Throughout the next few months, HuffPost Teen is highlighting the way teens think and feel about sex through anecdotes written for our series, "Teen Sex: It's Complicated." All of the authors are teenagers who have agreed to be published anonymously. If you want to share your thoughts, join the conversation here.
By Brie, 19
My views on sex have changed radically in the past five years. I grew up in a Christian home and went to a public school whose idea of sex education was "abstinence and secondary abstinence" followed by a close look of STDs and teenage pregnancy. That's like teaching someone how to drive a car by telling them to just not drive it if they don't want to crash. That makes no sense: we are going to drive a car. Teach us how to drive the car safely. (The car here is sex, if that was unclear.)
The school I was at also condemned masturbation. I have a lot of friends who still feel guilty about pleasuring themselves. Personally, I think we should be able to know our bodies as intimately as another person may one day know it, and we should know what we like and how we like it, so that when we do have sex with another person, we can guide them so we both have a good time.
My mother always stressed the importance of independent thought, so I felt like I should have opinions on sex, but I never actually had "the talk." I think my dad gave me a book from the '80s on how puberty would affect my body, but beyond that, most of my sex education came from honest conversations with my older sister.
When she was 21 I found out she was having sex with her boyfriend of two years, and I didn't know how to feel. She told me she believed that what the Bible condemned was not premarital sex as much as promiscuity; this made a lot of sense to me, but at this point I was still pretty confused about why people wanted to have sex at all. It seemed messy, painful, and morally ambiguous, and to me it seemed easier to just not have it than to have to deal with all the ramifications.
I feel like I should explain something about myself: I don't feel sexually attracted to people in the "normal" way. I'm demisexual (that's on the asexuality scale), so I honestly can't feel attraction towards people unless I already love their personalities and minds along with a few other special snowflake qualities. I didn't know what was wrong with me that I seemed the only person in my high school who didn't want sex for the sake of sex itself, and I struggled a lot with that until I went to college and learned more about the different sexualities. I haven't had many relationships and I haven't been attracted to all of them, but this is what I know: Sex means something very different to everyone, but there are a few constants. Enthusiastic and sober verbal consent is absolutely necessary; love and respect will only make it better; it should never be a measure of worth; foreplay is not optional; communication before and after sex is essential; judging people based on anything sex related -- how little or how much or who with -- is the height of stupidity.
I am a virgin, but I don't feel like that's even close to an important aspect of who I am, nor should it be. It used to be a point of pride because of my faith, but looking down on a person for having sex means looking down on yourself later. Sex is not an important part of my life and I don't think that will change once I decide to start having it. It will just be another aspect of whatever relationship I'll be in. I always used to think I would wait until marriage to have sex, but I try not to make promises to myself that I don't have enough conviction to keep, and this is one of those. I will probably wait, just because sex still scares me a little -- letting another person literally inside me? Yeah. Not a casual thing.
This is what I wish: I wish adults would respect us as emerging leaders instead of acting like we are inmates-in-waiting. There are schools and people out there who teach students proper and shameless sex education, but that has not been my or my friends' experience. I wish we would have been able to ask real questions and discuss it among ourselves in a constructive setting without being shamed at every point in the process. I wish so many of us didn't have to learn about sex from porn or trial and error, because our leaders and parents and educators are so terrified of talking candidly about a normal aspect of humanity with us. I wish it wasn't politicized and soaked in religious propaganda and tainted by rape culture, because I think once we actually open up to each other and speak without fear about our experiences, we grow into people we can be proud of. This weird climate of terror that surrounds teen sexuality is unhealthy and unhelpful.
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