Sex Ed: Then and Now

I initially learned about sex at the age of seven from reading a book called “A Boy’s Sex Life” written by a Catholic priest.

(waits for laughter to subside. NO SERIOUSLY YOU CAN STOP LAUGHING NOW)

Back in the seventies my little hometown in New Jersey made quite a stir in the Roman Catholic Church when Father William Bausch was hired to pastor the local Catholic church after the previous pastor’s death. Father Bausch, with sparkling blue eyes and a merry sense of humor, was quite liberal in his beliefs as well as a compelling writer. It was he who wrote “A Boy’s Sex Life,” which caused a major uproar mainly because he opined that masturbation was not the certain road to hell that the church had been claiming for nearly two thousand years. It wasn’t a perfect book—very little attention was paid to women’s pleasure in sex—but it was a fairly honest book nonetheless.

A few years later Father Bausch caused more stir by authorizing sex ed classes for sixth graders. I was in the second class, and while the lay instructors tended to steer the conversations away from such Catholic bugaboos like premarital sex and birth control again there was a fair bit of honesty. “Boys,” I remember our male instructor intoning, “you will not die if you don’t have sex. Girls, if you’re told this offer to pay for the funeral.”

Like a lot of younger siblings I’d stumbled across my brother’s stash of Penthouse magazines, and I can tell you that compared to today the “Forum” letters were outrageous; you wouldn’t see bestiality stories now. I read everything when I was a kid, including stuff like Jacqueline Susann and Sidney Sheldon novels and the bodice-ripping historical romances that came into vogue in the mid-seventies. Those books were my first clue that there was something in sex for women other than kids, but the pleasure always came courtesy of the Mighty Penis. My mother died when I was twelve, when the mother/daughter relationship is starting to shift into how it will ostensibly be when the daughter is an adult. We never really discussed sex but on the rare occasions that we did, mainly about menstruation, she was always honest with me. I like to think that she would have continued to be so had she lived. Then again, had she not died my father wouldn’t have dared start a home videotape delivery business, buying his inventory from a company whose initial shipment of a hundred tapes consisted of about 40% porn. When I was fifteen I learned how to masturbate courtesy of the classic film Debbie Does Dallas. I’d experimented with masturbation a little bit but kind of ham-handedly. There was a scene in the film where a woman masturbated watching another woman have sex with her husband, and instead of going on top of her clitoris she went to the left of it. Intrigued, I tried it … and all I can say is thankfully I was alone in the house because OH YEAH DID THAT WORK. Still does, heh heh.

Unfortunately young women have been given the shaft, literally and figuratively, for millennia when it comes to sex education. Ever-pervasive religion of pretty much every sort puts women in the “you are a vessel” category, there only to serve men’s needs, denying that we might have needs of our own. We are told how to please men, but not how to tell men to please us. We are told to put our men and our children’s lives over our own; society applauds the brave woman with cancer who puts off treatment to give birth or who finally gets that baby after seven IVF tries. If a woman wants anything other than a husband and children—or, just maybe, pleasure during sex—she is branded as selfish, a slut, a whore, unnatural. Thanks to the Internet the misogynists have really come out to play. While I was writing about Debbie Does Dallas out of curiosity I Googled “seventies porn ads.” With some poking around I found the worst term used towards women in the ads was “broads.” These days? “Cum-guzzling sluts eager to swallow your load!” “Hungry bitches ready for your cock!” “Nasty cunts who take it in the ass and beg for more!” I’m not saying women weren’t exploited in the seventies and eighties, but at least they weren’t called names-in public, anyway.

Thankfully, the Internet also offers a platform for the truth, which brings me to Scarleteen.

I first came across Scarleteen a few years ago and immediately fell in love with it—because it was honest. It embraces every choice a teenager can make—straight, homosexual, omnisexual-without judgment and is super medically accurate. It advises frank talk and actions from safe sex to masturbatory techniques without any of the mainstream media’s bullshit or spin or political correctness. You will not see terms like “va-jay-jay” there. If you are a parent and aren’t comfortable with talking about sex with your kids, the best thing you can do for them is send them over to Scarleteen. Hell, even if you are comfortable with talking about sex with your kids send them to Scarleteen. Read it yourself, you might learn something. With INS I’ve striven to present the truth about abortion without judgment. Heather Corinna goes about five hundred steps ahead of me with sex and Scarleteen and she does it on next to no cash, which makes it even more amazing. I don’t ask INS readers to pony up money very often, but please try to throw a few bucks Scarleteen’s way. It is a truly valuable resource and any help to keep it available to kids, especially this generation, bombarded with conflicting messages all over the place, will be gratefully appreciated. If one gender-bending kid breathes a sigh of relief knowing that there are others; if one teenage boy realizes that it’s okay to be a virgin; if one teenage girl learns that there’s nothing wrong with her if she doesn’t come solely through intercourse, that’s one more sexually healthy human being on the planet. Thank you, Heather, and SCARLETEEN RULES!

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