In the sixth grade, we had a sex ed teacher come to our class to talk about abstinence. It was very weird. By that point, I’d already masturbated (not really understanding what that was), my best friend had already had her period for four years and I seemed to be one of the only girls in class who hadn’t yet developed breasts. I’d seen piles of porn from an early age, first by stealing vhs tapes from my friends’ dad’s video store and next on the pay per view in my basement. My parents weren’t really technologically minded and didn’t understand the idea of parental controls. We had ALL the channels.
One of my school friends, a boy and I whispered during the class about how absurd this lesson was. They were teaching us things we’d already been talking about ‘amongst ourselves’ for ages as though we shouldn’t know what sex is already.
At the end of the class, the teacher told us that we were all allowed to write questions down on a piece of paper. The boy and I were the only ones who didn’t have any questions – not ones that we wanted to ask to someone telling us abstinence was mandatory and that otherwise we were going to contract STDs and/or get pregnant. The teacher left the class and the boy and I went through the pile of questions to decipher everyone’s handwriting so we could have a laugh at who didn’t know how babies were made and/or what sex was. It was highly entertaining and of course, we were severely punished, even though it was a harmless prank. We weren’t humiliating the others, just trying to find a laugh in this ultra serious business we already knew plenty about.
It is worth noting that both he and I were highly educated and remained abstinent until the people that we married (I divorced…primarily because the sex was unfulfilling and I wasn’t sure if I was missing out on being with someone else, VERY confusing – my friend had children immediately after marriage). It should also be noted that we both married our partners not for religious reasons but because we believed that love and sex belonged together. Abstinence until love was a choice and not something that we were indoctrinated to believe, no matter how hard they tried, we’d never stop mocking the sex-ed system.
I believe we don’t give children enough credit to think for themselves. And there will always be children who have genuine questions but this is not the kind of setting that makes them feel comfortable asking their questions. So instead, our junior high school was full of pregnant girls and girls conceding to much older men (pedophiles), which was a shame.
From a personal standpoint, I was sexually abused by the friend of a parent at about age 7 and until my thirties was unable to talk about it with anyone. THIS is something that needs to be addressed also. I have since learned that I am far from alone. In fact, one of my closest cousins (male) was sexually abused for almost 10 years and the inability to talk about it due to his Catholic/abstinence education has caused him a world of problems and a personality disorder. W
I hope one day we’ll talk about sex the way we talk about eating/bathing/toilet. It’s a big aspect of the human experience. Period.