What Happens When We Don’t Teach Boys about Sex

To not teach children about the sacredness of their bodies and their sexuality is one of the CORE abandonments of our time.

This post is about the mess we are in around male sexuality. I am here to name it and simply put it in the open for all of us to see.

I received ZERO training around sex or my body until age 34. None. My dad dropped the ball as did my culture. My first sexual experience was traumatic. I experienced shame, humiliation and betrayal all in one dark night. This became my imprint that I am still dealing with to this day.

Instead of learning, I went into hiding like most men run by shame. I listened to other peers who were equally immature and confused.

Before I sought out help, I was left adrift, aimlessly trying to be a man with this cosmic sword between my legs. No one ever taught me the profound power my cock could yield. That I could give life or destroy life with its power.

Fortunately for me I now have excellent mentors and friends who are helping me grow up my sexuality and dive into it’s headwaters with open arms.

So how did we get into this mess?

I’m guessing there’s more to the story than this, but I’m naming one GIANT dynamic if not THE dynamic that got us here.

First, let’s acknowledge that some of us (not me) got an amazing, healthy, wise education around sex, our bodies, and our sexuality. Then, let’s acknowledge that there are a good number of people out there that believe we are teaching are kids plenty, even too much, about sex and sexuality.

Leaving it up to the Churches and schools to train our kids about their penises and vaginas and how to use them has gotten us where we are today, ashamed, avoiding, and hoping someone else will teach this complicated stuff for us. If those entities did a great job, we’d be seeing different results.

Because adults have been, by in large, too ashamed or limited in themselves, they have taught our boys a very watered down version of sex education. That’s the best case scenario. It’s either nothing at all or a “birds and the bees” talk in middle school or high school.

Think about what you got in terms of sex ed. I got a health class in 8th grade (in Utah) and then my dad talked to me in High school about wearing a condom. That’s it. That’s all I got.

So, what did I do? I learned from peers (well before high school) who were equally as ashamed, misinformed, and confused.

I was completely and utterly abandoned, as was my father by his father and on and on. I get that it wasn’t his fault. How could he teach me anything about sex given what was taught to him by a Dad who probably never even mentioned it? Generations of betrayal. Generations of neglect and looking the other way, hoping kids would “figure it out” or innocently thinking it would take care of itself.

So, when I think about my own son, I can see the doorway toward “letting him figure it out.” That door is wide open and would be easy for me to just drop the ball and keep the family lineage of abandonment alive.

But I won’t do that. No way. Not in my house. I refuse to let other 4, 5, 6, 7 year old boys teach my son about his sacred body. I refuse to let another kid shaming him while he’s naked or hard core porn be his first sexual experience. I will show up for my son. I’m scared and excited to teach him everything about his beautiful body and its power. I feel inspired to train him to use his penis responsibly. And guess what? My son is 3 years old and needs information now! He is exploring his body right now! Wait until middle school? I don’t think so.

Most of us men received little to no sexual training as boys. We simply learned from other boys. Our first sexual experiences were often either molestation (1 in six boys is sexually abused before age 16), experimentation with ourselves (some kind of masturbation, mostly to porn these days) or other boys (more than one-third of the sexual abuse of America’s children is committed by other minors).

As boys, in order to fit in, we were supposed to make fun of other boys when we were naked. If we were too “good” or too scared to do that, we got quiet and became bystanders hoping some adult would step up and set a boundary. When no one did, we remained silent because speaking up we might have faced ridicule or humiliation.

Anything that resembled being gay or too feminine, we shamed and humiliated in each other and called it “funny.” We were mostly taught that sex is great, but also bad and that masturbation is bad even though it feels good. Hmmm….Our choice? Posture and fake it trying to “be one of the guys,” or go underground with our sexuality and experiment in isolation.

Pile on some confusion…

As teen boys, we taught each other to objectify women and keep score. We were either taught that w0men like strong men that are stoic and hide their vulnerability like any super hero in the movies, or maybe we took the gentleman’s path, (slightly more conservative but still damaging) where we are supposed to take care of women and be “clean” by never masturbating or succumbing to our animal desires, thus being a “good boy.”

