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A conversation I once had with my father on the truth of sex left me more confused than enlightened. Like every child does, I started asking questions at a very young age and I got the usual responses from parents. In an effort to get more information I wound with a whole lot of stories. In a young person’s life there several sources of information on sex; family, friends, media and the internet all of which were influential in my journey to truth of sex at one point or another. This paper; however, tells my story to most profound sources to the truth of sex and how I came to tell apart the facts from the myths.
My parents did not talk much about sex with me, and almost everything I knew about sex was gathered from extremely diverse sources, some of which were less informative. In my younger years, the relationship between man and wife was normal but somewhat confusing why young girls were not allowed to interact with each other in the same way. One thing that continuously perplexed me was a question why I was not allowed to watch the girls dressing up after the P.E. class; on the other hand, my mother did not ask my father to give her privacy when she was changing her clothes. I asked my mother why this was the case, and she told me that when I was all grown up, I would find a girl whom I would genuinely like. Gradually, I would fall in love with her, marry her, and make many babies with her. From this, I deduced that if you had babies with someone, you were allowed to see them naked, and that it was dad that put the baby into mom. My mother’s words did were forgotten until when I was in my teen years when I started I thought of Mitchelle. I truly liked Mitchelle, and wondered whether that was the feeling mother was talking about. I found myself asking if Mitchelle would look anything like what I had seen in my cousin’s magazines. The following morning I woke up with a sticky feeling on my thigh. That evening, as if on cue, my dad asked me to talk with him, and that was my first lesson on sex education. He explained what had happened to me the previous evening and that such a sexual feeling a man usually got when he thought about women. To ensure that everything was understood, he explained to me the physiological differences between girls and boys. I was shocked that most of our speculations were true, and the difference was in the explanations given. From this session with my father, I learnt that I would grow hair in my armpits and ‘down there’, as my father called it. Later in my life, facial hair would also appear; however, I was not going to turn into a werewolf. My father explained to me that it was essential that I learned about girls too, so that I could not get them into ‘trouble’. He showed me a picture of a naked woman, and explained how babies were made. His explanation was straightforward and precise: girls have vaginas and boys have penises that go into the vagina, and the white sticky ‘stuff’ I had on my thigh the previous morning would find the egg in the girls vagina, and that was how a baby was made. I was horrified that girls have eggs.
The information I received from my extended family on sex was stumbled upon and not voluntarily given. I did not understand how sex happened, and stories about birds and bees did not help much. This was because I did not understand how the baby actually got into the tummy, and how people would eat if they were always full. One day I came across my older cousin’s magazines that were full of naked women. I asked him what he was doing looking at these naked women, since my mother had warned me against peeping into the key hole while my sister was taking shower. He told me that he looked at them too because it excited him. He went ahead to say that just as young boys and girls liked to watch cartoons, grownups liked to look at naked pictures of each other. At school I also noticed that boys paid more attention to girls who had bigger breasts that those who did not.
I had not expected to have my first sexual experience so early in my life. Girls were always a strange lot to me but there was this particular girl with whom I had a first sexual encounter. The word circumcision had only come up once in a Sunday school life and I had never related it to anything sexual until Mitchelle brought it up. I thought only Jewish people were circumcised, and it was because God asked them to do so. My first encounter was with a Mitchelle. Her mum played poker with my mother every Thursday; thus we were childhood friends. I knew I liked her, but I also knew I did not like her the way I liked my sister. Lately, I had noticed that her, once flat, chest was no longer flat. This made me happy, as this was the only way I could describe the feeling. One day, while I was at her house watching TV, and her parents had left the parental control, we came across a steamy scene. We started comparing notes, and she told me that adults always did “it” under the sheets because every man had something, which nobody should see. This scared me out of my skin. Unknown to me at the time was that Mitchelle had also developed a liking for me. One day, when she was left alone in her house, she asked me if I wanted to try out sex. I was a bit hesitant because my father had warned me about ‘getting girls into ‘trouble’. I shared my fears, and she told me that she had ear dropped on her older sisters’ talking, and they had said that if you wore a condom then she would not get into ‘trouble’. Besides, if anything happened to the condom, then there were this pills that one could buy, and they would keep her from getting pregnant. I had heard of condoms before, but I had never seen one that was not on the shelf in a pharmacy. She took one out, and unwrapped it. Before I put it on, she asked if I was circumcised because she had heard that it was better if the boy was circumcised. I looked at her confused not knowing what to say as I was not circumcised.
