By Princess Kali
I remember the only sex-ed class I was given, which was in the 6th grade, at the rural school I attended as one of the few white students along with mostly Hispanic migrant children. We were grouped in with the 7th and 8th graders and still didn’t total more than 25 all together. All the boys and all the girls sat together in a circle with one of our usual teachers talking about health and hygiene. There wasn’t any talk about pleasure, and even the health info seemed rather vague. I remember that when question time came, no-one’s hand went up….except mine.
I wanted to know if it was ok to kiss boys (I had recently discovered how fun it was to torment boys with kisses; they were such willing tormentee’s!). I said I felt like they weren’t telling us everything, was there something they were leaving out? The session was closed rather quickly with vague and disapproving dismissals. In high school, I lived in an Abstinence Only county so we weren’t really told anything at all except not to even THINK about having sex.
Their motto seemed to be – “No condoms for you! You horny teenagers might actually use them!!”
In high school I saw sexuality as an adventure that I didn’t want to wait until I was an “adult” to dive into, and that as long as I did my best to be safe and do my exploring in a smart way, that there was nothing wrong with what I was doing. Of course that didn’t really fit in with how it’s all “supposed” to be, and I was quickly labeled a slut. It was meant as a demeaning word, which was used against me by girls that were so afraid of their own desires and the possibility of acting out on them they needed to shame me to feel better about themselves. I still didn’t think I was doing anything wrong and continued having my fun, playing and exploring.
As someone who discusses sexuality for a living now, I have mixed feelings at times about the path that has led me here. I fully recognize that the drive I feel to provide creative and supportive sexuality education is directly linked to the lack of it in my early life. It’s related to feeling like I was alone in figuring it out through my teens and early twenties (and now in a different way as I head into my thirties and beyond). If there was a place that showed me how inspirational, intimate, and exotic our sexual experiences can be….I don’t think I would have felt like I needed to learn it all *right now*, and to figure it all out *right now* (you know, the teenager version of RIGHT NOW).
If I was given a language to describe my desires, perhaps I would not have felt such an urge to act them out as a way of identification and expression (which, as a teenager isn’t always safe or smart). If I was given straightforward information rather than the focus always being on what we shouldn’t do (i.e. everything) then I would have felt like there were options rather than feeling that if I was going to be labeled a slut, well, I might as well go have some slutty fun.
Looking back now I wouldn’t change anything in my life. I am exceptionally grateful for the unique path I have enjoyed (and look forward to enjoying a great deal longer!) and while I have been told many times that I could have chosen a more socially acceptable career path….I can’t imagine doing anything that brings me as much joy, pleasure and passion as sexuality & kink education does.
So in many ways, the lack of sex education that I experienced in my youth is exactly what has led me to my life’s passion, and for that, I am also grateful. But it was the much harder road, and while I am a firm believer that everyone deserves to walk their own path, with the kind of healthy sexuality information found on Scarleteen, the next generation will suffer a few less pot-holes on the way.
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