Let’s Really Talk About Sex

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Let’s Really Talk About Sex

Molly Tafoya

My problem with the sex education I received had little to do with content, which was fairly comprehensive, and more to do with the delivery. Sex was presented as something shameful and embarrassing, more of an awkward chore than an essential component of a young person's education.

I was lucky. "The talk" with my mother was relatively painless. I have a very progressive mother with very informed opinions, and as a single mother she knew what she wanted and didn't want for her daughter. She did her part, but I am of the opinion that it takes a village to raise a child and that my village tried…but fell flat, and the reasons are different than what you might expect.

There are so many ideas about what makes sex education comprehensive. Unfortunately, the current administration has decided that abstinence-only-until-marriage education is the most comprehensive despite the fact that it's the least effective. Luckily, my educators did not feel the same way. My problem with the sex education I received had little to do with content, which was fairly comprehensive, and more to do with the delivery.

The way sex was presented to me was something shameful and embarrassing, more of an awkward chore than an essential component of a young person's education. In the fifth grade, I learned about human sexuality and the fascinating processes of the human body as well as ways to protect myself against STD's by using condoms and abstaining. But it was SO AWKWARD. What I remembered most about that day was my teacher trying to hide her face. She was so painfully embarrassed by the whole situation that she didn't say a word and just put in a video. I learned about sex by a cartoon duck who didn't teach me how to talk about sex, just what sex is. There is so much more to it though. Yes, obviously, it is a physical encounter between people, but when you start thinking about all of the emotional and religious justifications our paternalistic government has come up with to rationalize their abstinence-only agenda which would "protect" our young people (read: our defenseless little girls), there is clearly much more to sex than physical contact. I don't agree with the agenda, but it's pretty clear that sex is complicated.

The sex education that I received in high school was basically the same as in the fifth grade with a few more details and a condom demonstration that was ridiculous. No one took it seriously, and to be perfectly honest, it was about one year too late for many of the girls in my tenth grade class. Was it useless? Absolutely not. I learned what I could and appreciated the fact that I was getting a comprehensive lesson. But looking back, what I remember most was the embarrassment and the angst we all felt, especially our teacher.

Roe is gone. The chaos is just beginning.

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Alternatives? Solutions? Yes! Sex needs to be discussed in an environment like the one my mom and I had. Questions were answered and encouraged, not shunned or averted, or answered by cartoon rubber duckies. Young men and women deserve to have meaningful conversations about sex in a learning environment so that they can foster an awareness that sex is something to be taken seriously but, if given the information and the resources, it can be safe and fun. It's the same with other classes. You learn about a subject and then you're expected to make rational conclusions and give an analysis of the situation. Sex is well…sexier, than that sounds but the philosophy is still consistent. It's crucial that young people feel that they can talk about sex, and not in the "Dude, I got lucky last night" way, or the "sexual intercourse involves the sexual organs of two individuals." It needs to be more of a dialogue between educators and us.

I wish I didn't sit there praying the class would end. I wish I would have asked what happens if the condom breaks? How much is birth control? Are there any pills for the boys? Can I get AIDS through kissing? When, exactly, am I fertile? Can I buy condoms if I'm under 18? These questions may seem silly, but they were real for me at 15 years old. I learned the basics about sexual intercourse, but I was ashamed to be asking some very poignant and relevant questions. I had internalized shame and guilt. My education failed me. Sex is not bad! It's not evil and it doesn't have to be dangerous. I didn't ever learn that from that damn cartoon duck.

Remember sex-ed in high school? The young people from around the country who’ve submitted their videos to our Fresh Focus: Sex Ed Digital Video Contest do! And they have a lot to say on the subject! From artistically breath-taking to just plain hilarious, these videos tell the individual and collective stories of young people about the sexuality education they’ve had, the sex-ed they wish they’d had or the way they envision sex-ed for the future!

Starting today, each day we’ll feature one or two of the top ten video in a blogpost on our site. All you need to do is VOTE for your top THREE favorites!!