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Episode 11

Did you get “the talk” from your parents when you were young? When and how did you “explore” your own body? Did you use the correct names for genitalia? How did your childhood exposure shape your adulthood beliefs and actions?

In episode one of our two-part conversation with Dr. Logan Levkoff, we focus on sexuality through the scope of cultural influences, young children, and how to navigate the complicated landscape when parenting sex education during those early developmental stages.

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Sasza Lohrey: Dr. Logan Levkoff encourages honest conversations about sexuality and the role that it plays in our culture as she works to create an environment where people not only feel comfortable asking but getting answers to their most personal questions. Dr. Logan encourages and empowers children, adolescents, parents and adults to challenge the impractical and often unhealthy messages that we’re too often exposed to. In episode one of our two part conversation with Logan, we focus on sexuality through the scope of cultural influences on young children, and how to navigate the complicated landscape when parenting during those early formative stages. This episode was inspired by some of the questions I’ve received about young children, for example, what to do when they’re discovering their bodies really early on, besides congratulating them for figuring it out about 15 years before I did. Other questions include what the impacts might be of using nicknames rather than the actual terms for intimate body parts, not to mention the 1 million other questions that must be floating around in the heads of parents of young children every single day. 

Sasza Lohrey: Okay, well, thanks, Logan, for being with us here today. I’m so excited to talk to you.

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Thank you for having me. 

Sasza Lohrey: To start out, you examine sexuality throughout the lifespan, kind of just to touch on and to really shine a light on that. So that beginning this conversation, people understand the reality of sexuality throughout the lifespan. 

Dr. Logan Levkoff: We all have a sexuality. And it’s important throughout our lives, no matter how we want to or choose to express it. So sexuality with the capital S is, I mean, yes, part of it is our assigned sex and our gender identity. But it’s also our sexual orientation, how we express our gender, our sexual desires, the roles we communicate in relationships, and that we act on in relationships, and all of our values associated with sexuality in our body. So it’s this big, really important aspect of who we are. And you’re absolutely right. It evolves over time, what we do, who we do it with what we want to do, because it’s impacted by so many things, not just our own sense of self, but culture, politics, religion, relationships, or relationship, health, all of those things impact who we are and what we do.

Sasza Lohrey: And what do you see as some of those things you just mentioned, culture, politics, media, but which ones do you see kind of as really the most hard hitting and most influential with this sort of thing?

Dr. Logan Levkoff: It’s a great question, and I’m not sure it really has an answer, because I think it depends on what stage you are in, during your life, you know, for children and teens, they are probably most influenced. I mean, first, they’re really most influenced by family, parents, family values, for sure. But where pop culture and media and friends beat have such a huge role in their lives, you can see them unless they’ve developed really good critical thinking skills, being super impacted by pop culture in a way that maybe adults aren’t as much because they’ve developed a ideally–

Sasza Lohrey: Now with social media, right? 

Dr. Logan Levkoff: They’ve developed, you know, some filter for, for understanding the difference between what’s education on what’s supposed to be entertaining. But that being said, social media, shapes, shapes and reshapes that again. So I don’t think there’s one particular thing that is most influential, I think that at any given moment in time, those things switch.

Sasza Lohrey: And it’s so interesting, too, because it’s almost as though kind of media and influence of politics then defines our culture. So media becomes culture, or when language becomes culture, then they’re all blended together and kind of working together in this convoluted way that sometimes it’s hard to even trace back our problems our mindset comes from.

Dr. Logan Levkoff: There’s no question it’s one big giant mess. Currently, and and I feel worse now than ever before that certain things dictate our media which dkictate our values. And, and we have a hard time sometimes identifying what are really our deep seated personal values, and what are those just have the that amorphous world around us?

Sasza Lohrey: Do you think there was ever a time where it wasn’t a mess, or was there like, an epicenter to the storm?

Dr. Logan Levkoff: I don’t even remember anymore.

Sasza Lohrey: Right?

Dr. Logan Levkoff: It certainly felt that there was a time where even if it wasn’t simpler, it certainly seemed simpler. You know, and I think of that with just 24 hour media, technology, social media. As a sexuality educator, and also as a as a parent and someone who work works with and lives with young people all the time. I, I really, I tell them so quite frequently, probably more so than I should, that I am so happy that I am not a young person in this day and age, that there was an inevitability during adolescence that you would mess up at some point, because that’s how you figure out who you are. And, you know, look, but the only people who, you know, know what I did, were the people who were there. And they’re not saying anything, because they were there. Whereas I don’t think we give anyone but certainly for young people where, where it feels weightier, the freedom to figure out who they are, and mess up without having some really dire consequences.

