Would you take your child to a sex shop?

<i></i>

Photo: Getty Images

Editor of xoJane Jane Pratt recently wrote a piece pondering whether to take her 10-year-old daughter with her to a party at a sex shop.

I read it and wondered, is she mad? Not because the question is odd – though to my mind it certainly is – but because she is publishing it on the internet. Ask the internet to judge you, particularly if you're a mother, and it shall gladly oblige.

Perhaps Pratt thought she could defuse the inevitable agitation by publishing the piece under her Worst Mom in The World column. But as happily rebellious as the "slacker mum" movement is, even these readers baulk at the notion of a child in a sex shop.

So why would any parent consider taking a 10-year-old to a sex shop? Pratt argued that this shop was a women's sex shop, she was trying to spend more time with her child, her daughter already knew a little about sex toys, and Pratt was so damn busy now – and anyway, to decide otherwise would mean leaving a work party early.

There was a time when simply visiting a sex shop would have made for bad mother confessional fodder, but my generation is beyond all that. Our sexuality is, in some ways, part of our public identity – its intimacy somewhat neutralised by close ties with fashion and even health.

Some women, such as Pratt, may see their sexuality as requiring little more privacy than discussions of their exercise regime.

On occasion, I am one of those women. But a breezy nonchalance towards sexuality is difficult to combine with a breezy nonchalance towards motherhood, though both are now individually celebrated.

For her attempts, Pratt was described by her readers as selfish. One adjective was not enough. A mother like this is “smug, entitled and narcissistic”, and not just inconsiderate of her daughter but also the guests.

Though our vocabulary is replete with terms such as "play" and "toys", adult sexuality is much more serious and self-conscious than that suggests. Confronted with children and their genuine claim to the territory of imagination and frivolity, we often feel absurd.

If most of us squirm at the idea of coming across a 10-year-old in a sex shop, why might the parent not? For non-parents, the idea that sexual intimacy happens concurrently with the apparent sterility of mothering can be mortifying.

But parents are forced to confront the overlap of our sexual and parenting selves right from the beginning. You don't want to chance waking the baby, so rather than move them from your bed to the cot you have nervous, giggling sex next to them.

One of the first things you relinquish as a parent is reliable privacy. And over the years you can find that your child and you blend and separate, and dissolve and re-emerge, many times over. The lines between you – their privacy and yours – can be very blurred.

But boundaries are ultimately essential. Pratt may seem entirely unrestrained but surely she, like all mothers, has forsaken many adult pursuits in the course of parenthood. Of all the reasons she provides for wanting to take her daughter to the party, the desire not to leave early provokes the most outrage from the internet – yet I find it sympathetic. The cult of being busy doesn't entirely ring true for me, even as the parent of two, but the eternal frustration of cutting things short does.

Being forced by your child's presence or sudden demands to drop an engrossing adult conversation is teeth-grindingly irritating. It rivals the physical longing of interrupted sex.

The parties you leave early, the conversations you cease, the music you turn down, and the films you pause and never get back to as a parent are numerous. You can feel exhausted by your segregation from the adult world.

Some of this separation is necessary but much of it reflects the peculiarities of family life in our culture – the ways in which mothers are kept apart from the working, socialising, flirting world of other adults. A good party, particularly one in a sex shop, promises not so much hot sex but an abundance of interesting conversation.

But in the end, you pull back from exposing your child to too much, and Pratt ultimately decided against taking her daughter. You do this for your child, because childhood is fleeting. And you do it for yourself, because you want the parts of yourself back that haven't been abbreviated by parenthood – and "worst mum in the world" or not, you know you won't find them at that party with your child by your side.

11 comments

  • The nature of all species of sexually reproductive animals is that the young learn about their bodies with others of their own age ,right from about walking talking age throughout life---constantly learning new things about intimacy and communication physically ,verbally ,psychically and socially as well as privately .Kids don't need exposure to adult perversions or indeed sexual oddities or peculiarities which really , is what sex shops deal in---not normal healthy relationships which don't need rubber mats or latex clothes whips chains porn or drugs .

