The Most Fundamental Truth About Sex


You can't teach what you don't know.

Most parents are in desperate need of sex education, preferably one that helps them get over their fears, guilt and shame about it.

Leaving your child's sex education to chance is like hoping they learn what and how to eat on their own or praying some random stranger potty trains them so you don't have to.
Right. I was told not to let any boys to anything to me I wasn't ready for, but nobody said it will feel so good you won't want to stop! Why not? It's bad to believe sex is good for it's own sake, like art for art's sake -- without some purpose or goal, our soul expressions are meaningless.
I was given a Catholic sex education book in a brown paper wrapper. I wish I still had it, because I'm sure I would now find it hilarious. It, of course, said absolutely nothing about gay sex, but I do remember that it pretty much said sex was a lot of fun (within the confines of a Catholic marriage, of course) and that it was OK if you didn't get preggers (it was so old that it didn't even mention the possibility of birth control)
I love it! My daughter came home with a brochure from her sex-ed class and asked me to explain it to her. I told her there was a lot missing from the little brochure, including the fact that you can't get pregnant from gay sex. Years later she told me she went back to middle school the next day and answered all her friends' questions. She said she taught the class. :-)
We are so "evolved", we need to explain sex to our offspring. I sometimes think we are actually stuck in a convoluted reality of our own making that's getting more difficult for even adults to understand. If you think that puberty starts around twelve, we must have been having a lot of sex at an early age without any "explanations". For hundreds of thousands of years there were no "minors".

" For hundreds of thousands of years there were no 'minors'."

Move over, Mel Brooks.

Finally, we have someone ancient enough to tell us exactly how the world was long, long, long, long...ago.
damn, kids are smart
I think there's some natural reticence to saying anything that might encourage children to explore sexual activity before they would otherwise come up with the idea themselves. (Unfortunately, it's not always their own idea. Peer pressure is one powerful reason to give them enough of an understanding that they can resist it.)

I think it's fairly well accepted by the therapeutic community that early sexualization is a bad thing. So, when dealing with revealing to kids that for adults, sex has a major romantic component, there's got to be a way of explaining that that's for later, with physical and psychological maturity, and right now they should just concentrate on enjoying being a kid.

This is what aunts and uncles are for. My best friend's kid asked me to explain a dirty joke, I asked my friend for permission, and she was like, "Please, better you than me!" and went into world's longest cringe while I calmly explained about orgasm and ejaculation.
I answered all my kids' questions in an age-appropriate way when they asked them. I never disrespected them with, "You'll understand when you're older," or "You're too young for that." Those questions always come too soon for parents, but when they ask, they deserve honest answers.
I had a really good teacher in sixth grade who was very frank in a boy's only talk and really answered a lot of questions for me.

The problem with most sex ed though is that it concentrates on abstinence so it can't really talk about what is pleasurable and what isn't. Everything is to be avoided lest pregnancy, STDs, and shame occur.

I remember one amusing moment in a high school sex ed class when the teacher showed us parts of a documentary that had naked people in it. She couldn't show us those parts so she cheekily fast forwarded through them, but the show had been recorded off Discovery or some such channel so she told us when we could go home and watch the whole show on our own.
I received absolutely zero sex ed from school or the parents.

I learned about sex from watching porn.

My guess is that's how the vast majority of kids learn about sex. Porn.
@12 For me it was Anne McCaffrey novels.
I got the idea that sex could be sought only for the pleasure - and that there was pleasure in it - from TV and movies. People are always having sex for fun and not getting pregnant. (Or, as far as 80s TV goes, people were trying to have sex for that reason, e.g. Jack on Three's Company.)
Even up to 2000 when I was in HS gay sex didn't exist in sex ed. It was "condoms fail 20 percent of the time and then you die!" Thank god for the internet and gay teen support groups both IRL and websites (not the porn ones).
@8 Adult sexualization of children/adolescents is a problem. Peers finding each other arousing/attractive/thrilling? Developmentally appropriate and necessary for healthy adult sexuality.
As a kid, I never understood why TV show wives had to make a big announcement to the husband that they were pregnant. They had sex once, right? Why the surprise?