If we were gay, or wondered if we were gay, we had no where safe to turn to, no one to ask, no place to explore in a safe way. So, again we isolated and felt shame and guilt. Then we might have played along with the straight boys thus adding more self-abandonment and confusion.

Then we found oursevles in an oversexualized culture where women’s bodies were everywhere for us to gawk at including in video games, TV, magazines, and even in men’s sports. We went to college where our sex drive was through the roof and we sprayed it around like a firehose with no supervision and little consequence. Or we were so confused, we shut down and got quiet. If we wanted to be “one of the guys” we tried to get laid a lot and talked a big game, thinking that might win us friends. If we didn’t take that path, we stayed a quiet bystander letting our brothers off the hook over and over as they objectified and used women over and over again while we may have dug inward for answers alone.

Pile on more confusion….

Of course, then we became adult men (whatever that means), and even though we have the power to seek out a therapist or professional to get help with the confusion and power between our legs, we didn’t. Either because we didn’t even know it was an option, or because we might face ridicule from our peers–more shame and humiliation, all part of the gender straightjacket.

Now that we are officially confused and ashamed about our penis and sex, and live in a culture that supports our dis-embodiment, we find comfort in our disconnection. It’s the new norm. We mask over any whisper of shame or fear so we can fit in with the guys and hope to meet a cool woman that likes us. Then in our isolation, while no one is looking and with the door locked, we find relief–porn. It’s quick, easy, cheap, with an endless variety where we don’t have to deal with the complexities of interpersonal relationship dynamics. We can stay alone and keep it locked away in our inner sanctum. It even gives us temporarily relief from the stress in our lives (post coming shortly on the cost of porn on men).

Whew.

Once again, the boy code has conditioned us into a little, tiny corner where we remain alone, confused, and isolated. Our conditioning is a trap. Be a certain way, and don’t act outside the box. If you do, we will humiliate you. Don’t speak up or intervene, b/c that too is gay, weak, or feminine. So, stay put, stay a bystander, stay in your box.

So this is where we are today

Like it or not, the state of male sexuality in this culture (and probably the world) is that of a sick, neglected, and deeply abandoned child, and we can see the wake of it everywhere in our lives. The way boys treat girls, the way men treat women. The way boys treat boys. The bullying and shame, coercion, and intimidation to be a certain way sexually. The gay jokes, the “small penis” jokes, the “pussy” jokes, the rape, misogyny, misandry,  the violence, Matthew Shepard, Penn State, The Catholic Church, and the shame and self-hatred toward our own bodies.

All taught by who? Boys.

That’s right. We adults have put boys in charge of teaching other boys about the most sacred parts of their bodies. Boys are teaching other boys about sexuality in this culture. And because adults are unable or unwilling to step up, this is the mess we are in.

Wow.

So, this is on the table for us to examine and see clearly. How about we pause and take this all in.

Breathe.

The next question for me is “okay, what do I do about it?

In my own home, I will take on the responsibility to teach and train my son about his “wee wee” (penis), his body, and his sexuality with unwavering respect and love.

In terms of the global problem, the questions are rolling in. From single moms to new dad’s like me.

It appears that I’m being asked to lead and guide here, so I want to step up. So, stay tuned for solutions such as tele-courses for parents with age specific info and other creative classes. I might also have to start my BoyStrong business sooner, which is a newer, more practical version of the boy scouts which will train young boys to be relationally adept, sexually aware, and open-hearted– little Jedis on the playground who help and inspire other kids.

Comments

comments

20 Comments

  1. Hi Jason,
    this is an excellent reminder of just how lucky I am around sexuality.
    My folks were incredibly open about sex when I was growing up.
    Nakedness was normal for my parents and I, they started teaching me about the psychology of relationships (poorly) and the biology of sex (very well) when I was 7, my mom got my dad a subscription to Playboy before I was born and it was always OK for me to read it.
    When I was 14, I found a copy of “The Sensuous Man”. It was the perfect book to give me a framework which I use today with lovers. It de-mystified a ton of stuff and set me in the middle of slow sex as normal.
    I’m 52 now and over the last 5+ years have really started a deep dive on the relationship side – and a bit of polishing on the sexual side.
    Bottom line – play with it, it’s a game, expect to get stuff wrong, do your own personal growth work. Learn OMing from OneTaste, learn sensual massage from Jaiya, read some books on BDSM (this really opened up my eyes to a whole new way of playing).
    Tell your lover that you want to experiment – I’ve yet to have a woman say “no”.
    Oh yeah, forgive yourself now for ever not getting it right. Seriously – I make mistakes all the time and I have to get over myself.
    Peace
    B-)

