I was asked to comment on an article titled “Kids Are Going to Touch Genitals. Let’s Not Get Too Freaked Out About It.” So I read it. And oh sweet Jesus. Adult people demonstrate such depths of ignorance about child development and human sexuality that it’s scary. Here is the story that the article tries to discuss in its strangely impotent manner:
A preschool in Carson, CA. is under fire because a 5-year-old girl was caught with her mouth on the genitals of a 4-year-old boy. The school has since shuttered — although they’re saying it’s because their director is leaving — and the community is baffled and outraged.
Here is the author’s response:
In a culture that thrusts adult sexuality onto children — ones who are often too young to understand it — it makes sense that people are freaked out by one child putting their mouth on another’s genitals.
Whenever I read something this stupid, I feel really hopeless. Cultures that do thrust adult sexuality onto children – by marrying them off at a very early age, for example – have nothing whatsoever to do with the US culture and it makes zero sense to discuss them in this context.
Of course, it is normal for small children to experience curiosity towards each other’s genitals. This is where “playing doctor” came from, which is a game that people of our Western civilization are all familiar with.
However, curiosity about genitals is one thing and imitating an adult sex act is a very different thing. Any psychologist worth a dime would recommend that the little girl’s family be investigated. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that everybody – the school, the girl, the boy, the culture, the television, the Santa Claus – will be blamed for this except the kid’s parents.
Small children are, indeed, hypersexual. However, their sexuality is completely self-referential. This means that it is all about gratifying oneself. The desire to gratify others (and administering oral sex is the definition of such an act) is, indeed, a cultural construct that appears much later in life. To put it even more bluntly, when children masturbate, that is supremely normal (as long as parents manage to teach them not to do it publicly). But any interest in less self-referential sex acts is evidence of deep trouble at home.