From Porn to Actual Sex – why we should express more and hide less

Dr Ishmeet Nagpal

When I was a teenager living in a hostel, we used to flock around our friend Mani* with our tea cups on winter nights and giggle over her stories of watching porn on her brother’s computer. Despite being biology students, we had no idea about the physical act of sex, or nuances of sexuality, consent, pleasure, etc. We knew about cross-sectional diagrams and gamete fusions, but we had no idea about the pleasure centres of our own bodies. Myths regarding masturbation were rampant, with some saying it would lead to loss of virginity, and others relaying horror stories of girls who got objects stuck ‘down there’.

But one day, everything changed. We went to medical college and got the opportunity to stare at cadaver genitals in flesh (pun intended). That was the day I realized, most of us hadn’t even looked at our own vaginas. We didn’t know our own bodies. We were afraid to explore our own sensuality. Was it because sex-ed at our schools was basically a separate lecture for the girls about menstruation, and for the boys about condoms? Or was it because our parents were largely hesitant or even silent on the subject of sex?

So I talked to Dr Priyanka Kalra about childhood, adolescence and sexuality; and she came up with some interesting insights I want to share with all of you.

SEX-ED FOR THE CHILD

Dr Priyanka says, “Children as young as 3 years of age start exploring their genitals and while it is important to teach them about not indulging in these actions in social situations, startling them by saying ‘NO!’, ‘BAD!’ is actually counter-productive. Instead, one can distract them by handing them a toy or an object to fidget with. As they get older, parents can talk to them about good touch-bad touch and teach them it is okay for them to touch their own bodies in private. Usually, parents show their discomfort when they ‘catch children in the act’ and this could translate to masturbation guilt in the children’s minds as they grow into adolescents.

The key is to be open and answer questions truthfully whenever the child asks them, regardless of age, albeit simplifying the language according to the child’s understanding.”

THE AGE OF EXPLORATION

Dr Priyanka: “Adolescence is a time of emotional and physical turmoil, and teenagers rely on half baked information from their peers and the internet. While the internet could be a useful resource, the sheer amount of misinformation one could be bombarded with is daunting. Moreover, sexual predators regularly use forums to groom potential victims, sometimes for months.”

This is where authentic online resource centres like SheAndYou come in. We cannot deny that adolescents will explore and experiment, so rather than moral policing them and feeding them guilt-inducing messages about masturbation and sex, why not provide them access to reliable information?

Not just adolescents, many of us are still discovering our sexuality deep into our 20’s and 30’s, some of us are ‘woke’ parents worried about our children and some of us are preparing to be evolved, new-age parents. We all need verified resources we can share and debate over. We need these discussions and we need them now.

SheAndYou brings you one step closer to professional opinions and real experiences, and we hope to create an environment where we can converse on sex in a positive manner regardless of our gender, age or sexuality.

*(name changed)

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