Sophisticated media types talk about female sexuality like giggling school children. Yet sexual satisfaction is a central life issue, and sexual abuse and misbehavior one of the media's favorite topics.
The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, March 25, 2009. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.
Should Mothers Teach Daughters to Enjoy Sex?
A tempest in the daytime television teapot broke out when Barbara Walters, co-host of "The View," labeled a vibrator a "necessity." Commenting on this clip on the early-morning MSNBC news show, Morning Joe, Mika Brezinski recoiled in disgust, saying this isn't something to be talked about.
Brezinski is - like the First Lady - mother of two young daughters. Aside from registering her visceral disapproval, she said nothing about appropriate sex education for women. The following morning, when the topic arose again, the men on the show jibed, leeringly, "We're feminists. We think it's okay to discuss vibrators." An academic economics expert pointedly declined to address the topic - as though no civilized human being would do so.
So, as an observer from another planet, I conclude - women's sexuality is a topic that no one is allowed to discuss seriously. And yet, sexuality is one of the central issues of - for a start - growing up, life satisfaction, marital success.
Of course, these same commentators and others throughout the media endlessly discuss sexual abuse of girls, cheating celebrity spouses, unintended pregnancies (e.g., Bristol Palin), sexual misbehavior by young women (e.g., Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, etc.). Focusing only on sexual misconduct, abuse, and problems is like training kids to drive solely by showing them car crashes.
So, here are my five questions for Mika Brezinski, as a mother of young girls who fills a highly visible media position.
- Should girls be taught about sex?
- What should they be taught?
- Specifically, is the best policy only to warn them against the dangers of sex?
- Should girls be taught about sexual pleasure? If so, how?
- Is it acceptable, or right, for mothers to explain masturbation to daughters as they mature?
I can hear Mika and her male co-hosts giggle as they make a few uncomfortable, licentious, and evasive comments, then immediately turn to a safer topic - like war, our economic collapse, or racial and religious conflict.
Note (March 28, 2009):
Although this post provoked a fair number of comments, most by women expressing the need for greater openness about sex and the right of women to seek sexual pleasure, none actually discusses learning about masturbation. I guess that's a step too far for even PT blogs' open-minded readers.
One comment by a man describes the difference between the sexuality of a French woman he knew and his "North American" wife - try to guess what the difference was.
In response to that post, I would identify three issues:
- I discuss difference in American and French women's sexuality here.
- And the man married which woman?
- Would his wife mind reading his comment?
Note (April 1, 2009):
Oy vey! My bad. My way bad.
"Guess which woman he married?" diminishes the circumstances in which my decision was made. Nothing in my post gave any indication as to why I did not marry "Julie", my French born love. Julie died in an auto accident four days before I was to move to Paris to live with her. I didn't make a decision, I could not have married Julie , she was TAKEN. Sex,passion,love; none of it had anything to do with me choosing not to marry Julie and to find another woman.