Storks, Porn and Other Lies About Sex

Published by Kiandra Brady on

Storks, Porn and Other Lies About Sex

The shit I remember most about high school sex-ed are the incredibly detailed and unnecessarily graphic pictures of yeast infections, genital warts and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Honestly, my teachers made comments that made me never want to have sex… which was, undoubtedly, their goal.

Brookwood High School, my high school, still teaches an abstinence-only curriculum. These curriculums use fear and shame to discourage young people from asking or talking about sex in hopes that ignoring it will be enough for students to stop thinking about sex and even worse, from acting on their thoughts. 

Shame-based curriculums scare young people out of having sex by talking about the repercussions of the act. Much like anti-smoking and drunk driving campaigns, the fear these curriculums introduce profoundly influences our views on sex. It becomes a “dirty” act done (metaphorically) in the dark. 

Abstinence-only sex ed is harmful. In addition to creating a culture of shame, we aren’t prepared to navigate uncharted sexual scenarios. Educators have intentionally scared, shamed and taught solely the risks of sex. They undermine the most crucial tool to master sexual relationships: communication (but condoms are a close second).

Disclaimer: No single person represents an entire demographic, but the accounts below are taken from five individuals: two single people, two people in a relationship and one who’s “living that kinda single life.”

Meet Hollie.

Relationship Status: Single

What did your high school sex ed teach you? 

Chamblee High School had a super comprehensive sex-ed program. They pulled out all the stops. They encouraged us to ask questions and have group discussions. They role played tough conversations and invited students to critique their performances. They even did the classic condom on a banana demonstration.

Where else did you learn about sex? 

Hollie stressed that “having two older sisters was definitely helpful.” Although her school did an excellent job preparing her for the ups and downs of sex, having multiple locations to discuss any questions helped put her at ease. 

How often do you use protection? 

“Almost always. It only takes one time to get pregnant, and I’m only mature enough to take care of myself.”

What’s something you used to believe about sex? 

It’s my partner’s responsibility to make me cum every time. 

FACT OR FICTION?
Well, sort of. No one owes
you an orgasm, but telling your loved ones what you like and don’t like will serve you well (inside and outside of the bedroom). Taking turns sharing what you like makes it feel like an easy game. I can’t count the number of times I’ve started the sentence “babe, it’s so hot when you…” to get the conversation started. 

One thing Hollie refuses to do is fake an orgasm. Sex is “too often focused on men’s pleasure, and that’s overrated.” You’re gonna learn “how to please me, or you’ll stop being pleased by me.”

Meet Eric.

Relationship Status: Boo’d up.

What did your high school sex ed teach you? 

I went to Brookwood. It was abstinence-focused education. It wasn’t that great, but I didn’t really learn anything new there.

Where else did you learn about sex? 

I played sports in high school, and there’s always talk in the locker room.

How often do you use protection? 

I feel safer when I use protection, even in a relationship, because it gives me peace of mind that I’m not signing up for anything I’m not ready for. 

What’s something you used to believe about sex? 

People having sex earlier in life were just trying to fill some void, and that I had better morals than them for waiting until the right time.

FACT OR FICTION?
This is wrong. Religion doesn’t belong in the bedroom in this case. Everyone operates on their own timeline, and preparation, not a moral compass, should be the deciding factor for when you’re ready to have sex for the first time.


Meet Kenny.

Relationship Status: “As Future would say, I’m ‘living that kinda single life.’”

What did your high school sex ed teach you? 

“Brookwood had me sign an abstinence pledge. I keep it in my wallet because it’s hilarious to pull out, but that’s all I remember – that sex is bad.”

So where did you learn about sex? 

Trial and error, mostly. I watch porn, and I wing it. I put it in one day, and it worked.

How often do you use protection? 

Condoms ruin the heat of the moment, but so does that “I think I’m late” text, so I’m irresponsible but so far so good.

The abstinence pledge card. Kiandra Brady | Avant-Youth
The abstinence pledge card. Kiandra Brady | Avant-Youth

What’s something you used to believe about sex? 

If it looks/smells okay, everything’s probably okay. No need to go to the doctor if everything’s working. 

FACT OR FICTION?
This is wrong. The most common shared symptom in eight of the ten most prevalent STIs is no symptoms at all. The CDC now recommends their three-part campaign: Talk. Test. Treat.

