10 Things They Should Have Taught Us In Sex Ed

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. TC mark


image – Shutterstock

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.


More From Thought Catalog

  • hrfe

    Has anyone actually met a teenager who thinks #6? I was 15 with 16 and Pregnant premiered (surrounded by public school youth) and actually knew a pregnant girl at the time. I have never met anyone ever who legitimately thought they could get pregnant and then become famous.

    • Helene

      My sister…and a few of her friends. And all the preteen mommies on this episode of Tyra.
      It’s a pandemic.

      • hrfe

        Preteen girls had babies before 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom… they’ve been on the Maury Show for years.

    • your cousin

      A high school in my hometown made national news last year when 86 students there were pregnant.


    • James

      That article was incredibly sexist and derogatory toward men. What if a man said all women who dont go down on men should be sent into space? Way to perpetuate double standards

  • http://www.facebook.com/michellerows Michelle Garcia

    Nicely written. Education doesn’t work when a) it’s censored and b) emotions aren’t discussed.

  • Sapph

    11. They should teach young girls the Calendar Method if they’re not up for teaching the use of birth control pills. Not only has this saved me from fears of getting pregnant, but it also made me more aware of what goes on with my mood and my body at certain stages of the menstrual cycle.

    • Nchl

      The Calendar Method is okay, but it has a ton of flaws. Not everyone ovulates on the same day of the month, some people ovulate more than once, and sperm can live up to 72 hours inside you. So, if you’re not ovulating today and you are in the next couple of days, you can still get pregnant.

      • Nchl

        And as a PS, you should always be using condoms anyway to prevent the spread of STDs and STIs. Babies aren’t the worst thing that can happen from sex.

      • Sapph

        Well, it goes without saying that the differences in menstrual cycle should be included in the sex ed as regards the Calendar Method. We already get the idea that not everything works for everyone.

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/06/10-things-they-should-have-taught-us-in-sex-ed-2/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] Thought Catalog » Love & Sex Add a comment […]

  • genina

    Nicely done. Unfortunately, sex ed isn’t very good over here–it’s practically non-existent in the Catholic school board of Toronto. But it’s articles like these and resources like scarleteen, etc that help me not to feel like a complete ignoramus about sex.

    • Annie

      Agreed. I went to a Catholic all-girls school in Toronto and all we ever learned about sex-ed is abstinence. Also, why we shouldn’t have abortions.

  • Veronica

    yes yes YES. Excellent article.

  • CE

    Re: masturbation.

    Probably shouldn’t tell kids to have said self-love party “whenever they felt like it.” Have you ever met a 13 year old boy? Maybe less teen pregnancy, but way more indecent exposure. Just sayin’.

    Good post though.

    • Brian Time


  • Kara

    God, in my school in the bible beating south we only got Abstinence-Only education. My sex ed teacher told us girls three things that scared us all shitless until much later in life, 1) Sex is for marriage, only for marriage, and in any other context is a sin worthy of going to hell 2) It is all boys will want from you, sex is the only thing they need and want from woman and they aren’t interested in you for any other reason 3) If you have sex you will get pregnant, and that using birth control wouldn’t really stop a pregnancy which is why it should only be left for marriage.

    I believe, really and truly, that our country needs to mandate some kind of standards of sex ed. or else students can end up like the girls in my school. Terrified of our own bodies, terrified of relationships with men, and terrified of exploring our sexual freedom as woman due to pregnancy and hell fire.

  • Jacks

    Great article. I totally agree, I’m taking a Gender and Sexuality course in college. I agree its so important to know your body so you can communicate with your partner how you want to be touched. Loved the section on masturbation, there is nothing like self-satisfaction whenever one’s having a stressful day without any red tape.

  • http://twitter.com/keishahalili Keisha Halili (@keishahalili)

    12. There is no sex education in some countries in Asia. Asian porn stars are self-taught.


    Can we put women who don’t give blowjobs on the same space shuttle as the guys who refuse to go down on girls? This is just as much a pandemic.

    • Renata


  • Sarah

    I agree with all of these. Great article.

