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Sex is overrated? Not if it’s done right! Stop teaching shame to children

“They have always known and always feared how powerful sexuality is. Your sexuality represents your understanding and your choice of expression of your most intimate and powerful sexual instincts.

“[…] So they tell you how to walk, sit, stand, how to bump, grind and dry hump, how much you should flaunt and how much to cover, how to get some and how to lay trap, sometimes with big belly hoping for ah wedding ring…”

In the following guest column to Wired868, contributor Alana Abdool suggests the importance of ‘proper’ sex education to minors:

Photo: A satirical take on sex education.
(Copyright Notsandmutton)

Children, let me tell allyuh some things about this thing they call sex and sex education. If the preacher, the teacher, the politician, yuh mammie and yuh pappie want to control or manipulate the information you getting about sex, it’s usually for the same damn reason.

Sex is a primal act, a primal response. It’s an animal instinct built into you and is as fundamental to your sexual nature as your need for food.

No one wants you to understand it for what it is and they will talk about it as if you are not a part of the conversation. As if you didn’t already have a sense, simply from observing them, the dynamics of sex and sex education.

And they really don’t want you to understand what they themselves through successive generations of cultural stigma have turned sex into. Sex is now a tool. A tool for power. A tool for control.

Sex can be used as leverage if you are interested in bargaining. It can be used as a weapon to hurt, exploit or subdue. It can be an act of defiance. It can be a drug for escape. Sex is a trade. Sex is just business.

Yuh ever hear the expression ‘sex is overrated’? They lied. Sex well done is damn good. Once you get a taste of it, you will always want more. It’s not sex that’s overrated you know, it’s sexuality. They are overrating and mis-rating sexuality. They have always known and always feared how powerful sexuality is. Your sexuality represents your understanding and your choice of expression of your most intimate and powerful sexual instincts.

Photo: Time for sex education?

Sadly children, sexuality is almost never owned by an individual. Almost never understood and the right to free expression is almost always oppressed. They manipulate your heart, your mind, your emotions and your body. They prey on your ignorance, your sense of shame, your desires, your sense of dignity, your right to be comfortable in your own skin and your right to discover your sexuality on your terms in your own time.

Because at the end of the day you are just another sexual statistic to them; of STDs, of sexual abuse, another notch on someone’s belt, sexually controlled, sexually conformed, monogamous, polygamous, LGBTQIA, promiscuous, priest, pimp or prostitute.

So they tell you how to walk, sit, stand, how to bump, grind and dry hump, how much you should flaunt and how much to cover, how to get some and how to lay trap, sometimes with big belly hoping for ah wedding ring. And oh gosh, how to wait and wait and wait.

But children, allyuh ever ask yourselves, for what? Or why? If allyuh do everything de leaders or de media tell allyuh to do, allyuh feel allyuh any closer to owning your sexuality? Is there anything that you are taught or given that takes you down the path to understanding and exploring your body, your emotions and learning how to take charge of that sexuality?

Your sexuality will define how you express your desires during sex, who and when you choose to share it with and how you deal with the consequences of that shared expression.

Photo: Some civic groups are pushing for formal sex education in Trinidad and Tobago schools.

Children, if nothing else, let nothing stop you from seeking out as much accurate information from as many sources as possible and do not underestimate the importance of pursuing this.

Do not be ashamed or afraid. These are the years and the conversations that can shape an empowered and fulfilling sexual future. Think slowly, deliberately and carefully about what your sexuality means to you.

Because at the end of it all, no one can carry the emptiness, the regret and the consequences of misinformed or uncontrolled sexuality or sex—except you.

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19 comments

  1. You are mixing two things. Certainly there needs to be good quality sex education for kids (and adults). But, yeah, sex really is overrated.

  2. Thank you to the other commenters for valuable feedback.

  3. The Scandanvian model is certainly one worth looking at as it yields the best results as far as preventing teen pregnancies, instilling a culture of consent and respect for women, some of the lowest STI rates among all sexual demographics compared to other developed countries, the lowest abortion rates as well and lowest rates of rape and sexual assault compared to other countries, certainly compared to ours.

    They did not need misogynistic religion and shame about sexual desire and scandal about the naked human body to do it either. Just apply science, intelligence and some empathic ability to the issue, like ENLIGHTENED ADULT HUMAN BEINGS.

    However, since our country does not have those kinds of people in Government, it is up to US, private citizens to create a model as scientifically, intelligently and empathetically informed as the Scandinavian model, but tailored to our unique Trinbagonian and in fact, wider Caribbean culture, history and social realities.

  4. Censorship, shame and superstitious attitudes to human sexuality have had its day and the evidence is in, it is a HUGE FAILURE when it comes to preventing teen pregnancies, STIs and unhappy marriages and relationships.

    This is the Age of Infomation.

    The children are already getting informed, by music videos, movies and porn, despite all the hollering and denunciations from the pulpit and avoidance of the subject by the parents.

    Now it is up to us who have access to the best information about human sexuality, who have enjoyed sex responsibly and have valuable life lessons and experience to share, who have done the study of our historical, cultural, social mores as far as our sexuality is concerned and medical qualifications as Sexologists and Psychologists to get involved and put good information out there for the youth.

    We don’t NEED the school system to do it either!

    • The children are recipients of a reactive alternative of sex and sexuality in the media. Reactive in a way to the same avoidance by parents, superstitious or cultural beliefs that you mentioned. You’re absolutely right that the onus is on the people who have a healthy perception or are educated formally in sexology or related disciplines to offer their insights. The value of sexuality that is deliberate and well thought out by the younger generation can only come from reading wider perspectives on the topic. The entire concept of sexual liberalization in response to a history rife with sexual oppression is in itself another face to the same problem. This is the age of information but I really don’t think the best alternative ideas about sexuality are as pervasive as the traditional/superstitious or hypersexualized ones. That’s the first thing that needs to change. To foster a better understanding of male and female sexuality independently explored and then jointly discussed and shared in a way that builds understanding and respect for needs and boundaries for each partner in a relationship and in the context of self respect. And you’re right that the school system doesn’t have to bear the onus but it is a good forum upon which to build.

