Friday, May 18, 2012
Middle school is rough. Catholic middle school is worse. Catholic middle school sex ed is hell. My memories of this hell came back to me yesterday as I read an op ed piece railing against sex education in schools
For the "family life" unit in 5th grade we were separated by gender, the boys shuttered away in one room to learn man stuff while the girls were herded into another to listen to old Ms. Mayernik read from a scripted text about the "exciting joys of becoming a woman." I kept losing focus, distracted by the terrible art in the musty 1970s pamphlets,the obscene crinkly sound of feminine hygiene product wrappers. But I heard one word crop up again and again and it left me thoroughly confused: vagina.
As Ms. Mayernik droned on and on about one's vagina I got increasingly worried. All the other girls had these knowing looks on their faces so I had no clue how I could have missed getting one. Were they passed out that one morning I had come to school late? Or even worse, what if I HAD been given a vagina and I had lost it. It must have been in my homework folder that I had left at home on the kitchen counter.
This was the worst. Not only did I not know what this vagina was but I had already lost it. How could I find what I had lost without knowing what I had lost? I started worrying about how much a new one would cost. Would it have to come out of my allowance? Were vaginas expensive?
Finally, I couldn't take the stress anymore. I turned to my friend Caitlin and whispered "what is a vagina?" She blushed crimson and giggled, pointing to her lap.
oh. my. god. Crotch. My crotch was a vagina. No way.
I was mortified at my ignorance.
I was angry no one had told me I'd had one all along.
It was the only thing sex-less, education-less Catholic school sex ed taught me. But a very useful thing to know.