art by Julia Green
Welcome to Mommamental, the place you come to talk about the things that should have been in the parenting manual that absolutely did not come with your kids.
(Also ICYMI: The name of this column has changed to Mommamental. I could explain it to you, but it’s only of tangential importance.)
So, we’ve talked about talking about sex. We’ve talking about talking about sex with our daughters. In this, the second of two installments, I’m going to dive a little deeper and help you talk to your kids with information specific to their genitals and gender expression.
And now: Our boys.
Note: I am not talking about trans kids here for a couple of reasons. 1. Most kids are not trans. And I know that is not a very good reason not to discuss it (and if anything trans kids need it the most) but 2. I don’t have one, so I don’t feel comfortable making any statements that might ultimately not be supportive.
When we talk about sex and sexuality in general, sweeping terms, we leave out some vital information that our kids deserve to have. We are doing them an incredible disservice by not addressing their genitals, sexual pleasure, birth control, power struggles, and the patriarchy. Further, when we don’t talk about consent and coercion, we are doing their future partners a disservice.
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Please discuss circumcision with your sons. They may or may not be in the foreskin minority. Better prepared than not.
For the most part, we are still seeing circumcised penises in adult film. And, for that most part, this is what (American) females will be picturing when they think of what a dick looks like. Hopefully their mothers have taught them better, but just in case they haven’t, please communicate to your sons that their penis is okay. Penises (like labia) come in all shapes and sizes. There are no bad body parts.
Re: size. Please tell your sons that the so-called gift of a giant penis has been greatly over exaggerated by our culture. Giant penises are about as valuable as giant boobs (which is to say, not at all).
You can say that thing about the size of the boat and the motion of the ocean if you’d like, but it’s probably unnecessary.
As a parent, do your child (and yourself) a favor and buy them their own (industrial size) lubricant. Protect your personal supply of hand lotion and the kitchen supply of coconut oil and get them their own jar.
Then tell them to use it.
Honestly, masturbation can only help the testosterone-induced rage building inside every pubescent boy. I don't know why people joke that it'll fall off or whatever, that's absurd. Touch your penis all you want (in private); it's yours.
Sexual Assault (As Victim)
First, teach them the weight of the word no. No means no whether they are saying it or it is being said to them.
Boys have been conditioned to believe they should always want sex and should always be grateful for it.
Please communicate to them that they need not engage in any activity they aren’t interested in. In fact, they do not need to have sex at all. Please honor the fact that boys are also sexually assaulted and are often too afraid (or too ashamed) to tell anyone.
Sexual Assault (Aggressor)
While our boys are still at risk for sexual assault/rape, the odds are higher that they will be the aggressor.
The following list might be helpful in teaching our boys what it means to have the power of the patriarchy.
1. Because you are male identifying/appearing, you have a social and cultural advantage that you did nothing to earn.
2. Women have been systematically taught to fear you.
3. As such, you are in a unique position to dominate.
4. Do not abuse this power you were given without having earned it.
1. You may touch no person without their permission.
2. Permission is granted when you ask for it and are told ‘Yes” (with a clear verbal response).
3. Respect another person’s “no” the same way you’d want your own “no” to be respected.
4. Better safe than sorry. Ask before you do anything — this way your intentions (and actions) will not be misinterpreted.
They are going to watch it. Please discuss the unethical origins of some pornography. Our boys should know that while women often engage in sex work enthusiastically, that is not always the case.
Also, of course, actual sex and porn sex are often very dissimilar. Not all women want your baby gravy on their face. If you lock yourself in a room with two women, a threesome will not spontaneously occur. Anal sex is not everyone's favorite. Gagging someone with your dick is not an accomplishment.
Can we just tell our boys this is normal? Raise your hand if you have ever had experience with this (either as the person or the partner).
Yeah, I see ALL your hands up. It happens. A lot when you are young.
It’s best if you assume that you are responsible for birth control. If your partner is female and takes a birth control pill every day, she is doing you a favor. Carry condoms. Insist on their use to prevent pregnancy/STIs (this includes anal sex).
Just going back here again, because it can’t be overstated — ask before you do anything. Make no assumptions.
As you talk with your children about sex, please remember that the way boys and girls experience sex, both socially and actually, is often vastly different. Plan accordingly.
And, as always, keep talking, keep laughing, keep hugging. The manual your kids didn’t come with is inside you.