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How to Teach a Black Girl About Sex

Do you recall being a little girl in middle school? The hormones, the boys, your menstrual beginning, your breasts enlarging, your hips expanding and your butt spreading? And do you remember what your mother told you? I remember my mom saying, “Girls are supposed to keep their legs closed and they aren’t supposed to put their mouths on certain things.” That was it for the most part.

I asked a few of my girlfriends how the topic of sex was introduced to them and each had starkly different responses:

Justyce, a 21-year-old from California said, “I first learned about sex from my cousins, probably around 8-years-old but I learned the right information with my mom at the age of 11.” Her mom introduced the topic to her on a “mini staycation”. They had a girl talk and spa time. Then, her mom explained everything that involved sex.

Labrayla, a 20-year-old from Detroit said, “I used to be around my sister a lot who was in high school when I was in elementary school and she used to talk about it with her friends and my cousins while I was around because we were so close. It wasn’t a detailed step-by-step process, she just told me “don’t have sex for a long time and when you finally do, make sure you use condoms because STDs are real.” Labrayla was around the age of 9, but she had the official talk with her sister (not her parents) when she drove with her family to Howard in 2006.

Mikaela, a 20-year-old from Detroit said, “My parents were always very open about talking about sex. They first talked about sex through a book when I was in 6th grade. My parents would ask my brother and I, “Are you guys having sex?” Mikaela explained how it was very effective. “I definitely feel like there’s an ineffective way to talk about sex. Relationships with your parents should be built on trust. I don’t want to ever feel like I’m imparting my views on my children. The most ineffective way is to judge them right off the bat. As a child, if you are having sex, you automatically don’t trust your parents. The book made it less awkward.” Mikaela’s choice not to have sex in high school was a choice she made on her own, not her parents’ choice. She believes that she made a good choice for herself and her parents would have never judged her regardless of the circumstances.

Raegan, a 20-year-old from Houston, TX said, “My mom probably started the sex conversation a bit earlier than most. She worked in phases. Her metaphor was like a 4-course meal: soup and salad, appetizer, entrée and dessert. I got the first serving at 8 when I got caught masturbating. She taught me about my body and the feelings. The next course, the appetizer, came after I started my period in the 5th grade. We talked about the more biological stuff. The main course came with my first serious boyfriend my freshman year. That covered heavier topics-STDs, condoms, etc. Our final course came after I admitted I had sex after graduation. She gave me a Zane sex book with several tips highlighted in the book.”

Taylor, a 20-year-old from Detroit, MI recollects when she was younger, there was a sensual scene in The Matrix and her mother told her to close her eyes. In 6th grade, she vividly remembers being introduced to Porn. She was at a sleepover and flipping through channels and came across a movie. She started paying attention to movies, things in the media and just slight hints around her. However, her mother never really brought up the topic.

I remember being that girl afraid to talk to my mom and sisters about sex. I was scared and I felt alone. As a black girl, it’s easy being a target for your body shape, skin tone, facial features, etc. On top of that, there were little boys who were “just being boys”, doing things and saying things that should have been chastised from the beginning. And as I progressed into a black woman with more prominent features, it didn’t get any better, but I learned how to reclaim myself (body, mind, and spirit) for myself.

Black moms may choose to take their daughters on a spa date, tell their daughters to not have sex in general, introduce sex through a book or even break sex up into a 4-course meal. No matter which method you choose, it’s pertinent to have a conversation about sex with your daughters in some form or fashion. I don’t want any black girl to feel the way I felt about myself. So, I came up with a few tips on how to talk to a black girl about sex:

1. Avoid avoidance. Talk about it. We have a bad habit in the black community of avoiding certain conversations that need to be held. The first step is to speak on it.

2. Make sure the both of you feel comfortable. If you are a black mother reading this, you should never want your daughter to feel uncomfortable discussing any topic with you, especially a topic as important as sex. Trust should be established early on, and you would rather her say something to you too early, rather than too late.

3. Talk to her about alternatives. Many of us heard it growing up, “Don’t have sex. Keep your legs closed. Don’t put your mouth on things you’re not supposed to put them on.” There will come a time when a girl might want to have intercourse with someone. If she chooses to, it would be helpful if she knew what to do and what not to do. Teaching her about sex education and health, contraceptives, transmitted diseases, or birth control can prevent things that nobody wants to happen.

4. Encourage embracement of self. The one thing that I have learned while in college is that it is okay to choose to wait on sex and it is okay to have sex. It’s important for a girl to know that her body is her body, not her parents’ or her boyfriend’s, but her own body. That is what being liberated is all about, sexual or in any other case.

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