Sasza Lohrey: So one of those kind of, amongst the mess of these, these influences is kind of like culture and its most specific form, which is your personal culture. I’ve remember when I was studying abroad, and that kind of comes from the way we’re raised, and this subculture that we grow up in. And so what would you say about the importance and the I guess how strong that is that family influence?

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Family influence is huge, because they are typically our first relationship role models. So oftentimes, we tend to fall into patterns that mimic that which we’ve seen, unless it is so awful. And we recognize early on that it is so awful, that we managed to undo some of that and do deliberately the opposite. But yeah, I mean, our relationship role models are typically that which we see first. And sometimes those models and I say that that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be positive, sometimes the models are really bad. But it doesn’t mean that you are destined to repeat that which you see all of the time. But it does take work, it takes a lot of work, because sometimes we don’t realize it until we’re older. And we listen to ourselves say things. And you have that reality check. Oh my god, I just I sound exactly like, you know, whoever it was my mother, my father, someone I saw growing up that I may or may not have wanted to mimic.

Sasza Lohrey: And going back to that, definitely, I think, oftentimes some of our favorite attributes, given that it wasn’t a terrible experience, which sometimes it’s really hard to realize, when you’re you know, that’s the first thing you’ve seen. So your context is all in relation to that. But some of our favorite attributes about ourselves, definitely come from our family, our parents. And I think usually too some of the things that may be, if not, in our mind, in other people’s might not be the favorite attributes, kind of our weaknesses, or things that we really need to work on. Those also come from our family, and generally our parents.

Dr. Logan Levkoff: They certainly can. strengths and weaknesses really can be anything can be enhanced by those people around us. And sometimes we fall into patterns where we repeat the same. Yeah, I mean, maybe not mistake, maybe challenging circumstance over and over again. And it’s, it can take a wake up call, or someone really looking at you and saying, “Have you noticed that?” There seems to be a similarity with all of these experiences you’re having? 

Sasza Lohrey: I’ve heard, it’s actually from the movie generation wealth, but somebody mentions that your children are a mirror that reflect back and force you to kind of re examine who you are, because in that way, they kind of do make you wonder, because I think every single parent is wondering, what am I passing on to my kid and obviously, you want to pass on all the good things, but it forces you to realize that there are these bad things you don’t want to pass them on. So I don’t know if you would have any advice or you know, in your own experience.

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Yes. So you’re absolutely right. And the first time a child parrots back something that their parent has said or in a tone that you know that we may have said it is a tremendous wake up call when you realize that you know, they’ve been listening the whole time. But one of the things that I try and do and I really encourage parents and caregivers and I’ll when I use the word parent, I don’t necessarily mean biological, right? I mean any adults figure who’s helping to raise a young person. I’ll often say that I when I mess up, I am really quite deliberate in making sure that my kids hear me apologize for messing up. Right and that I take accountability not just with my partner, but also to and in front of my kids too, right? Because that’s the modeling to acknowledge. Okay, you know what, sometimes I say things I shouldn’t say, but I’m owning that, and I’m apologizing for it. Because that’s important, it’s important to let someone know that, you know, you hear them that their perspective is valued. And that we’re all human at the end of the day. But that’s a hard thing to do. Because sometimes we don’t want to look fallible in front of those people. 

Sasza Lohrey: And we don’t want to be human. We want to be a super human, which can’t keep up with. Are there any personal experiences that you would say have been kind of particularly insightful? Or are you like to use as example? 

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Yeah, absolutely. So first, you should know that anytime I talk about my kids, I’ve gotten their consent and in advance, which I think is really important to do, whether it’s in an interview or at a lecture or on social media, because I mean, I work with a lot of, you know, children and teens. And I’ll always talk about, do you get your friends’ consent before you post a photo of them. And inevitably, someone will say, Well, my parents don’t get mine. If asked them first model the behavior for them. And if they say no, cut them, if you think you look hot, and a photo, cut them out of it.

Sasza Lohrey: But use a good zoom. 

