Read For Goodness Sex Online

Authors: Alfred Vernacchio

For Goodness Sex (6 page)

BOOK: For Goodness Sex
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Although the first conversation might be a bit awkward, talking about sex doesn’t
have
to feel that way. One of my favorite lines when I talk with parents is, “Talking about sex with your kids is no different than talking about anything else . . . no matter how much you want it to be.” “Clean up your room.” “You’re never too old to kiss your mother.” “I love you.” “Condoms are a must if you have intercourse.” All of these sentences can be spoken the same way, and more important, all of them can be heard the same way—as loving (and slightly annoying) parental wisdom.

The best conversations about values and sexuality are triggered naturally. A news story on TV, a song on the radio, an ad in a magazine, a Facebook status—all can be used to start a conversation. Dialogue about sexual values is more successful when it flows naturally into and out of conversation than when we create separate moments for “serious talks.” Don’t think you can have a verbal conversation? How about texting “Have a great day at school, and remember that consent is sexy” to your teen? Or how about a lunchbox note that says, “Your body is beautiful just as it is!” Maybe you’ll leave a note on the desk in her room or on his bed. The goal is to get a face-to-face conversation going, but getting your message across in any way is a definite win.

If you want to start a verbal conversation but you don’t know how, here are a few opening lines to try:

“Since you’re mature enough to drive / have a cell phone / make your own bed (whatever), I think you’re mature enough to talk with me about . . .”

“I know we haven’t talked much about sex before, but it’s been on my mind lately. So, can I ask you something?” (Or “can I tell you something?”)

“Can I tell you a wish I made for you last night? I was thinking about what a great kid you are and how much I love you, and I wished that you . . .”

“Have you heard that new song (insert title here)? Are the kids at school listening to that? I thought it was pretty gross, the way it talked about women. Do you hear that when you listen to it?”

“Did I ever tell you about the first boyfriend I had, when I was sixteen? He was so cute that I actually blushed whenever he looked at me. . . .”

See, it’s easy. I’m not going to let you off the hook when it comes to talking with your kids about values and sexuality. Throughout this book I’ll be offering lots of information, examples, and practical advice for talking to your kids, or any kid you love, about healthy sexuality. They need us to do this. Remember, the conversation is already happening. Your kids are talking about sex all the time. It’s just a matter of whether or not you join the conversation.

Question Box

Q: Is it bad to give oral sex to a girl?

A:
First, let’s clarify what we mean by a sexual activity being “good” or “bad.” This definition can come from many different sources. Here are three things I think about when determining whether something is good or bad:

 

VALUES: A good sexual activity is one that follows our core values about sex, pleasure, relationships, et cetera. A bad sexual activity is one that violates our values.

INFORMATION: A good sexual activity is one that proceeds from accurate information about the act and its potential positive and negative consequences. A bad sexual activity is one based on mythology, rumor, or speculation.

CONSENT: A good sexual activity is one in which all parties involved freely and knowingly consent to the activity. A bad sexual activity is one that is performed without the consent of the parties involved or when the ability to consent is compromised through something like pressure or substance abuse.

 

Given these ideas, I would think it’s bad to give oral sex to a girl if it violates a person’s values of what sex should be, if a person is not well informed about what performing oral sex means or the consequences, or if it is done without consent.

Perhaps your question is more about the potential risks associated with giving oral sex to a girl. While there is no risk of pregnancy with oral sex, there is risk of STI transmission. If a woman is infected with an STI, her vaginal fluids can transmit that infection (either through the mucous membranes that line the mouth or directly into the bloodstream if there are any cuts or open sores in the mouth). Oral sex carries a lower risk of STI transmission than vaginal or anal intercourse, but the risk is there. Using a dental dam when performing oral sex on a woman reduces the risk of STI transmission. Besides the potential physical consequences, there are possible emotional consequences of oral sex. It is essential to make sure both parties are prepared for the intimacy and emotional connection that oral sex may bring.

Q: When is masturbation harmful?

A:
Let’s answer this question in two ways—physically and emotionally.

Physically, there are no harmful effects of masturbation. I guess a person could masturbate so frequently as to make the genitals sore. In that case, I hope the person would have the sense to stop and give the body a chance to heal and rest a bit. But in terms of harmful physical effects on fertility, sexual performance, sexual desire, or anything like that, there aren’t any.

On the emotional side, if masturbation makes people feel guilty, ashamed, or in any way negative about their bodies or themselves, then I think they might consider not doing it while they try to work on those issues. It is possible to work through negative feelings and change the way you think and react, but if masturbation really violates someone’s core values, then I’d advise them not to do it. It’s certainly not healthy to do something deliberately to yourself that brings you physical or emotional pain.

I’d also say that masturbation becomes harmful when it isolates us and takes the place of human-to-human interaction. If someone would consistently rather stay home and masturbate than go out with friends, I think that’s a problem. If people refuse to get into sexual or romantic relationships because they’d rather masturbate, I think that’s a problem too. Anything that isolates us from others and locks us away from healthy connections with the world has to be examined.

Q: Is having sex with a person you just met a bad thing if you’ve talked to them about it?