By the way, you lost a lot of good will with that stunt at the end of the micro version of Savage Lovecast. I've bought all your books, Dan, but now I'll NEVER pay for the Magnum version. You really pissed me off. The LEAST you can do is post a transcript of your answer.
@17 I had the same question. I figured that Lucy must have been sneaking out of her twin bed and mounting Ricky in his while he was asleep.

@12, 13 I had an aunt who subscribed to Cosmopolitan. That's how I learned (or began to).
Thank goodness for the evolution of pleasure from sex. If not for that, we'd surely have not-reproduced ourselves to extinction.
Actually, given what we've done to the planet and the rest of the species, maybe we should have a little less reproducing-inducing pleasure.
Even in the best sort of sex ed classes, the subtext is that sex is very risky behavior with life-destroying consequences, best avoided until one is safely married and middle-aged. The only reason one would have sex is to cheat death. uggghh!
Ugh. My mother included the "for pleasure" part in the sex talk (it was the '70s). I have been trying to block out that conversation for the past 35 years.

That said, I'm glad I grew up with a more complete understanding of sex. What she didn't tell me is that sex is going to be awkward, fun, occasionally regrettable, messy, awesome, and a host of other things, no matter how little or how much you think know about it. But at least being informed and educated about facts offers choices; ignorance never does.
Mr Clayton - What did you make of the Brady double bed? (Weren't they the first to have one?)
Why is "adult sexualization of children" harmful?
too long didn't read first: if my assumption is correct, disregard the next comment

8 years old?

I am assuming that chapter you mention outlines the ways same-sex parents need to be aware of the subtle ways an unawakened society can afflict your innocent children with their bigoted bullshit.

You know that it wasn't your son who thought up this subject to worry about right?

most likely some asshole parent is harassing your child in very subtle ways, or some asshole parent is too stupid to see the harm done by repeatedly making derogatory statements with their children within earshot and it's their kids who are harassing your son

The chances are very slim that your 8-year-old son naturally began worrying about the sex life of his parents
I have written about this here and elsewhere: many parents do the "mechanics" of sex OK (pregnancy, STDs, where this goes or that goes) but completely fail when it comes to "sexuality" (or the "why?" or "what's the point?" of sex).

I have 4 kids - a son and three daughters - and the sexuality part is the most squeamish for all but it is the most necessary. Otherwise, the entire discussion is a big lie - parents leave out the BEST part of the fact that sex can/should be fun and feel good. It may not always but that is a goal. I also have spoken to my son (my oldest) about how you don't have to be in love to have sex but in my view you should care about your partner (and even if you don't, you should care about your partner enjoying him/herself, too). (all of that leads in to discussions about consent, choices (including choices when you really, really want to do THAT but you know you should do THIS), influence of drugs/alcohol on judgment, etc.)

My conversations with my daughters will be similar. As much as I don't want to really talk about sexuality with each of my daughters (not unlike discussing sexuality with my parents), it is a father's responsibility to do so.
My school sex ed class back in the 80's was basically heterocentric, don't get pregnant of catch something standard stuff. Nothing about pleasure, but they did talk about it being a part of bringing people in romantic relationships together. But they emphasized ADULT romantic relationships.

As a gay kid pretty much everything they taught me was useless. I guess some if it might have come in handy if I had ever decided to try girls just to see, but I never felt any need for that and I basically had to educate myself by going to the library and reading all the books I could find that actually applied to my life.

My father gave me an even more useless talk. Thank god he at least taught me to read so I could find out the useful stuff on my own.
8 years old?

Dan, I haven't read your book, so I am hoping that the chapter you are describing is the one that mentions the current reality of the world we live in, that although it is changing, there is still something that every responsible parent must be aware of, which is this:

Until the field of Psychology realizes that they are light years behind all other sciences and decides it's time to dis-spell the myths, there are people in the world who refuse to understand how it is society's bigotry towards any demographic of parents that is responsible for damaging kids

we all know that bad parenting will hinder a child's emotional health, but that is a given with all parental relationships. 

The same as Good parenting helps a child's emotional health.

