Sex Ed and Hamburgers
The most memorable thing I learned about sex was a nun in the 8th grade telling our class to “think of a hamburger when you have an impure thought.” Imagine being 13 in California in the Seventies, attending a school called Precious Blood, hearing this and trying to digest it (figuratively speaking). Was my crush on that foxy boy sitting next to me considered “impure”? Was my class’s fascination with the Ohio Players album cover showing a naked woman dripping honey on her impure? (I’m pretty sure it was, as the same nun confiscated it.) Was that warm, sexy feeling I got sunbathing by the pool impure?
Clearly, that little tidbit of advice wasn’t helpful in anyway, other than to instill a lifelong association of hamburgers with sex. But it is a classic example of how culturally, many of us are raised to associate pleasure with some form of guilt, self-denial, or even food!
My formal school sex education didn’t get any better when I got to high school (1976): I was in the first class to participate in a program called “Education for Living” which was taught by “Al the Alcoholic”, and consisted of issues as diverse as balancing your checkbook, looking at a human heart in formaldehyde, and seeing a film depicting childbirth (from which I had to excuse myself because it make me sick to my stomach!), the latter I guess was intended to scare us off sex. I don’t think we learned a lick about actual sex, STDs, contraception, bodies, or pleasure.
Fortunately, my parents, who were incapable of talking to us about sex, purchased a series of books called the Family Life Series, for which I am forever grateful. When no one was around, I would sit in the living room and devour the information in those books, learning about puberty, penises, and the sex act. I am a firm believer in steering your kids to good resources, and now with the internet, information is very accessible to the inquisitive, but nothing beats having some good books at home. My 8 year-old is a fan of It’s Perfectly Normal, and my 14-year-old reads Body Drama and S.E.X. by Heather Corinna. You can try all you want to talk to them in your most upbeat, sex-positive voice ever, but when it comes right down to it, they’re basking in their own embarrassment, which often prevents them from articulating their own questions. Case in point: I recently saw the new Twilight movie (Eclipse) with my older daughter, and her comment afterward was telling: “the most realistic scene in the whole movie was the dad and daughter talking about sex” she said, because it captured their mutual discomfort and good intentions!
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- Sex Education: Teenager Style
- Dad’s Advice to Son: Deciding When You’re Ready for Sex
- Sex Advice to a Teenager
- “Did You and Daddy Ever Do Sex?”
- Montana Sex Ed Program: Why Kids Need It