Monday, June 30, 2003


It is not unusual for me to have a righteous bout of insomnia; a good, old-fashioned tosser and turner where your mind keeps whirring away and unconsciousness is a distant possibility. Even so, last night's round of sleeplessness was a bit odd. I was preoccupied with putting together a sex education curriculum for young girls. Why this was such urgent business at 1am on a work night, I cannot fathom. But by the time I finally slipped into sleep, I was convinced that I would be a bloody brilliant sex educator for pre-teen girls.

My aunt teaches "at risk" kids in a tough high school. She's seen guns, knives, abused kids, and hordes of pregnant teens, many with their second or third child. She believes stridently in intensive intervention at a young age. She thinks we're getting to these girls too late, and coming on too softly. I agree.

I understand the parents' fears. It's probably natural to want to cover your ears and think "if you don't talk about sex with her, she won't know it exists!" And it's a quick leap from that thought to "if you teach them about sex, they'll want to do it!" But that is giving adults far too much credit. Who here first heard about sex through a school seminar? Dirty playground jokes that you didn't understand is far more likely. We need to speak with these girls as young ladies who are already aware that sex is out there, and who are capable of making up their minds about it if they have the right information.

And this is just a guess, but I imagine they would respond more to a younger woman who is speaking to them as an older sister, than a post-menopausal, asexual matriarch scratching on the blackboard and droning about "fallopian tubes." I would tell these girls that whether they are ready or not, all those boys in the next room are going to want to have sex. And that they need to be smart, and they need to be ready, and they need to have their answer prepared so they aren't caught off guard.

I would make sure they have the language in their vocabulary to tell a boy that they are not ready, or tell a boy to use a condom if they are. These are hard, hard things for an insecure pre-teen without much confidence in her fledgling womanhood to say. I don't know if I would have been able to, and I'm glad I was never in a situation where I would need to. We need to give them the script, and have it be as natural as "stop, drop, and roll" or "look both ways." I would tell them, that boy will paint himself plaid and dress in a monkey suit to have sex with you. He will definitely put on a condom.

I have lots of other things to say, but at this point in my insomnia-fueled fantasy, the mothers and fathers with burning torches and pitchforks arrive to drive me out of the schoolyard.

*sigh* I wonder what will keep me up tonight, now that I've solved the teen pregnancy problem. Perhaps I'll tackle juvenile delinquency? Or maybe it's time I took care of Israel/Palestine. Better still, I think I'm long overdue for an imaginary encounter with Ewan McGregor circa Moulin Rouge...


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