These are truths for all parents, it's true for straight parents, inter-racial parents, same-sex parents, and poly parents

And the world has ways to go before this is widely accepted and there will likely be people who never accept these facts

So it is important that same-sex parents, poly parents, or any demographic of people whose reality is that there are men in the world will attempt afflict them and trample their guaranteed rights as a human being, those men will do everything in their power to fool you into believing you are lesser than

I am sure most of you are well aware of that, you all know how ignorant those people can be, those who wrongfully afflict other's life with crap

What they may not realize, is that those ignorants may be so deep in denial that they actually believe afflicting your children is not wrong

Sometimes it's simply the case of repeating subtle derogatory statements against same-sex parents to their own children, and not ever directly saying anything to your child, however eventually their kid wil repeat that crap. Those derogatory statements make their own children both a victim of their own prejudice as well as the perpetrator of afflicting your children with harassment

I'll cut it short before I write a chapter of a book, but it is important to recognize the signs that your child may have been exposed to the harm that comes from the subtle and often indirect harassment

An 8-year-old child does not naturally worry about their parents sex life

An 8-year-old child does not naturally worry about the possibility of their parents ability to procreate unassisted.

That happens when an idiot, ignorant parent brings up the topic. Again, the most common way it's done is not directly, but rather spewing their ignorant views within earshot of their own children who then innocently become responsible for harassing and harming the emotion health of your child

It's a case of a the ignorant sub-consciously desiring to see your family afflicted, and stooping so low as to not understand how despicable it is to use their own children to deliver that affliction

I hope that you were implying in a subtle way that you included this topic, and that I just missed it. If not, it needed to be said

I know I don't get along well with Sloggers and Satellites, and Secret Service agents, but my presence is not for the purpose of simply being an irritant, although you may not realize my intentions
I am going t go out on a limb and guess that you don't have kids, do ya Southern California?

Yes, sex is usually a pleasurable experience, and perhaps it is me who needs to give some serious thought into appropriate outline for a child's introduction to sex education, but for now I think it's likely you, and possibly your political stance for the whole sex-positive movement (which is in no way inherently bad, it's just people who don't think to much about the direction they want a movement to go that steer it in ignorant directions, or take a concept and run with it like they would scissors)

If you are trying to be subtle an insult me, I wouldn't if I were you, but that's a choice only you can make
@5: Early puberty is a recent thing, likely in response to our oodles and oodles and oodles of food. (Times are good! Everyone reproduce before the next famine!) For most of history it was more like 16, putting the wait between "old enough to be interested" and "old enough to marry and support a family" at a much shorter period. The logical mores of a culture which has those milestones at 15 and 16 (without birth control) will be different from one which has them at 13 and 22 (with reasonably effective birth control).

Post the sex ed years, people (at least judging by the internet) want to draw a very bright line between recreative and procreative sex. All "accidental" pregnancies resulting from recreative sex are clearly due to refusing to use birth control, rather than being in the statistical 5% of a 95% effective method. Like demanding of people with lung cancer "You smoked, right? Right?!! Or you worked with asbestos. This is in some way based on you doing something wrong, and can never happen to me! Right?"

So along with decent sex ed I'd ask for a decent understanding of statistics. Two methods (e.g. condoms and pill) can get your risk very low, but if you want it to be zero until you want the sex to turn procreative then you need to either become gay or ensure the female half is post-menopausal. ("Everything but PIV" has been a 100% effective method of birth control since people worked out the sex-> baby connection, but doesn't seem to be something many people, much less cultures, manage.)
before I start telling everybody to "Go Fuck Themselves"

maybe I should just say that it would be wise to not stumble in the pitfalls of a bigoted frame of mind.

Fuck whatever bigoted so-called Christians say about needing a reason for anything non-heterosexual.

It was and will always be a shitty used-car salesman slander to even get your mind started down the path to thinking you need to not have a choice about being gay, for it to be OK

I am NOT saying that sexuality is a choice, I am saying that you do not need to justify the person or people you Love or are simply attracted to, making you feel that you do need to justify yourself to them is abusive.

You do not have to justify your sex life to anyone who is not apart of it. Our culture has been fooled into allowing the influence of public into our personal and private life, there is no need to allow people whom you do not choose to share your life with... you are not required to let them invade parts of your life that are private or you view as sacred.