  • anon

    Don’t have sex. Because you will get pregnant and die. Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up. Just don’t do it, promise? OK, everybody take some rubbers.

  • EV

    great articles. This goes over most if not all the topics we went over in my Pornification of Mass Media course. Communication is key and false ideals can be frustrating, especially when on addressed at a young age.

  • http://properblog.tumblr.com Jennifer

    I think #8 is the most important thing for everyone and anyone to learn.

  • Samantha schain

    Great article!!!

    Oh, and btw. TOM HIDDLESTON <33333

  • Jess

    I hate it when people who are offended by the popularity of shaving throw out the “they look like 10 year old boys” argument, which is pretty rude and offensive itself. I suppose liking a woman who shaves her legs or a man who shaves his face smooth also means that one has pedophile urges?

    • guest

      It’s also a hell of a lot easier to go down on someone when you don’t have to fight through a forest of hair or stop to pick stray strands off your tongue.

      Want a guy to find your clitoris faster? Shave.

      • Geanette

        As long as you also shave your pubic hair (balls included), fine :D
        I can count with my fingers of my own hand the men who expected me to be perfectly shaved when they didn’t even try and trim that black forest they had between their legs.
        Want a girl to think your penis is bigger? Shave.

      • ashley

        if you have a hard time finding a clitoris in the first place you probably need to go back to sex ed.

        i’m all about trimming that shit to keep it from looking like a rainforest but shaving or waxing is an insane hassle to go through every day just to get someone’s face down there. for every one guy who’s afraid of getting a mouthful of hair there are ten guys who could care less – and they’re probably better at it anyway because they realize it’s not an obligation, it’s something you should want to do to please your partner.

      • rubyryder

        The attitude I find offensive is – If you ever want a guy to do down on you you have to shave. That’s complete and utter nonsense. If a man holds that up as his deal breaker I am well rid of him. I’m with Ashley; Trimming to make things more accessible is fun, but any man that requires shaving can take a hike.

    • spitsphyre

      Speaking from a purely biological standpoint, that’s EXACTLY why we have body hair in the first place, to let other humans know we’re old enough for sexual activities. Playing with body hair is fine (as are tattoos and piercings and dyed hair and make up and any other decoration) but to deny that it contributes to the sexual infantilization of our society is merely sticking your head in the sand and singing loudly so you can’t hear that the Earth is round.

  • chris

    HPV and more about stds in general.

  • Abigail


  • David Deschamps

    I think the period thing applies to women as well. I know a lot of women who act completely normal when they get their periods and then some who seem to think it is an excuse to act like a child. It seems like varying levels of discomfort can be felt during periods but it still remains your personal choice to behave like an adult or not.

  • http://eyeshine.net Christie

    I am totally normal on my period. Except when I start crying for no reason.

    • zygotic

      xxx. I’ve been married for 10 years. Walking on egg shells is sometimes good for us chaps :)

  • duncansomerside

    #8, too bad you didn’t also talk about women’s sexual fluidity, or just talk about it in a non hetro-male way so much. I get what you were trying to do, talk to men on their level using the baseball reference and all that, but I dont think that is needed in sex-ed. What is needed is to the point explaining that, in relation to #8, sexual fluidity for everyone is normal and something to embrace. If you think a guy is hot, maybe that is a sign you are gay, maybe it doesn’t, it does not matter.

  • http://PeggingParadise.com Ruby Ryder

    Excellent article, Ms. Fagan. I humbly offer one more – number eleven:

    11. Sex is ​meant to be pleasureable​

    If your partner wants to do something to you or wants you to do something to them that you don’t find pleasurable, or worse, is actually painful (let’s set aside the 50 Shades of Gray thinking for a moment here, please – we’re talking to the newbies) you should refuse and not give into the “Everyone does this…” line that is sadly perpetuated by the fucked-up-ness of learning about sex solely through porn.

  • joe

    I loved everything about this article! Nailed it!

  • http://ramblingbog.wordpress.com ramblingbog

    Reblogged this on ramblingbog.

blog comments powered by Disqus