Friday, July 29, 2011

Personal Choices, Indoctrination, and Sex Education: A Rant

Okay, it's soapbox time.

In my last post, I mentioned that I had partially written an essay about my experience with sex education in school. Today, I was spurred to write another essay about militant veganism, which caused me to decide to finish writing (read that as completely rewrite) the first essay. And now, here they are, in all their ranty, bitchy glory:

It's Not Your Business: A Rant

I don't tolerate people who are militant about their beliefs very well. I don't care if you don't want to eat meat, or honey, or eggs, that's your business. It's when you get in my business, like in the case of this submission on Passive-Aggressive Notes, that I have a problem with your beliefs/lifestyle.

This is why, if I ever change living situations from my current one, I will ensure that the eating habits of the potential roommate are similar enough to mine to not cause conflict (as well as having similar lifestyles), or I will make it very clear that it is not their business what I eat, nor should it be my business what they eat, just as it is not anyone's business how our lifestyles are conducted, so long as the activities of the people living in the dwelling do not affect the ability of the people they share living space with to conduct their life in a normal way. I don't give a shit what you put into your body. If you are not family or someone whose well-being I am responsible for, it is your business what you choose to put into your body, or on your body, or what you buy from the store. I do not care. That also means that you should not care, and if you have a problem with what I'm eating, you damn well better keep it to yourself.

In a roommate situation, the dwelling's common areas are, in fact, common. This means that the living room, dining room, bathroom (if there is only one), and kitchen are for use of everyone living in the dwelling. If this means that you divide the cupboards up equally so as to keep everything separate and only use your own food, then that is what you do, and you do not bitch about your roommate's dietary habits consisting entirely of Mountain Dew, Cheez-Whiz, and Twinkies. Why? Because it's not your business! It's not your body, they are not your responsibility, and it is not your job to care. Same goes for someone who has a philosophical objection to eating or using animal-based products. If you don't want to eat meat because you have a problem with it, that's fine, but don't expect me to quit eating it because it upsets you. That's going too far. I am not that politically correct, and I do not expect anyone else to be that accomodating, either. I won't stop you from eating tofu or crickets or anything else I find repulsive, so long as you don't expect me to eat it or expect me to change my eating habits for you.

Basically, everyone leave everyone else the hell alone unless what they are doing is actually causing you a problem (like having a loud party all night when you need to get up at the crack of dawn for work). It's not your business.

And now, an even longer one about how I was woefully uneducated about my own body.

How Being Indoctrinated Nearly Fucked Up My Life

I learned everything that I know about sex and my body from the internet.

This means that the education system failed me. I didn't know I had a vagina until a few weeks before I got my first period. I wasn't sure why I was having periods in the first place, and certainly didn't connect it to fertility or babies. They were just kind of there, part of the landscape.

My sexual education in school mostly consisted of a short video talking about the body parts, which I didn't remember anything about, and how bad STDs are and how you should never have sex outside of marriage. (We never learned anything specific about the various kinds of STD, just that they were bad. In fact, my knowledge of them is still woefully incomplete.) That's what I was taught every year in school from 4th grade through 9th grade, with varying degrees of explanation, and never learned anything that would actually be useful to me in the real world. Then there was the pro-life seminar.

This was a seminar that happened when I was in the 6th grade at the Catholic school I attended. There was a special speaker to talk to the whole 6th grade (all of about 50 kids), a video, and promotional materials, which included bumper stickers and lapel pins with itty bitty baby feet on them.

This seminar provided me with no knowledge of what abortion was, just that it was wrong and the best thing in the world was to be pro-life. I had no basis for understanding it, didn't know it was a medical procedure, or any of the many, many reasons why a woman might choose to have one done. I was told I was supposed to be pro-life because that's what God wanted, and they needed people to spread the message, and of course children are the best means to spread something like that, since they are easy to indoctrinate.

When I started 7th grade, I was attending public school for the first time, and became friends with a few girls whose primary goal was to lose their virginity as quickly as possible. I only had the vaguest concept of what virginity meant, or what a virgin was, even though I was brought up Catholic and obviously we talked about the Virgin Mary on a regular basis, but a virgin was never explained to me as a concept. I just assumed it was her title or something, like Queen Elizabeth, and didn't pay it any attention. Of course, being susceptible to peer pressure and the opinions of people I wanted to like me, I wanted to lose mine as quickly as possible, too, even though I didn't understand what it meant.

I lost my virginity in 2001, two weeks before I turned 14. Yes, it was my decision, and I was the one who instigated it, but I definitely was not ready to be having sex. I didn't know how to have sex, I didn't understand sex, and I didn't even enjoy it.  I wasn't even sure how everything was supposed to fit together, either, and didn't really connect it with getting pregnant in more than an abstract sense.  I was also under the delusion that getting pregnant was a good idea, so I wanted to have a baby as soon as possible so I'd have someone to love me, which is one of the most fucked-up reasons to have a child ever, and I am so glad that I didn't become a mother when I was a teenager.

Here's another aspect of my complete lack of knowledge: I had no idea how to take care of my parts. I didn't know how to keep them clean, or make sure to avoid things like yeast infections or other problems. I didn't understand condoms, either. I am incredibly lucky that I did not catch a disease or get pregnant.

When I was about 15, I joined LiveJournal, and with it came the various communities that were once vastly popular on the website. (This was before Facebook and before people widely used Google, or at least before I knew how to use Google.) One of these communities was Vagina Pagina, which taught me everything that I was not taught in school - useful information like what the hell a labia actually was, and that you do not pee out of your vagina, as I had assumed as a small child. I was lucky, too, because this was the best community I could have gone to to learn all of the things I didn't know about my own body. There were no myths. There were explanations for why things work the way they do, recommendations on how to keep track of and predict a period, and pretty much everything else my mother or my school should have taught me before that point in my life. I learned about abortions and why they are important, and used this information to form my own opinions on the subject, as I did with many other subjects covered by this community. (In recent years, I've done independent research, now that I have Google powers, on things like home birth, midwifery, breastfeeding, and gay rights and have formed my own opinions and convictions on those subjects as well, but Vagina Pagina really opened the door for me becoming who I am today.)

I am a product of abstinence-only sexual education. It's not doing anyone any good, and I'm one of the lucky ones who didn't manage to fuck up my life in some way because of it, and I managed to properly educate myself independently.

This doesn't even cover the incredible amount of indoctrination I received with regard to religion and DARE, but I will bitch heartily about that at another time.


  1. Did you know Twinkies are actually considered Vegan?

  2. No shit, really? I think Twinkies are pretty disgusting, but ... no way. Don't they make them with eggs?

  3. Actuallly, from what I'm reading, they have beef fat and eggs and milk, so that would most assuredly not be vegan. :P