I’m a little bitter, maybe I shouldn’t be, I turned out just fine, but there are so many things in my past I wish I could change. I didn’t even know what sex was until college, except that I wasn’t supposed to have it until I was married. Hollywood taught me that it was between a man and woman, and that a bed and no clothes were usually involved. Finally, in college I had some sexually active roommates and I was able to deduce from their conversations and jokes the basic mechanics of sex. But that was it. I had no idea what an emotional and mental process it was, at least for a woman. All I felt about sex was that it was gross, and while I was told it was natural, to me it seemed terrifying.
At a young age I had some traumatic experiences that scared me away from anything that concerned sexuality, and caused a deep distrust for men. I never sought to educate myself, it was too scary. I just waited for someone to explain it to me.
I don’t remember having any of the object lessons about sexual purity that seem to be so famous within the LDS culture. Everything concerning such an uncomfortable topic was completely avoided. I remember being told to dress modestly so that men wouldn’t lust after me, and that I would probably be responsible to “put on the brakes” when in a serious relationship because men just couldn’t control themselves. But that was it.
My parents assumed I would learn about sex at school and my school teachers assumed I would learn it from my parents. I actually had two different health teachers (one in 8th grade, and in 11th) say, “I’m sure you know all about the reproductive process, so we’ll skip that chapter.” Those were the only times in my public education experience that sex was brought up, and they didn’t even use the word sex. I wondered if this happened all over the country, or only in Utah.
When dating I thoroughly enjoyed cuddling, holding hands, and kissing. I felt guilty for just how much I enjoyed kissing and frightened by the emotions that were raging inside me. I honestly had no idea what they meant or what I was supposed to do about them. I just felt they were wrong somehow. It wasn’t until I met my, now, husband that I began to heal. While dating him I was able to confront my fears and began to learn how to deal with my mistrust. Around him I didn’t feel embarrassed because of my naivete, but rather I felt ok with expressing my worries and lack of knowledge. I began to be truly excited for the day we would be married and be able to enjoy each other sexually.
However, I was still painfully naive and our wedding night was not at all what I envisioned. Thankfully I have a kind, patient husband, and eventually I learned to thoroughly enjoy having sex. I do not want my children or any other youth for that matter to have to learn about sex the way I did, through movies and dirty jokes. Sex is not something to be afraid of, or embarrassed about, it’s natural and it’s fun. And not all men are sex driven goons.
[Last post in the Teaching Sex guest post series: Confronting Corianton]