    Reply
    • Thanks for the share Bill

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  2. Jayson,
    I feel ya, man. My son is 8 months old and my wife and I are already discussing how to handle sexuality and to eliminate the use of the word “dirty” in our conversations and when directing him on civilized social behavior (e.g., not peeing outside in public view). I took a class in Human Sexuality in college and was amazed at how different cultures handle male/female sexuality.

    One point that needs to be addressed, and missed in your article, is empowerment. Our children need to know they have power over their bodies and emotions and power over how others interact with them with respect to both. They need to know they can ask ANYBODY “What gives you the right to…..?” whenever they are placed in an embarrassing, shameful, or instinctively “wrong” situation. We need to teach our children to pay attention to the voice in their head, their intuition, and if it’s telling them that something is wrong, then it probably is AND, at that point, don’t listen to the person who is telling you it’s okay.

    As a child I was not told that I had power over my own body, that I must obey my elders and authority figures. I didn’t run into anyone that misused my obedience, but I can see how easy it would be for an adult, priest, etc., to influence a young person and abuse THEIR power.

    Children need to know that if something isn’t right, that it’s okay to say NO and that as their parents, we are there to support their decisions, provide guidance and help them when they get in trouble. I, like you, didn’t get enough of that from my father and got a short discussion about using condoms, not for protection, but to prevent my precum from soaking my pants. “Yeah Dad. Thanks.” He lost his father at 18 and who knows what his father taught him?

    I took a “Bootcamp” for new dads. I believe there is a need for a “Sex Bootcamp” for new dads AND moms! Jayson, why don’t you start something like that?

    Until we break down the walls of shame, embarrassment (due to shame, of course), and the illusion that we are not ALL empowered to say “NO!”, then we will not break this pattern of abuse by those that abuse their “power” or manipulate others by threatening their egos or fueling their shame.

    My 2 cents.

    Reply
    • Excellent point Thomas. Thanks for the nudge to start something. I do believe I will offer some telecourses and in person stuff for parents that will hopefully be age specific. Check in with me in a few months and hopefully i’ll have something to offer. :)

      Reply
  3. Great post. Curious what you will be doing to teach your son. Any advice for moms? Any advice for moms in situations when the fathers have abandoned the boys, so there isn’t an immediate everyday role model?

    Reply
    • Hi SR, Not just yet. I’m working on that. I seem to be getting a lot of questions from single moms like you. so I want to show up and deliver. stay tuned. In time I will offer some good stuff. Right now, since I know very little, I want to do my homework so I can really offer solid stuff. Keep on me.

      Reply
  4. Hey Jayson,
    Good on you for being determined to teach your son about male sexuality. I’ve had a similar experience as you in that I wasn’t taught about sexuality really from my parents, but I discovered it on my own and from others. This meant that I primarily learned everything from watching porn, which I now realize was pretty detrimental. It’s different for a young, pubescent boy to see a copy of Playboy then it is for him to see full-on pornography like sex on a page.
    I think the greatest thing you can teach your son, and what I want to teach my future sons is respect; respect for their own bodies, respect for other men, respect for women, and respect for what sex can do. Sure it’s a blast, but if used as a crutch or as a form of affirmation it can be damaging and not bring the kind of lasting relief that we all seek after.

    Reply
    • well said Carlos!

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  5. The lack of sex training parallels the lack of body awareness. We are taught, if only unconsciously to shut down fully experiencing our bodies and our sexuality. The best way to teach our sons is to teach ourselves about all aspects of our body.

    Reply
    • yes, well said, AND, my son needs literal guidance in addition to modeling.

