What Mothers Need To Teach Their Sons About Sex

Jian Ghomeshi’s mother must be mortified. By now you are well aware of the international media frenzy surrounding the popular host of “Q”, CBC’s flagship arts program. CBC fired Jian last week amidst disturbing allegations of sexual impropriety.

I’m not going to take a side for or against Jian. Maybe his sexual adventures were consensual fun like he vigorously maintains and he is the target of the vindictive outrage of a jilted lover. Or maybe he is a misogynist who engaged in verbal and physical abuse. Both sides are plausible in the spectrum of human behavior. I’m sure we haven’t heard the end of this.

Whatever the truth may be, who I feel sorry for right now is Jian’s mother. I can’t help it; I’m a mom too. My heart would break if either of my sons were implicated in this kind of salacious story. It takes a lot to shake maternal pride but I bet Mrs. Ghomeshi’s is being tested right now.

The Jian affair though is a good reminder to us mothers of the importance of educating our sons early and often about sex and relationships. And hoping our voice lingers in their heads as they enter into mature unions.

While both parents share responsibility for sex education, I think there are some areas in which moms have more street credibility about how our sons should behave with their female partners—because we know. While women are a pretty diverse group with individual needs, I think it is fair to make some assumptions for pedagogical purposes.

Here are three lessons I’m reinforcing.

Sex is not a game. The sad reality is that too many men still don’t see women as more than sexual objects, there for their own purpose and pleasure. It is just plain wrong to treat another human being like your live action figure. Yes, sex should be fun and adventurous and exciting—but going too far in the world of make-believe can be treading into dangerous emotional territory. Your partners should always be your “equals” and never your “objects”. Every woman deserves your respect.

Trust takes time. Sexual adventure requires trust and that can only develop over time as your appreciation and insights into another person’s needs evolve. It is accepted wisdom that women have a greater need for an emotional connection to enjoy sex than men do. The emotional stakes are higher for women—and you can break their hearts by going too far too fast. Patience is the hallmark of a gentleman.

Consent is critical. Trudeau’s wise words – “there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” – might suggest that anything goes between two consenting adults. But consent is impossible to obtain if your partner is passed out from asphyxiation, and legally (at least in Canada) ongoing consent is required. But beyond the legalities, there is a fine line between consent and physical or emotional coercion—and that’s a line that should never ever be crossed. Women especially do things “for love” that may leave them feeing empty later.

As the mother of sons, I gave both of my kids an earful during their formative years. I hope they also become front page news—but for the right reasons.

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