Anyone who is sexually active or plans to become active should openly talk with their partners about their sexual history and status, get tested at least once a year to ensure they stay knowledgeable of their current status, and treat any infections with the assistance of their provider just like if they had strep throat. 

Just saying the words “I want to get tested” is enough for your doctor, but they can’t read your mind. 

Kenny states that he gets tested every time he goes to the doctor, and if alcohol wasn’t so often a factor when he’s getting laid maybe he’d have more conversations beforehand. He admits the first thing on his mind is “beating cheeks, plus almost everyone’s on birth control these days.” He continues that “people are bound to be reckless, so you might as well be smart about being stupid.”


Meet Robiel.

Relationship Status: Single.

What did your high school sex ed teach you? 

Brookwood was all about abstinence. I don’t remember anything spectacular.

So where did you learn about sex? 

I have an older sister, but I used the internet a lot.

How often do you use protection?

It depends on the relationship, but sometimes my favorite type of condom is no condom. I’m not likely to “sleep around,” and if I do I use two brands consistently. 

What’s something you used to believe about sex? 

Good sex was supposed to look and sound like porn. 

FACT OR FICTION?
Well, it can. Bad sex can also look like porn though. Pleasure isn’t always porn’s central focus, so using it as an absolute guide to sex probably isn’t a great idea. Asking whoever you’re sleeping with to describe two or three things they like doing or would like to do can open up so many new doors in a relationship. If you try it and hate it, now you’ve got something for your boundaries list. 

Robiel also adds if he’s in a situation where he doesn’t readily have a condom, it “doesn’t stop the show.” He’s sure to get checked every time he donates blood, at least once a year.


Meet Rebecca.

Relationship Status: Boo’d up.

What did your high school sex ed teach you? 

I don’t remember my schools ever having an official sex ed section.

So where did you learn about sex? 

When I was younger, mostly at church and vacation bible school. As I got older, I used friends, a book called The Purity Myth and Twitter.

How often do you use protection? 

Oh, every single time. You can never be too sure, and I don’t like my life being in someone else’s hands. 

What’s something you used to believe about sex? 

Having sex is dirty, and you should only do it with people you love. 

FACT OR FICTION?
Who you do or don’t have sex with is your choice (alongside your partner). It shouldn’t be viewed as shameful. Feeling shameful or dirty thinking about sex will only lead to feeling guilty.

Rebecca goes on to emphasize that she had a lot of “pretty problematic stuff to unlearn about sex.” She attributes this to where she initially learned about sex. Her church demonized young women who got pregnant, and they put the responsibility entirely on her “as if she’d gotten pregnant on her own.” She didn’t want to be a part of that anymore. She wanted to feel free and empowered to have sex.

We were all taught shit about sex that just doesn’t make sense. Part of fixing any problem is acknowledging there is a problem. Schools need to change the ways they talk (or rather, don’t talk) about sex to young people. Ignorance isn’t bliss when lives can permanently change without the proper knowledge. 

But it’s not just schools. 

Churches, educators, mentors and parents all need to shift the ways they talk about sex. It’s not okay to keep telling kids that babies are dropped off by a magical stork who just knows when a mommy and daddy love each other. Lying about where babies come from (the first thing I ever believed about sex) is just the first phase in a long line of uncomfortable b.s. around talking about sex. 

Nicole Colon-Rivera | Avant-Youth

Until that changes, it’ll be in the hands of the internet to be a reputable resource. If you’re starting to have questions about sex without an adult you trust IRL, turn to places like Planned Parenthood, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Avant-Youth.

Protection (where condoms are just the tip of the iceberg) is just one part of that conversation. So is consent. So is pleasure. Engage in conversations about all of them. Use articles as a jumping off point. “Did you see that fetishes from A-Z article” is an easy segue to discussing a fetish you find a little interesting. 

As long as sex talks are filled with fear and shame, we’ll always view sex as a dirty act done in the dark. It’s time to turn on the lights. Moving past our reservations surrounding sex starts with talking more honestly about it and all its moving pieces — the good, the bad and the ugly. Because the more we talk about it, the better sex we can all have. 

And don’t we all want better sex?

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Kiandra Brady

Kiandra Brady

Kiandra Brady obsesses over behavior. Understanding every reason why people think, say and do what they do is her life’s mission. She studied psychology at the University of Georgia, where her appreciation for craft beer was second only to her love of people-watching.

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