You may be about to hear the most ridiculous reason for a last letter.
I was then 11 years old, panicked to find myself bleeding non-stop, and concluded that I was going to die. When mom came home, she got mad at me for the stained bed sheet (because I was lying on the bed waiting for my life to end), then started to explain about the Big Auntie. I noted down all the dos and don’ts, still not understanding what it was, and secretly destroyed the last letter which she was too busy to notice.
I can’t remember my exact words in that last letter. But it was sad and ridiculous, just like the sex education in China.
An Avoided Topic
There are many things in the world one may learn better through experience. Sex, however, is not one of them. The possible consequences which might even lead to a new life have justified why you should be prepared when you face it. Sadly, neither teachers nor parents in China want to talk about it.
In school, we didn’t have any education on sexual physiology. The closest was a chapter of “Human Reproductive Systems” from biology class in middle school. We were taught the names and functions of each organism because these might be tested. And that’s it, that’s all what mattered. The topic was introduced in a purely scientific way, yet the teachers were still not comfortable of presenting. They simply played a video made more than 20 years ago, then left — while boys and girls watching it in separate classrooms.
At home, sex is like a frequent contact on the block list. I rarely recalled seeing my parents kiss on the cheek, not to mention on lips. Before college, every time there was a scene of kissing or intense intimacy, my mom would feel like checking out what’s on the other channels, while my dad would accidentally block my view with a pillow or cushion. And I’m not alone. These observations are common in most of my friends’ family in China. Now I’ve grown up and have a boyfriend, sex is still not an okay topic. Oh, my mom did implied it once. She said “Love yourself!” before I went on a trip with my boyfriend.
It’s not hard to imagine who ends up bearing all the sufferings due to the missing of sex education — the woman. National Health and Family Planning Commissions of the PRC reported 13 million abortion in 2013, half of which were girls below 25 year-old who lacked sex knowledge and did not know how to use protection. And it’s not limited to people who are less educated. I went to a top university in China, and heard a story of a virgin schoolmate who kept bleeding every time she had sex with her boyfriend for three months until they realized he went for the wrong hole.
Procedure, Not Pleasure
I have been struggling for the longest time as a curious woman. Since parents and teachers were not an option, I wanted to be able to talk to my trusted girlfriends about sex, to share experience, and learn together. But when I brought up the questions, most of those born and raised in China would shun the topic with a shy smile or a face which says “Wow you are a dirty girl!” (I know it can be complimentary in western culture, but it never is in eastern culture).
But what is an okay topic in China? Pregnancy. If you are married, your female relatives and married girlfriends will flock over and be eager to teach you everything they know about how to get pregnant. Wait, doesn’t it involve how you have sex with your husband? Yes, but it’s totally fine! Telling you what time and in what position to have sex is to help you get a baby, therefore it’s family friendly, and publicly acceptable. How amazing is that!
Then I realized what caused the difference in attitude. When I asked about sex positions, it was for my own pleasure. The fact that I enjoy it and want to escalate the enjoyment makes me sound like a sex addict. When they talked about positions, it was for process optimization, like giving advice on how one can swim faster or jump higher. Their intent was pure and sacred. They won’t touch on any topic that wouldn’t contribute to the actual baby-making, such as foreplay or erogenous zone. They keep it practical.
If I Have a Baby Girl, I Will
1. Be her first and most reliable source of sex knowledge
This is the rule of thumb. I’ll tell her stage by stage while she grows up. I’ll teach her to learn about her body so she has an idea of sex and can learn how to protect herself from mal-intention body touch; I’ll talk about Big Auntie so she can be prepared for the first period; I’ll tell her about sexuality, what it means and how it works, so she will know what she is doing when the time comes. I will be open and comfortable about the topic so if she has any questions, she can naturally come to me. I want her to grow up safely with common sense.
2. Tell her to protect herself in sex while also enjoy it
As much as I think it’s equally important for parents to teach their son how to use protection, it can never be over-emphasized for a girl. Boys may lose the reputation as a “responsible person” if they are too excited to remember the transparent rubber friend, but girls may lose way more than just fame. I’ll also tell my girl that sex is a physical pleasure people have together when they are in love. I would be sad to know if she does not get any fun or even get hurt in the process. I want her to fly high with protection.
By Norah Yang