Nothing makes people more uncomfortable than talking about sex. So in today’s society, sex has become a taboo subject even despite the fact that children are becoming sexually active at a way earlier age than before. If any attempts to educate children on sex are made, they take on the form of uncomfortably vague and forbidding statements.
The “sex talk” in my family was awkward to say the least. My mother could not even bring herself to say the word “sex” and so the address involved a lot of indirect references to “growing up” and the “urges” that came along with it.
“You must not let the boys ‘play with you’ or you will get pregnant. You don’t want to get pregnant, do you??” my mother asked. I won’t lie; she had me on that last part. I hated having to share my chocolate with my siblings. What more with a kid of my own?
And so this “put-the-fear-of-babies-in-her” kind of education worked for a while. But it was flawed in one aspect; something a family friend shared with me when I was in form 4, declaring that “In this great age of contraception only stupid girls get knocked up.”
I pondered on this a lot. But what about the “fire, hell and damnation” that I had been told awaited me if I disobeyed the Bible? At my conservative Catholic high school, the bible was opened unto us and we were told that God wanted us to remain pure for marriage.
I struggled with one issue though. Where we were told to model the Proverbs 31 woman, it seemed as if the boys were not required to hold themselves up to any moral standards. There were no boys at Convent but even in church, it seemed immorality was a disease that only women could pass on. I wanted to please God but I couldn’t believe that he too, was sexist enough to judge me more harshly for the same sin as my male counterparts. Consequently the threat of burning for an eternity didn’t seem half bad; I figured that I was guaranteed a selection of company from more than half of mankind.
During my stint as debate coach at Convent, the little form threes shared the sex education they had received. Apparently the form threes had been taught that they should stay away from sex because of this;
The black line symbolizes the rate at which guys get satisfied and the green, the women. So unless they wanted to be left “sexually frustrated” the poor girls would stay away from sex. (*Insert forehead slap here*.)
Adults seem to think that sex-education is a way of condoning so-called loose behavior whereas the reality is quite the opposite. It’s this, treating sex like a “dirty little secret” that must be kept from children at all costs, that’s mystifying it and making it look appealing to young children.
Not only do mysteries attract the young, but once you create ambiguity around something, it leaves a vacuum for any idiot to attempt to fill or better yet some opportunist to make money out of it. In this case, the vacuum is being filled by the entertainment industry.
Why is it a surprise then, that there are so many teenage pregnancies and STIs are being passed around like a calabash of beer at a traditional Shona gathering? So many songs and movies are selling sex. However, part of that product does not include with an arrow pointing to the contraception clinic. They are in the business of making money and not teaching your children how to make smart choices.
So how should we teach sex-ed? Teach the meaning and value of respect. I am thankful to the person who told me to always ask myself these two things when it comes to sex;
- You’re going to have to wake up and face yourself in the morning. Will you be able to regard yourself with the same level of respect? Your dignity is ultimately your most prized possession.
- Do you respect your sexual partner enough so that if something should go wrong and you ended up pregnant, you would be fine with your child possessing that person’s DNA? Would you be fine with that person being in yours and your child’s life as they will probably be if you have a child together?”
Its not out of fear but out of respect that I will be leaving home everyday with my dignity in hand and not sharing my chocolate with anyone for a while:p