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Totally, but that’s a really important thing. Right? So that’s a perfect example of the the model. So one of I think, the most poignant parenting experiences for me, it was actually when my son was three, I was pregnant with his sister. And at some point, during that time, he said to me, “Mom, what ingredients make a baby?” And I thought it was the most brilliant thing I’d ever heard. And, and literally, since then, especially with younger students, I think that this concept of, of using the creation of pregnancy as a recipe with all the different ways and ingredients and tools that people use is a supermodel, because it’s much easier to understand. So I explained, sperm and egg are the ingredients and you know, male bodies have sperm and their testicles and and, and if you have ovaries, their eggs in them, and that those two things together, can create a pregnancy. And he said, Okay, so I have sperm. I said, “Well, one day not yet. “And I said “is there? Do you wanna know how they meet?” “ Nope.” All good. 

Sasza Lohrey: So just the right ingredients, 

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Right? 

Sasza Lohrey: It’s going to the grocery store, which is perfect, which is perfect, 

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Because that was the important thing when ingredients create a pregnancy. And so fast forward, I mean, fast forward, no joke, like a year and a half. And we’re, he’s going to bed one night on a Sunday, his sister is probably my daughter is six months old. And he whispers in my ear right before bed. “Okay, I’m going to ask you something. But then I don’t want us to talk about it. I’m just going to go to bed.”  And which you basically know, there’s no way possible, right? That this is gonna happen. And he says to me, “So I was thinking, you know, when you had Memphis who says, sister, so I had a thought.” I said, “What’s the thought? He said, What if daddy put his penis in your vulva?” And I said, “Wow, that’s an amazing question. And like, we are totally going to talk about it.” And so, you know, he jumped on my bed. I said, “you know, tell me like, it’s a great question. How did this come up? Like, just mark, how are you thinking this?” And I said, “were you talking about in school?” “No, no, no, I just thought about it now.” And but the reality is that we had spent a week watching that there was a docu series called life on Discovery. And it had like the mating habits of mammals and plant life and sea creatures. And I think that something must have just clicked. But I said to him, “tell me what you remember about what ingredients make a baby?” and he said, “sperm and egg.” And I said, “You don’t have sperm and egg typically meet, you know, typically, because of all the cool reproductive tech, yeah.” And he said, “No.” I said, “Well, typically they meet when someone puts their penis inside of someone’s vagina and sperm swim to meet the egg.” I said, “So you were right. Like, that was an awesome question.”  And he looked at me and said, “I was right.” And he was he was so proud and beaming. I said, “Do you have any other questions?” He said, “No.” I said, “Well, listen, I’m so excited that you’re so mature and thoughtful, and that you came to me first with the question, and that this was, you know, this was just, this was like, any other conversation we could possibly have.” So he went to bed that night, and I spoke to my mother who panicked, right? He’s gonna go tomorrow and tell everyone at school. And I said, “You know what, I don’t think so. Because this was not, you know, this was not a taboo conversation.” He asked a question he got an answer. But I’ll check in with him in the morning. So that morning, the following morning, he was going to school and I said, Listen, you know, I just want you to know that not every kid is ready to have those kind of conversations and parents sometimes like to tell them first. So, you know, if kids ask questions or anything, you know, why don’t you talk to me first, before you say anything? He’s like, “Yeah, no, no problem.” I said, “But is there anything else you want to know?” And he said, “No. And then there was this pause.”  And he said, “Yes. When you were a little girl, did your mom answer all of your questions?” And to this day, and that was obviously a very long winded way of getting to the point of the story. But that, to me is always at the core, our kids simply want to know that someone they love and trust and who loves and loves them unconditionally, is going to be there to answer their questions. I mean, that is it. Anytime a parent comes to me, and is really nervous about giving an honest answer. I repeat, maybe a shorter version of that story. But I remind them that your kid just wants to know that you are going to be there to tell them the truth. That’s all they want. Does the person who loves me, are they going to be there?

Sasza Lohrey: That’s an incredible story. I’m, like, stunned and I think that, unfortunately, that isn’t the case for a lot of people, but really shapes people and kind of allows that that mess that comes later on. It allows people to filter it out, when since they were so young, they have these positive influences, or even just that resource, even if they don’t use it knowing it’s there. And I think probably a lot of parents assume Well, my kid knows that I’m here whenever they want to answer when they need answers. But–

Dr. Logan Levkoff: But they must evidence of that 

Sasza Lohrey: –Explicitly made it clear that I think a lot of children will not assume that and won’t feel comfortable enough, unless there’s just really space cut out for that and an effort made to specifically address it.

