Despite the constancy of the revelations of sexual abuse in Religious groups (the Catholic and Anglican churches), cultural institutions (hello BBC), and the wreckage that such abuse has caused entire cultures like the Canadian First Nations, the shock and horror of it all doesn’t subside, or normalize.
Comparatively, of course, I was, and am, incredibly lucky. The transgressions inflicted upon me personally as a child, were so minor when I consider what some children live through, and yet, no child should ever feel as though their self or their sanctity or their dignity has been compromised, should they?
I want my children to be luckier than I was. When I observe these perfect, sweet kids expressing their wholly innocent sexuality, or examining their bodies, I am both heartened and heartbroken over their lack of shame and fear, and the degree to which their trust in the adults around them (me and Lee) is implicit. Heartened, of course, because I *want* them to grow up loving themselves, and feeling good about their bodies. I am heartened also, because our kids are with us every day, and we are good, and so they are safe. But it is heartbreaking to me that it is precisely a child’s openness and curiosity and lack of guile that renders them susceptible to those whose sickness would allow them to interpret the natural ingenuous physicality of a child, as desire.
It is for this reason that I am very careful, and conscious about the ways in which I approach these issues in our day-to-day. While, as I said, I want our kids to feel very positive about their bodies, I also need them to understand that we live in the world, and there are many boundaries that for their own safety and protection, they must adhere to. Certain things are private. We *never* touch another person there. Say no to someone in your personal space. I don’t belabour the conversation. I’m clear, and direct, and guilt-free, and then we swiftly move on to something else. But when they’re ready, I will also be ready to discuss much further.
The thing is, I worry about our world, and my children in it. This is a deeply unfashionable position, I know, but I cannot help but view the way in which sexuality is portrayed and displayed and engaged in, in our culture, as pathology. I suppose I should ready myself for being called a prude and anti-sex if I were to express the view that perhaps barely-legal porn, the murder of prostitutes, prostitution, the outsourcing of child abuse to Thai beaches, porn in general, the tragic
death of Amanda Todd…that these things could all be seen as interrelated, and perhaps fueled by misogyny, child hatred, self-hatred.
But wait. I don’t hate men. And I am not trying to suggest that any one of these activities leads to another, and I understand that life, and love, and sexuality and sex are all complex. But the ubiquity of the explicit sexualization of women and children, and the obscene monetary success of the adult industry indicates to me that these brutal, vivid, uncaring and impersonal ways of expressing sexuality are in our homes and in our heads and influencing our relationships and our children. And while there is clearly great discomfort in discussing these issues, we are all affected.
I do believe sexuality begins with birth, and with the way our mothers hold and clean and feed our bodies, and with the way we are loved as children, and with the degree to which we are protected, and given a strong foundation of gentle care.
And I do feel that it is a privilege to be guiding my kids, and that I am leading them to eventually navigate on their own. I have developed some very firm boundaries in terms of what I accept into my life; head, heart and body. It is a balancing act, to be judicious for myself, an example to my children, accepting of others, exacting and analytical in my social analysis, and yet non-judgemental and forgiving. All in a day’s work. There is just so much to think about. So much to cry about, so much work to do.
Great post, Yolande. I agree… There is much to be done in the way of healing sexuality, collectively. It is a continuous journey that requires a lot in the way of honesty and self acceptance. Acknowledging the woundedness that exists without perpetuating or reveling in it is a way to begin, and I wholeheartedly agree that our children deserve acceptance and openness where there emerging sexuality is concerned, with an emphasis on setting boundaries lovingly.
In alot of ways you are very lucky to have only had minor transgressions during your childhood that you are fortunate enought to have so many beautiful children and the life of love and peace, I wish i could say the same for myself and many others I have Lived a Very Hard life as a Child just wandering alone in the dark seeking out the light, My father caused me not to be able to have kids of my own, So I choose to encourage my sisters kids to be honest about their sexuality and Never let others judge them for who or what they are And in my own ways I am very open to your teachings and i use them as encouragement Thank you so very much
Thank you. I am very lucky. It is so humbling for me to encounter those who have survived real pain and suffering, and who can create love and light from their hardship. It certainly helps me, when faced with evil, to know that people ONLY do terrible things to others because of their own traumatic darkness. I think compassion can always be found, if not forgiveness. It sounds like your caring presence and perspective is a real gift to your nieces. Love to you, and take good care.