instantly be a wonderful, considerate lover and the virginal female
immediately aware of what to do and how to be orgasmic. What foolish
expectations (under those conditions). Everyone knows it can't work
that way if young people aren't taught about sex or are taught that
sex is bad. Yet, starting with infants, hands are removed from the
genitalia. At age 4 or 5 we are still being told not to touch ourselves
"down there." Weinrich (1987) gives a delightful example of this
prolonged early sex training:
Mother sees her 4-year-old rubbing his penis through his pants
and asks, "What are you doing?" (She knows what he is doing!
But, yet, she asks.)
The boy replies, "Nothing." (He knows what he was doing! But
even at four, he knows to deny his actions.)
Mother totally ignores his lie and denial, saying, "Well, stop it!"
The boy indirectly admits the truth by responding, "Okay" and,
with little apparent reaction, goes back to his play.
This interaction might occur in any home but notice the lack of
frank, overt, explicit communication here. The boy has already learned
and is over-learning that rubbing his penis in front of mom is so awful,
at least in mom's eyes, that it is unspeakable. They totally avoid
discussing why he is touching his penis or how good it feels. Mom
doesn't admit she has done it privately. Mother doesn't make it clear
that other people--including her--might be upset by his openly
pleasuring himself in front of them and, thus, he shouldn't do it
publicly, but it is fine to do it alone. Instead, this little 4-year-old boy
is forced to figure out on his own these subtle, confused or mixed
messages from mom (or dad). Actually, even though he stops rubbing
himself, we can't be sure what his interpretation of the interaction
really will be. Perhaps he will think: rubbing my penis is a bad thing to
do. Or he may say to himself: it's okay, if I don't let anyone see me.
Or, perhaps: mom (and other women) thinks my penis is disgusting.
Or, maybe: I'm bad and do nasty, weird things that other boys don't
do. Taboos and silence create secrets--sometimes delightful secrets,
sometimes disturbing secrets. A little honest talk would be helpful.
It is easy to see how silence becomes a powerful but unguided
form of "sex education." Consider how we deal with little girls. They
have a vagina and a clitoris, both of which produce feelings. Yet, many
women are never told anything about their vagina--not its location,
not its functions, and not how it feels--until blood starts coming out of
"their bottom." We parents are even more secretive about the clitoris.
Since its only purpose is to feel good, we seem to be especially careful
to say nothing. Are we afraid? ashamed? unsure of what to say? But
by saying nothing, we only add confusion and fears to their wondering
about where babies come from, what do other people look like, how do
people make babies, is it all right to touch myself and tingle "down