Monday, June 4, 2007

Blogging for Sex Education

This is a first for me - a post done to join other posts on other blogs on a 'blogging for x' day. I am mostly doing this because I thought about it and have a few things to say on the subject, though nothing as thorough as what Ren posted. Which brings me to where this originated. Renegade Evolution suggested in a previous post that today be a Blogging for Sex Education day and invited others to join in. I read her blog regularly and appreciate her writing greatly. So without further exposition, here's my own post on the subject.

(Oh, and incidentally, it looks like the Denialism blog has one up too - I wonder where they first heard about her site).

The first thing that came to mind when I thought about sex education was my own sex education in school. I don't really remember much about it. I think I already knew most of it by the time they got around to teaching it to us, I think in 8th grade health class. The only thing I remember about the class was that the teacher, after she had a detailed discussion of the penis and the rest of the male sexual organs with lots of specific terminology and full color pictures that I'm sure had most of the boys in the class squirming in their seats, she then sort of pointed at a picture of the female anatomy, in the area of the vagina, and said something along the lines of "oh, and you know what that is." That sticks out in my mind because it was such a contrast. I suspected at the time that she was uncomfortable talking about her own anatomy - but that could just be projection because I know I would have been more uncomfortable talking about penises at the time than I would have about vaginas. That disparity stuck in my mind and now is pretty much the only thing I remember about the class.

I knew everything in the class much earlier, though I can't recall exactly when I learned it. It may have been from reading through my mother's health textbooks. I vaguely recall that back when I was really little, girls in the neighborhood would come to talk to my mother if they had questions in that area. But maybe that is just what my sister told me. I really did not pay attention to such things as a little kid - who does?

So I guess from my perspective, I really can't comment on the quality of my own public sex education since I don't think I really got it from school, but then I doubt most kids had the same experience. I think it is a very important thing to teach, and teach as young as possible. I think it is so ridiculous that some want to keep it out of schools altogether, as if not teaching about sex will somehow prevent all those hormone-laden teenagers from showing an interest in sex and acting on it. It is obviously a strong biological drive. And it is a drive that is NOT dependant on any formal education to manifest, otherwise none of us would be here because sex long predated any sort of formal education.

I just would also like to second everything in Ren's post about abstinence-only education (which has been shown to be an abysmal failure). She said it much better than I could, and she even had real data to back it up. So I won't repeat it.

And finally, I want to say this: I don't think sex education ultimately has to be all that complicated. If you use a condom properly and don't share fluids, odds are you won't catch any STDs with the possible exception of herpes, which everyone seems to catch in one form or another and is probably almost to a symbiotic relationship with our species. I was sexually active for years (ah, the "joys" of dating) and followed that simple rule and never got anyone pregnant unintentionally and also never got any STDs (and yes, I was tested for pretty much all of them - paranoia is a healthy thing sometimes).

On the flip side, when the goal was pregnancy, it was a relatively easy matter to arrange as well. We were fortunate that my wife had a regular cycle, so we just aimed for 14 days before the start of the next cycle and voila, a baby - in the first try. And this was after years of avoiding a baby when we didn't want one either through use of a condom or watching the calendar (really a combination of both). It was that easy the second time as well (though it did not turn out so well in the end).

Also, I wanted to add that when we were trying to get pregnant the second time, I double checked all of the timing issues by simply looking things up online. That has to be very different from how it was before. Sure, if you search for sex, you'll get lots of porn sites, but if you search for reproduction, you'll get lots of very useful information online. There's probably some stuff that is inaccurate as well, but there are plenty of very good very accurate resources for everyone out there on the web. Given that, probably any kid genuinely interested in how reproduction works these days could probably find that information out pretty quickly no matter how sheltered. That gives me hope.

Given how easy it is to prevent disease and unwanted pregnancy (and no, I'm not talking about abstinence) it is really sad to see both so prevalent. There's just no reason for it and it is especially infuriating to see people attempt to foster deliberate ignorance out of fears about sex, religious superstition, and bullshit morality about how only some preferred form of sex is the only one "allowed" between consenting adults.

I wonder when my own daughter will first learn about sex. I expect it may come sooner than I think. She already is exploring in that regard in the sense that she sometimes spends rather a long period of time with her hands (or her toothbrush or something else) on her genital area when she's taking a bath, something that my wife and I laugh about and basically ignore. I shudder to think that some overly religious parents punish for such things, some even burning their poor daughter's or son's hands. Talk about being messed up for life. But probably that is rare. I hope it is. Though I've known enough people, particularly women, messed up about sex because of nasty things told to them about it by their parents (and other family members).

I hope I don't botch it when the time comes to talk to my daughter. I hope I have the courage to tell it to my daughter straight, though I'm sure that parents always have trouble talking about it and kids have even more trouble hearing about sex from their parents. (This was nicely illustrated in a commercial that I found very humorous - where the kid comes home and his father is there with charts and books and graphs all in full color, all about sex, and offers to talk to his kid about sex... or they could talk about drugs. So the kid, visibly relieved, says "yeah, let's talk about drugs.")

Thus ends another stream of consciousness.

7 comments:

TinaH said...

Nothing funnier than a toddler who discovers that there's SOMETHING down there to play with... The look on my son's face was just hilarious. He's 3 1/2 now.

DBB said...

Yeah, the look on my daughter's face while she had her hands buried down there in the bath was what made us laugh. I guess the diaper is usually in the way.

Mountain said...

DBB,

Herpes and HPV are being spread rapidly in spite of condom usage. Oral sex is also transmitting most sexually transmitted disease. Chastity is the only why to be truly happy as you pointed out you were worried all the time.

The "safe" sex message is killing our kids.

DBB said...

Cars are very dangerous. Car accidents are the leading cause of death. Should we teach our children to drive safely and wear their seatbelts or should we just tell them cars are dangerous, and never to drive in one or ride in one ever?

And given how much most people enjoy sex, Chastity doesn't sound like the way to 'true happiness.' It IS possible to have very safe sex. And just telling people not to have sex is about as successful as telling people not to drive.

Mountain said...

disgusted,

I am disappointed at your weak argument. You are smarter than that.

1st the driving analogy suits me better than you.

Driving is dangerous so we do not allow kids to drive. We set restrictions we test their aptitude and issue liscenses. Should we allow 12 year olds to drive?

Secondly sex is enjoyable but so is playing baseball and eating ice cream. If you simply find sex enjoy able I would say you are being cheated. It is supposed to be so much more than that. The complete giving and receiving of another person is supposed to be more than fun it is supposed to be glorious.
But I have digressed. I think you misunderstand what chastity is. Acting on you sexual desires according to your state in life. Simply put it is sexual self-control. Without out Chastity sex is selfish, base and leaves you empty. But with Chastity sex is better much better it can even be holy.

DBB said...

Actually, the driving analogy is perfect. I got my driver's license when I was 16. The age of consent for sex in my state is also 16. Sounds like a perfect match.

And probably you could guess that an argument that something is good because it is 'holy' isn't going to get much traction with an atheist.

Sex is different things to different people. I would not presume to tell you how to have sex and I would hope you would not presume to tell me. That's the beauty of living in a free country. No one can dictate to consenting adults what they can and can't enjoy. By all means, have sex the way you want - I will neither interfere nor say anything bad about it - it is your choice, your body, your life. Enjoy!

MarkH said...

Actually, she found me. Rene left a comment on a post that cracked me up so I checked out her site, and damn she's a good feminist writer.