Monday, February 20, 2012

It's Not About Contraception It's About Self-Respect

No, this post is not about the contraception controversy emanating from the hallowed halls of that pompous, egomaniacal, self-righteous stupidity known as Washington D.C. , oh and I mean that for every side of the aisle, even the ones who are under the aisle too. If you are interested you can read my post here on the issue.

The topic I want to discuss is even more important. It is about teaching our children self-respect in a world that teaches that sexual freedom equates with promiscuity, either male or female. Personally I don't know when the world changed so much. Or perhaps I am just showing my age. When we were growing up, the idea was that if  you were in a longterm relationship and wanted to have sex with that person, it was OK. Sex wasn't just for marriage anymore and yes, even "good-girls" were allowed to enjoy sex. The pill and modern contraception made it easy to prevent pregnancy and allow women to understand their own bodies.

Now there was the person who went to bars, and looked for one-night stands. But it was not seen as some kind of feminist mantra. Hooking-up was thought of as disgusting and in the age of AIDS highly life-threatening. The idea behind our own sexuality was that, yes we controlled our own bodies, but that we also had respect for those bodies. There is a huge difference between sexual awakening and quite frankly being a whore. And yes I understand quite completely the idea behind the "slutwalk" phenomenon. However, there were better ways to get your point across without demeaning yourself. And 3rd and 4th wave feminists don't tell me to awake to consciousness raising, I was raising my conscious before your mothers were old enough to use a tampon.

I suppose I noticed the beginning of this attitude change when the boys were very little and I watched MTV's spring break. This was the beginning of the discussion about the misogyny of the music industry and the perpetuation of the "glorified penis" mentality. Why women buy into this culture and mothers think its OK for their sons to follow along I never understood. Unfortunately it seems things have gotten worse rather than better in the industry...check out the recent Grammys if you don't think so.

In this particular MTV show there were college students participating in contests to win some rather innocuous prize. What was the contest? Which couple had the best shaving cream bathing suits. Out came the "collegeman" (don't  get confused, not my collegemen) with shaving cream covering just enough of his genitals not to be arrested and then his girlfriend or female partner came out also dressed in a similar fashion. Did noone ever teach these children about self-respect and appropriate behavior in public? Did noone ever teach them about life-ling consequences to their actions? My first thought was, OK now try to get a job when you graduate and think that someone is going to take you seriously. My next thought was who raised these children to have so little self-respect? Note: New rules coming out of the DOE, actually mandate that when there is a charge of "rape" on campus there is little or no due process the male is guilty until proven innocent.

When we talk about parenting, we tend to talk about education, support, doctor appointments and letting our children enjoy their childhood. But where is the discussion about bodily integrity? Where is the discussion about relationships, their meaning and the ultimate gift you give someone? Where is the discussion about the emotional repercussions of sex? Where is the idea that yes, even with contraception you can get pregnant so you had better be prepared for that as well.

Parenthood is not a game. (No matter what MTV shows.) Giving a child up for adoption, selfless to say the least, but noone can truly measure the depths of emotions felt by the birth-mother. Oh and if you think that abortion is a nothing choice, just getting rid of a clump of cells, as so many have mentioned to me, then you had best think again. For an emotionally healthy person, there is nothing easy about it. Yet noone anywhere discusses these realities with our children.

There are many issues we face in raising children on the autism spectrum, but one of the issues we tend to ignore happens to be teaching about sex and its point in a relationship. My school district starts sex-education in 5th grade. It's fine with me. I have no problem with the school bringing up the subject nor what they teach in the lesson. I have heard that the state has changed the curriculum somewhat and not necessarily for the better. There have been huge protests about the new content and I think the state had to pull back on some of their proposals.

I remember the night before the lesson on "sex" Wise old Sage sat CM1 down and tried to talk to him about the subject. CM1 just turned to his father and said, "Dad, this is embarrassing you, why don't you let them teach this to me in school." Hubby agreed. When it was CM2's turn, Wise old Sage got through the discussion and CM2 was thoroughly grossed-out. Of course that was when I knew we were going to have a problem with that one. As I said girl-crazy doesn't begin to describe how he is around females. You don't recognize him when he talks to a member of the opposite sex. Actually you don't recognize both boys: CM1 tells jokes to try to impress them. CM2 becomes Cary Grant.

Now from an early age I have impressed on both boys bodily integrity. Their integrity and the integrity of a partner. One of the things that frightens me alot is that they will not understand signals being sent out and will get into legal trouble without meaning to. It is hard enough for aspies to navigate a social world without that added stressor. So I teach them, when a girl says "no" it is "no" and when a girl says "yes" you had better make sure she wasn't drunk, on drugs and quite frankly you had better have known her for a very long time and she is a friend first and foremost. In other words, have it be a part of your relationship and not the only thing that binds you together.

Honestly I am not sure if they understand that last part fully. Neither one has ever had a girlfriend and I don't see one on the horizon in the near future. Interestingly it is the one thing everyone mentions about CM1. That he is doing well and what he needs is a girlfriend. A female peer in that special kind of relationship to care about him. I do wish it for him. It is one of those little things you don't think about until they are older and realize how it hurts  inside to see that this part of growing up they too are missing out on. Hoping one day that it will come. That there is that special someone out there who will understand them and love them and take care of them. Honestly I think its every parents wish for each of their children. It's just harder for ours to attain, just like everything else.

I suppose the lessons I try to teach the boys come down once again to rules.  Respect your own person. Respect the person you are with. You do not have sex with someone who is not your "girlfriend" and you cannot have a "girlfriend" without them being a "friend" first and foremost. Of course that means we also need to identify what and who is a friend and how it does differ with girls and boys.

Contraception is not just a girl's responsibility. It is yours as well. If you don't want to be a father use a condom and if she gets pregnant the choice, whether you become a father or not, is not up to you so be prepared. In other words, if you aren't really ready to be a parent keep your pants on. (No I am not going to go into other sex besides intercourse with my "sons" thank you.)

As I have mentioned on various occasions CM1 and now CM2 is enamored of The Big Bang Theory. In one episode, two characters discuss when its time to have sex. The discussion follows that its after the third date. Invariably I turn to the boys and tell them no its not. There is no "third date"  rubicon for sex. So don't expect it and don't demand it and don't think its going to happen. Each relationship is different and you need to decide for yourselves when the time is right. Of course they get annoyed with me, because I mention it EVERY time we see that scene. That's fine, they can get annoyed with me, as long as they listen and imprint it into their very smart brains.

Listen schools can teach the basics of sex, contraception and sexually transmitted disease, but they leave out the main lesson and that is ...it is just fine and dandy to wait until you are emotionally ready to handle the repercussions of sex. No one ever tells the children "no" about anything anymore. They don't want to judge, they say. Cop out I say. If you teach a child how to put a condom on a banana you need to teach them that it isn't really like a banana and that there are real reasons to wait. It's not about abstinence, it's about reality and rules.  Unrealistic you say. Why just because so much of American culture says its OK to just give yourself away without any thought or care then it is....that its OK to hook-up and its OK to be a big old slut-bag? Well its not.

I tell my boys you are an important human being. Sex is the ultimate of giving yourself to another person. Make sure that person is truly worthy of that gift. Above all it still comes down to self-respect, self-esteem and bodily integrity. Boys and girls included.


Until next time,


Elise

P.S. Any adult aspergeans who want to chime in and tell us how you handled sexual relationships and how you went through the dating ritual please do. Advice is always appreciated.

P.S.S. This post is also not about contraception, abortion nor abstinence. Comments on these issues will not be posted.