This column may contain strong language, sexual content, adult humor, and other themes that may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.
Oftentimes, single but presumably sexually active women of a certain age have a role to play within a group of friends, most of whom are married: that of the storyteller of escapades through which the others may live vicariously because, well, the kind of married sex they are having is stale, unpredictable, or non-existent.
A friend of mine was telling me recently how she met up with some high school classmates who begged her to impart her quite formidable sexual wisdom. “Give us some sex tips!” they said. She started off with, “First, take a strong breath mint.”
The suggestion was met with blank faces. “Why?”
So she explained that the breath mints created a particularly pleasurable sensation when giving their husbands a blow job. From the collective reaction of the women, it was clear that oral sex was not a part of their marital sexual repertoire, and the idea of putting their mouths to their husbands’ d*cks was unappetizing, to say the least, even with breath mints as seasoning.
They could not stomach the idea of their husbands going down on them either.
In the end, my friend concluded that “sex tips” for them meant nothing more than variations on sexual positions because missionary had become so boring, and not the acquisition of skills that might make their sex lives more exciting or adventurous. She was also willing to bet, though she didn’t say so, that their husbands were probably getting their d*cks blown elsewhere since they weren’t getting it at home.
What struck me most when I heard this story was that these women were on the cusp of turning 50, all affluent, all accomplished, yet for all their education, they were sexually illiterate. Thanks in large part to their Catholic upbringing, they regarded sex more as marital obligation—and limited to penetrative sex at that—than a natural expression of desire towards another person that can be deeply pleasurable, deeply motivating, deeply satisfying and life-affirming even, on a physical, emotional and for some, possibly spiritual level.
When I was in high school, sex education consisted of diagrams explaining conception on a purely biological terms, i.e., the ovaries release an egg during ovulation, millions of sperm travel up vagina into the cervix and the uterus in a race to fertilize the egg, then the zygote becomes an embryo, etc., etc. There were drawings of the woman’s reproductive system looking like a bull with curved horns, while the sperm was always this tadpole-like figure swimming upstream. Any images of the actual external sexual organs were never shown; if you wanted to see photos of an actual penis and vagina, or to see them, you were better off searching secret drawers in your parents’ bedroom to see if they had any porn stashed away.
Apart from the clinical introduction to sex—often delivered in a detached manner, totally skipping over how momentous and wondrous and epic the whole process of conception could be—emphasis was always placed on sex being an act that only happened between husband and wife (married to each other, it went without saying). Outside of the confines of marriage, sex became dirty, prurient, and wrong.
It’s the kind of mentality that totally f*cks with you—excuse the pun—and produces a warped idea of sex as unnatural to desire, shrouded not so much in mystery as in shame and guilt. It promotes abstinence rather than responsibility, which results, unsurprisingly, in higher rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Integral to this warped mentality, of course, is that good girls don’t. They don’t give blow jobs, they don’t sleep with their boyfriends before marriage, they don’t take any contraception, and if they’re really good, they don’t even use tampons.
Is it any wonder that even when they’re married, anything that seems remotely transgressive, such as sucking their husbands’ d*cks, is regarded as something only a slut would do?
What is even sadder is that the way sex education is conducted in this country totally ignores the importance of communication between sexual partners, something that is key to sex becoming a truly pleasurable and satisfying shared experience. Wives refuse to go down on their husbands, because they’re not “that kind” of girl, and husbands would rather have someone else fondle their d*cks because they can’t ask their wives to do it; they’re not “that kind” of girl.
So you end up with women turning 50 still wondering what they can do to spice up their sex lives but balk at the thought of sucking their husbands off.
We’d be wise to take our cue from the Dutch. Even at pre-school kids are taught about their bodies and relationships, and that sex is a perfectly natural thing. In the video “America vs. The Netherlands,” the Dutch posit that “discussing sex and relationships with children at an early age in an open and relaxed atmosphere renders it an entirely normal topic.” This approach has the backing of the Ministry of Education, and the full support of the government. Lenneke Braas, a primary school teacher, remarked, “We’re inclined to think that when you raise the subject of sexual education, you might encourage children to start having sex at a young age. However, this is not the case at all. In fact, their knowing about it actually makes them wait a little longer, because sex is no longer such a big deal.”
Sex education in Holland also includes learning about sexual abuse and how to protect themselves against it. In short, the Dutch have it right. A healthy and realistic attitude towards sex leads to healthy relationships, in which both parties are open, communicative and responsible.
An interesting thing to note is that the societies that espouse a healthy approach to sex education are those in which there is greater gender equality, where women are empowered and in positions of real power.
B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
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