March 29, 2011

What’s Wrong with Sex Ed From Porn?

submitted by Amara Charles Back

Are Teens getting Sex Ed From Porn?

What’s wrong with this picture?

How long will mainstream jab at the false issues surrounding Sex Ed for Teens? They do get one thing right though, there’s a ton of porn online, and of course teens are going to watch it! Mainstream gets another thing right too; that parents, schools and religious organizations are incapable of providing meaningful sex education because they either can’t or won’t talk about sex in the way teens need to hear it.

The Truth Is Missing

One really hears the truth about what’s really going on in a teen’s body, not to mention their minds and their hearts. And if there is one thing I know about teens, it’s that they see right through hypocracy. I also know that the lack of real sex education is a set up for unfulfilling, broken and abusive relationships. And there’s one more thing I know because of this: failure, cynicism and resignation about relationships is  completely predictable.

Of course we pretend this isn’t so, but let’s face something, How often as an adult have you resigned yourself to the feeling that, really, when it comes to sex, nothing will ever change. It’s predictable that most people, unless they are lucky enough to stumble upon someone at a young age who can show them something real about sex and intimacy are going to fumble around later on. Who showed you how to navigate through the maze of what your body was feeling, what your mind wanted, and what your emotions longed for?

What Would You Choose?
So when educators dare to bring up the subject of sex, and the only thing that feels safe to say are all the things you are going to get from having it, my teen brain says, “oh, yeah?’ And sooner or later, I wonder,  “What is it you don’t want me to know?”

If you had the choice between watching the aweful sex diseases you can catch if you do it, or steamy bodies romping in pleasure, which would you turn on? The sad fact is, while most porn is rather crude and dull, it’s probably way more information than a teen is going to get anywhere else. The problem is, I’ve met many adults who went to the porn sex ed class, thought it was real and never grew up.

Yet how do you compete with the undauntable amount of sex imagery porn available for teens to google at online? How do you, as a mere human with all the insecurities a person can have about sex provide a more beautiful introduction to sex? And how do you know what will imprint deeply on a teen mind?

While it’s not easy to lay the foundation for a beautiful introduction to sex, I believe it is is possible. Here’s what I know: early impressions last a lifetime. If you are going to impress something on a teen brain, you have to come up with something compelling. In order to capture the wandering, distracted yet determined-to-do-what-it-wants mind of a teen, you must go straight to the heart of the matter. The good news is that real feelings, real emotions and real sensations always trump those on a computer screen. The trouble is, the strongest impressions that teens get are negative emotions and confusing messages about sex. Show something different. Though kindness, tenderness and affection seem less powerful; it’s not true. Real love, respect and tender gestures of affection, along with positive expressions of passion – directed towards your partner make profound impressions upon the teen brain. Modeling these behavors affects a person for the rest of their lives.

The trick (and the challenge) is to be completely authentic, honest and real about sexual feelings and sexual sensations- not unappropriately with or towards a teen of course, but in your adult relationships. You must talk about the feelings involved in sex. Keep in mind, a teen brain does not know the difference between sex and love, and it doesn’t care. A teen wants certain things. They want to feel the excitement of touch. They want to feel the excitement of love in their hearts. They want to have something to do with all the energy that’s swarming inside.

When you talk about catching diseases, which granted, is important stuff,  it doesn’t cover what is actually up for teens: their surging hormones and their curiosity- even if they are a shy type, they are still curious about sex. Personally, I think it’s great that sex stays private, which is different from being hidden. Teens love and respect mystery and intrugue, so there’s nothing wrong with enticing them to wait, like a present that is opened on Christmas and not before. (I realize the teen brain doesn’t translate wait well.) But this is where you get creative. What I tell a teen (and it’s true) the Chinese believe that releasing sexual energy at the right time makes you strong and healthy for the rest of your life. Like a fruit eaten before it’s ripe, if eaten too early, it never quite grows into maturity.

The mistake people fall into when introducing teens to sex, is they don’t know how to tell them what TO do, they can only say what they shouldn’t do. It’s sort of like you are teaching math by saying here’s how not to add.  Nonetheless, when it comes to sex ed, we know a teen will do what a teen will do, and when road blocks are put up they take delight in figuring out the way around them. We teach sex based on the fear teens will fall into the hands of someone who will take advantage of what’s going on in the teen body and brain.

Denial of the sexual elephant in the room doesn’t work. Not talking about sex obviously does not protect a child. But neither does talking about HIV and herpes. Neither avoidance nor protection alone constitute an effective  sexual education.

A good sexual education must include a safe way to explore feelings. I say we have to de- mystify sex while keeping it’s mystery. I don’t have all the answers, but I do see the absurdity: it’s as if we say there’s this huge game you’re going to play when you get older. It’s more complex than football, cooking, or economics. It’s going to pre-occupy your thoughts, you will spend most of your life trying have sex, or getting over dramas that come from not having it. But you will have no teacher, no guidelines, no rules, no teachings about how sexual energy works. The reality of the sexual education teens get, or the real message goes something like this: “Everybody stumbles into relationships   armed with pretty much nothing, and everybody figures it out somehow. Sure, you’ll get hurt lots of times but you will you will have to figure that out. Good luck.”

Is it any wonder why it is so difficult to forge something wonderful when it comes to enjoying sex in a relationship?

These are the questions I believe we must ask ourselves in order to find new and powerful ways to effectively educate teens about sex.

  • If you could imagine a radical solution to sexual education, what would it be?
  • What kind of meaningful guidance would you have liked to have had as a teen?
  • What things would you have loved somebody to say to you about sex?
  • What kind of teacher would you have liked to have had?
  • What kind of first sexual experiences would you have helped you?
  • How would a good start into the realm of sex have changed your life?

I also believe that those who have had an excellent, empowered introduction to sex have the answers to these questions.

I would love to hear your answers and questions.

Thoughtful comments appreciated.

(C) amaracharles all rights reserved

Sex and Intimacy expert Amara Charles’ book The sexual Practices of Quodoushka is available on Amazon, or special offers on in our shop.

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