— “Make Love,” Daft Punk
In my college admissions essay, a passionate discussion of sex ed, I referred to myself as “promiscuous in academics.” This must have been darn tantalizing for my admissions officer because his response note said, “This is the essay I have ever read.” [sic]
I grew up in the land of promise rings and virginity pledges. Keeping with the vision of Southern belles clutching v-cards and sea-pearl necklaces, the sex ed taught in our middle and high schools was abstinence only. Perhaps a more accurate moniker would be No-Sex Ed, Sex = Dead, or maybe just Ed, because most words were banned from the curriculum.
I think many of us hoodlums can agree that sex ed should be inclusive, not exclusive. Masturbation is okay. (Glamour’s poll is wrong – while 40% of women say they masturbate, 55 % of women lie, 5% are miserable.) Birth control exists, and works. These topics were the homosexuality and prostitution of federal AIDS funding: mention them and get blacklisted.
Our sex ed was run much like the drivers ed of antiquity – sex was a car accident and STDs were the bloody, twisted consequences — showed in darkened rooms with projectors and slides. If no one fainted and no one cried, you weren’t doing it right.
Unfortunately, no program can take into account two wildcards — the instructors and the instructees. As a perfect example of wildcard number one, I present Exhibit A: myself.
I was a lousy teen leader. I signed up to teach PSI (Postponing Sexual Involvement) because I needed community service hours and wanted to be able to say ejaculation without blushing. Turns out, ejaculation was on the blacklist.
There are several explanations for why I was such a failure. One was my self-conscious lack of enthusiasm. I would sing the PSI song (It’s OK to think about sex; it’s OK to talk about sex; it’s OK to have feelings about sex, but it’s good to postpone sex!) but I wouldn’t clap and stomp with the other leaders. Additionally, I was a curly haired brunette with glasses — NOT CUTE.
My partner was real Kentucky beautiful, and the kids loved her. The comment cards at the end were all propositions to her; no mention of lil ol’ me. I really wished I could respond to their childish scrawls with admonitions similar to what I read on a Pierson dining hall comment card. (Someone wrote something mean like “how hard could it possibly be to keep skim milk stocked?!” to which someone else responded “why don’t you quit being a little bitch and drink whole milk like a man.”)
When I got to Yale, I checked out CHE (Community Health Educators) and saw that their curriculum was well-thought-out and inclusive, so I decided to give it a try. And this is where the second wildcard comes into play. In the middle schools where I had done PSI, I was preaching primarily to bands of nerds. And for the nerd contingent, involuntary abstinence was the biggest concern.
I remember publishing an account of this phenomenon in my high school paper. I quoted a reluctant virgin as being staunchly opposed to abstinence. “If you don’t teach a dog any tricks, he’ll just die,” he said. He spoke of constant frustration: “I’m bothered by the fact that Uma [Thurman] is constantly in the news.”
On my first day going over to a New Haven high school for CHE, I told my cab driver I was going to teach sex ed. He, horrified, asked, “Won’t your boyfriend be angry?” After a few minutes of fumbling dialogue, I realized he thought I was going to teach sex to the children. Like have sex with them. To teach them how. As it turns out, he wasn’t too far off base — I had to disentangle myself from several XXX advice requests that day.
Many days these sessions deteriorated into confessional. Forgive me, Molly, for I have smoked weed. Forgive me, for I have hit it from behind. Give me absolution, Molly, for I hit it from behind while smoking weed and sending a text message. But the job did have its perks — every once in a while, I even picked up a helpful tip from these experienced youngsters. Yeah baby, I learned that teaching sex education to fifteen-year-olds.
My most recent foray into educating the masses was a part of my summer internship. I was tabling in New York City for a nonprofit promoting reproductive rights for women, and one of the main campaigns was for Plan B — the morning after pill. Unfortunately, the day before the first event, my only volunteer (a stranger, mind you!) called to tell me she might not be able to attend, because she was constipated.
The morning of, she called and said she had been “unable to make any progress” and wouldn’t make it. I was nervous, alone and had to make a set of guidelines — no one is too young, too male or too disabled to know about birth control. As a result, five-year-olds were walking away with morning after pill stickers proudly on their bosoms — poster boards saying man, I wish people had been more educated about Plan B five years ago.
Good thing the folks back home didn’t know about this devilish internship. Luckily, I am still willing to help them out. I’ve thought of several alternate sex ed program acronyms that I would like to propose to the Fayette County School District: TINO (That Is Not Okay,) HJAO (Hand Jobs Are Okay,) YHS (Yes, He Sees) and most simply, SEX (No.)
Forgive me, Governor Fletcher, for I have sinned.
Molly Green is all about KY; both the state and the jelly.