When I was a teenager, sex was a kind of a rite of passage. It was the holy grail. It was the sign of becoming an adult. Once you did it that was it, you were done. You were all grown up. It was just one more hurdle on the road to becoming an adult. A really great hurdle.
I don’t remember how I found out about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees and the moon up above and that thing called love. I don’t recall a moment when my mum or dad sat me down and told me all about it. That’s because they didn’t. I figured it out from television shows and pop culture and of course from that awkward, all important health education class at school. The class where the boys practised rolling condoms onto a banana and us girls were given out packs of tampons with handy little instruction booklets. We were taught about the mechanics of sex and protection methods – we were taught all about the physical side of it but we weren’t taught about the emotional side, the strings attached side. We were taught about the physical health and what it could do to our bodies but not about what it could do to our emotional health, what it could do to our hearts.
A recent episode of Glee touched on these topics. It was a thought provoking episode but the most poignant moment came in the form of a touching conversation between Kurt and his father. It was a moment between father and son, it was a learning moment from both sides. Most importantly it was a moment about self-respect and protecting your heart.
“You gotta know that it means something. It’s doing something to you, to your heart, to your self-esteem — even though it feels like you’re just havin’ fun….Kurt, when you’re ready, I want you to be able to … do everything. But when you’re ready, I want you to use it as a way to connect to another person. Don’t throw yourself around like you don’t matter. ‘Cause you matter, Kurt.” – Burt Hummel’s sex talk to Kurt.
It was such a heartfelt parenting moment, it was a moment I’d been able to have with my parents. I feel that while the mechanics of the actual act are important, it is also important to teach about the emotional impact and Burt’s speech couldn’t have put it better.