During middle school, I remember one fateful day where the girls were separated from the boys, and we discussed what will happen to our bodies as we grow up. I was with the girls, and we talked about periods, body hair, and body odor. At the end we were given a little bag with a deodorant and a panty liner. Neither of which we were told how to use. In fact, we were told to go home and ask our parents how to use them.
This wasn’t my first introduction to these topics as my mom had started talking about this as early as I can remember. However, for most of the girls in my class this was their first time learning about what a period was. They were mortified and when the boys asked what we talked about in our group the girls often blushed or said that it was nothing.
From the very first introduction of our bodies, shame was immediately surrounding the conversation. When the boys had questions about the girls they were dismissed and vice versa. As a result of that shame, we have men who don’t know that a pad sticks to the underwear and women who believe you can’t get pregnant if you have sex standing up.
When I got to high school, we started to get a bit more in depth about what sex was and all the various birth control methods. I remember sitting in class and I had asked how to put a condom on. I didn’t know how and if I did it incorrectly, I could get pregnant, so I wasn’t willing to take that chance. My health teacher told me she “wasn’t that kind of teacher” and told me to look it up. I was livid. The whole point of this class was to learn how to not get pregnant and stay safe from STD/STIs and not even that could be achieved. Luckily, I have a relationship with my mom where I can get that kind of information from her but not everyone does.
Now in college I am grateful that we have so many resources on campus not only to teach about how to have safe sex but how to make sex enjoyable for everyone. However, I am seeing the extreme lack of education. When I had talked about not knowing how to put a condom on in high school, I had a group explain that they don’t necessarily know how to either.
This is when I saw the lack of sufficient information across the board. If we want to lower the amount of teen pregnancies and STD transmissions, we must properly teach sex education. Kids are curious and they will have questions that we should answer. Making sex less taboo and shameful brings those questions out of the darkness. Sex isn’t shameful, it simply just exists.
Elise Keane is a sophomore neuroscience major. They can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]