website statistics

Everything I know about sex I learned from "Letters to Penthouse Forum"...Or, why parents should get over themselves and talk to their kids about sex

A recent study showed the unsurprising fact that most parents either don't talk to their kids about sex, or do so far later than they should. Maybe it's denial that their kids are even thinking about sex, but by the end of the study, reported in Time:

...more than half of the parents reported that they had not discussed 14 of the 24 sex-related topics by the time their adolescents had begun genital touching or oral sex with partners.

Forty-two percent of girls reported that they had not discussed the effectiveness of birth control and 40% admitted they had not talked with their parents about how to refuse sex before engaging in genital touching.

Nearly 70% of boys said they had not discussed how to use a condom or other birth-control methods with their parents before having intercourse. Yet only half of the boys' parents, by contrast, said they had not discussed condom use or birth control with their sons.

So parents remembered having 'the talk' but the kids didn't? Were the parents so uncomfortable or vague about the nitty gritty that the kids didn't actually notice it happening? Or does handing your kid a book and walking away count as discussing birth control and STDs?

The Frisky put out a request for stories on how people learned about sex, and although the majority of commenters blamed their parents for not doing a good job talk-wise, there was this:

I find it kind of hard to blame all the teenage pregnancies and STDs on parent's lack of skill in giving "the talk" I blame it more on teenagers being dumb. I never got I flipping talk and I sure as hell knew how to get a guy off me if he was trying to stick things where he shouldn't. And when I was okay with certain body parts being placed in other body parts (ha) I wasn't dumb enough to 1. not bag it and 2. have my ass on birth control. Simple. Effective. Maybe I was just smarter than the average teenager.

Not that my own experiences were any more useful. I barely remember getting any information from my parents. And school health class was mostly about showering and not exercising too hard when I had my period. So, my sex education ended up consisting of equal parts:

1. Judy Blume’s “Are You There, God…” which was passed from girl to girl in sixth grade.

2. Reading “The Joy of Sex” while I babysat for my neighbors (ewww re: the woman's hairy armpits)

3. The song ‘Sodomy’ from the stage musical “Hair” (I looked up all the words in the dictionary with mixed success.)

4. “Letters to Penthouse Forum,” which a friend stole from her brother. I remember reading a story in Forum that included the line ‘he came into my mouth’ and all of us being completely baffled at what that meant. You mean, he crawled into her mouth? It made no sense at all.

I was the unpopular, I mean, studious kid, learning about sex in reference books. Hot. How did you learn about the Birds and the Bees?