Content advisory 18+ My Indian blogging colleague Roopsa has written today on the subject of sex education in India, and this has likewise awakened echoes of my own ‘training’ in the sphere, which of course happened many, many years ago. It was back in the days when babies really DID come from storks.
Seriously though, I grew up with my grandparents and I was lucky enough to have a grandfather who told me the “facts of life” during the trips we took between two small West Virginia towns, Martinsburg and Morgantown. He was an old telephone man with the skin of a reptile and the heart of a butterfly, truth be told. He had been terribly hurt by the failure of his first marriage, a fact that left him scarred and bitter. But underneath, he was just like so many of us: a human being dealing with disappointment and disillusionment mixed in with the precious few genuine ‘goodies’ that life gives us.
The result was that, during our facts-of-life talks, Grandpa did not bullshit me with lies, bore me with fake morality, or try to come off like some bookish nitwit laboratory geek (so there was no talk of spermatozoa fertilizing the eggs in the uterus, and all that mumbo-jumbo.). Instead, he told funny stories laced with the kind of obscenities and more-than vivid imagery that every impressionable young boy longs to hear. It was graphic and utterly devoid of sentimentality or any of the lovey-dovey stuff.
The only problem was that it was perhaps a bit TOO raw, to gritty, too basic …because, in fact, I possessed (then as now, in fleeting moments) a romantic side. I mean, I wasn’t squeamish, I was ready to bury my face headlong right in the pie, but I secretly wanted to do it with a real princess, not Dirty Dorkus from the Truck Stop.
Also, Grandpa was ignorant in some ways. For example, he insisted (many people have subscribed to this theory) that masturbation can drive you insane. Apparently, he based his conclusions on a retarded boy named Elmer that he had gone to school with.
It seems that Elmer, who spoke with a kind of imbecilic drawl and tended to wear the aimless grin that truly defines the Village Idiot, would sometime get caught fondling his tool. Pulling his Pudding, to use the delightful British expression.
“Elmer, why do you jack off so much?” the boys would ask.
“Well,” he would answer, rubbing his chin with a kind of vacant thoughtfulness, “it jes feeeels so good….”
Grandpa attributed Elmer’s mental handicap to a surplus of auto-erotic activity.
This kind of thinking was the order of the day.
I also learned of sex from the same-age boys in my neighborhood, and here were planted the seeds of the so-called ‘locker-room’ talk that I never liked. To me there was always a difference — I didn’t have to be taught what is unteachable — between the sublimely primitive, salty, sweaty, EARTHY side of sex and another way (that of some of these boys) which seemed brutal, unfeeling, ego-driven (a word I would use now), and totally lacking in sensitivity and, dare I say, love. They — those boys — made it appear, not sinful, but merely ugly. Almost grotesque.
Moreover, the idea, that double standard notion perpetrated even by adults who should have known better, was this: There were girls you married and girls you fucked. But the catch was that they were never supposed to be the same girl. (I am speaking of course from a boy’s standpoint.) Maybe this explains why I spent so many years vacillating between the idealization of women and the basic primal desire I felt, and why I searched so fruitlessly for a woman who combined the two — settling instead for the erotic on one side of town and the pure and pristine on the other.
I see clearly now that I believed deep-down that sex was at root a slimy enterprise…..UNTIL, by some magnificent alchemy, it became good… and NICE… when performed under the blessed auspices of holy matrimony. This I could never understand. It just didn’t make any sense to me how that which was so filthy, so sinful, could instantly become a rapturous event just because a man and woman had put rings on their fingers and listened to a bunch of religious razzmatazz from a witch doctor in clerical cloth. Somehow I k-n-e-w better, but, ya know, I was just a kid.
Fortunately, religion was never shoved down my throat although my family definitely would have called themselves Christian and just as surely believed in the Old Testament comic strips about Adam and Eve, etc. There is absolutely no question that religion is more responsible than anything else for producing people with humongous and often extremely destructive ideas about human sexuality. Show me any mass murderer (not the shoot-up-the-schoolyard types in America but those who prey on women and select their victims one at a time) and I will show you a guy with a diabolically messed up psychology regarding sex — this usually perpetrated by members of his own family and that family’s church.
Around 1964 — when I would have been 15 — Lincoln Junior High School decided to introduce sex education into our Health Class. Good God, what an uproar this caused from the families! THEY ARE TEACHING OUR KIDS HOW TO FUCK !!! — came the rafter-shaking hue and cry. On and on the shrieking went.
But, as usual, the government won, and the sex education commenced. And NO !! — it wasn’t to teach us how to ‘fuck”; rather the message was as follows: “We disapprove of you kids having sex, but we KNOW you are going to do it. So here (boys: prophylactic; girls: the ‘pill’) is how to keep from getting pregnant, and here (both of you !) is how to keep from catching syphilis or gonorrhea.” (HIV hadn’t appeared yet in the form of God punishing our degenerate behavior.)
In my recollection it was one of the best things the schools ever implemented. Of course, there were funny questions, awkward moments, and blushing faces in class. (One girl asked if you could get pregnant from swallowing semen. We roared laughing but SHE wanted to know. And why not ???)
So the parents — most of whom were plenty screwed up in their own right — demanded to be allowed exclusive rights to teaching their children the “facts”, instead of having it done by the cold and promiscuity-promoting schools. They wanted their darlings to know what GOD wanted them to know, and nothing else. Never mind the self-hate, the blasted ignorance, the blatant nonsense that emanated from a lot of their ‘teaching’ (not always, for sure. Some were enlightened.) Still, the schools quietly prevailed.
I guess the truth is, these people did not want to confess the bestial, animal, creaturely side of themselves. They were ashamed. So, as Roopsa writes, we could learn about frogs in science class, but not about ourselves.
We were designed to be angels, you see, and angels don’t FUCK !! So said our parents.
Ah, but we DO, don’t we? So why not get real about it?
Sex Education is NOT a “Hey Group, let’s get naked and get down!” motivational speech. It is rather an attempt to help people know themselves and each other better and more truly.
So Artem, are you listening? So tell us: what is the story in Russia on this topic?
===Eric Richard Leroy===