I met up with a good friend last night, and we got to the topic of our high school sex education. Primarily, we talked about what we didn’t learn. And more specifically, how to say “no”, and how to say “yes”. The topic of consent was never in my curriculum. Rather, it was best to teach “you shouldn’t be doing this at all” vs. “here are resources to help you deal with the inevitable pressure you will feel to have sex”. Oh, how I wish I got even a 10 minute discussion of the latter! But I didn’t, and thus when the pressure was pushed upon me I didn’t say “no.” But I didn’t say “yes” either.
In retrospect, I can certainly say that as a teenager I was no where near ready for sex. Yet, at 15 I was having it. I’m sure I’ve talked about this before. The problem is, while the discussion of consent is absolutely critical and yet largely lacking in public school sex education, so are the discussions of shame and pleasure. I wish someone had told me that when I started having sex, I could enjoy it. I wish someone even so slightly mentioned that pleasure wasn’t just for my boyfriend to own. That even as a young woman, I had every right to an orgasm that my boyfriend did. And that I shouldn’t be ashamed to want one.
The impact of sex negative education brought upon me years of insecurity and bad sex. I can not count the number of times that I have faked an orgasm. I can not count the number of times that I didn’t say “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG” or “THIS IS TERRIBLE” or “TRY THIS INSTEAD”. Instead, it was always “what do you want?” and “how do you feel?”. As a 15 year old girl, I was simultaneously pressured to have sex and told that it was dirty, and wrong. When I gave in, the mentality that sex was something I should be ashamed of remained with me in the bedroom. My understanding was that boys had sex, and boys liked sex while girls - well, no one ever talked to me about the girls. While “how to say yes” is not quite the complete lesson I wanted to learn, at 15 I could’ve used a few classes on how to talk about sex in my relationship. I could’ve used a lesson on confidence, and how to ask for what I want. Or that it was OK to be sexual, because I am sexual.
I scream at the ways that my sex education went wrong. And I scream at the impact that single fault in our educational system has had on the sexual psyches of American women, my friends. I grew up building my sexuality on the basis that as a girl, my main goal in the relationship was to satisfy my boyfriend. And I did so, because I was only ever told to not have sex. The taboo that we create around sexuality marginalizes young women’s experiences, shames their needs and desires, and diminishes the possibilities of them ever developing a healthy sex life.
In our attempt to prevent youth sexuality completely, we miss the facts. We miss the reality of adolescent relationships, and we miss our young girls whose naivete transforms their bodies into mere vessels for male sexual pleasure. Just because we don’t want our daughters to have sex doesn’t mean that they won’t, and it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have good sex.
I don’t think it was until I was 20 when a man finally gave me an orgasm.
i like spring and feeling my hairs blow in the wiiiinnnnd.