What’s Wrong with Sex Ed From Porn?

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Are Teens getting Sex Ed From Porn?

What’s wrong with this picture?

How long will mainstream jab at the false issues surrounding Sex Ed for Teens? They do get one thing right though, there’s a ton of porn online, and of course teens are going to watch it! Mainstream gets another thing right too; that parents, schools and religious organizations are incapable of providing meaningful sex education because they either can’t or won’t talk about sex in the way teens need to hear it.

The Truth Is Missing

One really hears the truth about what’s really going on in a teen’s body, not to mention their minds and their hearts. And if there is one thing I know about teens, it’s that they see right through hypocracy. I also know that the lack of real sex education is a set up for unfulfilling, broken and abusive relationships. And there’s one more thing I know because of this: failure, cynicism and resignation about relationships is completely predictable.

Of course we pretend this isn’t so, but let’s face something, How often as an adult have you resigned yourself to the feeling that, really, when it comes to sex, nothing will ever change. It’s predictable that most people, unless they are lucky enough to stumble upon someone at a young age who can show them something real about sex and intimacy are going to fumble around later on. Who showed you how to navigate through the maze of what your body was feeling, what your mind wanted, and what your emotions longed for?

What Would You Choose?
So when educators dare to bring up the subject of sex, and the only thing that feels safe to say are all the things you are going to get from having it, my teen brain says, “oh, yeah?’ And sooner or later, I wonder, “What is it you don’t want me to know?”

If you had the choice between watching the aweful sex diseases you can catch if you do it, or steamy bodies romping in pleasure, which would you turn on? The sad fact is, while most porn is rather crude and dull, it’s probably way more information than a teen is going to get anywhere else. The problem is, I’ve met many adults who went to the porn sex ed class, thought it was real and never grew up.

Yet how do you compete with the undauntable amount of sex imagery porn available for teens to google at online? How do you, as a mere human with all the insecurities a person can have about sex provide a more beautiful introduction to sex? And how do you know what will imprint deeply on a teen mind?

While it’s not easy to lay the foundation for a beautiful introduction to sex, I believe it is is possible. Here’s what I know: early impressions last a lifetime. If you are going to impress something on a teen brain, you have to come up with something compelling. In order to capture the wandering, distracted yet determined-to-do-what-it-wants mind of a teen, you must go straight to the heart of the matter. The good news is that real feelings, real emotions and real sensations always trump those on a computer screen. The trouble is, the strongest impressions that teens get are negative emotions and confusing messages about sex. Show something different. Though kindness, tenderness and affection seem less powerful; it’s not true. Real love, respect and tender gestures of affection, along with positive expressions of passion – directed towards your partner make profound impressions upon the teen brain. Modeling these behavors affects a person for the rest of their lives.

The trick (and the challenge) is to be completely authentic, honest and real about sexual feelings and sexual sensations- not unappropriately with or towards a teen of course, but in your adult relationships. You must talk about the feelings involved in sex. Keep in mind, a teen brain does not know the difference between sex and love, and it doesn’t care. A teen wants certain things. They want to feel the excitement of touch. They want to feel the excitement of love in their hearts. They want to have something to do with all the energy that’s swarming inside.

When you talk about catching diseases, which granted, is important stuff, it doesn’t cover what is actually up for teens: their surging hormones and their curiosity- even if they are a shy type, they are still curious about sex. Personally, I think it’s great that sex stays private, which is different from being hidden. Teens love and respect mystery and intrugue, so there’s nothing wrong with enticing them to wait, like a present that is opened on Christmas and not before. (I realize the teen brain doesn’t translate wait well.) But this is where you get creative. What I tell a teen (and it’s true) the Chinese believe that releasing sexual energy at the right time makes you strong and healthy for the rest of your life. Like a fruit eaten before it’s ripe, if eaten too early, it never quite grows into maturity.

The mistake people fall into when introducing teens to sex, is they don’t know how to tell them what TO do, they can only say what they shouldn’t do. It’s sort of like you are teaching math by saying here’s how not to add. Nonetheless, when it comes to sex ed, we know a teen will do what a teen will do, and when road blocks are put up they take delight in figuring out the way around them. We teach sex based on the fear teens will fall into the hands of someone who will take advantage of what’s going on in the teen body and brain.

Denial of the sexual elephant in the room doesn’t work. Not talking about sex obviously does not protect a child. But neither does talking about HIV and herpes. Neither avoidance nor protection alone constitute an effective sexual education.

