My mum told me about how babies are made whilst we were in the car, driving to a nearby shopping centre, my baby brother asleep on the backseat.
I was told about periods in my Year 5 classroom with all the other girls in my class, separated from the boys, who I assume were learning about erections or wanking or something.
I remember seeing a plastic model of a vagina, one of those ones in biology class that is a sort of cut-out, and has all the bits in different colours so you can clearly differentiate between the ovaries and vulva and tubes and so on. I remember fainting because I don’t like imagining that I have all these organs inside my skin, squished in there – it’s gross.
I was never taught about pleasure for women. Don’t recall anybody telling us that the clit was the magical pleasure button.
I wasn’t taught about trans-women or trans-men or gender fluidity. I wasn’t told about bisexuality or pansexuality or asexuality. Or identifying as queer. Or much else.
I had always just assumed that sex ended once the man had had his orgasm, and that a woman was lucky to get one because it would take a lot longer and a lot more effort. (SPOILER: This is NOT necessarily true!)
For some reason (cough, the patriarchy, cough cough), I believed that a woman was only good at sex if they made the man orgasm quickly, and gave him whatever he wanted even if I didn’t particularly want to do what he wanted.
Through adverts and dumb boys and hygiene products stocked in Boots, I had learned that a vagina needed cleaning and could become a smelly, gross mess, especially if a woman had had a lot of sex. (SPOILER: SO, SO WRONG!)
I was taught that a man’s sexuality was celebrated (as long as he wasn’t gay) and that a woman’s sexuality was to be criticised, whether she had sex or not. This became very much apparent when I slept with an ex of mine that I still had feelings for – he was applauded whilst I got bullied on MySpace for being ‘easy’.
Also through media, I was taught that a woman had to shave all hairs off of her body (except her head and eyebrows) in order to be sexy/ attractive/ feminine.
I believed that being a bisexual woman was just something to get male attention (which you can guess, lead to a lot of confusion about my own bisexuality).
I was bullied by my ‘friends’ for telling them that my first time didn’t really hurt, so they called me a ‘bucket’. Turns out, I had actually broken my hymen in an accident on some playground equipment when I was much younger and didn’t realise it until much later.
I thought that women’s underwear had to be matching and lacy in order to be sexy.
I’ve had a lot of sex that I wasn’t comfortable with, doing it mostly out of a fucked-up sense of obligation. I’ve been very confused about it all and have not been giving myself much control over how much pleasure I thought I deserved.
I hope sex education is changing. I am hoping that with shows like Big Mouth and Sex Education and PEN15, teenagers are getting better media representation and understanding about sex and all that comes with it.