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My bf and I were walking down the street this weekend when he randomly turned to me and said, “When do you start your new B.C.?” 

B.C.? My first fleeting thought was “Before Christ”, because that is what B.C. always stood for growing up, my second thought, since I live in Boston was “Boston College”. Luckily it wasn’t even long enough to be a noticeable hesitation before my brain kicked in with the right answer…birth control, he was talking about birth control.

But between that and Hobby Lobby I started thinking,  What did I learn about B.C. growing up? 

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Two of the more popular posts are our Tumblr deal with sex education and birth control (See here and here) and people all the time com back with comments about how it is impossible for a female entering her teen years or older to know so little about birth control and sex ed in general. No, no it’s not. It happens, a lot.

I only went to Christian school up to 8th grade but in those years we definitely did not have any type of education about ourselves and our maturing bodies. We didn’t have a health class. Science class (at least in 7th and 8th) was a lot of reading the text book in class, doing some fun projects, and staging a debate to refute evolutionists. Gym glass was twice a week. And for 7th and 8th grade it was no longer co-ed. This wasn’t so they could address gender-specific issues. It was so the boys didn’t have to worry about hurting the girls while being super athletic and competitive. (And probably so they didn’t stare at our legs in our gym shorts since we couldn’t wear shorts otherwise) I don’t really think that worked because as a non-athletic girl myself I found the athletic girls lost half of their friendly rivals and started just beating the pulp out of the book nerds like me.  

Moving on to a public high school in NJ, I had sex ed and a comprehensive one compared to some. I know we mentioned birth control at least, I remember the condom on the banana, the diagrams where you named all the parts of both male and female genitalia. I’m not quite sure what my friends that went on to the Christian high school learned though I remember one friend telling me of a horrendously embarrassing group devotional where the teacher talked about the evils of masturbation and went into detail about how she used to do it herself and how wrong it was….

But since the children you are raising in Christian middle school are not supposed to be having sex until they are married I understand why you wouldn’t be addressing birth control, you probably wouldn’t be addressing it in a public school at that age either, but not to even let kids know what is going on in their own developing bodies? I guess it was supposed to be left to the parents. 

But what if the parents don’t want that responsibility? Isn’t that why we have schools? To teach our children the things that we don’t know or don’t have the time to explain to them in detail? I don’t recall having any conversation with my mom about menstruation. It might have happened. I can’t recall. Someone had given me the American Girl Care and Keeping of You book which was extremely helpful. 

And I definitely didn’t have any knowledge of sex or birth control from my parents. I never had “the talk”. I never asked, I’ve always been one to try to find the answers out for myself. That’s why I became a librarian I guess but in the pre-internet age, at a school where you needed parental permission to talk out the adult Christian novels…I resorted to the dictionary.

A friend from church, who went to public school, asked me one day in 5th or 6th grade if I knew what an orgasm was. I could tell from the tone of her voice she was ready to ridicule me for saying I didn’t. So I said yes, and went home that evening, got out the dictionary and tried to look it up. But the words in the definition made no sense to me. I had to then look up the words “genitalia” and “ejaculation”. Then I had to look up “semen”. Finally I gave up. I was going around in circles.

I never asked my parents though, for some reason I knew that it was a topic that probably shouldn’t be spoken about. How did I know? Maybe it was the whispery tone my friend used when she asked me about orgasms or I had understood enough of the definition to realize it had something to do with a penis. But why? Why was it so shameful?

Many Christian parents believe they should shield their children from any or most talk about sex because initiating it will lead to sexual curiosity. Yet I feel that a lot of my peers did the exact opposite. Being told something is wrong and shameful and then not explaining it further led so many to try to find out for themselves. And the minute they realized it was something their parents abhorred, it became cool. 

I was the good girl. i never had interest in middle school and high school relationships, probably because no one was ever interested in me. (Except that dating game the teacher made us play in 8th grade, but that’s another story). So I never pursued it. Once the computer came around I knew there were certain words I shouldn’t search for, things I shouldn’t look up. I learned it very quickly actually because one of the first websites a friend told me to go to was gurlz.com but didn’t explain the spelling….(girls.com is or at least was a porn site)

I could wait to know, because I was going to wait for marriage anyway. I knew the basics (I thought), I knew the shame piled on the unmarried women in church who became pregnant. I was so naive that I didn’t learn the basic mechanics of sex until I being raped. Even though I had sat through the high school health classes that explained the vas deferens and the scrotum. The high school assumed most freshman had a precursory knowledge of sex and needed only to be taught the adult way of referring to genitalia and how to prevent pregnancy. I needed sex ed 101, beginning with, “Class, men have penises, they can grow in size when excited.”

I may have gotten a little off track here but my major point is we can’t assume that everyone knows about sexual things, even in the day and age of the internet. Our school computers had filters on them so strong that you couldn’t even pull up information about the state of Virginia because it blocked sites with “virgin”. 

So often we place the onus on young girls, or even young women, who are raped or become pregnant (through sex or rape). We call them out for being sluts, whores, etc. but really how much is our own fault for not teaching both girls and boys about sex?

I was tempted to ask my bf, right there on the street why he was ashamed to just say “birth control” and not b.c. but I realized he was probably doing it more for my privacy than anything else. Though, any person walking by with a smarter brain than mine would have known what he was asking anyway. But really? Why do we continue to be so ashamed? Sex is natural. We talk to our kids about poop all the time. Potty training is a separate industry with books like “Everybody Poops”, Both defecation and sex are normal human functions and the latter is much more fun to talk about. 🙂