Thursday, April 17, 2008

Raise the Barricades!

I entered adolescence at the height of the hysteria about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. People were truly freaked about the AIDS epidemic just because so many people were still misinformed about how it was contracted. On the upside, this was before the bullshit-head-in-the-sand approach to sex education known as "abstinence only" became a regular part of health ed in our school systems.

Health Ed was a decent class my sophomore year. Our teacher was down to earth in that crunchy lesbian way. She had no qualms about bringing in guest speakers that made us uncomfortable, including a date rape survivor. One speaker that still sticks in my mind was a young black man who came in to discuss the different types of birth control and disease-preventative options when it came to sex.

He had a familiar variety of prophylactics including the female condom, diaphragm, spermicide, and the Pill. But then he pulled out a square of latex and started stretching it while asking us if we knew what it was.

"Some of you might recognize this because your dentist may use one when you go in for a check-up. Any ideas? No?" he queried as the latex shrunk and expanded between his hands. "It's a dental dam."

A confused silence fell over the room.

"You use it to cover the vagina when performing oral sex."

The silence gave way to giggles and a low buzz. I stared at the dental dam and could only think of was how it reminded me of the plastic on the back of a piece of Fruit Roll-Up.

The good thing about that class was that the information was still useful a couple years later. That's all you can ask for, right?
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About RAINN:
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline with a nationwide partnership of more than 1,100 local rape treatment hotlines, providing victims of sexual assault with free, confidential services around the clock. The hotline helped 137,039 sexual assault victims in 2005 and has helped more than one million since it began in 1994. RAINN’s goal is to expand its hotline services with the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline, which will be the nation's first secure web-based hotline that provides live, secure and completely confidential help to victims 24/7 through an interface as intuitive as instant messaging. RAINN educates more than 120 million Americans each year about sexual assault. RAINN also publicizes the hotline's free, confidential services; educates the public about sexual assault; and leads national efforts to improve services to victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization and has been ranked as one of America’s 100 Best Charities by Worth Magazine.

About Sexography:
By turns serious and playful, Sexography maps the coming of age, tragedy and rebirth of one woman's sexual self. From "making out" with imaginary Hollywood stars in her closet (and getting busted) to coming to terms with abuse, assault and rape, from embracing her curiosity enough to become a sex toy tester to accepting and dealing with her tumultuous past, Carly Milne paints a brutally honest - and, at times, amusing - picture of what it's like to learn about and experience sex in every sense of the word. From the earliest experiences in her childhood homes in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta to present day Los Angeles, Milne guides readers through the sometimes troubled waters of female sexuality with a mixture of candidness and humor. Whether you've been through similar experiences or just know someone who has, Sexography will change your mind about why and how survivors survive.


battlemaiden said...

I have no idea what you meant by that.

Mr. Nighttime said...

Having grown up in the 70's, before the age of AIDS, sex ed was somewhat different, but fundamentally the same. As you point out though, this whole "abstinence only" idea was not on the table. The plain fact was that we all recognized that teenagers were having sex, the teachers knew it, so they tried to pass along as much information as possible. If anything, most of our parents were relived that someone other than themselves were discussing sex with their children, as they were from the era when such things were either not discussed, or done so in whisper. What I learned was from both the classroom and the real world........Although, I'm glad I never needed to use a "dental dam." Kinda takes the fun out of things, though I understand the need for it.

Mr. Nighttime - who was treating AIDS patients when it was known as GRID, and who watched his father die from AIDS. (blood transfusion)

Kevin_H said...

Heh, my sex ed teacher in high school was our high school football teacher. His advice about STDs was 'don't get 'em!'' That's it. A very gruff uptight old man.

Matt can tell you more about him.

skb said...

YAY for health ed! 7th grade health class was the first time I learned what a lesbian was. And did that ever answer a lot of questions! I finally understood why I enjoyed checking out the girls legs and smiles instead of the boys butts. :)

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