Let’s Have “The Talk”

Did you have “the talk”? You know the one I’m talking about. The conversation with a parent, guardian, sibling, cousin, or some other random (hopefully not stranger) person related to you about that awkward and uncomfortable topic. I’m talking about SEX! Uh oh, the cat’s out of the bag. I’ve gone and named it. I said the “S word”. The next thing you know, I’ll be busting out the “F word”. I can probably guess what you are thinking, but I mean feminism. Anyway, the fact that you remember that conversation, or remember the general lack of an appropriate conversation is probably significant. In short, sex(uality) matters.

From the moment I picked up D’Emilio & Freedman’s Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, I was hooked. My own “talk” or lack there of, is fodder for another post. First, some introductions are in order. Well, I guess that could be part of the introduction, but I don’t want to give away the whole story when we’ve just only met. Let’s get to know each other first, eh? This blog is my attempt at broaching the diverse, intimate, often controversial, and seldom discussed topic of sex(uality). My word choice and formatting is quite intentional, and hopefully will continue to provoke such head-scratching moments as you are now experiencing- “what does he mean by ‘sex(uality)’? Why doesn’t he just say ‘sex’?

The answer, like many things, is complicated. As a researcher and generally well-meaning participant in our society, I view sexuality as a socially constructed notion falling somewhere in the space where history, identity, biology, politics, psychology, and theory intersect. The result is a pretty darn messy Venn diagram, but you get the idea. Over the lifespan of this blog, I will do my best to sit down with each of these intersecting ideas and have a sometimes serious, intelligent conversation. My goal is to explore the many ways that our ideas about sex and sexuality impact us on a micro, meso, and macro level. There is no sex(uality)-related topic that is out-of-bounds (until I stumble into it, anyway), and you will hopefully find yourself nodding in agreement at times, as well as questioning my ideas, and jumping at the opportunity to proffer a new or alternative idea. I welcome those comments, and look forward to the opportunity to engage you in dialogue on these topics, while also sharing resources, new research, current events, and doing my best give voice to marginalized groups in this discussion.

In many ways, most people in our society have been silenced around issues of sex(uality). It is a form of oppression that has many faces, and is often misunderstood. With that being said, our discussion and discourse around issues of sex and sex(uality) has historically been very White, middle-class, European, like many other aspects of society. The result has and continues to be a gap in the understanding of and education for historically marginalized populations, which is saying something considering the generally poor (but optimistically improving) state of sex(uality) education in this country. I approach these discussions from a feminist multicultural perspective, for reasons which will become clear as time goes on. I am guided by and motivated by my background, my identity, and my educational pursuits.

So, if you’ll indulge me, I invite you on a journey. This journey will chronicle my research endeavors, my ever-changing understanding of my identity, and hopefully some unique and interesting discussions on the topic of sex(uality). Together, let’s explore just why sex(uality) matters. Let’s have “the talk”.

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About @chasing42

I'm a thirty-something academic who studies and teaches multicultural education, Women's & Gender Studies, and sexuality, as well as providing educational opportunities on issues of diversity and inclusion. I also work on affirmative action and Title IX compliance and education. When I'm not reading, writing, or teaching, I'm thinking about those things while piling on the miles. I've only been running for a few years, but I've found it to be a true passion and a lifelong commitment that never ceases to interest and amaze me. The academic and physical pursuits compliment one another quite nicely in my life as I strive to be the best partner and educator I can be.

Posted on February 8, 2014, in feminism, multicultural education, sexuality education and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Well, “the talk” I’m trying to figure out how to have is with my boys as they have their first ever sleep over at someone else’s house. I don’t know why this terrifies me, but it does. If someone were to abuse them, I think it would be one of the worst things that I would ever have to face in my life. I’m not necessarily uncomfortable talking to them about it as I am nervous about needlessly terrifying them. But I do want to underscore with them that if anyone ever touches them inappropriately or makes them uncomfortable that they NEED to talk to me/us about it immediately. Ugh. Any suggestions?

    • That issue is definitely tricky, and one riddled with a sense of tension I can’t even begin to imagine without being a parent. That being said, my first thought is being open, honest, and direct with them about the topic. I’m not sure if they’ve had the “good touch, bad touch” conversation at school, but it’s definitely something you can discuss with them at home. I truly think it’s important to normalize sexuality with young people- letting them know it’s a part of all of us, and that they don’t have to be embarrassed about talking about their bodies, their emotions, and sharing those things with the two of you as their parents. Language becomes so important since kids are so observant and they pick up on the smallest comments. The idea of being a role model for your children definitely applies to sexuality as much as it does with all other aspects of life. You are strong, caring parents so I have no doubt that you’ll be able to tackle this hurdle as well!

  2. We have discussed some, but I just don’t know with kids if it’s something that I need to reinforce frequently or if they can wrap their heads around it with more infrequent conversations about it. And I should clarify that having the conversation with them doesn’t terrify me, but the idea that they would be abused under my watch does. I would have a hard time forgiving myself. Thanks for the good solid advice.

    • Of course 🙂 I think every child, just like every adult, takes in information differently and connects it to other knowledge differently. I would think that every learning opportunity is a good one, so when the situations arise that provide an opportunity to discuss or mention, it’s worth taking it. I imagine the fear is one of the parts of being a parent nobody tells you about until you feel it, eh? You are an amazing mother and can take comfort in the dedication and compassion you have for your family 🙂

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