We've been asking around lately: "What was sex ed like for you when you were young? And what advice would now you give then you?" We'll be sharing the answers with you in this regular column. Tiffany Brown is our first gal at the mic...
I don't think I ever had a proper sex ed class. There were a few afternoons in the fifth grade when they took all the boys in one room while all of us girls sat in another and we learned about our ovaries and PMS and were handed a pamphlet and a few pads. Then there was the dubiously named health classes that I took during eighth and eleventh grade, the former of which I slept through and the latter of which was a healthy dose of "If you have sex, here's a list of diseases you might get." I didn't even get "the talk" at home; after finding a business card from Condomania my mom matter of factly told me (and I quote) "If you're having sex and you don't want to tell me about it there are places you can go." She never elaborated on where these places where or what they'd tell me. The truth is that by the time my mom found that business card she was already too late. And not because I was already having sex—I wasn't—but because I'd already taken the time to educate myself.
Looking back there were things that were missing. In fact if it was possible (and it wouldn't violate every time travel paradigm ever) I'd go back, sit my barely teenage self down and say all the things that someone else should have said to me. I was thirteen when I first started thinking about sex and that sounds young because it is young. And even though I'd secretly read "The Hite Report" and had my first glimpses of porn with my three best friends I wasn't ready for anything real. I wasn't ready for the emotional fallout or the fear or the frenzy or the fact that afterwards I wouldn't be the same (because I wasn’t the same). I'd say that love is great but respect is better and not just from others but from yourself. And I'd hug the younger me and tell her she was beautiful, because I know (like no one else could have known) that's all she really wanted to hear. And that not feeling that way was all that stopped her from saying "yes" to a boy whose last name I don't even remember.
Want to share your experience? Leave a comment or get in touch with Sarah Jayne. Let's talk about sex (ed)!