Calling all men : what was the totality of your sexuality education at home? Was it an admonishing “don’t get girls pregnant?” , or a “son , respect women ” as you sneak peaked dad’s well hidden porn collection or witnessed dad beating up mom.
Calling all women : what was your sexuality education at home? Im guessing it was receiving messages about abstaining from sex as long as possible and protecting yourself from STI’s and pregnancy. Maybe you were taught that all guys only want sex from you or that boys are divided into two groups: the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. How come , it is that a “good guy” sexually assaulted you or put his finger into your vagina when he was drunk or you were drunk , and you screamed NO.
Sexual ethics includes the attitudes and values related to gender identification, sexual orientation, procreation, and consent. Like all ethics, sexual ethics are culturally based and many people also turn to religion to determine their sexual ethics.
However,triggered by the #MeToo movement , which is exposing many “good guys” as really “bad guys” (think Bill Cosby, Brett Kavanaugh, Catholic priests, ) a new unavoidable sexual ethics conversation has emerged . I want to talk to you about this conversation, modern day sexual ethics . It includes grey fuzzy areas of consent, coercion, dignity, integrity, values, humanity, relationship and intimacy. I want to give guys a guide on how to get it on without finding themselves in trouble.
Truth is that not many guys get taught about sexual ethics so they find their own ethical compass via locker room chat, the internet or pornography.
And here the lessons they learn include : Sex is about conquest, “nailing down ” a woman; that masculinity entitles you to assert yourself sexually as girls really don’t like sex so they need some persuasion . Women are presented as “hot” , as female bodies that are more important than their brains. Nowhere in porn do you see characters negotiating a sexual exchange. Men with ever ready hard dicks simply penetrate women – orally, vaginally, anally. And female porn characters always respond and moan with pleasure . Consent is never spoken about. A relationship forms with ease, it appears to be mutually desired and passion is permissible from get go. No discussion of contraception ever happens, no condom is ever seen nor is lubricant grabbed for those many many minutes of deep deep thrusting.
These are the sexual ethics boys learn . No wonder men now feel at risk of accusation by a woman they penetrated back in their High School days.
Be very aware that when this allegation arrives in your inbox , your instinct will be to deny, protest and blame it on your drunken youthfulness. Remember that that woman has been living in silent hell for all these years. #MeToo has liberated her and finally given her a voice.
It is not too late to save yourself and your sons the same ignorance and misguided and unethical sexual behaviour.
According to a survey of more than 3,000 18- to 25-year-olds published last year by the Making Caring Common project, which is part of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, more than 60 percent of respondents had never had a single conversation with their parents about how to be sure that your partner wants to be having sex with you. A similar share of the sample had never been told about “the importance of not pressuring someone to have sex with you.”
Have you talked to your son in a concrete way about the many ways you can degrade women?
Consider for a moment your own sexual ethics :
* what are your sexual ethics around pre marital and extra marital sex?
* what do you teach your boy child are permissible and impermissible sexual activities?
* what are your own personal standards in your bedroom?
* Do you go ahead and make love to your female partner even when you see she is in pain , passive or when she verbally says and /or physically displays discomfort?
*Do you know she is not enjoying it… but go ahead anyway?
* Do you even know when she is not enjoying herself ?
* How often do you think as a man you are entitled to sex in a week/month/year?
*Do you make love to a partner when either /both of you are drunk ?
*Have you ever woken a partner up in the night to make love without prior agreement ?
*Do you grab your partner’s breasts, butt, genitals at any opportunity – even after she has told you she does not like this.. especially in public?
Peggy Orenstein is an author currently writing a book about teenage boys, young men , emotional intimacy and sex. Next to my bed is her book “Girls & Sex”, a highly acclaimed book each parent should read.
In a recent New York Times article she writes that “assault among adolescents is more likely to be a crime of opportunity. Boys do it because they can: because they are oblivious, because they are ignorant, because they are impulsive, because they have not learned to see girls and women as fully human.” I add on : because parents have abdicated their responsibility to teach and talk to their boys about sexual ethics and emotional intimacy. And boys, hungry for action and education of any kind, take locker room conversations and pornography, and literalise them .
Nowhere in these locker rooms, or porn clips, are there any conversations about consent, coercion , sexual assault , sexual misconduct, rape. Nowhere does guy learn the nuanced dance of how to begin a conversation with a girl – without having to use alcohol, as a social lubricant.
Men are grown boys who have learned with age how to control instinctive behaviour and apply sexual ethics , as difficult as that may be for them. Back in the days of jungle living men’s instincts for predation , protection and shelter , was a necessity to prevent death to them and their kin .
We have civilized men to the point where they are now being asked to step it up another notch : it is no longer acceptable to practice bad behaviour towards women , to grab their pussies just because your impulse pulls you there and because you believe what you see on porn is reality . It takes enormous energy to suppress instinctual eruptions. But success as a man depends on deliberate non reactivity. And your son needs to learn how to manage this thin line between instinctive urges to grab what he has sociologically been taught is his to take, and consensual sexual behaviour.
Lets add on another layer of challenge for boys : Boys are much more likely to rape when they are drunk. And the more they drink, the more aggressive they are, and the less aware of their victims’ distress. By contrast, sober guys not only are less sexually coercive but also will more readily intervene to prevent assaults by others.
Sexual ethics #101
1. Sending text messages with sexual content poses risks for adolescents. Talk to your kid about how to use digital communication responsibly. There is no difference to the respect you show to a person In Real Life to respect shown online.
2. Provide factual “birds and bees ” information. Ignorance of female anatomy places boys at higher risk to believe all they see on porn and locker room chat
3. Explain female physiology. For example that women take way longer to become orgasmic — and it usually does not happen with immediate digital penetration.
4. Discuss sexual activities — within an ethical base of consent, gender equity, mutually and respect. Fore example, its not ok to expect a person to go down on you if you do not offer to reciprocate
5. Teach boys to respond from their gut and not their toxic masculinity. Their gut will tell them when it does not feel right. They will learn this from your lessons on humanity, dignity to all, self pride and self respect
6. Encourage them into a different discourse around women by giving them different language to describe women, such as “powerful” “strong” “smart” “impressive”
7. Practice consent with them in your every day life so they get it when with a woman : notice when they look reluctant to do a task and discuss their discomfort with them.
Sexual ethics need your immediate attention . You place your sons and daughters at risk if you do not engage in this awkward difficult ongoing conversation with them .
Contact me for further information about Sexual Ethics and more.