“One day you’ll have sex…”: how to talk with children and young people about pleasure and consent
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Consent and pleasure: two of the most important and interrelated sex and relationships topics to talk about with your kids – and one of my top sex-ed interests.
It’s disheartening that in a culture that teaches us to judge girls and women on their looks and desirability, girls can ironically be so out of touch with their own body that many don’t feel OK about discovering what their sexual anatomy looks like or what feels pleasurable.
Pleasure is such a no-go area for parents that talking about it can be more daunting than talking about porn.
But in talking as openly as we can at home, we can help girls to become less dissociated from and critical of parts of their body. How can we do this? Luckily relationships and sex education (RSE) consultant Yoan Reed – my wise, wonderful, insightful Outspoken co-founder – isn’t fazed by these topics. She encourages parents to encourage their young, tween or teenage daughters to – when they are in a private space and feel comfortable – take a small mirror and look at their vulva. The message: don’t be afraid to see and appreciate what you look like, because every body is different – and it is OK to explore yourself with your fingers. “That,” Yoan says, “is how girls and women find out what feels good for them.” Watch her in action in the first of our Outspoken / Speak Out videos for parents. It’s 17 colourful, captivating minutes including animations from the amazing short film Le Clitoris. Meanwhile here is more of what Yoan had to say about boys’ questions about girls’ pleasure, how she talks to girls about exploring their body and what you can do to feel more confident in talking openly with your child about sex, pleasure and consent…
LEAH JEWETT I come from America, which maybe partly explains why I’m direct and love hearing people open up. Having grown up in Denmark, you’ve always felt at home with nakedness, bodies and talking openly…
YOAN REED I was taught from very early on that bodies are natural and normal. You’d see people naked, for example, when you were changing to go swimming. It made it easier for me to work, first as a midwife and then in sex education, because I come from a place of feeling comfortable in and assertive about my own body.
So how do you define consent?