Christian Church / Christianity / Education / Life / Religion / Sex

Sh! Not Vagina.

I went to a very small Christian school attached to a church for all, but one year of my primary education. I remember in seventh grade, we got to the reproductive chapter in our health books and the teacher said that we were skipping it and should ask our parents for any information we needed. We did that every year until I graduated. I never asked my parents and the only sex talk they ever had with me was when they found out I’d lost my virginity. That was more a berating than a talk. I had no interest in science in college and so didn’t take any sex ed then.Though I did go to see Vagina Monologues performed and took women’s studies classes, explaining exactly what’s going on down there wasn’t on the syllabus because everybody else had done that. I did try to read a book about vaginas called Cunt, but that proved a bit too much for me.

Years later, and my first sex ed class was when I was 23 years old. I am a tss (therapeutic support staff) as such I follow kids with behavioral problems around school sometimes. The girl that I was working with was in sixth grade, and they had sex education for what I found out was the first time. At 23 years old, I saw a female reproductive system being named and explained in a classroom for the first time. I think I was as interested as the kids those days. I mean, by then I’d read how things worked, but to see it laid out by a teacher (and a decent one at that) was a different experience for me.

At the beginning of the reproductive section, the teacher told the kids that this system is a system like any other. There was never anything funny or embarrassing about lymph nodes or layers of skin and considering this was just another system, they needn’t be embarrassed or find anything overly hilarious. When I heard this I thought, yeah, there’s nothing to hide here. We made a big deal about whispering about sex and talking about it all the time, but we knew nothing. Out of my teeny tiny class 5/6 are pregnant or have children. (Yes, there were six girls in my class and that’s it.) I’m the only one that isn’t or hasn’t and I’m also the only married one. No one else finished college, most didn’t even start. So what values did we learn? We learned to keep our interest in sex hidden from our parents and other adults and that goes down the tube when you get pregnant. Any questions about our reproductive system was an indicator that we were thinking about sex. That’s why we never asked any. We just passed rumor and false information quietly amongst ourselves.

So when I read about A Year of Biblical Womanhood not being sold by Christian stores because it has the word “vagina” in them, I’m not surprised, but saddened. I’ve seen it all my life. Not only are vaginas censored, even the word mustn’t be uttered. In the Vagina Monologues, one lady likens her vagina to a black hole, she doesn’t really know what’s happening down there and no one ever reports back from there. That’s pretty much the way the side of the church I was raised in wanted it to be.

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2 thoughts on “Sh! Not Vagina.

  1. It reminds me of when Word Records dropped Tonio K over his song, “I’m Supposed to Have Sex with You” and a lot of Christian stores wouldn’t carry the album, even though the song was tongue firmly planted in cheek and was meant to critique casual sex.

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  2. Yeah, it wasn’t really surprising. Freud coined the term ‘vagina dentata’ for man’s seeming instinctual, unconscious fear of castration via teethy ladyparts, but it has much older roots. Unsurprisingly in the Middle Ages the Church believed that witches could grow teeth in their vaginas, and before them the old Jews referred to vaginas as “beth shenayim”, “the toothed place.” It’s depressing that this fear has rubbed off on women as well. I remember my mom telling me as a child that it’s “my secret place.” The whole subject had such a shameful tang that I was half paranoid about what was going on down there as an adolescent.

    But on the flipside you have too much sex ed. I was reading an article earlier about a new ‘Integrated School Health Programme’ that aims to provide kids as young as grade r (that’s 6 or so) with condoms. The argument is something like “well they’re doing it anyway so they should at least do it safely”, whatever “safely” means when prepubescents are having sex.

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