My eldest daughter is now 16. I’ve had to cover the sex talk basics as her mother (we’re divorced) is FAR more conservative (and shall we say repressed) than I. How do I, as a father, steer my daughter towards a more sex-positive outlook when it’s clear she isn’t getting the same feedback when she’s with her mother? Is there ever a time/approach where it’s appropriate to get her a vibrator? Do you just enlist a female friend for such duty?
Now wouldn’t it be nice if I could just tell parents that their teenagers will happily sit down for sex talks with them, fully absorb all of the information given, and then apply it rightly to their impending sexual explorations? (Because that’s what we did as teens, right?)
Unfortunately, the second something comes from a parent (even if you’re a cool, sex-positive parent and even if it’s an awesome vibrator) it’s just not that cool anymore. (Do kids even say “cool” anymore?)
I’m overjoyed that you’re talking to your daughter about sex — and with a sex-positive approach, no less! But you’ve got to strategize your delivery so that the information is received and not rejected. As a former teenage girl, lemme tell you, we’re really good at rejecting things.
Figuring out sex — especially sexual pleasure and especially for a teenage girl — is confusing. Just think about how she might be feeling now: Advertisements telling her that her sexuality sells beer best; her peers engaging in slut-shaming on Facebook; Fifty Shades of Grey makes millions off questionable consent messages paired with female submission; immediately and inexplicably she feels shame after masturbating for the first time; and then her dad buys her a vibrator?
Offset this sexual development mayhem by providing your daughter not with your opinion or tales of “When I was a kid we had to find a way to buy hard-copy porno mags,” but with resources she can use to explore sex and her sexuality on her own. Sex: An Uncensored Guide To Your Body, Sex & Safety by Nikol Hasler is relevant, current, and packed with information I wish I had as a teen. Its cover art alone (featuring the bold silhouettes of two humping cattle) bucks the stale tradition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Scarleteen.com is my go-to youth sex resource, featuring full-length articles and forums where teens can get advice from site creator and sex educator Heather Corinna.
Make yourself open and available for your daughter to approach you when she’s ready to talk to you about sex. Sure, some sex talks need to be initiated by parents, such as safer-sex 101. Others, like those about vibrators and orgasms, should be initiated by the teen. One way to let a youth know you’re available is to openly talk about what you see, hear, and think about sex in the real world, casually. For example, scoffing at the classic, unrealistic Hollywood sex scene featuring insta-penetration and insta-female-orgasm is a small gesture that can spark further discussion.
An adult female figure in her life could be the one to introduce her to other sexual knowledge and be available for sex talks that aren’t for dads. A non-parent adult is well listened-to and can introduce more taboo topics like sex toys and masturbation.
Help your daughter find her voice in male-dominated situations, teach her how to set clear boundaries for herself, give her the tools to state an adamant “No” or an enthusiastic “Yes” — all of these will assist her in her sexual experiences, now and forever.
As for repressed mama, chances are her conservative message will blend into all of those other confusing messages about sex flying around. Though mama’s perspective may clash with the sex-positive, orgasmic vision you have for your daughter, it’s still valuable in her journey to figuring this all out for herself. Sticking to your messages (these are trustworthy sex resources; women’s bodies are theirs; I am here to talk to you with an open mind; these are other adults you can talk to) will likely make a bigger impact on her than any sex-negative vibes coming from her mother — or elsewhere.•