When I started studying sexuality, I learned a lot of things that I imagine that most people haven’t learned and didn’t and don’t know about. These are my impressions about what I have learned, that I should have learned years ago.
1. We need better sex education for everyone… kids and adults. Some people insist sex is only for married people, so that’s the only time they need to learn about it. Wrong. Sex education is for everyone, and not just after puberty, but from the time children are little. Perhaps if I had been taught things about my body when I was three, I might not have been molested, or I at least might have told someone. Children need to be taught that their bodies are their own and they are the ones who decide who gets to touch them and when to say no, and when to let someone know that they have been touched inappropriately. Even something as seemly innocent of saying, “Give Aunt Bertha a hug and kiss” sends the wrong message to children, as well as to those who would take advantage of others. I had a grandfather who was all touchy-feely with the granddaughters. All six of us learned to watch out for one another and stay away from grandpa. But none of us told our parents what was happening.
2. Our sexual desires begin between the ages of 3 and 9, and children can and do have orgasms. I had my first one when I was six. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I remember it very clearly. Children should not be shamed for masturbating. I have talked to so many adults that were taught to feel guilty about looking at and touching their own bodies and that mentality can cause so much damage.
3. Sex is not just for the young and the thin. Older people and bigger people want to have and do have sex all the time. Making fun of this idea is narrow-minded and selfish. Fat-shaming about sex is getting worse, especially in this age of hooking up online. Many people also buy into the idea that sex ends when you turn 50 or whenever a woman goes through menopause. This idea stems back to the idea that women’s only purpose in life is to bear children. Once that is no longer an option, the woman was basically useless and sex was no longer required or wanted. I have talked to a lot of women my age who have bought into this idea and seem relieved to be “done with all that nonsense”. When I had a hysterectomy at age 55, even the female doctor whispered to me, “now you have an excuse to not have sex anymore”.. and I believed it, didn’t have sex for nearly 10 years!
4. We have to get over the idea that sex and nudity is bad, evil, sick, dirty and wrong, and that sex is only for after marriage, and even for many sex between married people is done only under the covers and with the lights out. This idea of sex only being for marriage is a relatively new concept. If you study the history of marriage and sex you will learn that many people had sex before they married. In my own family history, at least half of the brides were pregnant on their wedding day. At one time, couples were encourage to have sex prior to marriage to make sure they were fertile enough to procreate, which was the main focus of marriage. Often the wedding didn’t occur until the woman was confirmed pregnant. There also use to be a tradition called bundling. Because young men many times had to travel several days to court a young lady, he was invited to stay a night or two. Because sleeping arrangements were limited and it was assumed that the couple would marry, he was invited to spend the night in the girl’s bed, with some restrictions. Both of them must remained clothed, with their own blanket tightly wrapped around each of them and then a board was placed between them. This allowed them, in theory, to talk, cuddle and share their hopes and dreams with one another. Of course, theory doesn’t always play out the way it’s designed and bundling often led to quickie marriages and so-called premature babies 7 months later.
5. We need to stop instilling fear and guilt in kids about sex, especially girls, and that it is only for reproduction. That is damaging on so many levels. It’s much better to teach them about consent, communication, respect and responsibility. As well as the mechanics and techniques about sex and relationships with others in general. I’ve been astounded that sex education today isn’t much better than the lame classes I had 50 years ago. My sex ed at the age of 12 consisted of learning about Kotex pads, what my menstrual period was and why I had one each month, and how to keep my legs together with knees touching at all times, along with the warning to never touch myself or allow anyone else to touch me. Ever. This was so deeply ingrained that when I became pregnant and was suppose to prepare my nipples for breastfeeding, I couldn’t do it and I suffered greatly when I nursed my children. The only thing we learned about the male gender was seeing a drawing of a flaccid penis and being told to stay away from it. We learned that “the male seed” was needed in order to create a baby, but no information as to how it got there. My mother affirmed much of this mentality about sex… that it was just something to be endured and certainly not enjoy. “Just close your eyes and think of something else, it will be over quickly…”
6. The most surprising and one that I honestly had never considered… disabled people wanting, needing and having sex. This is practically the last taboo and it needs to end. Disabled people have as much as a desire and need for sex as anyone else. Just because something on our body or in our brain doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean the rest of our body and mind doesn’t work as well. Because of the images we see in men’s magazines (as well as some women’s) and in porn, we get the idea that, for women especially, that all sexually active females are young (but 21 so they are legal), thin, white, able-bodied and active. Men have a little more lee-way, they can be older, carry a little extra weight and can often be any race. But if you are fat, old, and need a cane or wheelchair to get around, there is no visual images to support you and your idea of being wanted, needed and desired. This leaves out a lot of people.
I was in my 60’s before I learned what it was that I was missing. When I was younger, the message was.. “be a good girl, a nice girl, submissive, but pure, save yourself for marriage..” Unfortunately the message didn’t come with what to do when others decided to take from me that which I was suppose to saving. I knew instinctively, that I was no longer “pure”, good or nice. When I finally decided to just fuck that attitude and chose to have sex with my new boyfriend, I was bitterly disappointed. This is what I was saving myself for?? I was expecting fireworks and it was… nothing!! Other than when I was a child and had induced my own orgasms by propping myself up, crossing my legs and swinging back and forth, I never had an orgasm with sex. Ever! The only time I craved sex was when I was pregnant, and because of religious teachings, that was not allowed so it never happened. It wasn’t until I took matters in my own hands, literally, and learned the joys of masturbation. That inspired me do research about human sexuality, which also led me learning about BDSM. How I wish I had learned all, or at least, some of this when I was younger, without the guilt, fear and shame of wanting, needing and having sex.