Monday, March 31, 2008

Reality versus Morality in Sex Education

So I'm finally reading Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, which I've been dreading. I'm such an Austen purist, I knew parts of it would really annoy the crap out of me (which is a whole different rant). But despite all the silly old fashioned sex scenes, the thing that has stuck out the most so far is just how completely innocent women back then were about sex. It seems the unlucky ones only found out by experience and no wonder they hated it!

Of course, then I feel like kicking myself because I've read Vera Brittain's autobiography about being a nurse in WWI, and SHE was in college and everything and STILL knew NOTHING about sex or even what a penis looked like or was called until she became a nurse. That seems so totally fucked up to me.

But then I think to my own experience of "sex education" and my story isn't much better: I asked my older sister about babies when I was 6 or so. She had heard from an older cousin all about it and told me a pretty good version of the truth, even including sperm & egg functionality, but not that terminology. Then I was molested for like 4 years until my older sister told the folks about what was going on (because I wasn't the only victim of the guy unfortunately)... And then the next time someone talked to me about sex was when I was 13 and had already started menstruating and my mom told me the more technical version of what my sister had told me so long ago - without, of course, mentioning anything more about either sex or female organs.

So, all in all, I'm thinking we're still not doing much better. What is it with parents that they are so afraid to give their kids valuable information about an act which is potentially life-threatening? I can't understand that. It was one of my unhappy reality checks about being back in the Midwest this summer when I was down at the Crossroads where Planned Parenthood was trying to collect signatures for proper sex ed from qualified professionals. (I wasn't collecting signatures, I just happened to be there). And these couples would listen to the petitioner, mumble something about them not wanting their kids to know about sex and then they'd walk off. I'm sure those parents aren't going to be informing their children about safe sex, and since they won't let others do it, no one does and that's just one reason why little 14 year olds are freaking mothers all the time these days.

Which all leads me back to Evil Slutopia and a quote from Elizabeth Pisani I read there two weeks ago:

A "governor who pays for sex should know to mold social policies on reality, not morality"
This was, of course, said in regard to the Spitzer scandal, but it got me dreaming. What would our country be like if laws were based on reality and not some moral BS? How would my every day life be different? I can think of some drastic improvements, for sure. What about you?

Related post:
You Want Me To Put That WHERE?

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emawkc said...

I only really know about Planned Parenthood from newspaper headlines, so I could be way off on this. But it seems to me they should be collecting signatures to try to educate parents and get them to educate their kids, instead of trying to get other people to do the parents' jobs.

Anonymous said...

Good post May, it made me angry. And in response to the first commenter... Parents are notoriously difficult to educate. A person can't teach old dogs new tricks, so to speak.


LisaN said...

As the mother of 4 daughers, I thought it was my responsibility to talk to them about sex. I didn't want them hearing about it from their friends. So, when they turned 9, I talked to them about their periods, and really started talking about sex by the time they were 10 or 11.

But, even when they were much younger, I was honest about their body parts, proper names and such. One time, when my youngest daughter was about 3 and we were riding an elevator sharing the ride with several people, she suddenly announces, "Hey Mom, that man has a penis."

Don't you just love the freedom 3 year olds have............:)

May said...

I really do!

And KUDOS for being an awesome mother! More women should be like you.