Alice Dreger works with intersex kids, and takes an admirably frank approach to talking about sex with her own kid. She's noticed lots of differences between her approach and that of other parents, but the biggest one is that she tells her son that people have sex for pleasure. Her piece about this, precipitated by her kid bringing home a notice that the class would be talking about sex and HIV/AIDS, is a kind of model of rational, sex-positive parenting that made me want to clip it out and stick it on the fridge for future reference.
He looked shocked. Apparently I had forgotten to mention that sex was not just for making babies.
“Think about evolution,” I added (because he has also been raised a child of Darwin). “If the only motivation for sex was having a baby, we wouldn’t have very much sex, and our genes wouldn’t be passed on very much. But if sex feels good to people or to other animals….”
“Then they’ll have a lot of sex and the genes will get passed down!” he said, finishing the puzzle. I nodded. He went on, “Do you and dad ever do it for that reason?”
“Most of the time we’ve done it or do it, it’s for pleasure, honey.” He looked a combination of fascinated and chagrined. “You know you were no accident. Before that, I went off birth control to get pregnant, and we were so happy when you came into our lives.” He smiled because he could see me tearing up at how much I love him. (Aunty Mame cries a lot of love.)
What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure? [Alice Dreger/Pacific Standard]
(Image: Blackpool Pleasure Beach 105, Jeremy Thompson, CC-BY)
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