Dr. Logan Levkoff: I would also say that one of the challenges with having a media chock full of experts, and I say that recognizing that I am that is that. I think sometimes there’s so much noise of all these ways that we tell parents, that the the myriad of ways you can mess up your kids, right, that what happens is we become totally paralyzed. And we say nothing at all, right? And we either assume that they know, we assume they’re going to get it from somewhere else. And we’re so afraid of messing up that we just shut down. And for me, my message is always trust your instinct, if your instinct is to tell them the truth, tell them the truth. That’s exactly what they need. But there are plenty of people who don’t necessarily say that.

Sasza Lohrey: Yeah. Would there be a couple of kind of do’s and don’ts that you would kind of prescribe to parents? In terms? 

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Yes, definitely. When someone asks us a question, I think it’s always important to get some context because it’ll help you craft your answer. You know, on a strategic note, it helps you by a little bit of time to sort of rework in your head what you want to say if you’re really thrown off guard. So I think to say, amazing question, tell me how this came up, gives you a lot of information, because it helps you craft what you’re going to say. The other piece of it is, I always think that honesty is the best policy, once a kid knows that you’ve lied to them, either deliberately or inadvertently, you’ve really lost them and you’ve lost them for a long time. And and they’ll pretend like they’re listening to you, but they aren’t really listening, right? They’re not really internalizing it. And we wind up doing that a lot. Like, for example, we don’t often talk about sex as being a lot of different behaviors that aren’t just about procreation, that are also about pleasure and intimacy. Right? If we leave that out, what is that telling a young person? Well, why are all these people having sex? Why is there sex all over TV and in movies and in pornography, if there’s not something, you know, less scientific, and more fun? So I think telling the truth, being positive, getting some context is really important. And on the flip side, if people feel like their kids don’t want to talk to them, my answer is always, well, that’s too bad. Yeah, that’s too bad. And and I think that it also helps when a parent says to their, you know, child, your teenager who’s rolling their eyes at them, like we know this stuff, ready to say, “Listen, I get it, you know, this stuff already. But here’s the deal. I’m not telling you these things for your benefit. I’m telling you for me, because when I became a parent, I signed up to talk to you about certain things. And I would not be, you know, fulfilling my responsibilities as an adult figure if I didn’t talk to you about those things. So here’s the deal. You can sit and listen, I get it. You know everything already. It’s for me.” And it really takes the pressure off. And because it is really a parent’s responsibility, I mean, as an educator in schools and in a lot of schools, I mean, I don’t have enough time to give young people every single thing that they need. And in fact, it’s not my job to give their route values anyway. I simply supplement what families are doing all the time. So we should do it, we have that responsibility and opportunity.

Sasza Lohrey: Going back to when we’re talking to, to children who are this young or perhaps even before there’s really the capacity for conversation? There’s a lot of talk more recently about what language do I use? What names do I use, perhaps for, you know, special parts on the body. And a lot of people have said, it’s really important to use the scientific names or the real names and not to kind of hide behind a facade that again, later ends up shaping in perspective. So if you could just speak a bit to that–

Dr. Logan Levkoff: I am definitely a stickler for correct language as it relates to anatomy. So ever since well, ever since my kids were born, we use correct terms for body parts. So we say vulva, because external genitalia, if you’re assigned female is not the vagina, it’s the vulva. And we use penis and testicles, and it does a lot of things. I struggle with the idea that we need sort of juvenile silly terms for genitals in order to make them more palatable, right, it just makes us more detached from our bodies, it makes it harder for us to communicate about them, not just if there is a problem. But even when we talk about pleasure, if we have to say a really silly name, right now, I get it. Every family has its own, you know, value system for talking about bodies. But I think that even if you use silly names, every person should know what the real terms are. I mean, there’s a lot of power that comes from language. And being honest, this part is called this, whatever it is, is, is super important. And having a universal language is also really essential when we talk about overall sexual health. Because when we have different terms, it’s hard to know what someone is talking about. So imagine if there’s a non consensual situation, or some sort of abusive situation, how do we communicate that if we don’t all share the same language for bodies, and it becomes really challenging.

