Here’s I’m a Horrible Mom, jumping on the bandwagon and talking about what’s heavy in the news. You know what, though? It needs to be talked about.
When I was in school, I had a friend who disclosed to us that she had had sex with her boyfriend. One time. This was not super rare– a lot of kids were having sex. Even so, her “friends” took it upon themselves to spread the word, forcing the word “slut” to link to her name. The worst part– it was her female friends who turned on her. Her female friends, the ones she spilled her most private secrets to, had marked her as an easy-target.
When we females begin to slut-shame, it makes it okay for the boys to do so. If girls will call her a slut, what’s to stop a boy from doing it? If girls think she’s “too loose” and discuss it, why should boys respect her? Her girlfriends don’t.
Parents. This is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to raise your child, male or female, to discuss another student’s sexual encounters and to bully them for their decisions. Even if this girl had slept with ten guys, it is her responsibility to be safe and it is not for her friends to spread judgement. Stop.
Parents. Sex is real. It’s real. Acknowledge it. No one wants to think of their child as a sexual being. That means they’re growing up. It means they’re experiencing these urges which can lead to major consequences.
What do you do? You teach them. You tell your children what these consequences are. You tell them what sex is, that it is natural to feel what they feel, but be aware of the responsibility that comes with it. Do not shame your children for feeling something natural.
Look, the thought of my almost one year old daughter ever wanting to have sex scares the shit out of me. If it were up to me, she would wait to have sex with one person whom she loves deeply. And I’ll tell her as much. Of course I don’t want my daughter to have the responsibility of sex and with multiple partners at a young age. But what I really don’t want is for her to be so ashamed of herself that she won’t talk to me. What I really don’t want is for her to feel like she can’t even talk to me to make sure she’s being safe. What I really don’t want is for her to hate herself for experiencing something and feel ashamed. I will love her and teach her and guide her. But I will never make her feel shame.
What I really really don’t want is for her to go in unprepared.
Parents of boys: Raise them well. Teach them to respect women. Teach them that a woman who is harassed was not asking for it because she feels attractive in a tight skirt. Teach your boys that consent means she wants it 100%. Teach them that calling girls sluts makes them look like jackasses, and really, girls definitely don’t want that. No one wants that. Teach them that it’s not hard to avoid harassing women.
It is not hard to not assault women. It is not hard to not rape women.
Parents. Teach your children to stand up for those who are being bullied and taunted. Teach them that their decisions are their own, just as their peers’ decisions are their own. If a girl is told continuously that she’s a slut, she will shut down and give herself to people not because she really wants it but because she believes that’s what’s expected of her. Do not give in because it is what’s expected. Make your choices because you want to.
I will teach my daughter that sex is about love and fun and sometimes, honestly, it’s not that good. Sex is something beautiful and sometimes weird and awkward, but it is a connection. Have that connection on your terms (and your partner’s, obviously).
I will not judge my daughter for her decisions. I will help her to make the right decisions for herself. And when she falls and makes a choice with consequences, I will be there to help her. I will raise her strong. I will raise her to love herself. I will raise her to love her body and to never be ashamed of it.
I will mess up sometimes. I will say the wrong thing. But I will always make sure that she is loved.
Teach your children love and empathy. Raise better humans.