Thinking about sex today. Specifically sex education.

How were you taught sex education when you were young? And what kind of positive or negative impacts did your sex education (or lack thereof) have on you as you became an adult?

(Reply and boost this please. I want many people to share their own stories.)

I was raised in a fundamentalist church, and was hard drilled Purity Culture/True Love Waits style abstinence. I don't remember sex ever being brought up in school beyond the most basic level reproduction lessons in biology class. The actual mechanics of the procedure was never taught to me.

It caused some pretty severe anxiety issues in the two romantic relationships I had, including when I was dating my wife. But it at least didn't cause any lasting personal social issues (I think).

Looking back on it, I think my fundamentalist sex education, while certainly psychologically flawed, was still better than the sex education most of my friends in high school got. Which was basically "Watch TV and movies" and learn from their dads and older brothers.

Given how toxic TV and movie depictions of relationships in the 90's was, it's honestly little wonder to me that so many middle aged men have such bad concepts of consent and relationships.

@1dalm I was raised by wolves. Wolves, in general do not pass on sex education. We had a "health" class Sophomore year of high school but it was abstinence based.

@bradysflungtablet Na, man. Not my church. If your right hand causes you to sin...

@1dalm purity (hah) and no sex until marriage concepts have killed more Christian marriages dead on the wedding night then anything possibly could

@heurism Eh, I would want to see some legitimate studies on that before I believe it.

TLW certainly has it's psychological flaws and the author of the original "Kissed Dating Goodbye" book has ended publication and issued a pretty comprehensive apology follow up where he recants basically everything in the book that he give away for free on his website.

@1dalm I went to a conservative Christian University. The number of young men that came to me after their wedding nights with tales of woe was staggering. They had no idea what neither did their bride. Trying HARDER didn't work. Those are deep scars, yo.

@1dalm the father/daughter "dating" and "safety" paradigm is still alive and well. And sick as fuck.

@1dalm We had the whole assembly at gym with an old VHS tape: the lights dimmed, showing diagrams of anatomy and genitals and wombs and eggs and sperm. They talked about chromosomes, how the cells get where they're going, how the cells grow into a baby..

It was all clinical, and unhelpful unless you were going to take a low-grade biology test. Didn't even scratch the SURFACE of anything having to do with gender identity, sexuality, relationship dynamics or orientations, contraception...nothing.

@1dalm "Luckily" for me, I had the bible. 🤦🏾‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️

It taught me that god knew everything already, all the instructions for life were right there; that all I needed was to stay chaste, obey my mother, &, if I was good, god would send a christian man -- someone the opposite of my abusive atheist father, since all christians are good -- & then I would live safely&happily with someone I loved. My high libido as a woman would cease to be an embarrassment & a sin, and would become the joy of my husband.

@IridisSparks Yeah, ain't it funny how so many of us were taught that the Bible says that and the actual Bible doesn't say anything like any of that at all.

Like not even remotely close to any of that.

@IridisSparks It would be like teaching Lord of the Rings in a high school Lit class and the teacher leading a lesson and teaching that the book is about Olympic Men's Gymnastics.

And no other adults in the room didn't read any of the LOTR books either so they don't correct the teacher.

Me maturing and reading the bible: You guys aren't even remotely close! How did you get any of that from this book?!

@1dalm And now, I'm stuck: the beard of a 'nice guy' Aro/Ace son-of-a-clergyman, who lied 7years to get me married to him.

His sabotage, gaslighting, & 10years of callous medical neglect has left me unable2 support myself or leave, barely able to walk; &, now, with this unceasing pandemic, no future where I get to go for a few hours & interact with other people, who might see me as an actual human being, instead of as a way2 validate themselves via the social standing of being a 'married man'.

@1dalm other words, a lack of sex (& healthy relationship) education completely ruined my life.

Nearly all my goals and hopes and dreams and ambitions are just gone, &I am aware that conservatives and christians keep suppressing sex education and banning talk about gender&identity and what makes for a toxic relationship or not, because they do not see women as human beings.

They see them as property made by god, & as such, they desire that all women be as equally ruined as I have been.

@1dalm raised Roman Catholic & attended parochial school thru 5th, then public. I don't recall family members teaching much about sex to me. Science/health classes had some very basic stuff about our reproductive systems, but that was about it. Pretty much learned everything from older kids, pornography, and experimentation; at an early age.

I definitely don't think the puritanical, "it's bad/dirty" approach is good. It's part of life and a natural thing. Nothing to be shameful about.