Dr. Logan Levkoff: And you just kind of mentioned the the power of language, and truly how that can translate to the power over our own bodies, which just, it’s important.

Sasza Lohrey: I really have. My students always laugh because I really hate the term private parts. I hate it so much. And I hate it, because these parts are personal right there for us, unless we choose to share them with other people. And also, I mean, in certain contexts, like going to the doctor, if it’s in, you know, during an exam, that’s different, right. But this idea of them being private, I think what happens, especially with young people, is that when you call something private, over and over and over again, private becomes synonymous with secret. And so in a classroom, when I walk in after, you know, 10, 11, 12 years of them not even acknowledging that they have these body parts, it’s it’s super traumatic, and causes a lot of like hysteria. But also, they don’t realize that these are actually really important parts that are valuable parts. So I think that it has long term implications. And, you know, if we want to inevitably have healthy, intimate pleasurable relationships, we have to feel a little bit more attached to our body, and not so detached from it.

Sasza Lohrey: Yeah. Another thing that I think comes up a lot later on between adolescents or even adults, that isn’t kind of recognized and either parents don’t know what’s happening or don’t know how to kind of manage the situation would be masturbation, but masturbation to me is I think, like doing an action for pleasure. And with this goal of an orgasm kind of is to me what masturbation is versus child masturbation, as one might say, I doesn’t even have the same capacity. I’m not I’m not sure and like, if the intention is different.

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Well, that’s that’s a good question. I mean, I you know, for me, masturbation is simply the act of touching or rubbing your body because it gives you pleasure, right? And I’m not even necessarily sure the end goal is an orgasm as much as it is the experience of pleasure. I think that as we get older and we recognize that we can give ourselves an orgasm-

Sasza Lohrey: There it is, right? 

Dr. Logan Levkoff: And then pleasure becomes you know, the, you know, the possibility of having an orgasm or you know, ejaculation. But when you know children are younger, it’s still about pleasure and exploration, there’s just not this very sophisticated understanding of what might happen.

Sasza Lohrey: Yeah. 

Dr. Logan Levkoff: But I’m a big believer that masturbation is not only have been a very typical part of development and throughout the lifespan, but actually a really important one, it’s really healthy to want to understand how your body functions, what it looks like what it feels like. And intellectually, there is a huge amount of power, knowing that your body is capable of experiencing pleasure, regardless of your relationship status, that you’re not, you don’t need to rely on someone else to turn you into a pleasure to sexual being.

Sasza Lohrey: That’s an amazing part. And so if somebody has, for example, a parent in the situation, and is there a certain time at which it’s appropriate to like, label it or recognize it, or certain things they can do? If I, for example, you know, if somebody had once contacted us curious about, I think it was a two or three year old, their child kind of masturbating every night before bed, with their blanket, or just kind of not necessarily with any goal or awareness whatsoever. But whether or not to recognize it, they didn’t want to kind of stop this, because it seemed like something very natural. And, but again, they didn’t know how common so I assured them is much more common than a lot of people realize. But then how to kind of manage that situation or not discourage it. But make sure that whatever it’s, you know, associating it with being something you don’t do at school, for example, or something.

Dr. Logan Levkoff: It’s really interesting, because masturbation as a self soothing technique for children is really common. And when you think about it, on a macro level, it’s really no different from why adults masturbate, right, there is a self soothing, and pleasure and relaxation or lack of stress, or this release. So in the end, it’s it’s not so different. It’s just that, you know, as adults, we have a very far more deliberate goal or understanding about what we’re doing. But child masturbation is absolutely really common. And we certainly shouldn’t discourage it. But we can say, you know, if it’s, you know, in public, and by the way, here’s the deal, like before, three or four years old, you can tell a kid a million times, “Hey, you know what, like, if you want to explore your body, that’s great, but not at the dinner table, not when we have guests overnight, when your grandparents are sitting next to you, it does not matter there.” I mean, that’s, you could say it a million times, they’ll still do it. But I think the way we talk about it should be that that’s an amazing thing. And your body is this amazing place. And it’s really just for you. So like, for example, if I was in, you know, if someone is in their kid’s bedroom, where they’re doing it every night, you know, I would say that you could say to someone, you know, look, exploring, your body is so important. It’s so amazing, but it’s something that’s just for you and your body. So I’m gonna, you know, I’m gonna leave and give you a few minutes. And then like, I’ll, you know, come in when you want to kiss before bed, or something like that. And I think we can talk about it as not necessarily about it being something private. But I mean, it’s private and personal. But it’s such a personal intimate act, that it’s not for public consumption. It’s really just for you, in the privacy of your own space. 

