Adventures in Unschooling

Sexual repression in children

Posted on: January 15, 2010

I have finished reading A. S. Neill’s Summerhill and I found the chapter on sexual repression to be so ground shaking.

At first I was shocked. But it did begin to make more sense the more I thought about it and it was even clearer after I slept on it.

When I began to think of the way that my peers would hide their sex lives from their parents I began to think about how stupid it was to try to restrict our kids from their natural urges.

If anything, letting our kids know that sex is normal and that it isn’t dirty will allow us to have more candid discussions and will allow our kids to trust us to be part of that part of their lives.

Many of them will have sex whether or not we think it’s appropriate. It’s normal for kids to experiment and by making sex forbidden we are making it alluring.

That may also mean that they take us seriously when we talk about STDs and the risk of pregnancy instead of going to their peers or the media for information on sex.

And to be honest, I’d rather have my boys sleeping with their girlfriends in their own homes, in their own beds, with a box of condoms on the dresser, than in the back of some car.

How sad that we reduce our kids to having sex in the back of cars!

I was recently told of a 19 year old girl who was told by her older boyfriend that she couldn’t get pregnant because his penis was crooked. And, yeah, she got pregnant. This girl may not have been so stupid had she had a parent to talk this stuff over with.

Neill also talks about society and religion acting as oppressors. I think religion acts as one of the worst ooppressors of sexual urges. I have spoken to multiple boys who were constantly chided and guilted because they masturbated. A friend of mine was almost kicked out of Bible school because he got caught.

To be honest, I don’t want to know. There is nothing pretty about a fella goin’ at it alone. But I don’t think that he shouldn’t be able to.

So while I think there should be some societal restriction on where you choose to do it I don’t think that our boys should be told that it’s evil to relieve themselves.

And this whole concept of pleasure being sin has translated even into the marital sex of many married couples. Many, many women never experience orgasm and must therefore find sex to be rather mundane if not degrading.

Neil says that this is a form of “polite rape.” And after sleeping on it, I agree. The Christian/Catholic Bible tells women to fulfil their wifely duties by satisfying their men sexually. There are no conditions for the man to do the same (just as their are no instructions for men to respect women). How sad. My husband will be the first to tell you that he enjoys sex so much more when I am enjoying myself.

It’s obvious that we need to reevaluate the way that we treat sex in society and how that affects our children.

Neill believes that violent sexual repression (let’s say beating a child because he touches himself) is at the heart of most sex crimes. It’s a perversion based on showing love through violence.

I have read two accounts that when a teens’ interest in pornography was accepted in the house as a norm that the youth would often outgrow it before they hit adulthood. When it wasn’t considered dirty and rebellious it became repetitive and boring.

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2 Responses to "Sexual repression in children"

I think a lot of the problems surrounding sex (stds, being pressured into it at young ages etc) all stem from the lack of knowledge and the “taboo” nature of the topic. If people were more willing to discuss it as it is, without creating a mystery around it for sure teenagers would benefit from it.

I think also now that females can embrace sexuality without it being some kind of chore they must do for their husbands (good thing we’re not in the 1800s anymore)is also a big difference and definitely something to be grateful for and to recognise when dealing with sex and sexuality with their own kids.

There’s an incredible book called “The Passionate Marriage – keeping love and intimacy alive in committed relationships” by Dr David Schnarch that has such a progressive view on relationships and sexuality (all committed relationships, not just marriage) that it’s the first book on the subject that I’ve read that completely dovetailed with my feelings on whole life unschooling.

I think that, as adults develop their own empowerment in this area and in their relationship with their partner, it can only filter through in a positive life affirming way to our children. How can an adult who still carries shame or co-dependency and need validation from others to feel good pass on anything different to their children?

“Children do not treat themselves the way you tell them to treat themselves. They treat themselves the way you treat yourself.” ~Martha Beck

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