    Commenter
    Kane
    Date and time
    July 31, 2013, 8:40AM
    • Idiotic. The idea that a child of that age will have any kind of balanced context is ridiculous. If her child had a conversation with my 10yo I'd have her charged (the mother) in 3 seconds flat. Have some consideration and look beyond your own selfish outlook. Pity the child that she will have this kind of blinkered upbringing.

      Commenter
      asgard
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 10:08AM
    • It would be illegal as you need to be 18years old to enter a sex shop. Anyone taking a minor into a sex shop or a shop allowing a minor to enter could and should be charged.

      Commenter
      MS1968
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 2:59PM
  • I'm actually amazed that taking a 10-year-old to a sex shop was even under consideration to begin with. I'm no prude but my sex life is not something that I want to share with a child. Nor do I think that exposing a child to others' ideas of sex is a great idea.

    Discussions about sex, information about sex, yes to all of these things. But sex shops? No. Not until they're late-teens and preferably even then not with a parent. Boundaries are healthy.

    Commenter
    TK
    Date and time
    July 31, 2013, 9:07AM
    • I know a friend whose dad let him watch porn at a young age and said he can watch any porn he wants except of course underage porn. It was the funniest thing. While me and the boys i know had to watch it behind our parents back.

      Commenter
      JordyBordyMordy
      Date and time
      July 31, 2013, 9:14AM
      • Have you even been to a sex shop recently? They aren't exactly tame or discreet. I am not sex negative nor a prude but there is a time and a place for these things. Why run the risk of confusing or upsetting your 10 year old child?

        Provide them with information and discuss sex with them and address their questions when they ask them. Don't thrust them into that world at that age. Isn't innocence coveted any more?

        Let them visit the sex shop on their own time, like when they are 18 and drunk like I did.

        Commenter
        carlabunga
        Date and time
        July 31, 2013, 10:02AM
        • It is amazing to see how far degeneracy is coming along these days. So fast. Push articles like this, and therefore degeneracies such as this, and you will hasten the decline of the West all the more sooner.

          Commenter
          Longshanks
          Date and time
          July 31, 2013, 10:18AM
          • Isn't illegal to expose minors to material or take them into these shops at all? Mandatory reporting case I thinks. I work as youth counsellor and see what happens when 8 year old + are exposed to sex too early and in wrong context. No different to letting 10 year old drink - this woul dbe a case for mandatory reporting, why not this?

            Commenter
            pete
            Date and time
            July 31, 2013, 11:42AM
            • No sex shop owner would let a child in there, as it would make them liable for prosecution. No 10 year old should know about sex toys or be made to look at them with their mother. It is child abuse!

              Maybe a 13 or 14 year old girl could sit on a computer and order a sex toy, but not a 10 year old in a shop!

              Commenter
              Chinpy
              Date and time
              July 31, 2013, 1:56PM
          • I think you'll find the 10 year old won't be allowed in to the shop to begin with. Most, if not all sex shops have a strict 18+ rule, that I think may be actually the rule of law in some states. Certainly having worked in one, our rules were hard and fast, no minors allowed, no exceptions. I copped a bollocking from the manager for allowing a couple with a sleeping baby in a Pram in to the shop I worked at. I felt bad for them, but those were the rules.

            On the other hand, I witnessed another couple have a raging argument with the same boss about their "right" to bring their 5 year old in to the shop, and not allowing them was "discrimination". The boss told them go to speak to a solicitor or a cop if they wanted, but they were not coming in. We never saw or heard from them again, so either they chickened out, or they were told we were, in fact, within our rights to deny entry.

            Commenter
            Rob
            Date and time
            July 31, 2013, 1:47PM

            More comments

            Comments are now closed