no circumstance where you or anyone else is “asking for it.”
42. There is no circumstance where you should be mocked for expressing your sexuality.
43. There isn’t a single outfit in the world that can be used to predetermine who you are as a sexual being.
44. Sex is a two-way street. Do not continue to have sex with someone who is uninterested in satisfying you.
45. Have sex as often as you like.
46. Use contraceptives. No exceptions.
47. You’ll have better sex if you learn to communicate with your partner.
48. You’ll have better sex if you are educated on sex.
49. You’ll have better sex if you are educated on sexual politics.
50. You don’t have to talk about your sex life.
51. It’s totally cool if you want to talk about your sex life.
52. Do not compare your sex life to others as tempting as that may be in high school.
53. Do not gossip about other people’s sex lives, you are doing more harm than you know.
54. Sex is awesome!
55. Sex is a responsibility and every time you choose to do it something negative or positive will happen. Be aware of those outcomes.
56. Understand your boundaries.
57. Communicate your boundaries.
58. Develop a sense of self, a sense of identity, a foundation of true self-esteem, that is unrelated to your sexual identity.
59. Embrace your sexual identity.
60. Support others on their own paths to understanding their sexual identity.
61. Know your anatomy.
62. Vaginas aren’t “ugly” or “dirty” or “mysterious” or any number of the negative things people will try to associate with your body.
63. Your body is beautiful but more importantly it is powerful. Sure, it can turn heads but it can dance, run marathons, build things, lift things, bring you pleasure and pain—there are more uses to your body than being something nice to look at, explore those other options.