by Mari Foster
If I could have a penny for each time I was introduced to a new way to reference a vagina, I would probably be able to drum up a game of Pac-man. One for every penile reference could definitely get me a dollar menu item from any fast food restaurant. In movies and television, from raunchy comedies like Superbad to more medically inclined shows like Grey’s Anatomy, the general public is fed euphemistic (and admittedly somewhat entertaining) alternatives for our sexual body parts. But when the time comes to really communicate with a partner or medical professional, referencing one’s “junk” or “va-jay-jay” just won’t cut it.
My first encounter with truly robust sexual education came in high school from a guest speaker. She entered the room and began with “Hello my name is Julia! I’m here today to talk about penises and vaginas. Are you ready?” At first we laughed, but then we got serious. Believe it or not, we may have even learned a thing or two! Julia helped me learn although it’s ok to giggle and fidget when talking about sexual health; that reaction doesn’t make the information any less important. Reproductive health is something that we will use throughout our entire lives. Like personal hygiene, sexual health is not something we can just ignore and hope will take care of itself. We can’t assume that the information we get from pop culture is correct… or even acceptable for everyone – sometimes it takes a real person standing there saying “It’s ok if you are different. Here is why…” to really make a lasting impression.
The beauty of teaching sexual education is that the content is relevant to all ethnicities and socio-economic statuses; it is applicable regardless of employment, educational background, or sexual orientation. The information is applicable for those who elect to abstain from sexual acts, and also for those who choose to fully engage their sexuality. Sexuality can be a tool, an asset, a weapon or a burden; it is up to the sexuality educators to explain all of these possibilities. I am lucky enough to be one of these sex educators. So ladies and gents, bring those “hoo-has” and “members” because we’ve got some minds to reach and some sex education to teach!