This week’s Remember the Time Blog Hop has the theme Sex Education

Remember the Time Blog Hop

Sex Education classes? You have got to be joking. I attended an all girls grammar school in Belfast, Northern Ireland last century. We did not have Sex Education classes. Sex was wicked and good girls shouldn’t be thinking about that sort of thing. We were told to stay away from boys as much as possible; they would try to get us to do things that would bring shame on us and our families. What exactly they would try to do to us was never explained.

We did have Biology lessons though. One of the text books had pictures of the reproductive organs of male and female homo sapiens in cross section. We were not allowed to look at these until third year, when I was around fourteen years of age. I studied them carefully but could not work out how they could make a baby. That bit was never explained.

So where did I find out about sex? I do have a few recollections of lessons I learned in my formative years.

While I was still at primary school, at around Christmas time when we were singing all those lovely carols in church, I asked my mother what a virgin was. I knew immediately that this was not a question that I should have asked. I don’t remember what she told me but I do remember her embarrassment. I learned that some topics of conversation are best avoided.

My older sister was a potential source of knowledge. When I was around ten years old she told me that sex was like putting a needle in an orange. This made no sense at all; I’m still not quite sure what she was trying to tell me. Perhaps she didn’t actually know as much about the topic as she wanted me to think.

In my first year at grammar school I found a tampon on the floor in a toilet cubicle. I had never seen such a thing; at this stage I had not even been told that I would one day bleed each month. Anyway, it looked interesting so I picked it up and took it to show my sister who was sitting with a group of friends. She was mortified. Once again I realised that I had asked a question that should have been avoided, although I had no idea why. She confiscated the little white cylinder giving no explanation. Being an honest child, I would probably have taken it to lost property and handed it in.

Throughout my teens I was trying to work out what sex was and how babies were made. There were so many words associated with this mysterious act that I did not understand. I read a letter from a worried mother in the Problem Page of one of my mother’s magazines and subsequently looked up masturbation in several dictionaries (remember kids, no internet in those days). I was none the wiser. Explanations are no good if they contain more words that are not understood. The dictionary definition of orgasm made it sound like an act of violence, certainly not something that one may wish to attain.

The attitudes of the adults around me to sex was that I would find out what it was all about when I got married. Before that there was no need for me to know and I should not be sullying my mind with such dirty thoughts. All around me jokes were made, nudges and winks shared, but nobody talked about what exactly went on.

Looking back I don’t know if I was hopelessly naive or if we were all as ignorant or innocent as each other. Now, of course, I understand about the stork who brings the little baby when a mommy-to-be gets fat enough. My kids will have a much better understanding than I had.

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