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  6. I am so happy to have read your article. This is one subject that has been on the “taboo” list for quite some time and it is now time to shine light on the subject of sex in general. Sex is sacred. Our bodies are sacred. And if we learn to respect our bodies and sex and really and learn to use and please our bodies I believe it would eliminate so much stress in this world. We have been constrained for so long, it is time to break those chains and have these open conversations. How else will we learn? Currently I am in conversation with a few people about starting a Coaching Circle for Men with the topic being about sacred sex… (Sex Men ..what do the really want?) And from there who knows where we will go..Communication is the key… Thank you for starting this tread of conversation.

    Reply
  7. Absolutely love love love your post, thankyou so much for putting it out there. I just wrote a blog on a similar theme involving the hidden vulnerability of men, with a link to a brilliant doco on the shame of one man as he grew up … if interested, the link is attached.

    http://quirkofnature.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/the-marsvenus-myth/

    I truly love your aim of teaching your son the sacredness of his sexuality. If more care were taken teach both little boys and girls the beauty of their bodies and their own innate wisdom, instead of making them feel like becoming porn stars is the only way to be accepted by the opposite sex, and themselves, the world would be a very very different place. Bring on more wise men like yourself x

    Reply
    • Thank you for your support! and I love your post. wow. awesome. thank you!!!!

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  8. Thank you for starting this conversation. It is unfortunate that you and so many others were left in the wilderness. I would like to recommend another resource for learning how to talk with (and to LISTEN to) our children about their bodies and about sex: http://parentingsafechildren.com. Although the focus is on preventing sexual abuse, the core message extends to sexual education. When adults are afraid and embarrassed to talk about sex and bodies, we provide the cover for embarrasement and confusion (at best) and abuse and destruction (at its worst). If you have children (or care for the children in your community) and if you have an opportunity to attend one of Ms. Berkower’s seminars, you must do it. Alternatively, there is also her book: “Off Limits” which covers the same material. (Although participating in the workshop helps to begin to break down that social stigma of talking about sex and body parts.)

    Reply
    • Jenny, I have taken Feather’s course a few weeks ago. It was awesome. And, we only spent 30 very fast minutes on sex ed for kids. So, 30 min ain’t enough and I’m following up with her to go deeper and get her message out there even more. I also bought her book! Thanks!

      Reply
  9. it’s all great and I agree, except doing a revised version of the boy scouts won’t help anything because most boys are first raped by other boys and their scout leaders in the first place; it’s not like that’s a safe environment

    Reply
    • Chris, I agree and disagree. You are right in suggesting that the boy scouts is a total mess. True. My intention is something radcially different while drawing on the wisdom of the original intentions of the boy scouts. The scouts, as conservative as they are, have some good stuff to offer. I don’t want to bash that or toss it out. I will be learning from it as I create BoyStrong.

      Reply
  10. This is a good post. My parents have never talked to me about sex, I find myself 24 years old and still a virgin. I’m also heavily addicted to pornography (mostly softcore). In real life I don’t know how to approach women and I don’t understand what expectations they may have of me. In a way I am a result of over-protective parents, a mommas boy who was never tought about female sexuality. I am a very confused and inexperienced young man. What can I do?

    Reply
    • Thanks for the vulnerable share. What can you do? Get some help. Hire someone to support you extracting yourself from this. Totally workable situation. You just need hunger and inspiration to do it differently. Reach out to me personally via email, or ask your friends for recommendations on a solid therapist and coach.

      Reply
  11. Jayson,
    Sorry about the Zombie post, but I only recently found your site, and I’m going back and reading a lot of your own articles. My parents never talked to me about anything sexual until I was already married and in my late 20’s. I want to do better for my son, but his mother moved out with him and his sister over a year ago, so most of my daily interaction is limited to the phone. He’s almost 12 yet, and my instinct tells me the time to speak to him is coming soon, but I don’t even know where to start. His mother is very Catholic and was very repressed sexually for years; I can’t imagine she’ll ever bring it up. I am somewhat inclined to wait for the overt signs of puberty to hit and use that as a segue into sexuality, but I wonder if that’s waiting too long….

    Reply

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