Sex: What you learn in school v. discovering it in reality
It’s year nine. Your acne has well and truly arrived, your period cramps are utterly intolerable (and used as an excuse to get out of PE every fourth week), and you’re currently crushing on Matt Abewood – a delicious year ten boy who attends the brother school one suburb away. Life is good. And bad. It’s a bit of both, really. And right now you have never been so curious about sex.
WTF is sex? That’s a question we’re still asking ourselves today. But in the 2010s, the answer was simply ‘penis entering a vagina’. The horny, teen pop-culture that swam around our curious minds were Twilight, Fifty Shades of Grey, and that infamous Titanic scene. And the scenarios we fantasised about included make out sessions with our imagined boyfriends on ferris wheels, candle-lit baths filled with cringe-worthy elements like rose petals and massage oils, and, of course, the perfect bedroom rendezvous (sans 5SOS wall posters – they’d be taken down for sure). The ugly side: STIs – something we’d frequently google on lunch breaks, squirming and laughing in horror with our friends. That’s everything we knew, and everything we believed.
Now, in our 20s and beyond, we understand there’s a lot more to sex. There’s emotional categories (think: make up sex, break up sex, revenge sex, and so forth); there’s more than just two types of foreplay; and there’s toys we can use to stimulate our sexual experiences both individually and with a partner.
We’ve broken down the sexual learnings (or lack thereof) in high school and compare them to the natural discoveries we’ve made ourselves in real life experiences during young adulthood.
Remember the class where you had to put a condom on a banana? Interestingly enough, I missed that class, and to this day I still don’t know how to properly place a condom on a penis – I let the guy take the wheel on that one because I really do not trust myself. I wonder if it’s because of that one class I missed...
Anyway, what we learnt about condoms in school was to use them as a form of protection against pregnancy as well as STIs (because things like chlamydia and gonorrhea do indeed exist, and nobody wants to actually endure a sexually transmitted infection). In school, it was our primal fear, and so we made some form of communal pact that no matter what we’d always use condoms with our sexual partners until trying for a baby. Yeah … about that.
According to recent data, “75 per cent of young Australians aged 15 - 29 who had sex in the last year did so without a condom at least once”. And pretty much everyone I know (myself included) are a part of that 75 per cent – whether we’re using other types of contraception or not! For many of us, it comes down to inebriated experiences where we ‘forget’ that falling pregnant and STIs are real-life consequences, as well as giving in to the pleasurable experience of raw sex versus using a rubber when we’re in a weak state of mind. Whoops. It’s probably time to re-learn what Ms Bickman taught us all those years ago!
While it wasn’t exactly in the curriculum (because at religious private schools, we’re taught sex is for procreating during marriage, never for fun), lunch breaks meant whispering among ourselves abut oral sex, handjobs and ‘fingering’. And for the cheeky ones in the back, we educated ourselves (through google) on the hilarities of ‘fisting’. It was all physical stuff.
However, when discovering foreplay with a partner or multiple partners post high school, it’s become evident that there are all kinds of foreplay – and that it doesn’t always have to be the lead up to the ‘main event’. There’s sexting, roleplay, strip teasing, watching porn together, dirty talk, the list goes on. And something we definitely didn’t learn is that a date can actually count as foreplay. Simply having dinner and drinks or going to the movies with someone you desire can be the ‘pregame’, getting the juices flowing with flirting and building that intimate connection. Foreplay doesn’t always have to be as intense as fisting, it’s just about figuring out what turns you on.
In highschool, our understanding of masturbation was basic. Alone time in our rooms, when everyone else in the house was asleep, we’d imagine something steamy and touch ourselves ‘down under’. Where, exactly? That was still being discovered. We knew there was a clitoris and our ‘main hole’ that we could experiment with, but of course we didn’t really know how to and usually just gave up because it felt like a chore! Now, for some or many of us, we’ve learned more about what turns us on as unique individuals (namely, how we like to be touched) and can replicate that during our steamy solo sessions – and actually reach climax.
We’ve also discovered sex toys: the ‘scary’ instruments Samantha from Sex and the City used (and we’d just laugh in ignorance, thinking LOL, she’s such a weirdo!). No, she was bloody serious, alright. In fact, I speak on behalf of many women in their 20s when I say the discovery of sex toys is the highlight of our sexual learnings. And thank god we now know that we can all be Samanthas and vibrate away (and without shame) – something Miss Bickman definitely didn’t teach us in year nine.