Sexism is a wicked problem — meaning it has many components and needs to be addressed from multiple directions. I believe the answers to sexism involve understanding others and ourselves more deeply and determining our responsibilities for solving the problems of sexism. In this process, our own destructive Shadow–our own sexism invisible to us–is the hardest to deal with.
So, a few points about sexism. In general, I believe we need to wake up ourselves to support the evolution of consciousness, which is the answer to sexism and all the current world problems:
- The elephant in the room with sexism is sex!
- Cultures can be changed to the extent we can teach our children about sex, gender, culture at every age, with as much awareness and acknowledgment of our own biases and programming as possible.
- It’s our job to know and support every aspect of our children’s experience and development including their sexual selves. It’s not good to have a feeling or drive to be forbidden to feel, explore, and express appropriately.
- In the 60’s, Holland decided to have a scientifically based sex education program. Guided by studies which showed superior attitudes and practices, the Dutch initiated a pro-sexuality cirriculum which included all students and their families. Kids were taught about intimacy, age appropriate sexuality, birth control, and focusing on mutual pleasure during sexual encounters. Families of teens normalized the kids’ lover relationships and supported them if the relationships seemed caring and healthy. In America, sex education has largely been anti-sexual and based on abstinence models, heavily influenced by religious fundamentalism.
- Results of these two divergent approaches? The U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy in the industrialized world, the Dutch among the lowest. The US teen birth rate is 8 times the Dutch rate of teen births. The U.S. abortion rate is 17 times the Dutch rate. More than 80% of U.S. teens say they had sex too early or with the wrong person because of opportunity or intoxication–often expressing regret. 90% of Dutch teens say their first sexual experiences were positive and with someone they cared deeply about.
As therapists, knowing this data, we can advocate for our clients to cocreate prosexual cultures in their families to help them support their children being less sexist and more wise and fulfilled as sexual beings.