by Latoya Burnham
Barbados needs to take sex off the back burner and bring it to the forefront of discussion.
Educator, psychologist, and author of How To Have Mind-Blowing Sex Without Blowing Your Brain, Denise Charles, told Barbados TODAY: “The fact that we are still having teenage pregnancies, I mean I am in a school, so the fact that we are having these pregnancies, says it is important.
“So as much as we talk about education and tell young people to use condoms if they are having sex – we do tell them to abstain as long as they can – but we do know there are some who will still have sex, so we advise them if they are having sex to be protected. Even though that message is done, some girls are still pregnant, so obviously they are not using condoms.”
Charles, had her first taped discussion titled Sex – The Big Deal, at Divi Southwinds Resort on Saturday night before a very good turnout, with panels that included entertainers Adrian Clarke and Shane Forrester, sex educator and social worker Keriann Hurley, and cricketer Tino Best.
Even though she had come across people who were either embarrassed or shy about discussing sex in the course of her profession, Charles said she believed it was a topic people wanted to talk about. Some churches too, she said, were recognising that they needed to move beyond just teaching abstinence and believing that was all the youth groups needed to know.
Hurley said she believed it was definitely something that needed to be discussed, especially for the sake of the children.
“There are some children from as early as seven, eight, who are very mature and are starting to be curious about certain things and you need to engage them in discussion even from then.
“Culturally in Barbados, and I think even in a Caribbean setting, our culture is one that makes sex very taboo. So no one ever sits and talks about it… Many of us would have learnt about sex from talking to friends and your friends ain’t necessarily no wiser than you, or by whatever books you find, on television in movies etc.
“But I think we need to be comfortable enough to sit with our preteens, our adolescents. From the time they hit puberty the sex drive is awoken and it is like, ‘Woah!’ We can’t wait till they get into their late teens and early 20s to try.”
One of the panels also included Charles’ acquaintances Cassandra Edghill, Corey Sandiford and Adam Browne in a segment called Neighbour Next Door.
Asked whether they believed sex was a big deal, Sandiford noted that in returning to Barbados after living overseas, he was struck by how preoccupied Barbadians seemed to be with sex. He commented that a regular trip to the gym overseas would find guys engaging in conversations about art, music, the hottest new artist, while here in Barbados it was like “a blue movie”.
In discussions with friends, he noted that one suggested that part of the challenge was that sex was not something openly discussed here.
“People in France begin talking about sex from an early age. It is out there, it is discussed within school and family, whereas I certainly don’t remember receiving any sex ed from any parent or relative, I learnt as I went along and I assume the average person in Barbados did as well. That’s why it is so in your face because we want to get it out.”
Edghill agreed, saying part of the problem was parents who did not want to have the sex discussion with their children.
“Most parents don’t want to talk to you about certain things so you are left to find out on your own. Luckily for me, I had a mother who was very open … but everyone does not have the same experience. I think it has a lot to do with how you are brought up as well.”