Thank You, Michael Douglas: Cunnilingus Is Not a Bad Word!

4 years ago

When Michael Douglas told a newspaper that his throat cancer was caused by the HPV virus, and that he contracted it by having oral sex, I wanted to cheer. Not because he had cancer! But because he had the bravery not only talk about the HPV virus, but also to use the word "cunnilingus."

(Image: © Graham Whitby Boot/Allstar/UPPA/ZUMAPRESS.com)

I find it strange as a society that we are willing to show gruesome pictures of war, survivors of natural disasters, and sexually explicit movies, but some words are still considered taboo. Cunnilungus. Fellatio. Penis. Vagina. Testicles. Labia. Anus. These are words that some children have no understanding of. The number of girls who have no idea that they have two holes "down there" and that they don't pee out of their vagina is staggering.

I took my 10-year-old daughter to a "growing bodies" workshop at our local hospital. She's not developing yet, but of course it's just around the corner. We've had open, frank discussions about bodies and health, and will continue to do so, but I thought it would be beneficial for her to see other kids her age hearing the same information, and from other women, not just her mom. It was an eye opener. So many of these kids had no clue that they had a urethra AND a vagina. They didn't know the proper terminology for their own anatomy. And these were the kids whose parents brought them to this class! Imagine all the kids at home whose parents refuse to come to these workshops!

The workshop was great. It covered the basics of menstruation and touched on sexual health. Not too much information, but appropriate for tweens. They have classes for older boys and girls dealing directly with sexuality and sexual health, and my daughter will attend those when she's a few years older, too.

I plan to get my daughter the Gardasil vaccine. This is the vaccine that protects against the HPV virus. I have honest, realistic expectations for my daughter. I expect her, at some point in her life, to begin experimenting with her own sexuality. I expect her to explore other bodies as well as her own. I have, and will continue to have, frank discussions about sexuality and sexual choices with her. I am honored and pleased that my daughter feels comfortable talking with me about her body and sexuality in general. I have tried to always answer her questions honestly and without any embarrassment.

I want her to know that there is no shame associated with being sexually active. BUT -- and this is a point I reiterate at every discussion -- sex is a huge decision and one with long-lasting consequences. And any sexual act carries a certain amount of risk.

I hope that she abstains from sexual intercourse for many more years. She still loves her teddy bears and is grossed out by the thought of french kissing. But I know that, one day in the not so distant future, there will be someone who attracts her. And who is attracted to her. And they may touch, kiss, explore. I want her armed with enough knowledge and self-awareness to protect herself against disease and harm. And I want her to have a firm belief in her right to say yes and no when it comes to her body. That confidence has to start with words. Knowledge is important. Terminology is important. Words that describe sexual acts shouldn't be off-limits or "dirty."

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