Last Saturday during a youth program I co-lead, I asked some high school-aged girls if they want to talk about (the) sex. And periods. And boys.
I know- I’m every high school girl’s dream of a human resource.
I’m also every traditional parent’s nightmare.
For Muslim youths (as you can tell I am very‘hip’) there is a canyon-esque divide between hyper-sexualized ‘Western’ pop culture versus the close-minded and stigmatized approach, or lack thereof, to sex education by their parents.
However, we need to create open and safe spaces for young Muslim people to discuss sexual attitudes, habits, and expectations.
Without cultural baggage. Without telling them they’re going to hell if they have a crush.
Dear muslim parents- hate to be the one to break it to you- but the reality is too many young people receive their sex education uniquely from porn (or HBO which is basically soft porn, I mean, have you seen game of thrones?!?!)
and it is never your kid. until it is.
More importantly, these messages are not alone. They are accompanied with physical and emotional expectations, which are not necessarily positive or healthy.
And teaching young people about sex in a respectful and educational way, is not 'indoctrination of Western values’, or 'encouragement of illicit relationships'. It is about making sure they have the information they need And deserve to make safe choices whenever the time comes.
Just because we are second or third generation immigrants, or Muslims, does not mean we are immune from sexual desires or behaviours.
We need to talk about periods, and tampons, and condoms. And IUDs. And STIs. (So. Many. Acronyms.)
We need to have a well-informed and non-shameful discussion about what virginity actually means.
We need to dispel cultural double standards, which paint women as evil seductresses and men as unable to control their poor selves.
We need to talk about consent- more so- informed consent. How to say ‘no.’ That they can say no.
And I think it begins with mothers, and older sisters, and fathers, and older brothers.
And lastly, both young women and men need to learn about this 'stuff'. And not from the beauty industry. Or Nicholas Spark movies. Or online forums.
But from us.