@heurism @Finner @1dalm my mom got pregnant with my youngest brother and I was all "how did a baby get in there" and they handed me a "How Babies are Made" book (from the 70s, illustrated) and thoroughly explained everything to me in an age appropriate but proper vocab way.

I then had absolutely no interest in sex until some guys pheromones in my junior year of HS completely shut off my brain and I did the same to him.

@Dananner @heurism @Finner While I don't think there are any clinical studies that have confirmed it, I totally 100% believe our lizard brains are highly susceptible to pheromones from others.

All higher evolved brain regions fully shut down and otherwise reasonable and respectable middle aged professionals end up running away on a French Riviera vacation with their office manager...

@1dalm @heurism @Finner I was pretty sure I was asexual until him. Then BAM! (also, no filter, which often gives people the wrong idea, but sex is natural)

@Dananner @heurism @Finner No filter needed here! I've done well and I've done wrong too. Embarrassment and shame on the issue don't help anyone.

Thanks for sharing.

@1dalm @Dananner @heurism Those feelings of shame and embarrassment are precisely why I don't believe in the 'puritanical' approach. Nobody should be made to feel ashamed regarding our natural biological processes. I think that type of education is far more harmful than the opposite.

@Dananner @heurism @Finner @1dalm That is how it should be done! (Like your parents, I mean. ;–)

My parents were apparently paralysed by the thought of talking to their children about sex. (See my own answers to the OP.) So their stunt of strategically placing books for me to find. But that was a generation earlier, and both of my parents from religious upbringing, which at the time meant rather repressive. >>

@Dananner @heurism @Finner @1dalm In particular my mother's family was strongly religious, of pietist-authoritarian leanings. So no sex ed — and not only my mother, but also her two older sisters were pregnant before marriage. (Dunno about the fourth, or the bothers.) My grandpa was very much not amused, again and again. 🤣

@Finner @heurism @jyrgenn @1dalm I was the reason for my parents getting married 😄 once they gave me that book and I did the math I was like “you always told me I was late but I was born in August and you got married the December before”…

@Dananner @Finner @heurism @1dalm My parents joked (some time later, I think, when the worst of the embarassment of talking to the children about sex had subsided) that I was premature (which was true), a seven-months-child — "and do you know what a seven-months-child is? They are born two months early, meaning five months after the wedding."
(Actually six months and a week in my case. But I *was* a bit early, too.)

@Finner How did your education experience positively or negatively affect your development later in adulthood? Do you wish you could have had something different?

@1dalm Hmm. I feel this is tricky to answer. In trying to keep it brief, I think I might say that the WAY I learned probably had more of a net positive than negative affect on me overall, but that might have more to do with ME in particular than the method. I'm sure it wasn't the BEST way to have learned and could be detrimental to many. I feel having candid and realistic conversations with teens going through puberty is probably best. But that can certainly be a wee bit uncomfortable.

@1dalm In my opinion, being more open and honest about things is almost universally better than trying to shield and protect kids (to an extent). They are often far more intelligent and understanding than we often give them credit for, as a society. Especially when you think historically, that not really all THAT long ago, young teens were basically adults and having babies themselves. Know what I mean? Our modern society has changed so much, but our biological makeup hasn't caught up yet.

@1dalm i grew up in a heavily religious community but for some reason still got partial sex ed - i am especially thankful for thorough discussion of puberty. diagrams that only detailed the penis while the vagina was three dots inside parentheses, 'the ONLY perfect birth control is abstinence', a terrifying video of someone giving birth, and zero mention of lgbt topics except for one teacher who took a few of us aside and very subtly hinted she would listen if we were gay.

focus on the family 

@1dalm i also got sent to Focus on the Family's 'Preparing for Adolescence' course which made sex sound so painful and miserable (for the person being penetrated) that i heavily considered never getting married, along with lots of 'true love waits' messaging.

i was lucky to have a few teachers who knew how much we were missing and found ways to work in conversations about consent and hygiene, or just give vague hints that maybe our sex ed program was... sparse

focus on the family 


Thank you for sharing.

Women and girls weren't "liberated" by feminism, they were spoiled into believing in rights without responsibilities, to make them compulsive consumers.

But the world slowly is rectifying its position. South Korea, one of the most culturally influential countries, elected its president on a platform of antifeminism.

