I got my period when I was 11 years old. Among my four friends, I was the late bloomer. The prettiest in our group, AA, got hers when she was 9. AB and LG got theirs when they were 10. CE got hers a few months before me.
I remember the day quite vividly, mostly because of what my paternal grandmother made me do. She said to soak my blood-stained underwear in warm water and to wash my face with the water so I don’t get pimples. My maternal grandmother was a little late on the scene, and she said I should’ve directly wiped the blood on my face. I was 11 years old, what the hell did I know?
I went to an all-girl Catholic School. I think we started tackling reproductive organs in the fourth or fifth grade. But we talked about it the same way we discussed reproductive systems of flowers and amoeba. The first time we tackled sex was with Mr. P’s PE class in first year high school. It was 2 years too late, but what the hey. I appreciate the maturity with which Mr. P, a married man in his thirties at the time, discussed sexuality as much as he could in our class. I don’t remember the exact details, but we talked about natural family planning. It was the first time I’d ever heard of “rhythm method” and that the viscosity of vaginal discharge could indicate when a female might be ovulating or no. All fascinating stuff. I don’t remember him talking much about boys though.
In our Christian Living class with Ms. R, we talked about the sanctity of life. We were made to watch this video about abortion. GROSS. Then we were made to watch a woman giving birth. Yes, there was a long close-up shot of her vagina just as the baby was coming out. Did I want to engage in sexual activities with boys after Mr. P’s and Ms. R.’s classes? HELL NO.
So I learned about sex in school under the tutelage of the Religious of the Virgin Mary. I didn’t learn it from my mother, who was too busy with the family business. I certainly didn’t learn it from either of my grandmothers.
I wish the ultraconservatives who have the resources to pressure government would wake up and smell the roses. The best way to get rid of nasty things that hide in the dark is to shine a spotlight.