Abstinence only education taught me that sex is not about intimacy, connection, self-care or pleasure, but a biological function that causes pregnancy and STIs. Because these are not the sole components of sex, I learned more from what abstinence only education didn’t teach me.
It didn’t teach me that there is so much more to sex than reproduction and penetration, or that in order to have sexual wellness I had to explore myself and understand what sex means to me first.
It didn’t teach me that sometimes our hormones and desire for sex can lead us to people that don’t care about our wellness or pleasure, as well as cause us to overlook red flags in people like that.
It didn’t teach me that there are many different ways to be intimate with ourselves and others, which help us to learn about what sex means to us.
It didn’t teach me that sex is not the ultimate gift to be given away, or that I had a right to set boundaries around intimacy in my interpersonal relationships.
It didn’t teach me that sex is a basic component of human health, or that it is something to be explored over time with ourselves or someone that we trust, who listens.
Abstinence only education taught me that assault is inevitable, and that it’s my fault if I get assaulted because I didn’t communicate boundaries that I was never taught to create in the first place. It taught me that even though my body wanted sex, I shouldn’t engage in it or even admit that I wanted it before marriage and babies- which taught me that my pleasure and connection with others doesn’t matter. So I looked to male partners (who also didn’t know anything about sex) for answers to my questions and experienced painful, scary, confusing sexual situations for years- because I thought that in order to be valued, I had to give the ultimate gift away, and in order to be sexually satisfied, I had to do what men wanted me to do.