For men of my generation sex education was as lacking as reliable information about dental hygiene. If ever I see anyone in their 50s with bad teeth I always suspect they had a tormented adolescence like me.
Studying reproductive organs in biology textbooks is no preparation for pressing questions about sexual congress.
While watching an old movie where a man and women were kissing and whispering sweet nothings to each other, my Dad told me this was called ‘smooching‘ but didn’t expand on what it signified. If there were any steamier scenes or nudity on TV my mother would hastily switch channels commenting “this is a load of rubbish”.
The consequence of this was that I reached puberty fascinated by, yet ignorant of, the intricacies of the female anatomy.
Feeling a girl’s erect nipples press against my back in a crowded school tuck shop was as exciting as my sex life got. My porn consisted of ogling the models in the lingerie section of my mother’s mail order shopping catalogues.
This led to years of confusion about my sexual identity feeling guilty about erotic thoughts or feelings I now know to be perfectly normal. Having a daughter of my own, I resolved to be as open and frank as possible about sex although I still often feel lost in this complex field. It seems to me that the world has now moved on to the point that it’s no longer the case that there’s too little information about this topic but too much.
One of the problems now is that innocent curiosity about the birds and the bees frequently results in routine exposure to explicit words and imagery.
Even the most rudimentary internet search seeking enlightenment about penile dimensions or sex positions will produce a deluge of sites that leave nothing to the imagination.
These pay lip service to questions of censorship by asking if you are over 18 before directing you a parallel world of double penetration, cumshots, creampies and rim-jobs.
Here the line between arousing erotica and degrading pornography is a very blurred one indeed. Tasteful scenes of love making between consenting adults are easily outnumbered by tedious displays of frenzied fucking.
I don’t know how damaging these graphic images are to impressionable minds but I strongly suspect that they add to, rather than resolve, questions of what it means to be in a loving relationship.
One thing I’m certain of is that parents do their offspring no favours by avoiding questions about sex. Honesty and openness is even more vital in the digital age. In many respects, we are all voyeurs now and the least we can do as responsible (?) adults is admit that we are in this moral quagmire together.