So, I’m a virgin.
Maybe that’s why I was so shocked when an LVN plopped a plastic penis on the desk in front of me and asked if I knew how to put on a condom. With a frantic shake of my head, she then asked me to demonstrate how when I interviewed her last year about sex education in high schools. My jaw hit the floor, and my eyes were as wide as an owls. All in disbelief at her point-blank question.
Or, maybe, it was when I was stunned by the giant orange-red biohazard bag full of 300 condoms and lube she thrust into my arms to pass out, or use, as I saw fit.
As weird and thoroughly awkward as that encounter was, I don’t think I would have been as dumbfounded had I received a proper education on sex. Although my face was as red as a fire engine and embarrassment flowed through my veins, that day marked a shift in my mentality and I realized just how ignorant I am.
Seriously. I sure as heck didn’t know why people talked about birds and the bees and babies in the same breath. All I knew on the topic was, “Don’t have sex. You’ll get pregnant and die.” Yeah. Didn’t have to tell me twice.
However, the more and more I think about it, the more infuriated I get that American education contains many controversial methods of teaching, but I think it’s quite obvious that a quality education on the basic means of life has been neglected to students.
I get it. We live in the Bible Belt and people don’t want to talk about that kind of stuff because it’s awkward. But when we talk about how the Center for Disease Control reported in 2014 that the birth rate was 24.2 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 which, the report stated, is “substantially higher than in other Western industrialized nations.” It’s almost a bigger embarrassment than a college student not even knowing anything about sex, like me. Frankly, it’s sad. We pride ourselves on “America first,” but we are so willing to let students stay in a confused suspension and pretend sex doesn’t cross people’s minds.
First and foremost, the discussions need to happen, and more than the basic “when two people love each other…” Tell students about the hormones like oxytocin, the bonding agent that deepens attraction between people that is released during sex. Talk about contraception, the types of contraception, how to use said contraception and then go over the pros-and-cons. Not everyone is able to go to the doctor and ask her embarrassing questions. There needs to be readily available options for anyone who is curious about sex.
Sex is natural, and it’s the primary way people will continue to pro-create and sustain life. Whether people want to talk about it or not, to have people knowledgeable about this most basic desire people have, the door needs to be opened to discussion and shouldn’t feel like they are attacked, or shamed for curiosity and interest.
I advocate for stronger sex education.
With that said, I also think it’s important to validate everyone choices with their sexuality. As a virgin, I see how people freak out when someone says they don’t have sex, and conversely to that: the rampant slut shaming. One person’s decision on sex is not for someone else to critique or judge. People have such a desire to prove someone wrong, they forget education is the best option for students to learn about something and make well informed decisions. If students had the opportunity to discuss sex in a more open manner, I doubt getting handed a dildo would have freaked me out as badly as it had.
I say this all as a Christian. I fully support staying abstinent before marriage, but choosing abstinence shouldn’t mean choosing ignorance. Students should be encouraged to practice safe sex as well as fully inform people on what that encompasses, not banking on scare tactics to discourage sexual exploration.
And with luck, I won’t be blindsided by a nurse whipping out a plastic penis again if all I am trying to do is meet a deadline.