In the spirit of a new year and new beginnings, I’m introducing a new feature called: Question of the Week.
In university my classmates and I used to write a ‘Question of the Day’ on the blackboard in the theatre student lounge. These questions almost always centered around sex and almost always sparked some lively, informative discussion. All that talking about sex helped me feel okay about sex. It seems like a tradition worth reviving.
Of course participation is completely optional. You can answer often, occasionally or not at all. If you have something to say but you’re feeling shy, you’re always welcome to comment anonymously.
So without further ado, let’s get to this week’s question:
How did you first learn about sex?
I’m lucky. My introduction to sex was safe, simple and very straightforward. I was three or four years old when I asked my mother how babies were made. Mom calmly replied that babies were the result of intercourse. She went on to explain that intercourse was when a man put his penis in a woman’s vagina. My mom described sex as something totally normal, which I realize in retrospect was some pretty rad parenting on her part. I walked away from that first conversation with a shiny new piece of knowledge and virtually no prejudice about whether this sex thing was good or bad
Most experts agree that when preschoolers ask questions about sex, adults should answer their question directly, without going into a lot of additional detail. Which is what my mom did. Throughout, it’s also what my teachers and other adults in my life did. Because sex was always described to me as a penis in a vagina and because all the pictures I saw in books were static, I thought sex was passive and still. My mom told me that grown-ups enjoyed sex because it was pleasant and pleasurable. I assumed she meant “pleasant” the way grown-ups thought drinking coffee was pleasant or reading magazines was pleasant. The word sex conjured images of naked people lying in bed, quietly connected at the crotch, talking about taxes or names for the baby they were making. It wasn’t until I saw my first saw porn that I understood how active sex can be.
That’s my story. I’d love to hear yours. The comment section is open – tell me how and when you first learned about sex.