Just realize that if you choose to allow that intrusion, it was a choice, you are not obligated to share your life with anybody other than who you choose to offer sharing your life.

Attempting to justify your most basic individual rights is allowing their bigoted viewpoint to enter into your life.

You do not need permission to exercise the rights declared for you in the Declaration of Independence a priori, the foundation of the framework of The Constitution
and my last comment was not directed at you IPJ, it was after reading JJJJJ's comments and still thinking how people like Southern California (comment 26) and any behavior that is ignorant (just like the idiot males who decided long ago that they should get a say in other peoples private lives, such as who they are allowed to start families with)

people who continue to not be reflective of their behavior and who will continue on with ignorance threaten to take society double the paces backward for every step it looks like we just traveled forward
Politics has no place in legitimate governments.

That was the idiotic man's way to govern, through manipulation and enforcement of views that they had absolutely no right to force on anyone but themselves.

That was yesterday's form of govt.
I am not from Southern California but from the Bay Area and I am not sure I really understand what you are getting at.

I will try to restate my point:

I have 4 kids (I think that was express @26), 1 boy, 3 girls (boy is a teenager, girls are not). Sex and sexuality are two sides of the same coin. Many parents choose only to look at the "sex" part - that is, the mechanics of how things work and how you avoid pregnancies and STDs. They don't talk about the sexuality part - how you feel emotionally, how interesting certain images might be to someone figuring things out, how things feel physically, how you should respect yourself and your partners, how love can be part of it but care is too (and many people have sex who are not in love but, as dad, I hope that my kids care about anyone with whom they are sexual (and vice versa)). Parents are squeamish about talking about sexuality - way more than just talking about the mechanics - and that is why I think of it as a "big lie". And if it is not a lie, it is leaving out a key component (in fact, the much bigger component in my view than the simple mechanics).

Would you say I am parenting wrong to discuss that with my kids? (I am not drawing road maps and telling them WHAT to do, mind you) That I should stick to birds and bees? If that is what you focus on with your kids, good for you. But I want my kids to have a good sense of what they are getting themselves into so they can make thoughtful and hopefully safe decisions (eg: I spoke with my son about "what do you do if there is a contraceptive failing? Have you spoken to your girlfriend? What are her thoughts on it?" and I finished with, "If you can't have these discussions, my view is your are not ready to be having sex. If you CAN, it still does not mean you are ready but it means you are being mature about it. Of course, you are going to make your choices. Just please be thoughtful." End result of THEIR decison-making: they are not sleeping together. Yet. (not based on what he says to me but based on what he says to a different confidant))
@ Dirtclustit Damn you type a lot of words. Too bad none of it makes any sense.
You are an idiot Michiavelli, a person with half a brain understand that either it "none of makes any sense" is a gross exaggeration AKA full of shit, or that people choose not to understand a person's words when we are talking politics and not rocket science.

you can definitely do better with your insults, dipshit

From the South, it is not my place to tell you what or how you educate your children in regards to sex ed.

The curriculum that schools teach, is done so out of respect. Because they are dealing with so many kids, they must go with the most conservative views, again due to different views points and out of respect.

To have the kinds of talks you claim to have with your kids, if you expect it to be meaningful and not you awkwardly forcing your kids to hear you out, it takes a open, honest, candid relationship from the get go. It means not using the bullshit American excuse that kids cannot handle the truth, which is extremely inconvenient for American culture because so few people live truthfully.

If you don't want your kid to be staring at the ground and just going through the motions, you will have a friend or relative that they are comfortable with try it again, because it is American culture to hide emotions, wear a mask, and that's how Americans raise their children, to ignore emotions, tuff it out, suck it up and quit crying.

Your heart is in the right place, and you want to have that meaningful talk, and you will be able to have that sort of relationship if you build it, but it had to start since day one for it to be there in time for their first sex ed class.
How do you know I don't do those things? How do you know I am American? I may be from a far away land finding myself in a strange land? Or I might be a born and raised Californian.

