Through the course of my blogging, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what information I would have liked to have about sex as a teenager.  In doing so, I stumbled upon Bad Bad Girl, one of my new favorite sex bloggers, who wrote quite eloquently on the shaming and lack of information that most high school students are confronted with.  She highlights the stigma her family tried to instill in her about sex and why that hurt her as a sexual being.

“I see my mother try to influence my son… telling him that he will get his girlfriend pregnant if they have sex. That he best NOT do it. My brothers tell him that if people see he and his girlfriend kissing and such, people will thing she’s a slut. That if they have sex and people find out, guys will think she’s easy.   These are the same things they told me, 23 years ago. I remember being terrified that my mother would find out that I was sexually active, giving blow jobs to my boyfriend and the other things that friends my age were not doing yet. I was afraid she would be disappointed with me. I was scared that my brothers would thing I was a slut. My mom tried to suppress my sexuality so much that I went the other way, but always felt ashamed of it.”

I agree whole-heartedly with her point, but the question- “What information to give”- is very hard for me.  Though I’ve now found a lot of important lessons about self-acceptance, the hurt involved in sexual shaming, etc., when I was in high school, I don’t know how ready I was for any of that in high school.  I have a hard time figuring out what I was willing to hear and what would have benefited me at the time.

So let’s do an exercise… Think back to your sophomore or junior year.  What were your thoughts about sex?

It was probably something you didn’t have a whole lot of experience with- you might giggle about it or brag and make up stories or listen in awe at your more “experienced” friends, but you might not have been able to contribute much.  Maybe you weren’t thinking about it at all.  The unifying notion we had as high school students was that “the talk” with your parents was awkward and to be avoided whenever possible.  The idea of discussing sexuality with our parents was…weird.

But within that framework, I have to ask, if I wanted more information, but I wasn’t willing to get it from my parents, where was I supposed to go?  The obvious answer is the reason I’m writing this blog in the first place: the internet.  The internet was a gold mine of information, but it was also overwhelming and misleading.

 I think this is where our system really went wrong.  We, as students, put our parents in a double bind.  We had so much that we didn’t know about our sexuality that our parents often had learned and could have shared.  However, we were too ashamed of our parents’ sexuality, the same way they were ashamed of ours, to the point that neither of us were able to approach the other.

My childhood was a lot better than most in that respect.  My mom was conscientious enough to keep our communication lines open, made sure I got on the pill BEFORE I started having sex, and talked to me about the basics long before the school district got involved in my sex ed.  However, there’s other stuff I really wish I had known, but I’m still not sure I would have accepted when I was young enough to need it….  Stuff like, “Sex is really important in determining whether you’re compatible in a relationship,” “Speak up if he/she/ze is doing something that hurts you or makes you unhappy,” “Never have sex because you ‘feel like you should,'”  “Sex doesn’t have to be just for one person, just for marriage, or how the movies portray it,”  and more than anything, “Have a sense of humor- sex never has to be perfect.”   (**And to give my mother credit, a lot of this stuff came up later -after I’d started having problems- but I didn’t really believe her, which is really evidence for my original point.)

So what are the takeaways here?

  1. There’s still too much shaming of sex (inter- and intra-generationally)
  2. We have a double-standard about who can have sex and who can talk about it
  3. We might not know everything
  4. Our parents might actually be able to tell us something about sex if we were willing to listen…
  5. but society has structured our attitudes about sexuality to prevent that
  6. Bianca isn’t sure she has the answer to this one…