Sasza Lohrey: But it doesn’t need to be a secret.

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Right? 

Sasza Lohrey: That’s yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So in terms of trying to make sure there’s a healthy conversation and culture surrounding sexuality in early age, but also through adolescence, in those kind of formative years. Would you have any suggestions also, in terms of like, it seems as though the only sex education for sure in school that’s given his then maybe like sexual health versus emotional edge–

Dr. Logan Levkoff: A more holistic look into it? Yeah. We definitely have our work cut out for us in the sexuality, education space. We in the United States are super challenged by anything that has to do with young people and sex. And I think we forget that the hallmark of adolescence is exploring your sexuality. I mean, that’s what it is all about. And it doesn’t have to be something that’s bad or taboo or unhealthy. In fact, it’s really just the opposite. These are the times when you really figure out who you are. Not just as a sexual being and not just body related but who you are as a partner as a friend. How you deal with intimate situations, these are models for the future, how we learn to communicate how we learn to recover, when sometimes rejection happens, which is a, I mean, a reality that we all experience and a really important one, and how we deal with intimacy and vulnerability, this is the time we start to test it all out, so that we can become healthy, functioning adults. But we don’t always encourage that we don’t always encourage the thoughts about what it means to be a good partner, what it means to be a good friend how to deal with vulnerability and rejection, which are really mean keys to being a functioning human being. We don’t always do that. Now, we talk and we talk a lot about consent, which is essential. So I’m not minimizing that at all. But I think that one of the issues that we have within the consent conversation is that we don’t talk about why it’s so hard to have these conversations, which is that we have such a tremendous fear of being rejected, and how to manage rejection when it happens, right how to how to deal with that, how to allow someone to speak up for themselves, and maybe not be on the same page with you and give them that but at the same time, deal with the feelings we have, which are sadness, or anger or frustration.

Sasza Lohrey: It sounds as though I’m thinking of the ingredient list. And so if it wasn’t for the ingredient list for a baby, if it’s the ingredient list for sex, you know, some people might say, a body or, and consent and a bed or something, but it’s that it’s the vulnerability. It’s the communication, it’s the trust and all of those other respects.

Dr. Logan Levkoff:  And by the way, an understanding of your own body and your own body’s functions and that an empowerment about your body and how it and how it works. You know, I think that one of the things and I I work with a lot of high schoolers, and the thing that’s come up a lot lately is a question they asked me all the time. Logan, “Wow do I do something without seeming awkward?” Which saddens me so much, because this idea that we are uncomfortable with being awkward, I mean, like sex is awkward. vulnerability is awkward, right? naked bodies are awkward, and that’s okay. Awkward is not a negative, that’s just a reality. So, if we’re trying to create a world where everything seems super glossy and smooth, well, it’s never gonna work out that way. Right? Instead of owning the awkward and owning the discomfort and just getting past it, which is really how we become resilient.

Sasza Lohrey: Yeah, not only recognizing that things, inevitably will be awkward at some point. But also half of it is just, if you feel awkward, it comes across as awkward. versus if the parent knows how to talk to the child, or if the child feels comfortable asking the questions, it could, in some situations, take all the awkwardness. 

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Absolutely. Or just say, you know, this is an awkward conversation for me to have. I never said I’ve never said this before, but I, you know, I really want to know, and you know, whatever you can say whatever you want afterwards. But if you’re upfront about it, that goes a really long way. It also, I think, tell someone else that you care enough about them and whatever that dynamic is to push past the awkward because you know, there’s value to it, you know that there’s something good that comes that comes out of it. But awkward is important. And you know, when it’s funny when we talk about and it can be fun. It’s totally fun. And that’s the thing. When I when I work with adults, or when I do like adult groups, I always say, you know, you don’t this idea of like, what was the greatest orgasm you ever had? Like, who the hell remembers that? But the time you really remember is the time where, like, everything, you were so sweaty that like someone fell off the bed, right? And you laugh hysterically. And it was a total disaster. But it was hysterical. Right? Those are the moments you you remember, you don’t you know, you don’t remember the things that seem so perfect. Because there’s, there’s just no such thing.

