What We Are Teaching Our Kids About Sex

By for YourTango.com.

Raising daughters in an era that values thigh gap and size zero can be a bit daunting. Add to that the constant barrage of images of barely-dressed women next to fully-dressed men in both advertising and entertainment, and you might understand why parents are struggling to teach their daughters (as well as sons) the difference between a healthy sexual identity and sexy for sexy’s sake.

More from YourTango: 9 Things I Wish I Had Learned In Sex Ed

Here’s the problem: When we define sexy as a one-size-fits-all look that is completely focused on the exterior features of women, then how do women who don’t fit that mold feel about themselves? When we teach “sexy” as being only about one’s outward appearance, what are we teaching our daughters about healthy sexuality? And, for that matter, what are we teaching our sons? If you can only be sexy at a certain weight, with a specific body type and a pouty look on your face, how will you ever find a way to a healthy sex life? Further, if boys are raised to see only those features as sexual, how will they cultivate healthy sexual attitudes?

As these children, who have been inundated with sexualized imagery, reach adulthood, I fear for their ability to enjoy their partners on a meaningful and emotionally deeper level. It seems obvious (at least to me) that raising our daughters in a world that marginalizes women and girls in the media will hurt their self-esteem, but what about the damage to their future selves? How will an adult woman who has been told that her body doesn’t fit the media norm get into bed with a partner and feel confident and sexy? How will men find normally-shaped women sexy when all they’ve viewed are highly sexualized women with photoshopped bodies?

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To assume that images such as the nearly naked Miley Cyrus twerking against the fully-clothed Robin Thicke don’t influence how we all think of sexuality might be a bit nave. We are all being sold a package of sexiness and sexuality that doesn’t have much to do with the real thing… it will most likely leave us feeling as if something is missing. Isn’t it time to stop using sex to sell particularly to our children? Shouldn’t we allow our children to develop a healthy image of themselves that leads to a healthier self-esteem? That is what will ultimately lead to a healthier sexual activity as they grow into adulthood.

I’m proud to stand with a group of business owners, activists, and mental health professionals who are actively seeking to change the face of media for our children; particularly our daughters. They are the force behind Brave Girls Want, an organization dedicated to removing the toxicity of the media’s influence on our daughters. When we put girls in a box of imposed femininity and sexuality, we not only limit them now as children, but also as fully realized, sexual adults.

More from YourTango: Judy Blume: Crucial Sex Education For Young Girls

Here is the website to join us for our exciting Times Square event, http://www.bravegirlswant.com/index.html

Lisa Kaplin is a psychologist and life coach at www.smartwomeninspiredlives.com

You can reach her at Lisa@smartwomeninspiredlives.com

To contribute to the Brave Girls Want campaign, http://www.bravegirlswant.com/our-campaigns.html

This article originally appeared on YourTango.com:Sex & Sexualization: What Does It Mean For Our Daughters?.


Elaine Al Meqdad
Elaine Al Meqdad2 years ago


Kathy Johnson
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

"normally shaped"? how condescending. My size 1 body is no less normal than larger sizes -_-

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson2 years ago

I see my responsibility as a man as involving separating reality from corporate-manufactured fantasy and supporting all of the women in my life as unique and valued for who they are. I look for the guidance of the women in my life as to the pressures they face and what I can do to help. That is a drop in the bucket but we can work together to fight for reality and natural beauty.

Klaus Peters
Klaus Peters2 years ago

40-50 years ago when I was looking for my dream it was all different, I did the hard work of trying to convince a lady to like and love me, yes I found my dream. Yes, she played hard to get and wanted to be sure. One had to dream and imagine what is behind the curtain.
Now girls like to expose as much of their body as they are legally allowed or more.
This makes them very vulnerable and that is why we have so many sex crimes and rapes.
The film industry and the press are to blame for the pollution of the mind of young ladies!
As for me, I had to imagine what is behind the curtain, but it gave me a clear mind to judge her personality, but also her family that would also be my family in the future.
Yes, I am an Aries, ever ready for a challenge, that fish (Pisces) I caught is very slippery, but after 41 years I still have a grip on her, not easy. But she trusts me, and I trust her. Honesty is the solution.

Jeffrey Stanley
Jeff S.2 years ago

As a single father with two daughters, this was a hard subject to tackle. We did it though!

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa2 years ago

Thank you :)

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

JL A.2 years ago

we continue to progress in wanting children to get accurate information

Alfred Donovan
Past Member 2 years ago

I firs learned about sex at classes in school.

Connie O.
Connie O.2 years ago

My mother never sat down and discussed sex with me. I lived on a farm, and she figured whatever I needed to know, I could pick up from watching the farm animals! When I had a child, I decided I would discuss anything and everything with him. It has worked well for me.