Sex Ed

This is a recycled and re-recycled post from long, long ago. I remembered it because I recently had to complete some mandatory sexual harassment training for work, even though of course I work from home, usually alone in my house, so I think my coworkers are pretty safe. Although now that I think of it, I do share my office with cats, and cats were apparently put on this earth to teach us all about consent all the time. Anyway, the last time I planned to post it, I thought better of it because I thought it would make my children hate me. I am hoping that this is old enough and far enough in the past now that if they notice it at all, they won’t care anymore. 

I found this old draft collecting cobwebs, and I thought it was fun enough to share instead of throwing it out.

A couple of years back I went to preview one of those school movies about puberty. When I told a couple of friends that I was going, they asked me to give them the report because they didn’t want to sit through it. And since I really kind of write all the time and I tend to process things by writing them down, I compulsively took notes. And now I’m sharing them with all of you.

Here’s the movie we saw:

What Kids Want to Know About Sex and Growing Up

And here were the notes I sent to my friends:

  • Starts with: what is sex? The whole movie is Children’s Television Workshop, so tons of ethnic diversity, and it’s from the 90s, so there’s a lot of big hair. There’s a lot of talk with groups of kids asking questions
  • The boy says something about how they’ll “start to feel urges to feel close to another person in a brand new way. . . .” now that’s what I call a great euphemistic phrase!
  • There are cute comic babies who grow up, and at one point their sex hormones sparkle while the cartoon boy and girl look down happily. I am not even kidding about this.
  • The kids ask a variety of questions, like one boy asks how big your penis gets.
  • They’ve got sections, like boys and hormones, girls and hormones, your period, as well as a section entitled  “erections and wet dreams”–now that’s a good time! #yayfordaughters
  • A kid asks about masturbation, and the sex educator gives a very diplomatic answer, saying that masturbation cannot physically harm you, but different families have different feelings about whether it was a good idea. Basically it made me feel like I’m going to have to present our Masturbation Family Position Paper just so we’re clear about our thoughts. The educator felt strongly that parents should make clear what they believe about masturbation and why. So start pondering your position on masturbation.
  • When she starts explaining periods, the female sex educator starts by saying “A woman’s inside of her body is very special. . .” so sweetly that I’d swear that I felt my own uterus glowing with pride. We are special, aren’t we, ladies?
  • During the girls’ period thing they talked about pads and tampons only, so of course I’m bummed b/c you know I love my cup!
  • When they finally got around to talking about sex, it was very specifically just talking about a man and a woman. Super heteronormative, as the kids say. Later on one of the kids asked about homosexuality, and the guy said something like, “what’s important to know is that homosexuals feel love, affection, and companionship as well as sexual feelings for each other,” which I thought was nice, even though it seemed entirely like an afterthought. Also said that many homosexuals felt their attraction from a young age, and many young children experimented with the same or different sexes, but that didn’t mean that they were homosexuals.
  • Back to hetero-sex. They said, once a couple decides they want to have sex, the next thing that they have to decide is whether they want a baby.
  • There was some talk about safer sex and lots of condom-pushing, including a simple line drawing, profile, of a penis wearing a condom while inside a vagina.
  • Talked about “safer sex” and dated itself by referring to AIDS as AIDS rather than “HIV, the virus that causes AIDS,” like everyone who’s politically correct has been doing for at least a decade.
  • Then there was a little interlude in which the, like, 11- or 12-year-olds were each assigned a flour-sack “baby” so that they’d learn that parenthood is a drag. They were not required to feed the flour sack or change its diaper, and of course the flour sack was very, very quiet, so they only got a teensy fractional idea of the work involved, but it was enough to scare them.
  • During another Q & A session, one of the girls asked why boys push to have sex, and they talked about peer pressure. I didn’t love this section. First, no one ever said, “sometimes a girl might want to do more than a boy, and a boy can say no, too.” It was assumed that this was a problem that girls had because of boys. So heteronormative and sexist. And then the female educator said something about how if a girl doesn’t want to do something, she has to say no, and not a wishy-washy no, but a firm, clear no, and of course I would have rather they mention that  whoever’s pushing the sexual activity needs to be sure about affirmative consent and not proceed if they’re not sure. Again, this totally needs updating.

Generally, I liked this one better than the Just Around the Corner stuff from last year, but I am seriously going to write an email to the folks at the Children’s Television Workshop, because they need a new edition. Happened to see this scary-ass story about pornography today, so I have a bee in my bonnet.

Some follow-up to this little movie review. At some point I brought up that I didn’t love all aspects of the movie while M was around, and I ended up pulling up this email summary and reading it out loud to her and Cute W. When we got to the part about having a family position on masturbation, both Cute W and I started yelling about how we are a Staunchly Pro-Masturbation family while M covered her ears and fled, only returning when we promised we wouldn’t talk about it anymore. Also, I never actually did get around to sending an email to the Children’s Television Workshop.

Anyway, knowing that talking about sex tends to make my children run from the room, at another point I put together a list of reputable online resources for information about that kind of stuff for my kids to know about. Just in case. Like, you know, for a friend or something. It’s below.

This is Laci Green’s YouTube channel. She is a super-cool and entertaining sex educator and feminist who does weekly videos on current topics and random issues.  She talks about plenty of stuff that is relevant to someone who’s not sexually active but is interested in current feminist/political issues.

Sex, Etc. is a teen-written magazine/blog/website. That’s right, your teen can become a contributor–I feel like sex writer would totally stand out on a college application, don’t you?

It’s Your Sex Life is an MTV website with info. from favorites like Planned Parenthood and Laci Green. They have a “live chat” feature! For burning, emergency questions that kids can’t bear to ask their parents. Although, for the record, I keep telling my kids that I live for burning, emergency questions.

Planned Parenthood has a clinic in Schenectady and a site on the internet. Talk about convenient! They’re pretty much the national go-to for sex education. They might be slightly less super-fun than these other sites, but they’re the source.

Scarleteen is a longstanding and very interactive website with bunches of Q & As as well as message boards and a live-ask-a-question feature. It feels like this one is focused a lot on older teens who are sexually active and need advice on relationships and specific sex issues. It’s not the 101 level stuff, so proceed accordingly.

Go Ask Alice is a site run by Columbia University that covers all sorts of teen-related health issues: sex, but also drugs, alcohol, skin, diet issues, depression, etc.

Center for Young Women’s Health  is another general health site, except that it focuses on (wait for it) women’s health issues: general, emotional, sexual, etc. This one’s run by Boston Children’s Hospital.

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