I had been masturbating for a few years before I could even put a name to it. I remember in Grade 6, my friends and I were sitting at the lunchroom table with a kid a couple of years older than us, and he made some joke about jerking off, where it was clear he thought it was disgusting. I, being my oblivious self, had no idea what he meant and didn’t make the connection till later. How could something that feels that awesome be disgusting? This was when I was about 11, and despite a couple of (useless) sex ed classes in middle school and a brief “Do you have any questions?” talk with my parents, the place where I got my primary knowledge of sexual education, including about masturbation, prior to university was Wikipedia.
With this in mind, I think it’s fair to see why I sympathize with Jayson Gaddis’s piece "What Happens When We Don’t Teach Our Boys About Sex
." Gaddis, a relationship psychotherapist, leader in modern masculine development and father, paints a pretty grave picture of the way boys learn, or rather don’t learn, about sexuality. He explains the way shaming and gender policing propel boys into two extremes: alpha-male dominators who treat sex partners like objects, or else shamed, stunted, sexual isolates.
His argument is much more eloquent than my description, but he brings up the fact that the cause of things like sexism and homophobia link back to the way we, as men, end up (not) learning about sex from other boys instead of educated, responsible adults. Gaddis, raising a son, finishes by promising, “I am teaching him about his sacred body. Where I’m stuck, I’m getting help, hiring mentors, going to classes and learning about how to appropriately (factoring in age and brain development) and truthfully talk to my son about his body and his sexuality.”