Boys and sex ed: In the age of #MeToo, is there such a thing as too much talk about consent?
No. But there is too little talk about the fact that just because you’re a boy doesn’t mean you’re a bro.
I say this as the mom of two boys and as a survivor of sexual assault myself. I am totally in favor of a robust sex education curriculum that details the need for consent repeatedly and at various stages in the process of informing our sons about reproductive health. My concern in beating our boys over the head repeatedly with the consent message arises from the fact that my now-16-year-old came home from a date with his then-girlfriend a few months ago and dissolved into tears after a session of, shall we say, “experimenting” with her which ended in him moaning to me that he doesn’t want to be a “rapist.”
As an aside, I can 100 percent confirm that said “experimenting” was completely, wholly innocuous. Their dad and I have always had an extremely open relationship with our boys, and as such, I can tell you exactly where he is with regard to his progress around the metaphorical bases — that’s what made his distress that night so concerning to me. Additionally, while we also have actively preached consent at home — I, especially, made it a point to use the whole Kavanaugh debacle as a teachable moment — we have also been clear about sexuality as a healthy part of one’s life that’s nothing to feel ashamed about.
So, my conversation with #1 son left me with lots of questions long after I’d comforted him: How, exactly, are modern sex ed curricula framing the issue of consent for boys? What do experts have to say about the right way to teach the issue of consent in parallel with the natural-ness of sexuality? As parents of boys coming of age in the #MeToo era, how can we empower our sons to not only be respectful of but fierce allies for girls and women while understanding that there’s not anything inherently “bad” about their maleness?
Yes, the responsibility for educating our sons about their sexuality resides primarily with us as parents. It’s up to us to determine how this information will be meted out and dispensed. My boys, however, are public school students, and their dad and I chose to sign the permission slips sent home with our approval to have them receive sex ed in school with the…