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.



  1. Rick says:

    Vintage Playboys under dad’s bed and the European films my parents watched on weekends. All seems rather innocent in our modern era of the net pornocalypse.

  2. Gloria says:

    Heard the girls talking about it in the locker room when I was 10. Borrowed some medical textbooks to verify what I heard. Years later, mom asked me if I knew. When I said yes, she said, “Okay good, can you talk to your little sister?”

  3. @TariqPiracha says:

    Naked women through Playboys at a friend’s house when I maybe 7 or 8. But the act of sex? Two words: Bleu Nuit.

  4. J says:

    I was in Grade 4. The kids at school were using words that were foreign to me, but wouldn’t explain what they were. They said I should ask my parents. So I did. I asked my mom, “What’s pussy?”

    The answered started with, “When a man and a woman love each other very much and are ~married~,” and the answer ended with me being completely grossed out.

  5. Eric says:

    My parents had a copy of “Where Did I Come From?”, which was pretty earnest but complete as I remember it, ready for us when we were very young — before kindergarten. There were a few talks here and there, mostly with my mum, and one year in high school (way before I started having sex), my dad stuck condoms in my Christmas stocking. I got bits and pieces from my classmates — my being young in my group meant a few friends took some glee or pride in giving me basically accurate information. Aside from that, CBC Radio (which was almost always on at home) covered a fair amount of the politics and culture around sex, especially Queer sex, so I was pretty fuzzy on the anatomy, but I definitely knew there were non-straight people out there and that sometimes they were proud and sometimes they were ducking for cover.

  6. Eric says:

    Oh, and the Internet, Jean M. Auel ang Michael Ondaatje helped, too :)

  7. Desi says:

    that’s a pretty fuzzy memory. def not through my parents, though. prob a combo of tv and schoolmates.

  8. Sarah says:

    For me, it was getting to high school and discovering that (*MIND BLOWN!*) my peers were having sex! From there, my friends got me to read columns in the free weekly, like My Messy Bedroom and Savage Love. From there I just kept reading whatever I could, from Go Ask Alice! to Scarleteen – and learning that porn was not really an accurate representation of sex.

    My parents weren’t super forthcoming with me about the subject.

  9. deekayelgee says:

    I was five, and walking home with a grade eight boy named Clark. He mentioned the words, “hanky panky”, and then went on to describe something that involved his parents closing the curtains. I had no fucking clue what he was talking about. I am pretty sure my mother gave me the biological run down fairly early on, as she was a science teacher. I don’t remember sex being a mystery for very long. I was terrified about having sex because of this book I read when I was sixteen which talked about how even putting two fingers in one’s vagina could cause a lot of pain. I tried it, and they were right. I abstained for awhile after that. :)

  10. I don’t know when I first learned that sex existed. By the time, I was 7 or 8, I know I had some idea of what sex involved because, when I looked at porn magazines for the first time, it didn’t match my expectations. It seems likely I learned about sex from my peers/TV, but it might have come up in church/Sunday school as well.

  11. Mmaestiho says:

    As far as i remember, sometime around when i was 9 or 10 my mother bought a book [I can’t find it online it had a bird and a bee that led you through the book] and left it in the drawer of her desk. I was a curious child, happened upon it and then promptly read through the entire thing. I thus avoided any kind of initial “talk”

  12. Amy says:

    My mother sat down with my sister and me and explained it. I think I was about 7 years old? I remember giggling when she said penis, but I’m thankful now that she did it. Now I have to make myself comfortable enough to do the same with my daughter.

  13. Caroline says:

    I knew that to make a baby, sperm and an egg were required, but I didn’t know how they “got together” exactly. So at 11, I approached my mom to ask her how it works. She had previously bought a few books for me on puberty and reproduction, so she went through them with me to explain what happens (with diagrams..!) I also thought there was no movement involved with sex for a very long time and I didn’t realize it was supposed to be pleasurable. Needless to say, I informed her I was never ever ever going to have sex because “it’s gross” and I abstained for quite some time

  14. Nomi says:

    When I was 12(!) I saw a friend’s baby brother having his diaper changed and was horrified at what I thought was a deformity. At some point I mentioned this to my mother, who gave me an angry look but said nothing. A few days later she handed me a Catholic pamphlet that mostly confused me; it was heavy on sin & light on biology. The next year I actually took biology in school and was pretty grossed out. I’m now nearly 60 years old, divorced, 2 kids, many lovers in my 20s, and sex is still a puzzling, creepy thing to me. Fortunately I haven’t had to even think about it for 15+ years.

  15. Bryn says:

    I honestly can’t remember (I wish I could!), but I also thought it was static.