Look, I have never been afraid of talking about sex. I told my dad about going to planned parenthood with my HS girlfriend with whom I first had sex. My dad may have been mortified but I wanted to make sure he knew that I was taking a mature approach to life. My "sex/sexuality" conversations did not start when my son first started looking at girls but when he was a little guy at an age appropriate level (about his body and other humans). When I first discovered him looking at porn, I did not freak out and did not talk about it being disgusting. I talked about being attracted to images (I am visual, many men are, why wouldn't he be?) but how porn does not depict a realistic view of what much of sex is and, at the age he was, it was pretty hard to understand all the images he was seeing. (an aside, I weep for the younger generation in many ways: the discovery of partners' bodies has been ruined by so much access to sexual imagery; I can remember the first time trying to find a vagina and how I had to keep moving my hand down ("wow. It's really far down there") since I had not studied the naked pictures I had seen (and a diagram from sex ed does not really help) so assumed it was pretty much in the front since, well, that's how I'm built))

So you use words like "claim" as in you doubt that I have these conversations with my kids. And because you are not here, "claim" may be proper though it suggests doubt. And you need not doubt. You also need not worry about the conversations happening out of the blue for some half-hour period. Most of the time they are short but they don't just happen in a blue moon.

Everyone parents differently. I choose to be open with my kids. That does not mean they are coming into my bedroom to watch. It does not mean that I am drawing maps for them. But I am addressing the issues as I think I should. I only get one bite at the apple for each kid. And my kid's mom (my wife) may be having more conversations with our daughters (but I doubt it; I spend more time with the kids so, for example, with my 12-year-old, I am making sure she is prepared if I am the parent she's with when she gets her period - prepared to tell ol' dad and prepared with pads or tampons or whatever it is that girls use; I am also the one who is more comfortable with these topics). Do I like the idea of talking about sex and sexuality with my kids? No. Do I like the idea of paying my mortgage each month? No. I do both because that's what an adult/parent does.
Man the crazy got strong in this thread. Wow.
This reminds me of an experience I had back in 1992. I'm a bisexual woman, and I was having sex with a married, polyamorous bisexual woman, who I'll call Sue. Sue's 8-year-old daughter heard us having sex and wanted to know what we were doing that made such a strange noise.

Sue: We were having sex.
Daughter: Are you going to have a baby with Corylea now?
Sue: Remember that conversation we had about the egg and the sperm? Only women have eggs, and only men have sperm, so I can only get pregnant if I have sex with a man.
Daughter: So why do you do it with Corylea, then?
Sue: Because it's fun!
Daughter: Oh. (thinks hard) So women have sex with men to get pregnant and sex with women to have fun?
Sue: (suppressing laughter really hard) Yes, though sex with men can be fun, too.

The daughter is now old enough to have lovers of her own and was with a man at last report, so I guess this brief misunderstanding didn't turn her off of men for life. :-)
@12 Green seeks blue or brown for good time... our partners will race through the air while we get to know each other *between*... the sheets.
and it that type of open candidness, like the story shared by #39, throughout the child's life. People who wait til pre-teen to teen often find the child doesn't want anything to do with having a sex conversation with parents.

From the South, I stated that it's not any of my business what you teach your children about sex. I just think it's straight up ignorant and a cheap shot to criticize the public school system for educating kids on a topic that they aren't responsible for.

It's parents who leave it up to public schools, or worse their neighborhood church. People like to claim how their sex education was negative and shameful, how their catholic upbringing required counseling later in life to undo all sex negative talk.

The church has made their fucked up position very clear, and haven't wavered from it, any parent who allows that organization to counsel their children get what they deserve.

I am not sex negative, but I do believe it's a crock of shit to blame public schools or the church when it is the parents failure to inform their kids.

If you have the type of relationship that #39's 1992 friend has with her kids, that's awesome, I think it's great because kids know when their parents are bullshitting, from the way you explained yourself, you sounded exactly like the typical persons writing talking up your talks, but it sounded exaggerated. Only you know what how things happened, I sure as hell don't know, the only thing I know is many sloggers are online writers just trying to prove a point, they couldn't give a fuck if what they assert is true, so long as is trash talks christians, is thoroughly insulting, supports the bullshit they spread previously, or is a humorous bit, their on top of the world
I don't do internet commentary well insofar as I don't engage in name-calling, petty insults, etc. But I do see what you are doing here, @41 - you are making shit up.

