Sexual Education is a very good, necessary part of growing up. And it can come in many forms — and from many sources — but the one we almost all got universally was the uncomfortable, video-lecture-aided classes that we squirmed nervously through. We got to see graphic internal anatomy, learn about where babies come from, and if your school wasn’t insistant on the self-defeating lulzfest that is abstinence-only education, how to have safe sex. But there are just some things that didn’t become clear until we actually got out into the world of coupling and knowing one another Biblically, and we definitely should have learned them when stuck in Sex Ed.
1. Porn is really misleading.
It’s safe to say that a hefty majority of us got our first real exposure to what sex even was in stolen glances at pornography. Whether it was in the dark recesses of the internet, a pilfered magazine, or a mysterious DVD you found somewhere in your house — it was there, and we were going to watch it. Unfortunately, though, mainstream porn often leaves one with the impression that women’s breasts are so high and spherical as to look like those goldfish with the puffy cheeks; that penises come in two sizes: Extra Large and Terrifying; and that jack-rabbit sex with no preparation will lead to a woman orgasming operatically before collapsing in a heap of satisfaction. Sure, if we had been knowledgeable, we could have dug around and found some more realistic/pro-Women Existing Whatsoever porn, but what did we know? All we had to go off of was what’s most available, and what’s most available is patently false.
2. People have hair.
Another trademark of mainstream porn is the idea that women — and a growing number of men, too — just come into this world as living dolls, completely hairless from the eyebrows down. And this idea is only reinforced by the culture around us. Brazillian waxes are the norm, a Medieval-themed show like Game of Thrones features completely bare women, and we’re all just raised to assume that hair is gross and weird, and that napalming it completely off your body is the only decent course of action. We have raised a generation disgusted with their own natural state, and longing to perpetually look like a 10-year-old. If only someone would have told us that hair is normal, and you can have whatever preference you want, but don’t be bullied by society and the Kardashians into thinking you need to look like a Barbie doll.
3. Men may occasionally exaggerate their endowments.
Given the general scope of male parts that is propagated in pornography and in all of those giggle-inducing Calvin Klein ads that show off the bulge, men must perpetually feel less-than if they’re not packing a machine gun. So a quick trip around the internet will find most of them advertising themselves with absurd numbers, numbers that you feel must not be true — and they’re probably not. They just think that women are perpetually looking for bigger and bigger, trying to climb the Mount Everest of male genitalia. Little do they know that vaginas are actually rather petite, and that it’s not all of our life’s purpose to find someone who could kill small animals with his junk. Someone should have warned us not to listen to the posturing when we were growing up, and told the guys that there’s no need to make things seem more intimidating than they are downstairs.
4. Set a timer for your birth control.
On the practical side of things, why did no one ever mention to the ladies that taking a pill once a day, every day, at the same time is such an enormous hassle? It may not be the most sexy piece of advice, but how many brows might have been soothed by a simple reminder that setting a daily alarm is a surefire way to remember to do something on time. I mean, we do it for everything else, why not something that is extremely, extremely important such as this?
5. Women get periods, and it doesn’t turn them into screaming dragons.
It’s an undeniable trope in modern humor to have the woman be a perfectly normal, capable member of society — right up until she’s PMSing, at which point she becomes a many-headed hydra, only there to scream and complain, occasionally stopping to eat an entire pan of brownies and cry. And yeah, sometimes women have monthly symptoms that are less than pleasant, but in how many young men was this ridiculous caricature actually ingrained to the point that they think women are incapable of carrying out adult tasks and responsibilities, lest she reach that time of the month and go on some kind of unbridled killing spree? I think a good point to reinforce during sex ed would have been the idea that periods aren’t the most fun thing in the world, but they mean you’re healthy, and they’re nothing to be afraid of — for anyone, not even guys looking for a stupid punchline to put in their movie featuring a female character.
6. Don’t listen to 16 And Pregnant/Teen Mom.
With the cultural phenomenon of all things underage motherhood, there must be a newly adapted section for our sex ed courses that counteract all of the white-trash glamour perpetuated by these shows. Young girls are actually thinking that getting knocked up by a 17-year-old named Bryce who works the counter at Subway and listens to ICP is going to put them on the fast track to fame and, possibly, fortune. We now need an entire day’s lesson plan dedicated to how awful these programs are, how teen pregnancy is nothing to be idolized, and how they have a .00003 chance of actually making it on these shows, and if they don’t, they are bound to a life of wifebeaters, pit bulls, and houses that smell like Velveeta and cigarettes.
7. Masturbation is awesome!
Think of how many problems, of so many varying scales, could be solved if young people were just told it was alright to have a self-love party whenever they felt like it? Think of the frustrations, the shame, the confusion that could have been eroded if they had just gotten to know themselves and felt like it was okay to try new things that felt good and didn’t hurt anyone? Think of all the girls who go ages not even knowing where everything is, let alone what will actually be awesome in bed, just because they have this strange notion that only boys have at themselves, while girls — what? Crochet tea cozies and faint on Victorian lounge chairs, I guess. The point is, we should all be familiar with how we work, and no one should be embarrassed about it.
8. Sexuality can be fluid.
Shout out to all the straight guys who occasionally saw a man walking down the street and briefly thought, “Hey, he’s kind of good looking” before promptly melting into an existential crisis as he berates himself for saying something that made him “so completely gay.” The truth is that having any kind of sexuality isn’t some kind of flawless computer program that will never waver or falter — we’ve all got a couple wonky lines of code in us. If you suddenly find someone attractive — and that’s not even saying you want to do anything with them, but if so, who cares? — that doesn’t suddenly mean you’re batting for the other team. You can bat for whatever team you want and still find Christina Hendricks or Tom Hiddleston good looking. That’s just part of being human. We all need to be a little more comfortable with ourselves, and our sexualities, because constantly freaking out about things being “gay” is just not a good look.
9. Everyone is turned on by something different.
We all just need to accept that whatever the typical “hot” thing that you’re supposed to be into — Channing Tatum, Sofia Vergara, 50 Shades of Grey (shudder) — is not necessarily going to be what works for you. People are turned on by all manner of people and activities, and though some might look weird to you or I, it’s not our place to judge. As long as no one is hurting anyone, we have the whole internet at our disposal, which is basically just a giant jungle gym for socially unacceptable fetishes. The truth is that some people are going to have really high libidos, some really low ones. Some people are going to like animal costumes, some people are going to like anime porn. Some people are going to start early, some people are going to be late bloomers. These are all acceptable ways to go about sex, and we need to get over this idea that there is one is one narrow view of what is “sexy.”
10. If you don’t communicate, you’re going to have lame sex.
Perhaps the most important thing that should have been taught to us is the idea that, if we don’t vocalize what we need, like, and dislike, things are going to be just generally pretty awful. We’re never going to get what we want, we’re never going to feel fulfilled, and we’re going to spend more time complaining to our friends about our sex lives than actually living them. None of us should be afraid of expressing what we think about these things to our partners, and we certainly shouldn’t be ashamed about it. If we couldn’t, then we’d end up dating guys who refuse to go down on women, who we all know should be loaded into some kind of space shuttle and sent off into the surface of the sun.