So MAYBE it’s just because I work for Planned Parenthood, or maybe it’s just because I’ve now learned my open and overly forthcoming parents were a rarity, but I think the ways we learn about sex and the way we first experience/define sex are fascinating.
For instance – my mom was of a generation where she kept her ten-pound “Our Bodies, Ourselves” book handy on the shelf, and felt it was her duty to teach me how to straddle a hand mirror when I was five so I could see what my vagina looked like. I learned how babies were made when I was three, when my mother became pregnant with my sister. She figured if I was old enough to ask I was old enough to know (the story goes that she emphasized the “when mommy and daddy love each other so much they decide they want to take that love and make a baby” part to the point that when she was done my first reaction was “I want to do that!” Apparently though I had the more age-appropriate “ewwwww” reaction a few years later when, having forgotten how it worked, I asked again.)
All this measures up very differently when I hear friends’ stories about how they only really learned about sex in their twenties, or thought that by only having oral, or anal sex they could still remain virgins. So, to expand my horizons a little, I asked everyone I knew to contribute their virginity and/or their how they learned about the birds & the bees stories. They’ll be going up all this week starting later today.
These are by no means meant to be exhaustive, representative, or even anything other than conversation-starting. My group of friends that I asked was narrow enough already, and the group that actually responded (under promise of anonymity!) was even more self-selecting. So, Feministe readers, I have an assignment for you. Was your experience vastly different? Please share it! Was it exactly the same? Tell us that too! No matter what your reaction, I firmly believe that the more we keep having conversations around these topics the more we learn about ourselves, each other, and possibly even about having a healthy relationship with that crazy little thing called sex.
PS – Have kids but have no clue how to talk to them? Let me just take this moment to plug PPNYC’s guide on how to talk to your kids about sex. Want to make sure NYC’s kids are being taught sex ed in school (which, surprise! Most aren’t)? Check out the “We’re Going to the Principal’s Office” campaign, which is helping make sure every kid gets medically accurate, age-appropriate sex ed.
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- Your virginity is a delicate flower, and if you give it away it will wilt and die. by Erica June 23, 2010
- On being totally ok with losing your V-card. by Erica June 22, 2010
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- One last note about sex, stories, and the whole ‘Jesus as cockblocker’ thing. by Erica June 28, 2010