I was watching TV as I put together some packets for my Girl Scout meeting tomorrow (I still find it so surprising that I run a Girl Scout troop) when the innocuous sit com I was watching faded into the execrable Two and a Half Men. As has been stated on many occasions, I am an optimistic woman by nature, but the fact that that show is so overwhelmingly popular makes me almost as nervous for the future of humanity as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch does. That's not true... nothing scares me as much as that garbage patch and that's the truth, so let's focus on somewhat less terrifying piles of garbage.
The cold open joke was one about how men have the money and women reciprocate for money with sex because hahahahaha. I turned the TV off.
As a girl and as young woman, I totally accepted as gospel that boys want sex more so girls are responsible for saying no to the boys who are too overwhelmed by lust to be trusted to have good judgement. Girls are taught that... not necessarily by their parents, but by American culture at large. It's endemic. Or it was.
Fortunately, feminism has made great strides and there are lots of good feminists out there (male and female) raising good feminist kids.
So here's what you tell your kids (full disclosure: I read this on Jezebel and it struck me like a bolt out of the blue how simple it is... but I couldn't find the link because I didn't look very hard): no one should feel coerced into sex. Period. That's it in a nutshell. No one should have sex because they feel like they ought to. No one should feel like sex is something they're doing for someone else. No, please, baby, please, Imgonnadieifyoudon't. No, justforasecondbabyplease. No, ifyoulovedmeyouwould. All of that is coercive and it is rapey as hell.
To be very serious here, protecting your children against the rape culture (it's a real fucking thing, get over your defensiveness about it) does not mean teaching your daughters how to avoid rape; it does not mean lecturing your daughters about how they need to be careful about how they dress and where they go. It means educating your children (both genders) about the toxicity of coercion, in all its forms. It's about putting the responsibility for rape onto rapists - not victims of rape.
And, as a special bonus, you can tell your nephews or little brothers (honestly, this is not something anyone really wants to hear from Mom or Dad) that the great grand secret of the no-coercion rule is that they will not only get laid more, they will have much better (and more) sex. Because that old cliche about sex and pizza? Not true: there is bad sex and there is bad pizza.
So, remember this: our goal for our children's sexual education should not be to teach boys to respect and girls to protect female virtue; it should be to teach all our kids to respect the autonomy of their partners and their right to make their own decisions.
Sex isn't something girls give to boys, it's something girls and boys (and boys and boys and girls and girls) do with each other.
That is all.