2 min

Get away from her, you bitch

At 10 years old, our voices not yet changed.

“Hello, I’m calling from the Ontario Board Of Health. We’re doing a survey on contraception, and we’d like to ask you a few questions…”

Disguised as officials with important public health concerns, my best friend and I conducted a telephone study of our friends and neighbours. At 10 years old, our voices not yet changed, we successfully impersonated very serious and clinically minded women.

Basically, we were a couple of nosy pranksters. The survey gave us a glimpse into a world adults seemed rabid about concealing. Just what was it they were hiding, anyways? We had to find out. The survey allowed us to learn about sex by talking to adults and, most importantly, having them talk to us as though we were adults. Our findings were delectable.

The only technology at our disposal in this exercise was a rotary telephone. But we used it as best we could to find out all we could about sex.

Now, this anecdote doesn’t jive with the latest theory of new technology propagated by hysterical parents. In this paranoid fantasy, children are innocents being corrupted by all the smut on the Internet, instead of fleshy humans with healthy curiosities about life outside of their own experience.

A contemporary 10-year-old appears in a recent Globe And Mail scare story about the web. In it, the girl’s mother recounts the tale of her daughter asking her why men like to suck other men’s penises.

It’s a good question, and one to which I’m still not sure I know the answer. But the mother can’t acknowledge the astuteness of her daughter’s inquiry; she’s outraged that the law won’t protect her girl from gay websites.

This girl may need protection, not from the sight of a blowjob, but from her own mother. I envision Sigourney Weaver intervening, clad in her forklift suit of armour from the movie Aliens, and coming to the girl’s aid. “Get away from her, you bitch!”

Now, The Globe And Mail likes to think it’s sophisticated. And so the story in question has the obligatory oh-we-sound-just-like-our-parents tittering. But despite this self-consciousness, the story is prudish in the extreme. It confuses legitimate concerns – How can I help my child form a healthy attitude about sex? How can I ensure she isn’t one of the extremely rare victims of a deranged psycho? – with out and out terror at kids’ exposure to explicit sexual details.

Of course kids talk about sex. And of course they conceal it from their parents. And so they should. It’s part of their development of their own sense of self. Unfortunately, for too many parents, sexual awareness is their limit in accepting their children’s right to knowledge and privacy.

The adage has it that parents try to give their children everything they didn’t have. But when it comes to sex, they’ll replicate their shame on their own children, rather than challenge themselves to assist in their kids’ development. Perhaps they’re afraid kids will use their assistance to develop sexual habits the parents find abhorrent. So much for unconditional love and acceptance. So much for wanting a kid to become their own person.

Memo to parents: Technology doesn’t create your children’s curiosity about sex. If you dislike that curiosity, then you dislike your children.

There was no Internet when the girl down the street used to show me how she could shove a pencil up her vagina. There was just a pencil. Should we ban them?

It’s one’s responsibility as a parent to teach kids to love themselves, to respect others and to take charge of their sexuality so they can enjoy it to the hilt. To do any less makes one an unfit parent.

– David Walberg is Xtra’s publisher.