When a politician gets caught with his (or her) pants down, it is like the Olympics for sex educators. Weinergate is a sex educator's dream; it gives us the opportunity to talk (both publicly and privately) about sexuality, relationships, and how technology impacts our sexual health. They are subjects we speak about all the time, but we are not always provided with this large of a platform to work with.
Yes, I shared in the media frenzy. I appeared on CBS talking about sexting and cheating and the role that technology plays in our lives as well as the notion that emotional infidelity is sometimes worse than sexual infidelity.
Last week, my kids and I were strolling the aisles of a Connecticut Wal-Mart looking for diapers and t-shirts. Instead I found something more surprising, and it was my six year old that brought it to my attention. As I schlepped my box of diapers to the cart, I heard Maverick cackling. “Mommy, bras for little girls? That is ridiculous!” I dropped the box and went to see what he was referring to. There on the shelf, were several "padded" bras.
He was right. There were little girl bras. Ridiculous little girl bras. With monkeys on them. And candy. And they were padded. (Did you catch that? Padded. Bras. For. Little. Girls.) Oh, and they weren’t in the “Tweens” section, they were right next to the toddler stuff. I was incensed.
I have been in a funk for the last few weeks. That's what happens when five gay teens in one week commit suicide because they've been bullied. As a sex educator and mom, these events are devastating. What kind of world is this when teens would choose death over life?
Ignorance starts at home. Yep, I said it. Bigotry begins with us - parents - in our explicit intolerance of others or simply by omission. How often do we talk about the myriad of families and relationships that exist in this world? How often do we challenge our children when they make heterosexist assumptions about characters in stories or people in their lives? Doing this at home is much easier than you think.
But I get why you may be concerned, what if you’re children ask you about sex.
I am feeling a strange sense of deja vu. Over a year ago I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled, Those Bad Breasts. It was a story of news program that included a live self-breast exam in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Needless to say, a woman's breasts - even within the context of a medical piece - were deemed offensive, especially by parents.
So here we are, back again, to debate whether or not it's acceptable for our children to see breasts - oh wait, we're not even talking about breasts, we're talking about cleavage. To be specific, we're talking about Katy Perry's cleavage and whether or not Elmo should be dancing next to it.
Yesterday, Sesame Street decided to pull their premiere musical number with Katy because of the comments they received after a clip had been released.
This week I was part of a Fox News debate on the Montana sexuality education proposal. (I know what you're thinking. Why, oh why would you do this, Logan? Truth is, I love the heated stuff.)
The issue of debate is this: the Helena, Montana program would be a K-12 curriculum that would teach:
In kindergarten, children would be taught accurate terminology for their body parts (yes, genitals) - in 1st grade they would be taught that some people have two mommies or two daddies. In 2nd grade, they would be told why they shouldn't use gay slurs (ie homophobia), and in 5th grade, they would learn about the different types of intercourse.
If two things go together, just like peanut butter and chocolate, it's toddlers and masturbation. Inevitably you will be sitting next to your son or daughter (yes, I said DAUGHTER) watching Elmo or Dora the Explorer and he or she will have their hands down the front of their pants. They may be zoned out in front of the television with an erection and not even know it. Should you scream, yell, and swat at their hands? God, no.
Is it deliberately sexual? Nope. Does it feel good to them? (Does it feel good to you?) Yes.
In honor of mother's day, I thought that I would write about Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace, by Ayelet Waldman.
I was in Miami on a girls' weekend when I began. At first, I didn't want to start something "too heavy." The point of my vacation was to escape from motherhood.
Though I wanted to run away from the book, upon reading the introduction, I was hooked. Waldman (vilified for suggesting she loved her husband more than her four children) writes about what many mothers think but only say out loud after a couple of margaritas or Chardonnays (depending upon your poison).
My son came home from school and said, "My friend, Vanessa, told me that penis is a bathroom word. I told her it's not. Mommy, is penis a bathroom word? Is it bad?"
And so it begins. While I respect every parent's needs to educate their children as they see fit, I knew there was going to come a time when another child chastised my son for using a word. An actual word. Not even in the context of sex-related word. An actual body part word.
"Honey, tell me what happened," I replied.
I've been training for this event for over a decade. It's the Olympics of the sex ed industry. It's the first "Talk." (Okay, so technically I have been having conversations with my 5 year old, Maverick, since he was born. We talk about genitals, different families (he has a friend with two daddies), pregnancy, and why it's okay for boys to wear pink. But he's never asked about sex. At least until last night.)
Technically, he didn't really ask. As I was getting ready to put him into bed, he looked at me and whispered, "Mom, I'm going to say something, and then don't say anything else, okay?"
(When he starts a conversation like that, there's no way I'm keeping my mouth shut.)
As this is my first post, perhaps I should introduce myself. My name is Logan Levkoff. I am a sexologist, sex educator, author of parenting book, Third Base Ain't What it Used to Be, and perhaps my most challenging yet simultaneously rewarding title, "Mom."
I am a naked mother. No, I am not a nudist, but in my house, being naked isn't a big deal. When I am getting dressed I do not hide behind closed doors if my 5 year old son is in the room. When I am getting in or out of the bath, I don't jump out in an effort to avoid being seen. What's the point? I bathe with my children so that would just be stupid.