Ways Public School Sex Education Traumatized Me

My adolescent experience with sex education is probably best encapsulated by a rather infamous video known as The Miracle of Life. Ah, The Miracle of Life… it sounds so beautiful and wholesome, doesn’t it? Its title evokes a G-rated, Disney-ified view of “the birds and the bees,” that remarkable process of human creation. “Surely, this video can’t be as bad as its reputation,” I thought as my teacher struggled for nearly half an hour to master the complex technology of a VCR and a color TV.

Well, I was wrong. Oh god, was I wrong.

Ten minutes later, after repeated viewings of a sexual climax via a camera placed inside the vagina, a rather, um… how can I put this… hirsute woman (AWFUL REPRESSED MEMORY ALERT) birthed a screaming, writhing mass of flesh and goo. “Nooooo!” screamed several of my classmates, our naiveté and innocence trampled upon like an unfortunate Black Friday shopper. “Turn it off! Please turn it off!”

Of course, the goal of The Miracle of Life and various other Sex Ed. materials is to simultaneously educate and scare the living crap out of stupid teenagers. And I think that is a totally valid service — for all its problems, my high school had no teenage pregnancies that I can remember. Sex Ed., though awkward and uncomfortable, is certainly a better alternative than leaving students in the dark and expecting them to grapple with issues like sexuality and pregnancy on their own. But I can’t help but look back on my middle and high school health classes and cringe at some of the more effectively traumatizing experiences.

For example, I vividly remember an extremely graphic and unsettling slideshow about STDs that my 11th grade health teacher showed us. While informative, that slideshow has prevented me from ever truly enjoying intercourse or even the mere sight of male or female genitalia. It has also caused me to place entire rolls of toilet paper on the seats of public restroom toilets (to the point where I’m practically gift wrapping my waste).

My 8th grade health teacher was actually a pretty cool guy, though. He would never make us perform a relay race where we correctly placed condoms on wooden pegs (another activity led by my emotionally disturbed 11th grade teacher). He didn’t mind when I wrote my name as Urethra Franklin on a test that I knew I was going to fail. He even taught me where the vas deferens is (Side Note: Yes, vas deferens is a singular phrase, the plural for which is apparently vasa deferentia — the thrill of copy editing).

Previously, I had thought the vas deferens were a family of oil tycoons in the mid-19th century. Thankfully, my 8th grade health teacher taught me that the vas deferens are actually a family of 19th century oil tycoons that live in my penis. Or something very similar to that, I can assure you — I spent most of my time looking in our textbook for pictures of boobs and hoping we would have a Show and Tell day.

This teacher (let’s call him Mr. Vas Deferens) even managed to spend an entire period explaining to all of the girls in the class that blue balls is a real problem and that they shouldn’t accuse guys of making it up. Considering that we were a mob of unruly 13-year-olds who reacted to the word “penis” like Jimmy Fallon did to every single joke made during one of his SNL sketches, I think Mr. Vas Deferens acquitted himself very well — with a few exceptions.

One such exception involved forcing us to walk in a straight line while wearing a pair of convoluted glasses that warped our vision. This curious experiment was supposed to simulate being drunk; unfortunately, it led me to believe that getting drunk felt kind of like riding the Gravitron one too many times at the fair. If he wanted to give us an accurate representation of underage drinking, he should have had us play three games of Beer Pong and then spend the next four hours crying on the bathroom floor. Or, perhaps he could’ve shown us how smoking weed leads directly to decreasing grades and increased time watching SpongeBob SquarePants reruns — information would’ve been very helpful to me as I entered high school.

A particularly noteworthy flaw in Mr. Vas Deferens teaching came during the contraceptive unit. On one hand, I do remember him explaining dental dams and vaginal condoms the way your 8th grade history teacher explains the cotton gin: At no point in your life will you ever encounter this, and neither has anyone born after the Great Depression, but it’s in the textbook and I have to mention it. Yet, for some godforsaken reason, I left that classroom and spent the next several years of my life under the impression that latex and lambskin condoms were the Coke and Pepsi of contraceptives. Seriously, I thought they were equal alternatives; a polarizing debate, like grape or strawberry jelly, Nirvana or Pearl Jam, and Armageddon or Deep Impact (grape, Nirvana, and neither, by the way). I realized that latex condoms were the more popular of the two, but he made it seem like lambskin condoms were a quirky but valid option, like being a vegetarian or getting cremated. I had no idea that most civilized people react to lambskin condoms the way I react to Tyler Perry: How does this still exist? Do people like this? Why God, why?

