Sex Lessons from Mom and Dad

Even when girls and boys get the same negative message about sex, girls seem to come out worse. 

Many young people only get silence from their parents on the subject. But silence communicates: Sex is unmentionable, shameful. 

Parents often worry that raising the subject will lead kids to have sex. Actually, when parents talk, their children are less likely to become sexually active, and more likely to behave responsibly. 

“Don’t touch yourself there.” Another message linking sex and filthiness. 

The advice doesn’t always work as hoped. Sex therapist Lonnie Barbach tells of one little girl who, “put that extraordinarily dirty place directly under the faucet of the tub in order to wash it more thoroughly and was pleasantly surprised to find that the water created a most intense sensation which culminated in orgasm.” 

Other little girls aren’t so lucky. 

Here’s the downside to the parental rebuke. Touching yourself is exactly what sex therapists advise when women have trouble achieving orgasm. Because they often don’t understand how their bodies work. 

In fact, while parents may scold both boys and girls, the reproach seems to have a more negative impact on girls. Boys who don’t touch themselves, and who don’t have sex, will have wet dreams because their bodies need regular ejaculations to create fresh sperm. This clues boys in to how their bodies work. 

Girls don’t always figure out how the clitoris works. It’s an organ that’s small and hidden, and girls’ bodies don’t force orgasms. Women can go their entire lives, having many babies, without ever experiencing one. 

Nearly all men masturbate, but only half of women do. Perhaps this is why. 

But parents give boys more positive messages about sex, too. “Never waste a boner,” a male student volunteered when I asked what sorts of parental advice they’d heard. 

Girls probably won’t hear anything remotely similar. 

We’ve all heard how boys are told to sew their wild oats before marriage, while girls are encouraged to abstain. Some dads have even taken their daughters to “purity balls” and vowed “before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity.” A little extreme. And the notion of “covering” a daughter seems a little creepy. But it reflects the larger society’s concern with girls’ “sexual cleanliness.” 

Girls and boys get different messages on sexuality from parents. And even when they don’t, girls’ sexuality can be more damaged. 

Georgia Platts 

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Why Don’t Women Like Sex As Much As Men?

What’s the difference between a slut and a bitch? If you are an American university student you probably know the punch line:

“A bitch has sex with everyone but me.”

How do men view women’s sexuality? And how does this affect their relationships with women?

Many men get their sex education from two primary sources: friends and porn. And their friends learn a lot from porn, too. These are the men who seem to see women as bitches or sluts.

So how are women portrayed on the pornography front?

Women meet strangers and become immediately aroused, sexual activity quickly ensues, and they come swiftly to orgasm. And by the way, women love threesomes and orgies. Really, the more the merrier!

In porn women’s sexuality looks more like men’s than women’s.

Pornography leads single men to believe that other men are getting an awful lot of sex. And they wonder why they aren’t. “Why do babes (aka sluts) have sex with everyone but me? Those bitches!”

In the U.S. women’s sexuality is far different from how it is portrayed in porn. Typically, women are much more interested in romance and relationship than in casual intercourse. And while some women love sex (sometimes more than their partners) surveys show that they typically enjoy sex less than men do, and want far fewer partners.

Biology does not seem to be the main reason for the difference. While the male brain does seem to be designed for greater interest in sex, women and men have matched up far more evenly in other times and places.

I will be posting an ongoing series (interspersed with other topics) to discuss these questions, among others:

  • How do men and women experience sex differently?
  • What affects sexual experience and why do American women typically enjoy sex less than men?
  • How do differences and misunderstandings affect relationships between women and men?
  • What are the benefits and costs of the so-called male and female ways of sexuality?
  • What can women learn from men and what can men learn from women?

To understand all this, we’ll need to explore things you might not expect, like how objectification can dampen a woman’s sexual experience, even as it heightens a man’s. Or, we still rank men above women in our society, and this ends up diminishing women’s sexual interest in ways that are not immediately obvious – though they should be.

Meanwhile, men, if you’re not getting a lot of sex, don’t take it personally. And don’t take it out on women.

Georgia Platts

Sources:

Michael Kimmel. Guyland. Harper. 2008

Pamela Paul. Pornified. Holt. 2005

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