Let’s Talk About..…SEX

Image from ChristianPig Website

If you haven’t watched Season 2 of Sex Education, then you need to add it to your watch list. The TV show brilliantly captures the struggles young people go through during their sexual awakening, taking viewers through; puberty, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), fetishes, contraception methods, sexual orientations, consent, sexual harassment and overall the importance of sex education in school.

Watching the show made me reflect on my journey on learning about sex, which I did with zero guidance because ‘sex education’ was and is still viewed as a taboo — society assumes it will encourage promiscuity in children.

When I became a teenager, I knew I would get the ‘Talk’ as I had seen on many TV shows. Therefore, when my mum sat me down to give me the ‘TALK’ I did not expect her to start and end it with, ‘don’t play games with boys!’.

‘What games though? Rounders, hide & seek, shake??’

Her ‘TALK’ had been so vague, yet thanks to my lack of naivety I had understood it to some extent. In fact, at my big age, I have never had my mother say the word ‘sex’ and I have never talked to her about sex since my ‘talk’. However, I do understand she grew up in a generation where the talk did not even exist, and no one spoke about it. Even worse they did not have the internet or access to televisions.

In school, sex was only approached through our science/biology classes when learning about the reproductive system and the changes our bodies would go through during our pre-pubescent stage. The teachings were less vague than my mother’s talk but still, I didn’t fully grasp what sex entailed.

In church, sex was only approached as the gift given to Adam and Eve to fill the Earth and was not to be had if one was not married. I remember being in a high school church service and signing a purity pledge to God committing to abstinence. Looking back at this, I get so angry knowing how purity and virginity are social constructs that only appeal to patriarchal norms — a conversation for another day.

Therefore, a majority of my teachings on sex education growing up came from my cool friends, shout magazine and TV shows, these were not the best teachers but they worked for me. However, they made me develop myths about sex that were not true, such as:

  • If I touch a person with HIV I will get the virus.
  • The only STD was HIV.
  • Sexual orientation was limited to only heterosexuality.
  • Pre-cum cannot cause pregnancy.
  • Condoms are the only contraception method.
  • Sex before marriage makes girls impure.

Luckily, I joined a university that debunked most of my myths around sex. Our orientation into campus life included a session on sex education. The session covered; STDs, contraception methods — the facilitator went to the extent of showing us how to use condoms both female and male. You could see the shock and excitement in our faces. Our university also had a voluntary counselling and testing centre (VCT) in case any student wanted to learn more about sex, ways to protect themselves and to be tested for HIV.

I believe parents and educational institutions being quiet and not having honest conversations about sex with children leaves them vulnerable to misinformation and puts their sexual health at risk. Imagine if I came home with ‘a ball’ from ‘the games’ I had been warned not to play with boys I would have been in a lot of trouble. My mother would have probably kicked me out forgetting that she had not fully equipped me on sexual health. Talking about sex is more than just using scare tactics or forcing abstinence — children need to be fully equipped with age-appropriate information on their sexual health.

Words inspired by my feelings on life, gender, sexual reproductive rights, mental health, youth 🤓