A good sexual education must include a safe way to explore feelings. I say we have to de- mystify sex while keeping it’s mystery. I don’t have all the answers, but I do see the absurdity: it’s as if we say there’s this huge game you’re going to play when you get older. It’s more complex than football, cooking, or economics. It’s going to pre-occupy your thoughts, you will spend most of your life trying have sex, or getting over dramas that come from not having it. But you will have no teacher, no guidelines, no rules, no teachings about how sexual energy works. The reality of the sexual education teens get, or the real message goes something like this: “Everybody stumbles into relationships armed with pretty much nothing, and everybody figures it out somehow. Sure, you’ll get hurt lots of times but you will you will have to figure that out. Good luck.”

Is it any wonder why it is so difficult to forge something wonderful when it comes to enjoying sex in a relationship?

These are the questions I believe we must ask ourselves in order to find new and powerful ways to effectively educate teens about sex.

  • If you could imagine a radical solution to sexual education, what would it be?
  • What kind of meaningful guidance would you have liked to have had as a teen?
  • What things would you have loved somebody to say to you about sex?
  • What kind of teacher would you have liked to have had?
  • What kind of first sexual experiences would you have helped you?
  • How would a good start into the realm of sex have changed your life?

I also believe that those who have had an excellent, empowered introduction to sex have the answers to these questions.

I would love to hear your answers and questions.

Thoughtful comments appreciated.

(C) Amara C,harles all rights reserved. Re post with permission of author

Sex and Intimacy expert Amara Charles’ book The Sexual Practices of Quodoushka is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or special bonus offers on amaracharles.com in our shop.

Amara Charles is a highly acclaimed sex and intimacy expert who has taught workshops internationally since 1989, helping men and women reconnect with their passion, reclaim their sexual energy and deepen their appreciation for life. Charles is the author of several books, including The Sexual Practices of Quodoushka. Published by Inner Traditions/Bear & CO., it will be available in wide release in August 2011. Charles has been a guest on BBC, ABC radio, and HBO and has spoken at numerous national and international conferences where she gives presentations about sex and intimacy for various groups, corporate clients and universities

3 Responses to What’s Wrong with Sex Ed From Porn?

  1. Pingback: Teen Relationships And Sexual

  2. Jamilla says:

    Although I cant agree on porn sex-ed being better, I really love your musings on this subject. Sex is portrayed as such a mysterious, ambiguous thing when you are a teen and I think this only leads to guess work, confusion and ultimately saying, ‘what the heck, someone would have told me if this wasnt a good idea!’ I was very lucky having good first sexual experiences and I do believe I would have been somewhat different without that – in my character and my sexuality. I think its vital to stress that its important if you are going to share your body with someone that there exists a mutual love/infatuation and respect between both people. Sometimes the introduction teens get to sex – whether first hand or school yard stories or porn – is so incredibly far removed from that. Thank you for your thoughts and wisdom!

    • Amara says:

      Thanks Jamilla,
      I couldn’t agree more that what teens usually get by way of sex ed is intolerably dull. It’s out of touch with what they are really experiencing.
      And I also agree our culture’s tendency to avoid real talk about sex to teens sends an incredibly skewed message at the time when they need real info the most.
      I actually think porn is a terrible introduction to sex. It’s sensationalized and often crude, and typically the visuals as well as all the things implied
      -( including the quick, unfeeling rush so often portrayed) utterly misleads teens about the nature sex.
      But it cannot be ignored that tons of teens are looking at it anyway, and that they can find porn pretty easily. I have worked with so many women and men who,
      although are not like porn addicts or anything, are still influenced by what they were introduced to through porn, or other media ideas on sex. It’s not that porn is either good or bad,
      it’s just not a good enough intro to sex, and unfortunately, it makes a lasting impression. You are so right that what teens get is removed from showing loving respect with regards to sex.
      The questions is, how do you create a way to learn and be educated properly about sex without getting arrested? I believe there is a way, and that furthermore a proper sexual education does not
      and should not include any sexual contact whatsoever. It begins with being willing to listen where teens are at with what they are discovering about themselves, and it includes calm, clear conversations about sexual feelings. I did not have anyone like that who could talk to me about sex in an intelligent, respectful manner when I was a teen. Yes, I managed well enough (quite well in fact), as many of us do, but I must say it was not without years and years of unnecessary confusion. Sorting out my fears, shame and guilt around sex took way too many years, and I do believe that having an excellent teacher at an early age would have been awesome. Perhaps it’s one reason why I am so passionate about being a part of the change in sexual education I do believe, slowly but surely, is changing. I write about this in my new book, ‘The Sexual Practices of Quodoushka’ where I talk about sexual initiation, and how this can be done in a beauty way. Oh my, your comment spurred me on! Thank you so much for sharing Jamilla. Your comments will be read by many.