Who has the right to talk with your child about sexuality? What about your teenager? Or your adult child?
These are questions parents often start to grapple with far earlier than they realized that they would have to. A parent came to me once, very distraught, because her eight-year-old daughter and told another eight-year-old girl about sex. The other girl went home and asked her mother about it. The second mother called the first mother and said that the first mother had taken away her right to tell her daughter about sex.
I hate to inform you, second mother, and all mothers, but you have very few rights when it comes to your child. Do you remember the Kahlil Gibran poem On Children? It relates, so beautifully:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
All of which is to say, your children are their own people. Part of that means they have a right to access information about themselves, their own bodies, and how their bodies interact with other people. Is that scary? Of course. Taking a piece of your heart and allowing it to shoot forth as a living arrow is terrifying. But claiming ownership over your children, denying them access to information, is actively harming them. Discourse about sexuality and sexual health must be accessible in the public space in reasonable and responsible ways.
While this is always a slowly simmering issue for me, it has particular salience right now because I’ve just recently learned that Twitter bans condom discourse in the same way that it bans discourse on:
- Hate content and violence.
- Drugs and drug paraphernalia.
- Weapons and weapon accessories.
These just aren’t the same thing as sexual health! While we have not declared a Sexual Bill of Rights, we should. Your children and teenagers have a basic human right to age-appropriate, medically accurate information about sex and sexuality. If you agree, let Twitter know that their ban on condom discourse is absurd. Start making the world a place where your children and teenagers have access to their basic human rights. Sign the petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/dick-costolo-dickc-twitter-ceo-keep-your-users-truly-safe-please-remove-condoms-from-twitterads-blacklist
I’ve decided that it’s Condom Week around here at Unhushed. Melissa White over at Lucky Bloke recently asked if I wanted to provide content for her new safer sex education website, and of course I was delighted! But when I went back to look through my blogging archives (both here and at www.karenrayne.com), I found that I had written terrifyingly little about condoms. So here I am, rectifying that problem with Condom Week, on both sites. Here at Unhushed I’ll be writing about parental concerns about condoms. At KarenRayne.com I’ll be writing about teachers and other educators’ issues about condoms in the classroom. Interested in receiving Unhushed blog posts as they happen? Sign up here. You can sign up to receive KarenRayne.com blog posts here.