I did not "criticize the public school system for educating kids on a topic that they aren't responsible for". Or I am missing or forgetting how I did. I did mention sex ed and a diagram but that was not a criticism - it was an observation that a diagram was not the same of being with a real live girl and exploring each other's bodies.

I am writing about what I am doing - as a parent - to educate my kids. I am lucky that my son does have a great student heath center on his HS campus but I don't expect the school to talk with him about his sexuality. However, if he feels that he needs to talk to an adult who is not dad (or mom), he knows there are resources there (and we are not part of a church or synagogue so we are not looking there for guidance on morality).

And you may think it is exaggerated - it is not. But it is not perfect. We have some extreme struggles and HS/teenage years have been a major, major challenge for us in many ways. But I made a decision about how I was going to approach the Trifecta of Sex-Drugs-Alcohol (yes, you can treat the last 2 as part of the same). And that started early. But I am lucky because I had an amazing mom and amazing sisters and amazing girl/women friends and then amazing men friends (we share a lot of the challenges of parenting in this era). My wife is pretty great, too, but she was raised in a more socially conservative household and it is harder for her to join the discussion. So you may not believe me. You may think I am puffing. But I don't care all that much because I know. I know that if you asked my son, he'd tell you the truth but he'd also tell me he wish I'd back off on discussing schoolwork, social media, friends, etc. There is much I don't do right as a parent but I do think, generally, I am getting the sex stuff right.
Your right, you didn't criticize the school or the church, or other parents specifically, I should have asked you what you meant by

"otherwise its a big lie"

there is a difference between explaining how you feel your words would be dishonest if you didn't teach your kids about sex in the way you believed to be right, and calling schools liars by being respectful towards all beliefs in doing a job that is not theirs to do

You did end your comment stating that it's the parents job, and so I think you may have the same view point as me. Often commenters employ subtlety to insinuate meaning they don't actually say

Instead of accusing you, I should have asked that you clarify, or explicitly state the opposite of the possible insinuations.

So you are not accusing public schools, churches, or other parents as teaching kids a big lie when it comes to sex education?

I am not giving you moral or ethical advice on what you teach your kids, as you told it, you have a very honest, open, communicative relationship wherein you and your kids can talk candidly.

I don't need to know the details of your conversation to believe if that describes your relationships, you are doing the right thing, not to mention that it is none of my business. My point was that sex-positive people take things a little too far when they criticize someone else for doing what is our own job and our own responsibility
the "big lie" is talking only about the mechanics of sex (pregnancy, STDs, what goes where) w/o talking about the feelings around sex (it feels good, it makes us jealous, it is funny/fun/interesting/emotional, etc.). It is not so much a "lie" but an incomplete truth. I think many parents feel that they are doing their job to talk about the "birds and the bees" but unless the parents only have sex for procreation (and not entertainment/recreation), the topic remains incompletely presented. That's all.

Using the word "lie" was hyperbolic. I did not intend it literally and did not think it would be taken as such.
Your right, you didn't deserve me jumping to conclusions, thanks for being a good sport about it
I usually try not to pay too much attention to Dirtclustit sub-threads, but here I am anyway, and I have no idea what just happened. Is it the Apocalypse?
The only info I can remember being presented to me was in one sex ed class in junior high school (taught by one of our gym teachers: a short, strrict, feisty Italian guy who wasn't comfortable talking about sex.) If my parents ever gave me a talk, I don't have any memory of it.

Aside from that one class, I'm not sure how I learned about sex (although I read a lot, so maybe I read info about it) but, by the time I had my first girlfriend, in high school, I knew enough to know that having sex -- as in intercourse -- ran the risk of pregnancy and, with very conservative parents, there was no way in hell I was going to take even a 1% chance that my girlfriend would get pregnant and, because I also knew that no form of birth control was 100% effective, we had lots and lots of sex but never had intercourse. Not once. The downside was never having intercourse with her. The upside was learning, at an early age, that's there's a lot more to sex than intercourse.
In 7th grade, the wrestling coach showed us pictures of penises with sores and dripping pus and told us, "Boys, this is what happens when you rub bellies with the wrong kind of girl. Questions?" That was sex ed in rural Colorado.