Sex Ed

She had known him for two years before asking him the questions she was really curious about.

These questions are not the ones discussed in school; certainly not in the one-semester health-education-knowing-your-body course she and other public school teenagers in her country generally have. What her high school teacher said about s-e-x boiled down to: 1. Don’t do it while you’re young; 2. It’s okay to do it if you’re married; 3. Children are its worthy by-product; all the rest (and maybe that includes orgasms) are after-thoughts.

That was circa 1990s, of course; and her teacher was a 50-year old straight-laced,  PhD-holding, tenured university professor, who always wore skirts.

Now she wonders, why do grown-ups never tell you the interesting parts about sex like:

* What is it like to lose one’s virginity?

* Why do people  who should know better (being educated and well-informed) claim that they do not want to have children and yet do not use contraception? Is it laziness? Being sucked in the “heat of passion” (a line she learned in a romance novel)?

* What’s the big deal about having children anyway? Does one really need to have one before one dies? For what? To fulfill a biological imperative?

* What do orgasms feel like?

What her skirt-wearing, well-meaning high-school teacher failed to mention; what all those who have had sex fail to mention when they talk about what you are and are not missing when you have sex, is the immense power-play involved among penises and vaginas.

Was it Andrea Dworkin who supposedly said that all heterosexual intercourse is rape? But that was just a myth, wasn’t it?

After Alice and Jonas first had sex (oh the word!), the emotions that overwhelmed her were:

1. feeling owned by and bound to this person who may or may not stay in her life for very long (“owned” and “bound” are such loaded words, very un-feminist, but that’s what she felt, no matter what Andrea Dworkin might say),

2. worry that a single sperm managed to pass through an improbable pore in the condom that they used and she will get pregnant,

3. a sense of wonder that sex was not as bad as they said it can be and that it actually exceeded her expectations,

4. curiosity about “where this all might lead to.”

***

Flash forward to now…

She is holding his hand, or maybe he is holding hers — they are lying down facing each other after you-know-what. And his eyes are closed. And Alice is thinking, his eyelashes look so much more nicer than mine, how can that be.

Alice: So I want to ask you a question.

Jonas: Uhhmm …

Alice: What did it feel like for you the first time you had sex? Were you worried, apprehensive, excited? Did you think it would change your life or change you inside? Did you have performance anxiety or were you just happy you were finally doing it? Were you concerned about getting an STD or getting the girl pregnant? Did you even think about STD or pregnancy at all?

It is a long time before Jonas answers that Alice thinks he has fallen asleep.

“I felt that I was doing something right,” he finally says. “But afterwards, you were crying, so for a moment there I was worried that you will go to the police and report that it was rape.”

Jonas kisses her nose, opens his eyes and smiles.

Alice has her answer.

 

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Excerpt from a diary of (almost) 20 years ago

“How funny that we can’t bring ourselves to tell our children the most fundamental truth about sex, that most of the time we have sex, we have it for pleasure. ” – Alice Dreger

From the point of view of a 16 year old, sex is fascinating because it is forbidden. And it is forbidden  probably  because it feels good.

Hmmm … as good as what, I wonder? Even better than blueberry cheesecake? Or  Karen Carpenter songs? Is it  like waking up at 8 am and burrowing under your bedcovers when it’s raining outside and school is cancelled?

diary

 

I understand why grownups won’t talk about  the “S” word. My parents haven’t even said the “L” word. If they can’t bring themselves to talk about the “L” word  then S-word discussions must be like watching “The Exorcist”.

It’s like they do “it” and you are left wondering at all the fun they are having

I asked a teacher at Health Class  today why parents bother to have kids. What did I expect her to say? Because sex feels good and kids are a by-product of their parents having fun under their blankets? Of course that’s not what she said. Instead the answer was something about love and god wanting to spread love yada yada yada.

I hope  I can have the conviction to be an atheist like D. Oooops … one is not supposed to want to be an atheist. That kind of thinking can send you to hell.

***

If the Church had allowed them to grow up to be functioning adults in Irish society it would have ran the risk of demonstrating that the institution of marriage was not absolutely integral to the moral well-being of a person. – Stephanie Lord, on infanticide, unwanted pregnancies and the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland.

 

Sex Ed and Other Matters

I was about to attend a Policy Forum on Teen Pregnancy. It’s supposed to be today, but I just found that it has been postponed.

I expect it to be rich on informative, insightful lectures and speeches; and poor on workable solutions.

There is a culture of hypocrisy in this country as far as pregnancy is concerned. As far as sex is concerned, actually.

We are a people who tell our children, “do as I say, not as I do.”

For example, a grandmother of 35 brought her 16 year old pregnant daughter to the clinic yesterday. The grandmother is also pregnant with her 5th child with husband number 2. She tells me, referring to her pregnant daughter, “Ewan ko ba kung bakit nagpabuntis yan ng ang aga aga.” (I don’t know how she got herself pregnant at such a young age..”) What did they say about the pot and the kettle?

Congressman Manny Pacquaio is adamantly opposed to artificial contraception. His wife Jinkee has been using oral contraceptive pills to space her pregnancies. Good for you Jinkee … now please tell your husband to be consistent in his convictions.

Health workers are supposed to advise our clients about family planning. A week ago, a patient was willing and able to undergo tubal ligation (a procedure to tie her fallopian tubes that will permanently prevent her from getting pregnant). So I was ready to perform the procedure when my midwife reminded me that we have no anesthesia supplies.

Uhhh … I’m sorry Ms. Family Planning Client, I will have to refer you to another government facility because we lack supplies. And no, we weren’t given supplies for IUD or DMPA either. I can advise you about Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) and Calendar-Based Methods. Oh I see, LAM didn’t work for you because you had to work in a factory that doesn’t have breastfeeding facilities;  and Calendar Based Method is so difficult to do because, really it feels sooo good to have sex when you’re ovulating … I can agree with the great sex during ovulation part 🙂

During Women’s Month (which is, incidentally, this month!), the mayor proudly announces that the health facilities in the local government provide complete and comprehensive family planning services.

The truth is: most funding for Family Planning come from foreign aid agencies.

Another truth is: the Department of Health (DOH), like a lot of government agencies, is wishy washy about reproductive health because of the Catholic lobby.  When they ask for funding for family planning supplies from Congress, god-fearing congressmen shoot them down.

Yeah, yeah, Undersecretary Garin is now at the helm of the Family Health Office and she was a proponent of the RH Law. Well good luck to her. I hope she doesn’t use her DOH post as just another stepping stone to higher political office.

In countries that have curbed teen pregnancy and have decreased unplanned pregnancy, education played a big role. And so in the Philippines, sex education is  being espoused as a solution to prevent pregnancy among adolescents. So okay, fine, but where and how will we conduct this so-called sex education if we lack classrooms; we lack teachers; the teachers are uninspired and underpaid; the school books are crap;  and the students are hungry?

And was I the only one who has noticed that the agencies who are very active in the Sex Ed/Teen Pregnancy advocacy are DSWD and DOH? Where does the DepEd come in all this? Are they, or are they not, the ones who are primarily in charge of education? Ah but my dear, Education is quite different from sex education

Do the people advocating sex education even know how  it is supposed to be conducted?

I can hear my 16-year old self: If sex feels soooo good, how can you keep us from it? If being a parent is so stress inducing, why did you go through with it?

The thing is, people become parents even if they don’t know how to answer such questions from a 16-year old.

Cynicism has its place and I don’t know if mine is warranted.

The virgin mary and me. I'm sure even she and Joseph had sex.

The Virgin Mary and me. I’m sure even she and Joseph had sex.