Don't tell your kids they have genitals and maybe they won't figure it out.

A church near where I live is picking up on the trend and preaching about sex. The church sign reads something like "Sex God's Way". (Don't remember exact wording.)
Where do I start? The beginning? I would say by the age of six and increasingly as I grew I was taught about modesty. To cover my knees, never wear anything tight, and feel extremely awkward in a bathing suit. I was not allowed to wear shorts or pants and by the time I reached puberty I felt exposed in a sleeveless shirt. Why? So as not to make men have dirty thoughts. It was my responsibility to prevent that.
I picked up on my parents urgent, fearful, reactions to too-intense kissing on tv shows, soap commercials with women in showers, and ads with women in bikinis. When the world couldn't be adequately censored and these things were glimpsed accidentally my whole family tensed with anxiety for a moment. My brothers and even my father would cup hands over their eyes at the sight of a sexy billboard. Women on the other hand were not expected to have the same temptations and were for the most part left to look upon men without shirts, with shorts on, etc. If I was kept from looking at a movie with a male in briefs, it was to preserve my innocence, not necessarily to keep me from having sexual feelings. I was also left to look at those sexy (female) billboards and watch movies like Sense and Sensibility in which woman had boobs nearly falling out of their dresses while the men in the family left the living room. I hadn't yet figured out what being gay meant much less that I was a lesbian so I assumed the thoughts these images brought to mind were natural although I knew they were "sinful". All of my fantasies were heterosexual but now and then I would realize I was imagining things from the boy's point of view. I would try to switch that around but it just didn't "work" so I'd just think to myself hmm, oh well; it was just one more confusing thing about sexuality in general.
I was a kid and teenager who lived mostly in a world all my own that wasn't so harsh, and that world consisted of my dressing and acting like a boy. Of course, that behavior was forbidden in real life; I was raised very homophobicly, so I never bothered to even try to express it (besides asking once or twice if I could cut all my hair off. I was told I would look ugly that way.) I never really thought it was sinful, though.
I remember vividly in a Wal-mart parking lot once my sister spotted an androgynous woman stepping into a pickup truck. "Mommy! Is that a man or a woman?" My mother told us not to look at her and spouted off bible verses about proper attire for men and women. I was rarely rebellious on any issue but in this instance I craned my neck to stare despite my mom's disgust. I couldn't for the life of me understand how someone so super cool-looking could be so bad. I craved to look like that. I was no older than seven.
When I was about eleven my mom sat me and my older sister down to talk about periods. She was so nervous and inarticulate that I had no idea what she was talking about. She showed us maxi pads but I was totally lost as to what it was all about. The only message I got was that some mysterious and horrifyingly embarrassing thing would happen to me. She also breathlessly mentioned "the rest of it" which would supposedly be told to us when we turned sixteen ... or seventeen ... maybe eighteen when we would be allowed to date. That talk never happened. When I got my period two years later I was absolutely terrified and confused. My mother only found out by doing my laundry and then she told me where to find supplies and left me to myself. I had no idea why it was happening or even where it was coming from. I thought there was only one hole down there; my urethra. It was years before I looked it up in an encyclopedia and got some clue of the truth. Otherwise, I never explored that part of my body or even knew where a tampon went until I was almost eighteen. I was very frightened of my own anatomy.

In conclusion, people, tell your kids about sex. Seriously.

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Comment by cj the cynic on April 3, 2009 at 12:20am
Martin Snowden, is that site for real? If so, it is vile and wrong on so many levels. It makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.
Comment by Jennifer W on April 2, 2009 at 11:43pm
Cj's right, I mean sharing a philosophy in which at the time women were viewed as property is ridiculous.

Once you hit puberty, your hormones go from zero to a hundred miles an hour and if they are misused, devastating things can happen. I suffered from thinking that sexual thoughts were evil and got major league depressed about it. Misinformation is like putting pot holes in a race track. Being rational about it is definitely the way to go
Comment by Martin Snowden on April 2, 2009 at 10:48am
The puritanical prudery of American evangelicals gets to comically absurd levels sometimes: take a peek at the Passion for Christ Movement's latest "Ex-masturbator" campaign T-shirts
Comment by cj the cynic on April 1, 2009 at 6:26pm
It is ridiculous and sad that many parents these days still think the Dark Ages response to sex and sexuality is the best route.
Comment by Buffy on April 1, 2009 at 6:10pm
Why the RRRW thinks "ignorance is bliss" astounds me. My mom was very prudish and didn't teach me a thing about sex. That never stopped me from learning. I was a precocious child with a library card so I learned all I wanted to know and more. I also began masturbating long before I officially knew what "sex", or any of the related organs were. The notion that if you keep kids in the dark they won't do anything is ignorant. The stuff is there, and they'll eventually find and use it whether parents like it or not.

If only they'd learn....

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