Let’s talk about sex

Photo: Daniel/CC/flickr
Photo: Daniel/CC/flickr

BY TAMSIN DOCHERTY
@tamsinjayde

We live in a society becoming more and more accepting of sex and sexuality. A society where it is okay to express your sexuality or relationship preferences, to explore yourself and your options, a society where sex and sexuality can be empowering. It’s taken us quite a while to get here today, and will more than likely take some more time to get to the place we really need to be.

But there’s something that’s mind boggling. In a society where it is encouraged to talk and be open about sex, sexuality and relationships, parents still don’t particularly want talk about this topic with their children.

*shivers* Yeah, talking about sex, sexuality and relationships with your parent or child probably isn’t going to be the most comfortable conversation on the planet, but did you know it could potentially save a life?

It’s important to remember that young people are constantly surrounded by misinformation and untruths about sex and relationships from porn and pop-culture. Three thousand 12 to 24-year-olds were interviewed as part of a campaign being launched in Sydney called The Line. The results showed that the majority of young people have a skewed perception of what a healthy relationship is.

The survey was carried out by marketing group Hall and Partners Open Mind, and commissioned by Our Watch, the national foundation to prevent violence against women and their children. The report showed parents were not talking to their children about relationships and sex.

The survey found one in three young people believed “exerting control over someone is not a form of violence”.

One in six respondents believed women should know their place, and one in four thought it was normal for men to pressure women into sex.

The campaign’s ambassador, Luke Ablett, said he was shocked.

“That’s borderline rape. So that is a really concerning thing that that’s how young boys and young girls are entering into their first sexual experiences, where they think its normal to pressure or force someone into that,” he told the ABC.

The survey also showed that one in four people, aged 12 to 24 do not think it is serious for a partner who is usually gentle to slap his girlfriend if he was drunk. One in four young men believe that controlling and violent behaviours are signs of male strength.

Young people tend to find their sexual guidance through pop-culture, pornography, friends and other media sources that are conditioning young people to have an aggravated, unbalanced and unhealthy perception of sex and sexuality.

“These settings can perpetuate gender stereotypes and condone and encourage violence.” Chair of Our Watch Natasha Stott Despoja said.

Mr Ablett suggested that the problem was also linked to the number of young people being able to access pornography at an early age.

“A lot of the porn that young people are accessing is really violent, is really degrading, it’s very much about male dominance,” he said.

Mr Ablett said the survey also found one in four young men believe that controlling and violent behaviours are signs of male strength.

Statistics relating to domestic violence:

From the age of 15

  • one in five Australian women had experienced sexual violence;
  • one in six Australian women had experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner;
  • one in four Australian women had experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner;
  • one in three women had experienced physical violence.

Christine Craik, a domestic violence survivor told the ABC that she felt that she was lucky to even be alive after being in a 20-year abusive relationship.

“There’d be punching, hitting, shaking, being thrown down stairs, whatever, he would just erupt,” she said.

“In between times, of course, there was emotional and psychological abuse so there was the look that he was going to erupt if I didn’t agree or I wasn’t quiet.”

Christine Craik believes that education on healthy and respectful relationships should begin in primary school to reduce the statistics and number of women becoming victims of domestic violence or being involved with unhealthy or abusive relationships.

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