Thursday, November 7, 2013

What is Sex? Most Parents & Kids Don’t Know



Seems as if people can’t agree on what constitutes sex. It’s whatever you want it to be.  Is the twelve year-old girl who “goes down” on a boy not having sex?  After all, Bill Clinton “didn’t have sex with that woman“when he did similar sexual acts.

Is a high school girl who has had anal intercourse still considered a “virgin” because she hasn’t had penis-in-vagina intercourse, considered the old definition of sex? If two male pubescent boys are mutually masturbating, are they having sex? Not everyone turns to a dictionary for a definition.

Kinsey Study Has Some Clues

A Kinsey study in 2010 surveyed 500 participants to figure out what qualifiers and acts people considered “doin’ it.” This was the first study of a representative sample to assess attitudes about which sexual behavior constitutes having had sex. Ninety percent believed that penis-in-vagina was sex. Thirty percent thought oral sex wasn’t sex despite the fact that sex is in both definitions.

Planned Parenthood’s All-Encompassing Definition

Planned Parenthood on its website considers sex to be penis-in-vagina intercourse, penis-in-anus intercourse, genital rubbing without intercourse, oral/genital contact, and masturbation. As the website says, “the possibilities are endless.”

Sexual experience may be a better term to encompass all sexual behaviors.  If you talk to your kids about sex as if it only applies to penis-in-vagina sex, they may think your words of wisdom do not apply to them; in their mind, they haven’t “gone all the way.” Don’t waste your breath!

Responsibility Associated with Sex

It may be better to discuss other forms of sexual expression as well and label them “sex” too. As you discuss these behaviors, that hopefully you will couch with your values, be certain that you emphasize the responsibility inherent with those choices.  Your children need to make decisions about protection before they engage in vaginal, anal or oral sex to keep themselves free of sexually-transmitted diseases.  And as parents, we have the responsibility to keep the dialogue going.