She ignored it, and I tried putting it on ‘down there’, but it did not slide through as Mitchelle said it should. She said that I should try touching her breasts since her sisters had said that men always liked touching them, and like a magic trick it worked. I was hard ‘down there’, and she said that I should put it in her vagina. A part of me was unsure while another was eager. It was now easier to wear the condom, although Mitchelle did all the instructing. We took off our clothes in a hurried blur of events with Mitchelle guiding me through the entire experience from what she learned from her sister’s discussions. Though if you ask, she knew more than you could gather from ear dropping on other people’s conversations.
Friends are the most influential force in a person’s life especially in the young formative years of adolescence; however, in my case they came up with the most unusual stories. For my friends and me, curiosity was raised after sessions in the gym where we used to go to the showers, and would catch glimpses of the older boys who seemed to have hair in ‘strange places’. Some of my friends said it was because they were bullies, and thus God was punishing them. Some even thought of them as they were werewolves in the last stage of transition from a man to a wolf. In my younger years, I was hardly interested in girls, and I thought of them as friends or people whose piggy tails you could pull. This belief was dispelled by the movies, and I realized that I should start liking girls. As usual, I shared my unusual liking for feeling for Mitchelle with my friends, and they told me I should not touch her, because if I did, she would give me a baby. Although I thought that babies were sent from heaven and delivered via post, that story seemed to be logical to me. With time I also came to learn that girls bleed every month, and at that time they are moody and cranky. Soon after that, if you have sex with one of them, they can get pregnant.
Naturally, I shared my story of the whitish stuff on my thigh, and Allan, the eldest boy in our clique, told that it was a ‘wet dream’, and that I was now ready to have sex. I was extremely disturbed by this piece of news. This is because I thought that when one was ready for sex, there would be a momentous sign to signify that he was now ready. I did not tell him that I had already had sex with Mitchelle; although, it was because Mitchelle asked me not to tell anyone because it would embarrass her.
Parents and teachers toss the responsibility of teaching young about sex; however, most of the times the young learn about sex from a totally different source. The ritualistic discussions on myths on sex went on with my friends until I was sent to summer camp. At the camp, we had a sex education class with one of the most candid camp masters I know. It was in this class that everything was clarified. Mitchelle’s belief on sex with a circumcised man was not unfounded, and even though circumcision reduced the risk or acquiring a sexually transmitted disease; the foreskin was covered with nerves, which could result in increased stimulation. All the physiological changes we were undergoing were a result of an increase in the hormone of testosterone in the body, which caused the body hair growth, voice breaking, increase in height, broadened shoulders, development of muscles and an increase in the size of the penis. In a homeroom class we had watched a clip on how to wear a condom but at the camp we each had a chance to practice wearing one on a penis-like model specifically designed for this purpose. It was a bit embarrassing at first, but we were all secretly happy to learn how to wear one
He explained that indeed women did bleed, and that it was neither a curse nor a disease. Men were not the only one to undergo these physiological changes; women also undergo their own changes, which were caused by hormones of progesterone and estrogen. They would develop broadened hips, shrill voice, etc. It was this changes that made the women bleed. He went ahead to clarify that it was not bleeding in the actual meaning of the word. He explained that when a woman reaches the age of adolescence, then her body prepares to bear a child. In order to bear a baby, the uterus needs to be ready. When an egg is produced and conception does not take place, then the lining which had formed to prepare for implantation is shed, and leaves the body during the menstrual period. In this camp, I realized that, beside the risk of pregnancy, there were greater risks, such as sexually transmitted diseases, and how easily they could be spread.
It appeared to me that sex may be portrayed by the media as fun and enjoyable but there are some consequences. My escapade with Mitchelle was fun, but we put ourselves under substantial risk. Before two people decide to engage in sex then they should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases are not for the poor or those who are immoral, they can get anybody, even those whom you least suspect. Diseases, like syphilis and gonorrhea, could also affect the development of a baby. Sex is for adults because only then a person is able to cope with the consequences that can follow sex, such as raising a baby, not to mention the physical risks for girls.
The pills that Mitchelle talked about do work, but they are not to be misused. They are to be used only in the case of an emergency. Using contraceptives is also risky, as there are several risks involved. The eggs my father was talking about were not anything similar to the eggs we ate for breakfast, but were microscopic eggs which were scientifically referred to as ‘ovum’. They join with the male sperm and form and embryo. I was glad the little knowledge Mitchelle and I had, served us well and kept us from making a mistake that we would both regret.
Adolescence was not a stage where I would turn into a monster, and girls into mysterious creatures that bleed every cycle. On the contrary, it was a stage that I would leave boyhood, and became a man. My journey to truth of sex has been a long and interesting one and am glad that none of the unfounded stories I was told led me into a lot of trouble.