A:
You’ve heard me say in class that because I value personal connection, intimacy, and openness, my rule for any kind of sexual activity is, “If you can’t look your partner in the eye and talk about it, you shouldn’t be doing it with them.” But that doesn’t mean being able to talk to them is the
only
thing that gives a green light to sexual activity.

When people say they “just met,” it’s important to clarify whether they mean they literally never saw each other before this moment or they mean they kind of know each other but hadn’t actually talked or had a lot of contact before now. It’s
not
OK to have any kind of sexual contact with someone who’s truly a stranger. That’s dangerous and is an absolute NO! in my book. If it’s a person who goes to the same school as a friend and has been seen around before but this is the first personal contact, that might be a different story. Even in that case, though, my personal opinion is that having any kind of penetrative sexual activity (oral, vaginal, anal) isn’t OK with
any
person one has just met, even if you’ve talked about it. In terms of making out (kissing and touching), it’s still a no in my book for a stranger and a maybe with a person someone’s known about but having contact with for the first time.

I also think it matters where two people “just met.” To my mind, there’s a big difference between meeting a person at a party where there may be alcohol or other substances in use and meeting a person in the library while studying for a
Macbeth
test. Context matters, and I think people have to take that into account when making a decision.

Finally, there’s talking and then there’s
talking.
Saying to someone at a party, “You’re cute. Let’s hook up” isn’t what I mean when I say two people should talk before getting sexual with each other. It’s got to be talking that establishes some kind of real connection. That kind of talking includes clearly conveying positive, active consent, which is essential for any sexual contact in my book.

That’s a long answer to your question, but I hope the information helps you clarify your own values and make a decision that’s healthy for you and for the other person.

INSTRUCTIONS:

 

1. Complete the phrase “I love to . . .” twenty times, one in each box following the number. Note that these are things you love to
do
, not things you love in general. Your answers can be specific (“I love to get ice cream with my grandpa”) or more general (“I love to eat ice cream”). The answers should cover as many different aspects of your life as possible.

 

2. After listing the twenty things you love to do, go to each vertical column and put a check mark in the box if it applies to that thing you love to do. For example, in the first column put a check mark next to anything you prefer to do alone. You
can
have multiple check marks next to any item.

 

A
= things you prefer to do alone

FR
= things you prefer to do with friends

FA
= things you prefer to do with family

N5
= things that would
not
have been on your list 5 years ago

F5
= things you think will
not
be on your list 5 years in the future

$
= things that cost
you
more than $5.00 to do every time you do them

PR
= things that carry physical risk when doing them (you can define what physical risk means)

ER
= things that carry emotional risk when doing them (you can define what emotional risk means)

UN
= things you do you that make you unconventional

C
= things you hope will be on your children’s list when they do this activity

T5
= pick the top five things you love to do from the list and number them 1 (highest) through 5 (lowest)

 

3. After checking off each of the columns, look at your results and think about the following questions. You might journal about them or discuss them with a trusted person.

 

What did this exercise confirm about your values?

Did anything from this exercise surprise you about your values? What?

Is there anything you might want to change about your values given the results of this activity? Why or why not?

With whom would you be willing to share this sheet? What does that say about your values?

Chapter 3
Baseball, You’re Out! Sexual Activity Without the Bases

O
ne morning after the students have filed in and settled down, I ask them, “If I said that we were going to play ball today, what would you say?” There are giggles and smiles and some murmuring.

“What kind of ball are we playing?” asks one of my more rambunctious boys.

“How about baseball?” I say with a smile. “Batter up!”

“Do you mean baseball or
baseball
?” he asks.

I play along. “What do you mean? Are there different kinds of baseball?”

“You know there are,” he says, playing right back. “And I’m good at both of them.”

“Pretty good at rounding the bases and scoring runs?” I ask.

“Well, I don’t want to brag,” he says, “but when you’ve got the right bat the magic happens.” Some of the other boys in the room break into peals of laughter. Some of the girls snort in derision.

“Are you going to let him get away with that?” I ask, looking around at the young women in the room who have challenged this boy before.

“It’s OK, Mr. V,” one of them says with a grin. “I have a feeling he won’t be scoring any time soon.” The class erupts into roars of laughter and shouts of protest.

“OK, OK,” I say, tying to reestablish some semblance of order. “We seem to have slid from baseball right into sex. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?”

“I see what you did there, Mr. V,” says the boy who started this off. Of course he does. I wasn’t trying that hard to be subtle.

I launch into my lesson for the day. “Isn’t it true that if you talk about sex with people, it’s common to wind up talking about baseball? And even if people aren’t using baseball language, isn’t it true that when people think of sex they think about it like baseball?”

 

It seems that America’s favorite pastime isn’t just a sport—the baseball model represents our country’s take on what it means to have sex. The problem is that it is seriously flawed, yet many people invoke the metaphor every day without really giving thought to the larger implications of the words they’re using. Think about some of the more benign models we use in our everyday lives. For instance, most of us have a morning routine. There’s an order to the way you start your day. For some, it might be: make coffee, shower, brush teeth, get dressed. For others, it might be: shower, make coffee, get dressed, brush teeth. These tasks are typically performed without much thought and they follow a pattern that’s repeated (and reinforced) each time.

BOOK: For Goodness Sex
13.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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