Red Table Talk is a Facebook show where Jada Pinkett Smith (together with her 17-year-old daughter Willow Smith and her mother Adrienne Banfield-Jones) holds discussions about any number of topics around wellness, relationships and more. The latest episode is about sex.
That three generations of women could sit around a table together and talk about sex might sound a bit crazy for most of us, considering that our parents are often likely to be the last people we think about sharing our sexual experiences with or asking questions.
Dear African parent, when will you stop pretending sex and alot of other things don't exist? Such seem like a taboo for y'all to talk about. How do you expect to be close with your child if they can't be open with your child? Spiritual guidance is good but so is social guidance.— Malimba Masheke (@unclelimblimb) June 13, 2018
The openness between parents and children differ from culture to culture, yet many of us can relate to the fact that some topics are off limits especially when we are younger. I am probably not the only one who awkwardly gets up to "go get a glass of water" whenever a sex scene comes on TV and my mother is sitting next to me.
But it was amazing when Willow opened up about walking in on her parents having sex.
Clinical psychologist, Lerato Msimanga says that the conversation about sex doesn't get started enough, and it's worse between us and our mothers because, unlike our generation, our mothers come from a time where the topic was more taboo than it is today. She goes on to say that there are multiple layers to the reasons why women from previous generations are reluctant to talk about sex. They might not know how to feel uncomfortable with it or don't want to influence their daughters in any way, says Lerato.
Lol i don’t understand why y’all “parents” won’t openly talk about sex wit ya daughters. Teach them the dangers and teach them the positives. Talk to them about self pleasure, orgasms, how sex works, as well as the STIs out there.— Kam ? (@simplykamri) June 13, 2018
And it has a huge impact on sexual health, safety and maturity.
In an article about the nature of sex education in South Africa, Khadija Bawa writes that teenagers don't have reliable sources of reference to sex, so they turn to the media and pornography. The secrecy of sex at home and the fact that we shrink away from talking about it with our parents not only contributes to the "alarming rate of teenage pregnancies" but also to the distorted ideas we have about sex and consent.
Talking about sex is more important than we realise.
This is so beautiful. So many parents are afraid to talk to their children about sex, as if it's going to "ruin" us, our innocence, or make us look at them differently. These are healthy and necessary conversations to have between parents, partners and friends! https://t.co/HeWDvZWKqG— Conti (@TheyCallMeConti) June 12, 2018
Here are three things you can try when you approach your mom, aunt, or grandmother when you feel ready.
Speak to a woman you trust
More often than not, our parents don't mind talking about the things we need their advice about. You just have to ask. Sometimes, however, you can be brave but your mother could still be unwilling to speak to you about sex. Lerato notes that sometimes mothers may not feel well-equipped and will "shut down the conversation".
If you are ready, but your mother is not, then that's okay. "It doesn't have to be limited to mother-daughter relationship", says Lerato, "you can find other women in your family or community to talk to."
The only way that healthy conversations can flourish is if there is vulnerability and transparency. My mother already knew I was having sex before we ever got to talk about it. And as Jada says it in the video, sometimes mothers have an incredible connection with their children and intuitively know. There's no need to hide the fact that you're a sexual being. It helps when you can be honest about your questions especially around sexual health and concerns, so she can be honest in her answers.
It's important to take into account the fact that your mom did not grow up in the same environment that you did, so for her talking about particular things may be challenging, but be patient. It might take a while before you get comfortable so you just need to take it one step at a time. Lerato suggests that you gradually build up to direct questions by asking your mother about her opinion and experiences about what she went through when she was your age.
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