Saturday, April 11, 2009

Follow-Up to "Oprah And 'The Talk'"

Lola over at Lola's Diner commented on Oprah and "The Talk" and was curious about the fact that I ignored one of the bigger issues of the show.

I admit, I did this intentionally. I wanted to sit with if for a few days before I decided how I felt about it.

There were two similar issues that Oprah's sexpert brought up that sent many of the mom's in a tizzy.

Both were regarding masturbation.

When she was walking through how to have "the talk" with a woman whose 10 year old was desperate to know what sex was, sexpert Laura Berman
shocked the audience, and this mom, by suggesting that we teach our daughters about pleasuring themselves.

The audience was full of mouths agape and audible gasps.

If parents are terrified to talk to their kids about what sex is, of course they are going to be even more horrified about the idea of telling them to touch themselves, right?

The thing is, that is so normal. Kids start touching themselves as toddlers. To kids, if it feels good, they are going to do it, they don't understand stigma. Everyone knows boys do it, but that doesn't seem to bother parents. In fact, I remember a very funny episode of Roseanne that covered this topic.

Yet the idea of a girl doing it causes a strange reaction.

Girls figure it out just as boys do. Dr. Berman's point, which I feel is very relevant, is that if girls are empowered to understand that they can pleasure themselves, they will be less likely to go too far with a boy too soon.

That sudden overwhelming feeling of desire is less of a big deal if you have already experienced it on your own.

Part of the issue she was addressing is that with all the teens she spoke with, they talked about how oral sex is no big deal, but it was a one way street. They gave and never received. Empowering a young girl with the facts about sex, but also ideas of relationships, love, the emotion of it and the choice to take care of herself could change the way teens look at sex.

Parents are embarrassed to talk to their kids about sex as much as kids are embarrassed to talk to their parents about it. My mention of threatening to jump out of the car rather than have my mom talk to me about sex is one example of the truth in that.

Masturbating has its own stigma and I can only imagine having that conversation with my mom. I would have probably threatened to throw myself in front of a Mack truck to get her to stop. But there shouldn't be that stigma. I don't know why the idea of pleasuring yourself is so embarrassing but sleeping around is not. Go figure.

I'm perfectly okay with this idea, teaching your daughter that it's okay to take care of her own needs, or "Me-Time" as a friend of mine calls it.

The suggestion the good doctor made that has many people frazzled is the idea that when a girl gets to 15 or 16 the mom should talk to her about using "adult toys." Again, I am not using the words here hoping to avoid sudden distasteful ads on this bog, but I think you know what I am talking about.

She made it clear she did not mean anything to be inserted, only external stimulation. Though that clarification did not settle the stomachs or minds of any of the parents.

Gayle King was physically uncomfortable talking about this. A lot of the moms were. Gayle said this crossed the line. When discussing it on Friday's show, Mark Consuelos (he's so cute) made the point that they are parents not friends and this idea confused that relationship.

I said I waited to comment on this until I decided how I feel about, but I really am uncertain. I think the idea of girls having the option does empower them and could make them less likely to go too far. I also could not imagine any mom not only talking to her teenage daughter about using batteries let alone buying her the device.

What are your thoughts on these topics?


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5 comments:

Lola said...

Both myself and my partner have had conversations with my (biological) 14 year old son and 16 year old daughter about masturbation. We've tried to explain to them that sex is for when they are old enough to handle it (preferably when they are over 18) and deal with the possible consequences. Until that time, they can use masturbation.

I understand the logic behind Dr. Berman's suggesting buying adult toys for teenage girls, but I don't know that I could personally do that. It's not that I haven't purchased such items, I have, I just think that it's a very personal choice and I don't know that a parent should be making that purchase for their child under 18.

I wonder how many so called experts would agree with Dr. Berman. I also wonder what child protective services would think of a parent buying a child an "adult toy". While it may be completely innocent and in keeping with what Dr. Berman is suggesting, it could also be construed as inappropriate.

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Kelly said...

Good point. It is a very fine line of what is appropriate and inappropriate when it comes to child services. Dr. Berman even pointed out that sexting photos could cause trouble for the teen because it's considered child pornography.

Lola said...

I would tend to think that child protective services would not approve of purchasing "adult toys" for an underage teen, even if you were the parent. It would just send up too many red flags.

Sherri said...

Hmmm... I see the logic, but it would be EXTREMELY uncomfortable for me as a parent, to explain masturbation to my kids. I'll have to think about this...

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Jenera said...

I had not really thought of this issue but it makes sense to talk to your kids about it. Mainly because I think that it could prevent kids from having sex too soon. Maybe. I have two boys and I think that my husband would be fine with talking to them when they hit the appropriate age. Though I think that the topic is a fine line to walk in order to keep from having kids taking it too far-porn and other sexual behaviors.

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