(Side note #2: I guess lambskins condoms are a sensible option for people who are allergic to latex, right behind the option where they don’t ejaculate into the skin of a freaking lamb. It’s a close second though.)

Thankfully, I did not speak to a girl during all four of my high school years (even my mom interacted with me solely via hand signals). If not, I could have had an awkward first sexual experience, wherein I offered the girl a choice between latex and lambskin like I was asking, “Coffee or tea?” Then again, I’m not even sure where you get a lambskin condom. Mr. Vas Deferens never explained that, but one would have to assume that the answer is your local shepherd. TC mark

image – Shutterstock

More From Thought Catalog

  • Guest

    The Miracle of Life…..2 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

  • GUEST

    I yelled when I read “The Miracle of Life”…

  • Penis. Penis. Penis.

    Thank you for your tender recollections. :))))))))

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    Have you ever had to use a public school DVD player/VCR?  I swear it’s not that the teacher is incompetent.    Those things are designed to fail…ummm…unlike a condom, which is 98% effective when used properly (all right.  Now my comment is pertinent) 

    • memories

      we would have the designated fuck-up-the-vcr guy who would switch around all the wires before the teacher came in, and then they’d spend fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to get it to work.

  • Domino

    I always won the relay races of the whole putting-condoms-on-wooden-sticks thing. I always felt really proud and then super ashamed of myself for some reason.

    • Olivia

      Why am I really jealous that condom relay races were never part of my sex ed experience?

      • Anonymous

        I know, right? Even though I def wasn’t having sex in middle/high school, now that I know what’s what, I would’ve def picked the guy who could put the condom on fastest…

  • http://twitter.com/CestCharlene Charlene

    Ooooh have you seen the other movie “Life’s Greatest Miracle?” 
    My class watched one in religion class (I went to a Catholic school), the other in science class. 

  • Sophia

    Oh, get over yourself. With an OB/GYN for a father, I’ve watched live deliveries, and they never cease to fascinate me. It’s just a part of the life cycle, and I don’t know, I see something kind of beautiful in the formation and birth of new life. Oh, and spoiler alert: people have pubic hair. Especially after being pregnant for nine months. That’s pretty natural, too. 

    • mememe

       Get over YOURself, sweetheart. Not everyone grew up with an OB/GYN for a father. For most children, sex ed is one of the more awkward parts of growing up….and it’s nice to share the funny experiences we had dealing with it.

    • Jellohands

      This comment lineage…just YES.

    • Guest

      Um I think people are aware of the pubic hair situation.

    • Ted Pillow

      Pubes suck.

      • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

         Exactly why I only date girls who pull up to my house in Pow-pow-power Wheels. 

        Disclaimer:  I do not not date little girls or females for that matter.  I do not what the FBI showing up at my house. 

    • Anonymous

      I think pubic hair is probably the least of the concerns of everyone involved. The whole possibility of pooping on the table while giving birth thing…why didn’t they tell us girls THAT in sex ed??

      • http://sexandsemantics.wordpress.com/ Alice

        I’m 24 and I’m still discovering horrifying things which can happen to my reproductive organs in the future. First it was the pooping thing. Then it was the possibility of tearing the wall between the vagina and the anus during delivery. Then I started having sex and realised that if a guy ejaculates inside you the semen isn’t magically absorbed somewhere but oozes out like I’m an open tube of toothpaste left out in the sun for too long. A few years after that I found out about vaginal prolapse. Which affects about 40% of women over 40. I guess there are some upsides: since I learned about what smegma was, it became my favourite insult building-block.

  • http://www.facebook.com/indiangiver Amanda Mae Viers

    So no one asked: “If you put a tampon in when you’re pregnant, does it hit the baby’s head?” That was RATHER traumatizing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/discobiscuits93 Kayla Ann Stockman

       Why would anyone be putting a tampon in while they’re pregnant? You don’t get your period when you’re pregnant, so that seems like somewhat of a stupid question.

      • Elaine

        I was thinking that too! :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

      When I was in middle school, we wrote down our questions…I asked what the average size penis is.  Sure everybody laughed at the question, but I know all the guys were wondering the same thing:  Do I measure up?

  • Becca

    I remember when I was 9, being taught about periods in school since my mother never, ever, explained or mentioned them to me. Ever. It was devastating.