Sasza Lohrey: And if there was, it would just be boring because it would just mean people were trying so hard to control the situation to make it perfect that it would just be boring.

Dr. Logan Levkoff: Right? And and that’s, you know, the other piece of that I think is just in terms of behavior is that this that, you know, sex meets a lot of different things. And we have this weird hierarchy about what counts as sex and what is more sex and it’s super hetero sexist. And, you know, I like the idea of redefining sex and intimacy to be a range of behaviors, you know, all that all come with the potential for pleasure and all come with, you know, certain responsibilities, intellect, you know, intellectual and emotional responsibilities as well as physical responsibilities. And all of those things count. There’s there’s no hierarchy of like, what’s more sex than something else.

Sasza Lohrey: That concludes episode one of our two part series with Dr. Logan. Levkoff tuned and catch us on the next episode. Thank you so much for tuning in to listen to the BBXX podcast. You can learn more on our website or on our social media at bbxx.world. And if you believe in what we’re doing, please do help spread the love by sharing this with someone you care about. Until next time. 

On this week’s episode we bring you part one of our two-part conversation with Dr. Logan Levkoff, a parenting and sexuality expert who encourages honest and open conversations about sexuality throughout childhood and adolescence. We hope that you feel empowered by this discussion and able to be more open and honest within your own life.

Sexuality Throughout the Lifespan

Sexuality exists in us throughout our lives and is comprised of our sexual orientation, how we express our gender and our gender identity, our sexual desires, the roles we communicate and act on in our relationships, and all of our values associated with sexuality and our bodies. It’s an incredibly important aspect of who we are.

Impacts on our Sexuality

Various different elements can affect the development of sexuality throughout our lives including (but not limited to) the culture we live in, media we consume, our family values, the politics of our environment, religion and religious traditions, relationships that we have, and the health of those relationships as they affect who we are and what we do.

Family Influence

Our family is usually our first relationship model, which means that we can tend to fall into patterns that we have seen and grown up around. Sometimes those models can be positive, and sometimes they can be negative. We aren’t destined to repeat our childhoods, but it
takes work to change our behaviors.

Breaking the Cycle

The first time a child parrots back something we may have said – it’s a tremendous wake up when you realize – uh oh, they’ve been listening the whole time.

One important tool to use in raising a kid is to acknowledge your mistakes to them. Taking accountability models positive behaviors and ownership over mistakes – since we will all make mistakes!

Kids and Consent

Asking for consent about daily things – like posting a photo online or giving a hug – gives you an opportunity to model consent behavior in various ways.

Age Appropriate Conversations

Kids will ask questions when we least expect them and sometimes we aren’t prepared. One way to ease into the conversation is asking how the question came up for them: have they been learning about it at school, watching a specific show, etc.? This allows you an opportunity to better understand where they are coming and helps you craft your answer. Be honest. Use the
information you know they have to explain the answer to them. A good example of this is using the creation of pregnancy as a recipe – with various ingredients and tools – as it’s easier for younger kids to understand.

Our kids simply want to know that someone they love and trust, and that loves them unconditionally, is going to be there to answer their questions.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do: Get context around the topic and question, tell the truth, and be positive!
Don’t: Assume they know and avoid the conversations.

Talking Body Parts

Using correct language as it relates to anatomy is very important because it connects us to our whole body. Even if you use silly names, everyone should teach the proper names too: vulva and penis. Using juvenile language makes us more detached from our bodies which not only makes it harder to talk about when there’s a problem, but also makes it more difficult later on
when talking about pleasure. Having a universal language is essential when talking about sexual health!

Masturbation

Not only is it a common and typical part of development, it’s also important and healthy to want to understand how our bodies function – what they look like, what they feel like. It’s also empowering to learn that your body is capable of feeling pleasure no matter what your relationship status is.

We forget that the hallmark of adolescence is exploring your sexuality… it doesn’t have to be something that’s bad or taboo or unhealthy. In fact, it’s really just the opposite. These are the times when you really figure out who you are, not just as a sexual being and not just body related, but who you are as a partner, as a friend, how you deal with intimate situations. These are our models for the future.

