Out of the Mouths of Babes: Special Guest Post
Last year, one of the big issues in South Dakota politics was sex ed - specifically, what should or shouldn't be taught under the guise of sex ed. We boast one of the loudest advocates of abstinence in the nation, and you can bet that scores of abstinence promoters turned out to push for an abstinence-only curricula, because they were sure that their kids were too pure to have their ears scorched by the mention of hot and dirty sex.
The hot and dirty sex in question was in the middle-school curriculum, and it focused on getting kids to think on their own about their sexuality, to own their sexual beings, to not be peer-pressured into trying things they weren't ready for. To that end, there was mention of sexual activity that was alternative to intercourse. Thus it was that I found myself standing outside a school board meeting holding a big sign that said "REAL Sex Ed Saves Lives." And there it was that I was approached by a mother who, as she volunteered for some reason (perhaps she thought it was evidence of street cred for us younger folk), used to smoke pot. From there, she went on to say that she was in favor of sex ed in the schools, but that she thought this curriculum went too far.
"My seventh-grader doesn't need to know about oral sex! He's not even thinking about this stuff!"
Uh, ma'am? Yeah, he is. Trust me.
A male college student tried to explain this to her, but I think something weird happens to some parents that makes them unable to see their kids as real people who do things like masturbate and think about oral sex. And while most of the time I simply think, "they're just lying to themselves," every once in a while I meet someone like her who almost convinces me that some people don't do these things. Ever. (Almost, but not quite.)
To be fair, there was also a bit in the teacher's manual about using vegetables as dildos.
I'll wait while you finish reacting to that.
OK, so here's why that was there. Imagine that you are once more 14 or 15, and that you're dating someone, and that you're liking the kissing and you're interested in the other stuff but also, perhaps, not ready for it. And if you're a girl, you most likely have very little idea of what you like sexually, or maybe you don't know how to get yourself off, or maybe you've just never even really thought much about what feels sexy to you and so you're feeling like you don't know anything and like your boyfriend (or girlfriend), who seems to know more than you do, should probably call the shots.
But what if you had learned to think for yourself about what felt sexy to you? What if you knew that people could make themselves orgasm? (What if you could?) That they had options other than sex with a partner? That they could explore on their own?
Might that empower you to make your own decisions that might include holding off on intercourse or other risky sexual behaviors for the time being? Might that make you more likely to wait until you were a little bit older to experiment with the stuff that you weren't quite ready for?
I suspect that this was the impetus behind educating teachers (remember, this was for teachers, not students) about different ways that people experience their sexuality. And frankly, I think teachers SHOULD know this stuff. Those kids are gonna wanna know what snowballing and tossing the salad mean, and if their teachers are anything like mine were, they are not going to get very satisfying answers. And frankly? When the kids start asking about snowballing and tossing the salad, I would think that the teachers would WISH that someone would, for God's sake, please, ask about using a cucumber as a dildo. It's really almost banal in comparison.
But the one thing I kept wondering, while I was standing out there in the cold with my sign while crazy women drove by yelling "Planned Parenthood wants your SOUL!," was, do these parents really think that they're going to prevent these kids from finding out this stuff?
Because, I'll tell you right now, my kid is going to be going to these schools some day. And he'll be very popular - he'll be the go-to guy for sex ed info.
For example, this is my four-year-old the other day, talking to a friend three years older who had not a clue:
"Hey, wanna know how you were born? Wanna know how you were born? You came out of your mother's VAGINA."
Look out, world.