There was no book to teach me how to accomplish what I felt was wrong with much of what occurs when it comes to the sexual growth of young people. As a mother, I wanted what most all mothers want and that is to have an environment for my child that was better than the one available to me.
I believe that lessons and understanding are something that a person goes through throughout their life and that a person’s sexual growth is no different. All I could do was to teach her what I had learned and what I wished others had done for me. Of course, I expected there would be secrets and questions, but there was never a sure fire way to know that if what I was doing was the right thing.
She’s grown now, so how do I know I have raised a sexually aware young person, you ask?
I had a hint that I raised a sexually aware young person when I noticed that her left breast was developing smaller than her right and though I didn’t want to put too much focus on it, so as not to make her feel insecure, I did mention that if she would like her breast to be ‘fixed’, that she can consider plastic surgery later on when she’s an adult.
Symmetrically perfect breasts can be purchased, I tell her. She feigned insult and declined the thought because, as she told me “my breasts are fine the way they are.”
And so they are.
My challenge was to raise a sexually aware young person though my own sexual coming of age was only useful as the prototype of what I hoped wouldn’t happen to her. I hoped that would not be forced to learn about human sexual functions, the use of body parts, and her place as a woman in society from strangers who would attempt to mold her into what they think she should be, usually, all of which was significantly less than what she is.
I fought hard to avoid an environment where my daughter’s adolescence would be splattered with incidences of the need to barter her sexuality for her safety and survival in the same labyrinth of disregard that other young people must suffer though.
I pulled my carcass through that mine field so that she would not have to.
A healthy emotional and sexual existence cannot be found when young people are faced with constant incidences of adult lust and exploitation. Our society functions in such a way that it absolves discipline, respect and privacy from our sexual lives.
In its place are antiquated beliefs, misinformation and ignorance enforced by those who would remove the freedom of a person’s right to decide who, when, why, and if they will participate in a sexual life. I wanted more for her.
I’ve experienced the consistent assault and battery on my gender as a female and my choice in gender identity. There is no sense of self determination when young people’s ears are gorged with the shaming language of homophobic terms which are whispered, spat and projected into the conversation of your life in such a way as to display community disgust. After awhile you learn to go deaf on the self, you then learn to adjust your behavior, you decide to do what you can do “fit in”, and then the pretending begins. The sexual box is very constricted; I desired for there to be more space for us all to exist.
I wanted her to love her body in ways that I was only learning to grow to love my own. I encouraged her to do whatever made her happy in her own skin. We maneuvered clothing, hair styles and personal bathroom habits. She insisted I teach her to shave her legs before I thought it was necessary. It didn’t take long for me to figure out the mysteriously missing disposalable razor blades were the result of her deciding that SHE was ready to groom and so she did. She’s since learned every trick I know to having baby soft skin.
She now pulls away from me when I hug her and sniff her sweet smell, “Everyone says my skin is so soft and that I smell really good,” she teases as she runs off.
Though a tomboy, as I was, she always liked boys, and was quite assertive in her pursuit of them. Like her mother, she found the company of males to be more enjoying than the company of females. Teachers attempted to dissuade her from her male manner of dress and her persistent presence around boys since she first began attending school in Kindergarten.
I spent a lot of time visiting her teachers to request that they refrain from making any judgments, comments or other forms of ‘encouragement’ when it came to my daughter and her personal expression. I resented how easily everyone overstepped boundaries when it came to my daughter’s future potential sex life.
These early intrusions forced me to address issues of gender and sexuality with my daughter head on. It was impossible to avoid it with nearly anyone and everyone having something to say about what she may or may not do in her personal life in the next 10-15 years. They wanted to witch hunt my child’s gender but I would have no such thing.
Faced with the triad need to protect her self esteem, and the desire to defend her and anyone else’s personal privacy, while also making it a teaching moment for her and her teachers, I raged against the machine until they finally backed off of her.
She was too young to really comprehend what the issue was with her style of dress. Nevertheless, I still needed to explain to her the conflict and the reasons behind it, but I needed to be careful in my approach, because this had nothing to do with her and everything to do with societal bias and ignorance.
I resented their intrusion into her personal privacy and their desire to challenge her self determination.