  • http://www.networked-politics.info/wp-admin/post-new.php Sadiebrooks577

    I swear it’s not that the teacher is incompetent. 

  • Guest

    all i have to say is… grape jelly!? how dare ye.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=726295377 Mercedes Villanueva

    I went to a Catholic elementary/middle school here in Canada (side note: thanks mom for that horrible experience) so our sex ed. classes were pretty PC. The only things that bothered me about them was that our sex ed. books (infamously known as “Fully Alive”) had a a little snippet on homosexuality that essentially stated that “it is just a phase” and what not. While I am not gay myself, I never agreed with that concept. That and, considering the school I went to was pretty ghetto, I had to endure listening to these unintelligent nitwits pose questions that REALLY REALLY shouldn’t be asked. For example, I’ve had a classmate ask our female 7th grade teacher if she had engaged in oral sex…

  • ANM

    (Side Note: Yes, vas deferens is a singular phrase, the plural for which
    is apparently vasa deferentia — the thrill of copy editing).
    LOVE IT

  • guest

    oh my god. 
    love this. 

  • Waicool

     hey look everybody….mikey wet his pants ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • http://general-disinterest.blogspot.com/ Taylor

    This reminded me of my elementary school sex-ed class. It was such a surreal experience. Our teacher had us yell PENIS VAGINA as loud as we could. Then she asked us to name slang terms for vagina and actually wrote pussy on the board when someone said it (we were 10). Then we played pin the penis on the naked man. I also remember asking her what happened to the sperms that don’t fertalize the egg and she was like “they die.” Then we watched this Disney movie about wet dreams.

  • Anonymous

    (www) . (iairmaxshoes) . (com)

    Cheapest Air Jordan Shoes,Tiffany Jewelry Company,Wholesale AF Clothing

    Online Store:

    Cheapest Vans Shoes  $37

    Fashion Tiffany Bangles $20

    Wholesale Hollister Tshirt $18

    jordan shoes $38

    nike shox $37

    Christan Audigier bikini $18

    Ed Hardy Bikini $18

    Sinful short_t-shirt_woman $16

    (www) . (iairmaxshoes) . (com) 

  • Yamel

    Grape and Nirvana? My kind of man :P

  • Guest

    re 3: Sperm is a lot bigger than the viruses and bacteria that cause STI’s, and the lambskin is sort of porous so while it can block sperm, it cannot block the tiny viruses.

  • Guest

    So you can buy lambskin condoms from CVS, Target, etc. Right next to your good ol’ Trojans. I dated a guy who had a latex allergy, so we tried to use those. Yes, TRIED. Dear god, they smell like a barn and they’re ridiculously difficult to put on because they’re kind of slimy and don’t roll on like a normal condom because they stick to themselves. They’re made out of a membrane (i.e. lamb intestine), not actually sheep skin, but they are 100% natural and capable of preventing pregnancy. Apparently they also make sex feel a ton better than a latex condom for the guy. The comment answering #3 is definitely correct; don’t use these for anything other than pregnancy protection! But seriously if you’re not worried about cooking a bun in your oven, I’d say skip the lambskin. Gross.

  • https://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/disneys-the-story-of-menstruation-video-hold-for-sun/ Disney’s “The Story of Menstruation” Video [HOLD FOR SUN] | Thought Catalog

    […] I did actually learn some things while watching “The Story of Menstruation.” As I’ve noted before, I never paid particularly close attention during health class. So, for instance, my ears perked up […]

  • https://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/disneys-the-story-of-menstruation-video/ Disney’s “The Story of Menstruation” Video | Thought Catalog

    […] I did actually learn some things while watching “The Story of Menstruation.” As I’ve noted before, I never paid particularly close attention during health class. So, for instance, my ears perked up […]

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/11/disney%e2%80%99s-%e2%80%9cthe-story-of-menstruation%e2%80%9d-video-hold-for-sun/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] I did actually learn some things while watching “The Story of Menstruation.” As I’ve noted before, I never paid particularly close attention during health class. So, for instance, my ears perked up […]

  • http://almost.thedoctorschannel.com/that-time-disney-made-a-video-about-menstruation-2/ That Time Disney Made a Video About Menstruation - The Almost Doctor's Channel

    […] I did actually learn some things while watching “The Story of Menstruation.” As I’ve noted before, I never paid particularly close attention during health class. So, for instance, my ears perked up […]

blog comments powered by Disqus