As mum to 4 girls, I worry about sex. I don’t actually worry about them having it, because they will at some point and I’ve got to get over that one. My worry is whether they will feel in control. I have more than one reason to feel worried, but for now let’s focus on the fact that nearly three quarters of girls in their late teens said that they heard names such as, ‘slut’, ‘bitch’ and ‘slag’ used several times a week. Boys call it banter, I call it harassment. I call it undermining females and taking away their control.
Kids are accessing porn younger and younger. Kids own mobile phones younger and younger. My step daughter didn’t have a smart phone until she was 17. My 12 year old had one at 11. With the best will in the world, parents can’t always be the internet police. Primary age children are being exposed to violent and graphic pornographic images and common sense tells us that many of them will normalise what they see, in order to try to understand it. The porn industry’s core target is boys aged 12-17. As author Mark Kastlemann said, “Giving porn to a teenage boy is like giving crack to a baby. Addiction is almost guaranteed.”
Schools are a hot bed of risk for our girls and so they must share the responsibility of sex education. Yet calls to make sex education compulsory for all children have been rejected by ministers. This is despite a group of MP’s finding that almost a third of girls aged 16-18 said they had been groped at school. I’m sorry? You what? The inquiry was also told that it was common place for girls to be slapped on their bums and for naked pictures of girls to be circulated among boys. So you see, I really am worried about control.
We can bring our girls up to be savvy and confident females in many areas of their lives, but the world of sex is different. Talking about it openly brings awkwardness and shut down, making exploring the issues surrounding it a whole lot trickier. Their sexual experiences are hidden so far away from us parents, that getting an understanding of their views on it is virtually impossible. “Don’t ever send tit pics” I lamely told my eldest daughters. They both looked at me as if I was a freak. The disdain in their faces made me feel uncomfortable, when I thought it would be the other way around. I am parenting in the dark here and I would appreciate a bit of help from teachers who have an element of detachment. People who can give out the facts to kids who can’t walk away with eyeballs rolling towards the ceiling. Kids who must listen, even if they think that they know it all. My daughters may not want to sit and chat to me about sending naked images of themselves online and the implications of it, but they may feel grateful if it came up in an organised discussion at school.
Yes, I really do feel a bit helpless here. “Ok girls, when you end up having sex with someone, make sure you are in control. Make sure you want it. Make sure you are happy to do what they are asking you to do…erm” Oh Christ, this isn’t going to happen. They’ll have switched off at the first bit. They’ll have run for the hills by the second. Yet this is an area of their life that could completely undermine the confidence that we have spent all these years building up. One photo, one misunderstood,’no’. A life long impact.
I need help. Society needs help. Our kids need sex education in school.