Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Sex & the City" and my kids

My Mother was horrified that I let my young teenage children watch Sex & the City. She thought it was far too risqué (her word).

I made the usual argument. “Well...they watch how to kill and maim, rape and plunder, how to blow things up, how to load guns and shoot them. What’s wrong with learning about love and sex?” She still didn’t buy it.

Not only did I let them watch it (only occasionally telling them to close their eyes, which they did gladly—sometimes too much information is, well, too much and even they knew it) but when they got to high school, I bought the entire series and we watched it together from start to finish.

It was the best sex education my kids could have had. Because they watched their friends -- Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha -- struggle to make sense of sex. They saw, episode-by-episode, that sex isn't perfect or easy.

We laughed and cried our way through the cocktails, the fabulous clothes, beautiful Manhattan inside and out, great apartments, vacations, cultural events, the restaurants and the bars -- all sprinkled with sex. Rather than turning my kids into precocious or jaded monsters, Sex & the City showed them "it's a wonderful life" but complicated.

They saw good sex, bad sex, confused sex, kinky sex, no sex. They learned an entire lexicon about kissing, hand holding, sexual positions, masturbating, dildos, penis size, premature ejaculation, fetishes, three ways, prostitutes, sexually transmitted diseases, homosexuality, transvestites, et al. But they saw all this vis a vis characters they had come to know and like.

But more than the techniques and vocabulary of sexual life, they saw the excitement, anguish and pitfalls of dating and looking for love. They saw men and women trying to love each other, the missed signals, the fighting, the making up and the sad parting of the ways. They saw loneliness, selfishness, neurosis and generosity. They saw different sexual appetites and attitudes. They saw testicular cancer, breast cancer, alcoholism, drug use – and all how it related to sex and sexuality.

From the vantage point of my age and experience, the best thing they learned is that sex is something you can laugh about -- and then get on with the ever fascinating business of living.

No comments: