Sex – a taboo subject?

Why is it so hard to talk about?

Sex. The mention of the word evokes a wide range of responses, the most prominent being excitement or utter embarrassment. The latter is commonly assumed to be the general reaction among Asian cultures, where anybody bringing up the subject is given reproachful glares or red, blushing faces.

Sex. For something so fundamental to human nature (in fact, how each and every one of us came into being), and as innate as our human need for water and air, why is it such a hugely avoided topic? Kids often ask how their mommies and daddies made them. Just as often, these mommies and daddies hesitate to explain and instead come up with some subpar story involving vague, fictitious references of birdies and tadpoles and whatnot.

As a child, I heard my friends’ parents referring to their private parts with rather silly names composed of erratic syllables. Terms such as ‘poo-poo’ and ‘wee-wee’ were also used for businesses carried out in the toilet. I suppose they wanted to appear euphemistic whereas I, on the other hand, was taught from young by my parents to address things as they are. A vagina is a vagina. A penis is a penis. Nothing more, nothing less (dontchu think ‘vajayjay’ sounds a lot more crude in comparison?).

It seems as if most parents think their children aren’t able to handle the meaning of sex, and that they should be given ‘The Talk’ at a later and more mature age. Most parents are also funnily embarrassed when having to discuss the subject with their kids, or will otherwise bring up the notion that their kids aren’t comfortable talking about it with them.

Does giving one’s child ‘The Talk’ magically evolve with age to become an easy-peasy affair? It sure doesn’t. Once the teenage phase begins, once angst and rebellion strikes, once parents are classified as dowdy and uncool – is that the ‘mature’ age at which parents plan to explain sex to their kids? Too late, probably. I tweeted on this yesterday and my mom (yes, my mother follows me on Twitter) replied:

“One, grown-ups underestimate children’s capacity to understand. Two, those grown-ups haven’t really grown up.

You see, just talking about something is massively important. If kids aren’t at ease discussing sex with their parents, and if parents, schoolteachers and adults get all flustered and elusive each time they are questioned about it, where and what will the child turn to? Far-reaching, unrealistic terms given to various body parts and processes would cause nothing but the birth of many misconceptions. A good example is a scene in hit Singaporean movie I Not Stupid, where a primary school boy and girl fell asleep next to each other during a class session, and was after terrified to tears as they had been told how the mere act of laying next to each other would produce babies.

'I Not Stupid' | Image by

Such unnecessary trauma can be avoided, and such misconception lessened if sex were properly explained by adult to child, without the latter being rebuked for raising such an ‘indecent’ subject. It is neither fair nor beneficial to a child for his right to knowledge to be withheld, or worse, altered for the sake of simpler explanation on the part of the adult. Putting forth the pretext of wanting to protect the child doesn’t make sense, either. Would it not be abominable if a child being sexually abused is unaware of the perversity laid upon him? Why blinker a child to the facts when you can sufficiently educate and provide awareness?

Children are naturally curious beings. We should celebrate that fact and provide them education on what they’re curious about, treating them as intelligent and well-esteemed. When a child is validated in that manner, he approaches life with more certainty and engages more freely in talking to his parents, schoolteachers – the whole wide range of older, supposedly wiser people they call adults.

The recent furore over a kids’ sex education book as containing explicit material was quite a hilarious move. I’ve had the book for as long as I can remember, and I don’t think my mind’s been deviated in any sense (or, well, by majority’s standards).

My recommended book for the month

Nudity is explicit, eh?

The next time before you tell a kid the A-Stork-Brought-You-To-Me story or catch yourself getting warm in the cheeks and tingly in the limbs, ask yourself, why can’t I explain sex properly and maturely? Wouldn’t I have appreciated the same?

What’s so embarrassing about sex, anyway?

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Justine is a student intent on breaking convention. She finds humans to be fascinating creatures and believes in the uniqueness of the individual. She'd really love to blawg about her observations, but usually procrastinates and instead tweets her views and experiences @JustineMeiErn.

Posted on 22 February 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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One Response to Sex – a taboo subject?

  1. andrewteh

    I can't wait to talk to my son (he's only 5 now) about sex. In fact, when he's old enough, I'd like to take him to a brothel, just me and him, and show him how it's done. I gotta make sure that when he sleeps with his girlfriend (I have not factored in the possibility that he may turn out to be gay) for the first time, he'd be able to do it like a pro. No fumbling with bra clasps or condoms like his old man all those years ago. Lol.