@1dalm our fifth grade class in the 70’s got the puberty class in school. I learned that boys had to talk separately from girls about sex, which it turns out us entirely for procreation and serves no other purpose. I learned in high school that people like me were relegated to the paragraph of peculiarities.

Where I really learned everything important about sex and relationships was participating in Stop AIDS workshops in the 80s.

@1dalm for anyone who is part of the LGBTQ+ community any sex education based only on reproduction is triggering and traumatizing.

@1dalm a UK (non religious - supposedly) state school in the middle of Section 28. I was a closeted queer kid.

Biology lessons on reproduction and the "cool" (funny) Religious Education (RE) teacher showing pictures of diseased genitals (from the "RE Porn Closet" as we jokingly dubbed it). Didn't see a condom until uni.

@1dalm mine was very biological, too. Very "here's how your body works". Very little about how uterus-equipped bodies worked. Very little about sexuality in general; absolutely nothing about the messy complex intersections of sexuality, culture, and society.

@1dalm even the biological aspects had weird gaps, too. Like "sperm is produced, then it is mixed with a(n unnamed) fluid, and then it travels through the eurethra and out the penis.

And then they just sorta skipped to "and then the sperm makes contact with an egg and then baby"

They yada-yadaed a lot of the process.

@1dalm @erosdiscordia It’s a long time ago, but I remember it being cringey and awkward, with anatomical diagrams and stuff about how babies are made – nothing about sex for pleasure

There was also stuff on the risks of pregnancy and STDs (this was just before the AIDS epidemic though)

I remember a picture of different kinds of contraception, with a 50p piece for scale

I was terrified of sex, and couldn’t see why everyone else at school was talking about it, or even doing it! So dangerous!

@1dalm @erosdiscordia If asexuality had been talked about at all back then (in an accepting way), it would have made my life so much easier, because I’d have had the words to explain my lack of interest

There was a lot more I didn’t understand about myself back then though, so I was always going to be a bit messed up

sex talk 

@1dalm i lived on a hobby farm with lots of animals. so, uh, yeah. i knew a lot from a young age about how it worked, at least between males/females. took a lot longer to pick up on the emotional/societal aspects of it.

i was *terrified* of getting pregnant once i was sexually active, despite being on birth control long before then.

@1dalm My school sex ed was in biology class in IIRC 6th grade (1973/74), strictly limited to the biological functions. It started with the penis ejaculating in the vagina (with no indication how it got there or why, or why it ejaculated) and ended with the birth, overall depicting nothing but bare anatomical facts and biological processes. This was purely technical, not joyful or exciting or in any way positive. Feelings weren't mentioned at all. >>

@1dalm Our biology teacher, not sounding very open about it and from our POV an elderly woman, at least improved on that by telling us about boys' involuntary nocturnal ejaculations, and showed us some egg white dried on a piece of cloth to demonstrate how the result might look in the morning. While this sounds somewhat pathetic, I now think taking the unknown out of it was a good idea. (Not that it ever happened to me, though.) >>

@1dalm My parents did nothing in terms of sex ed, overtly. But they placed books in their shelves and (I guess) assumed I would find and read them, which I of course did, as the omnivorous reader I was. These were a "Lexikon der Sexualität" and "Zeig Mal!" ("Show Me!"), very progressive and sex-positive, with photos by Will McBride. I loved these books and devoured them, but we never spoke of it. >>

@1dalm Later, at an age of 15 or 16, I got to the books of Günter Amendt, "Sexfront" and "Das Sex-Buch" ("The Sex Book"), strongly leftist, very sex-positive. My parents and I still didn't speak of sex, but at least in my own circles of youth groups etc. we discussed Amendt's books, although we spoke little of our beginning own experiences in these circles. As couples, explored each other somewhat shyly, sometimes clumsily, probing, but overall I'd say successfully. >>

@1dalm Amendt's books and other media (which I do not specifically remember) were strong about contraception, luckily. So, when one girlfriend and I decided to go beyond heavy petting for the first time, we went to Pro Familia (roughly an equivalent to the US Planned Parenthood) for consultation, and followed their advice. And while this is of course not the end of the story, I'll leave it at that. :–)

@1dalm Hah, actually I don't. What I forgot above were the magazines targeted at prepubescents and young teens, mainly the (in)famous Bravo. I read it for a while some time between 11 and 13, I think. Its sex ed part wasn't too bad and quite explicit. I remember specifically they strongly promoted consent, not letting yourself be pushed into something you don't want to do. But if you want, fine, go ahead, but be careful (use contraception etc.).

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