No additional resources found for this episode.

About the Expert

Logan Levkoff

Logan Levkoff

sexuality. relationships. parenting.

Logan Levkoff is an AASECT Certified Sex Educator and Sex Educator Supervisor and served on the AASECT Board of Directors. She received her Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Life Education from New York University and an M.S. in Human Sexuality Education. Logan is dedicated to perpetuating healthy and positive messages about sexuality and relationships. She speaks on a wide range of issues, including sexual health and sexuality education, trends in sexuality, relationship hurdles, and the role of sexuality in pop culture and politics.

Episode Discussion

Home Forums Episodes 11 & 12 – “The Birds and The Bees” with Logan Levkoff

  • Episodes 11 & 12 – “The Birds and The Bees” with Logan Levkoff

  • Valentina 

    September 14, 2020 at 7:53 am
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    • What did you learn about yourself?
    • What did you learn about culture?
    • What was your favorite quote?
    • What surprised you most?
    • What is one way you can enact what you learned in your own life?
    • How can we each help shift the culture and the conversation surrounding this topic?
  • Amy

    September 15, 2020 at 2:17 pm
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    The thing that I learned about myself while listening to this episode was that I had the sex talk with my parents and I knew what to do when it comes to sex. I also was exposed to sexual images in magazines at 13. I have young girls in my family who have and will be exposed to sexual images, but it will be different from when I was younger. The thing that I learned about culture is that it exposes young girls and boys to images that glorify sex and they think that those images are what sex is all about. I would hope that those young people will have the sex talk with their parents and have a quality sex education class The thing that surprised me most was that kids are thoughtful enough to ask questions about sex and hope for an honest answer.The one way that I can enact what I learned in my own life is to be honest with my future children when they ask questions about sex and to not be afraid to be honest. The way that we can shift culture and the conversation around this topic is to explain to kids that the images they are exposed to are not what sex is and to be as honest with kids as possible.

  • Hope

    September 17, 2020 at 10:45 am
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    The hardest pill to swallow after listening to this episode was that I realized myself, along with many other young adults my age and below, were not given the right amount of tools to succeed. What I mean when I say this is that we were not educated in sex! Instead of being given the tools in school to learn about these topics, we were driven to look things up on our own on the internet. I can’t speak for everyone, but this leads to a misinterpretation of what sex is and should be– specifically for young women. Masturbation is one of the main things I noticed was solely discussed for boys as a positive thing and not even mentioned for girls–

    stigmatizing this feeling of pleasure for young women. I just hope that the culture of sex continues to change and people continue to educate themselves on what they want and think sex should mean, to them.

    • Valentina 

      September 21, 2020 at 8:58 am
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      Totally agree with you, Hope! I had the exact same feeling listening to the episode, specially regarding masturbation. When it comes to men it’s the most normal thing in the world but for women it has been super taboo. I’ve noticed that changing a bit and I hope it continues in order to have better sex education for boys AND girls.

  • BBXX 

    September 23, 2020 at 12:24 pm
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    Wow I can remember the moment when my parents too quoted the “birds and bees” talk and I am sure that even though their intentions were the best, they did not educate me for everything I am now experiencing in my early 20s and that is somehow upsetting since it has made me feel vulnerable and lonely. If I can highlight anything from this episode is that I definitely want to make a change for the next generations starting with my children as to fighting stigma around pleasure with my gfs! (which I think I have been doing well lately) I remain hopeful about breaking the stigma around these talks ever since BBXX!

  • BBXX 

    September 28, 2020 at 9:06 am
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    I’m grateful for my parents not shying away from the “talk” when I was younger (and giving me an All American Girl book about puberty in middle school), but my peers were not as fortunate. We all still had to learn about gender identity and different sexualities online. While it helped us understand ourselves better, I wish we would have been given a safe space to talk about these topic with an adult. Definitely would have sped up the self-discovery process!

  • Jessica

    September 28, 2020 at 10:20 am
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    Safe sex and healthy relationships weren’t discussed in my sex ed classes in grade school—nor in my conservative Chinese home. It wasn’t until I attended college that I was empowered to safely navigate the waters of sexuality, intimacy, and relationships. I really wish there were more honest and open conversations about sexuality in my childhood and adolescence. This episode taught me how I can teach healthy and positive messages about sexuality and relationships to my future children.

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