If you’re over 60, 70 and beyond, how did sex misinformation and the lack of a decent sex education form your attitude about sex? What did you have to learn or unlearn to become the person you are today?
I’ll start. I was born in 1943. This was my sex education:
- When I was in junior high, my school’s gender-segregated sex education program was comprised of a filmstrip showing drawings of the reproductive system (no clitoris to be found) and a lecture about menstruation — why it happens, what to expect. I recall nothing about why people might choose to have sex!
- When I was a young teenager, my sex education was a pamphlet handed to me by my father, an obstetrician/gynecologist, explaining how the sperm fertilized the egg — but nothing about how the sperm got to the egg, and nothing about arousal or pleasure.
- When I was an older teenager, my father told me, “The best birth control is a dime — held firmly between the knees.” He did not want me to end up like some of my classmates who came to his office for a pregnancy test and later were shipped off to have the baby somewhere and give it up for adoption. These were the days before legal abortion.
- The summer before I started college, my grandmother told me, “Don’t ever let a boy have his way with you! If you do, he’ll never marry you. After all, why buy the cow when you can get the milk free?” I was already having sex with my high school boyfriend.
- During my freshman year in college, my father found out that I was having sex with my high school boyfriend. My parents declared that I was never to see him alone again, only supervised by my parents or his. So I learned how to lie to my parents.
- Home for the summer after my freshman year in college, I feared I was pregnant. Rather than risk going to a local doctor who would know my family and inform my father, my former boyfriend and I drove 50 miles so that I could use a fake name and not be recognized. I never told my parents about this.
How did my lack of sex education inform my later attitudes and behavior? Fortunately, I was a rebel. You wouldn’t have guessed that looking at me. I behaved in school, dressed like a “good girl,” studied hard and got good grades, and mostly kept my divergent views to myself. But sexually, I rebelled. Thanks to my [lack of] sex education in high school, I thought I had discovered sexual passion — surely no one else knew about this! I loved getting excited, even though I wouldn’t have my first orgasm until sophomore year in college. That was one more casualty of my [lack of] sex education — we didn’t know anything about the clitoris and its role in female orgasm. Heck (I laugh to find myself falling into the language of the times!), we didn’t know anything about female orgasm, except that some women were “frigid” and it was their own fault and they should fix it.
But enough about me. How about you? What are the things you were taught — or not taught — that make you shake your head in disbelief now? If you’re over 60, please comment. Use whatever invented first name you want, but please include your real age. If you’re under 50, please stay and read the comments — this is the life we led. This is how we learned (or didn’t learn) about sex. These are the barriers we had to overcome.
Speaking of barriers, who remembers the childhood game Red Rover? “Red Rover, Red Rover, we dare Joanie to come over!” — is that how it went? The person who was summoned would race to the line of locked hands and try to break through. As tiny as I was (6th grade nickname: Mighty Mouse), I always succeeded because I barreled through any obstacle with little fear of consequence. I guess in my small way, I’m still doing that!