Sunday, March 18, 2012

Talkin' 'Bout Sex Revisited

After my previous post about sex , my sister reminded me that I wasn't always so open-minded and unfazed about talking about sex.

She reminded me about the day I came home from maturation class in junior high and how embarrassed I had been by what had been taught and discussed. Wide-eyed, I was telling my mom all the things I had learned and explaining it to her as if she didn't already know it (I guess in my naivete I assumed she didn't). I remember her bemused look as she just sat their smiling at the revelations I had received and agreeing that, "Yeah, that's pretty much what happens." In a way, I was surprised she hadn't already revealed all of this to me if she knew it. After all, I was a pretty inquisitive kid about a lot of things. And she and my dad probably had discussed some things with me by that point, but maybe I just hadn't really taken it in until that day.

My sister also reminded me that my mom's visiting teacher, a family friend and a registered nurse, had been at our home as well when I was vomiting all the information I had learned that day, and she. too. confirmed the information I had learned and told me I shouldn't be embarrassed about talking about it. I did not remember that until my sister brought it up, but it's true.

What was nice was that the maturation class had been a nice springboard to talk about sex with my mom, and I think good sex education should inspire those heart-to-hearts a kid should have with his parents. I learned a lot about sex at school, which was great, but I was able to learn more and have frank, unashamed discussions with my parents because of that education.

I will tell you some things I remember from those maturation classes, which I think were taught over the course of two or three days. First off, I don't remember having my parents sign an parental permission slip, which is required in Utah these days. If they did sign one, I do not recall.

Second, I don't remember ever being told that we would be attending maturation classes. All I knew was that I went to gym as usual and we were taken to what was called the Little Theater, where suddenly one of our guidance counselors, who had been my science teacher a year before, was spouting all this information about male body parts and human sexuality. I was, needless to say, shocked and taken aback. It felt like some sort of ambush that I was ill-prepared for. Maybe they had warned us it was coming; I wasn't always the most attentive student in junior high - but I remember feeling completely taken by surprise that it was happening.

Two things I remember with vivid clarity: one was that when the sex act itself was being explained, we were told that even if you pulled out of a woman without protection, that even if you ejaculated outside of her, if the semen was close enough to the vagina, sperm could still get inside and she could become pregnant. In my embarrassment, I turned to a friend and whispered, "Attack of the flying sperm," and giggled.

The other thing (perhaps the thing that sticks out the most after all these years) was that on the second day of maturation class, our female guidance counselor, Mrs. Groot, a woman I didn't particularly like, was talking us through the female reproductive system, and when talking about the vagina, she said, "Now boys, don't worry about the size of your penis in relation to the woman's vagina. No matter how big your penis gets, it will fit like a glove," and she proceeded to push her hand through a hole she had made with her other hand. At the time, I was mortified, and that image of her hand going through her other hand is still indelible.

Of course, we talked about all the basics of male and female anatomy, the mechanics of sex, and STDs. We must have talked about contraceptives, but I have no lasting impression of that. I do not believe homosexuality was discussed; at least I have no memory of it. That would have been nice to hear about as I was just recognizing that part of myself. Who knows if it would have made a difference? I was still very naive about that and probably would have fought against it anyway.

I do remember having a discussion with my mom once about homosexuality, and I actually think it took place prior to my maturation classes in junior high. In 1983 a serial child murderer in Utah named Arthur Gary Bishop confessed to the murder of five young boys. Although he was a pedophile, which certainly is not the same thing as a homosexual, when I would read about the case in The Salt Lake Tribune, issues of homosexual sex did come out, and so I asked my mom how two men can have sex with each other.

Mom tried to answer me as honestly as she knew how, although she was certainly no expert on the ins and outs of homosexual sex. She said that she believed that a man inserted his penis into the other man's bum or that sometimes one might put his penis into the other's mouth. "Yuck," I thought at the time, and it was clear Mom agreed. It just sounded so bizarre to me, but I appreciated my mom being as frank as she knew how to be regarding the issue.

I think sex should be talked about openly and honestly, and I appreciate that my parents always tried to answer my questions about sex as best they knew how, and that I received a good sex education in school. I think it has served me well.

BTW, gay sex doesn't seem so yucky these days.

1 comment:

LCannon said...

I'm sure you had to have a permission slip since I did and I am older. And in all honesty, until that day you came home all embarrassed and our nurse friend said we shouldn't be embarrassed - it wasn't a topic I was very comfortable with either.