  5. An adult that was listening to the session due to proximity said she learnt things. So it isn’t rocket science why we are rivaling big cities with our teenage pregnancy rates. The politicians are playing russian roulette with our children’s lives and we need to make them aware of it. Teachers keep saying they are not given the time needed to settle with the subject area, Ministry saying it not economically viable to have NGOs that deal with the subject area to come in to deal with it. I have been working on this specific topic for over 20 years and we still not sure if we want it in the school system. I will credit those teachers who deem it important to share the information in the age appropriate manner in which it is developed.

  6. I did a session this week on this topic. The ages were 11-15 mixed-girls and boys. They giggled through the usual names of body parts. I explained how girls can get pregnant after menses and not have the penis inserted into the vagina. I had a frank discussion of the life and death situations of not having the correct info. I got the permission to say everything. But it was just the basics. I explained the legal ramifications of engaging in under age sex because we changed the law about 3 years ago to state that the age for consent is 18 ON BOTH SIDES. An older woman drew this to my attention that needs to be added in my discussions at a session I had somewhere else. I explained HIV & AIDS and other STIs. My last question was “Miss what is squirting for a girl”? I laughed to myself because I know the are adults that don’t know about this. I pulled all the boys together and and explained what it was. I

  7. I read the January article and found it a perfect example of simplistic ‘blame the victim’ fare. Working in mental health for many years I have seen the damaging consequences of internalised shame and guilt of ex parishioners.

    • Well, at least one “good” thing come out of said individual’s response. She making me look to go back and finish the article I was working on in response to *that* January artice. My MacBook‘s main board died at the time. So now ah go finish it and make it the final part in my series on racism as it has historicallly been manifested in the Trinbagonian context. This foolishness has gone on long enough; this is a Republic and decontextualised, mistranslated ‘nansi stories aka religious myths have no business determining public policies.

  8. Alana, Thank you for starting a discussion on a very important issue. Although this article definitely provides food for thought, I found it somewhat disturbing. In my opinion, addressing this to children and labelling those responsible for their upbringing as ‘they’ seems to be playing the ‘blame game’. Perhaps both children, and the adults in their lives, need opportunities to explore: the range of human emotions; how values are formed; current social norms and their impact; how to deal with rejection; and the development of resilience. This in tandem with sex education. This using the facts and without pushing any particular brand of religious belief.

    • How they going to do that Jo Ann? Many of the parents, like the children, are themselves uneducated on the issue. Indeed, this issue is another circular dance of frustration.

      Now admittedly this particular article did indeed come short with its constant use of “they” and in the way it was used in that finger-pointing way. It also failed to direct any young reader who is struggling to understand his/her developing sexuality to any source that can assist in that regard

      But imagine the irony, the arrogance, where you have a evangelical bible-waving Christian charlatan asking the question as to what qualifies Ms Abdool to teach children about sex. This is the same person who in her own column on January 23 sought to shame young women in depressed communities. Her “Commandment to Unwed girls” to “not open thy legs” on January 23 was riddled with self-righteous, moralistic diatribes almost all of which came straight out of very old racist and misogynist European narratives (yet another irony: a woman bleating the loudest a “morality” code that was created for misogynist reasons and merely covered over under the blanket of “god”).

      In that article this fraud treated us to some real pearls of wisdom such as when she advised the “lousy, doh-care parents” to “keep your blasted legs closed” because “if you have no money to mind a child, if you still in school” and (of course) “if you’re unmarried”, you are clearly a burden on society.

      Go back and read it; nowhere in the article is there any acknowledgement that we are dealing with the effects of self-regenerating cycles of dispossession, politics manipulation and abandonment plus colonial-era —that was succeeded by IMF-instituted — policies that all but completely destroyed the community and familial-based support and education structures that existed in rural and urban communities here in this country going back to the 19th century (and she has a Masters eh, and teaching people children). She virtually cuss out the unwed mothers (here we go again with the misogynist Eurocentric arrogation of certain institutions) but did anyone teach them about sex when *they* were children? No. Because there wasn’t any sex-ed then…because the politicians and the religious types blocked it…so who de hell going to teach them? So all we have left is yet another cycle.

      But of course, it’s all their fault for breeding and making poor choices. In this country that infuriating, decontextualised “personal responsibility” trope is like an article of faith. It’s the go-to phrase when you talk down to people while at the same time absolve and remove your own self from having any responsibility — in a collective way — with helping those who may not have had the same opportunities or even circumstances as you did. That’s how we do things here.

      So Ms Alana Abdool, whoever you are, write yuh ting eh and doh study these Trinis who eh deal with their own personal issues they want to drain on the rest us

      • If I understand you correctly you suggested that the chief causes of the issues related to underage sex are “effects of self-regenerating cycles of dispossession, politics manipulation and abandonment plus colonial-era —that was succeeded by IMF-instituted — policies that all but completely destroyed the community and familial-based support and education structures that existed in rural and urban communities here in this country going back to the 19th century”.

        Could you tell me whether:
        1) what I quoted was felt throughout the general population;

        2) the entire Trini demographic is dealing with teenage pregnancies and/or females with multiple children for multiple fathers with no or little male support?

  9. Ms. Abdool,what qualifies you to speak to children about sex? From what I have read, your moral values are questionable, so the way I see it, you are in no position to advise anyone on sex. Where the hell do you people really “come out from?” Where? Steups!