I don’t know how young I was (four? five?) when I asked my mother where babies come from, but I remember asking her over and over again and her answer was always, “The man puts the seed in the woman’s vagina and they make a baby.” That answer never seemed to suit me.
I learned a lot about sex from Dr. Ruth Westheimer and the dictionary. I was 11 when I discovered her show, “Sexually Speaking” aired Sunday nights at midnight on a small New York City station, WYNY. I didn’t have a television in my room, but I had a radio and found her during my quest for something to fall asleep to, an insomniac even at age 11.
Dr. Ruth and the people who called in seemed to be speaking another language. Masterbation? Orgasm? Blow Job? The next day I would look up these words in an unabridged dictionary my mother had bough in the early 1960s. I was pretty disappointed in the definitions and why when I looked up “blow” and “job” could I not find the answer to what that meant??? I would listen every weekend, trying to piece together the information, trying to define the words through the context in which they were used.
Freshman year in high school in 1983 we were given a “Sexual Education” course. I couldn’t wait! I would finally learn what a blow job was and where a clitoris was, and who had one!
But it was very clinical, it was sort of like studying for an English class, except the terms were “testicles”, “fallopian tubes”, “Vas deferens”. My mother had always helped me study for tests so this class was no different, but I remember her saying, “My God, Emily! I don’t even know these terms myself! A gonad?? Vulva?? Labia Minora??? What are they teaching you in this class?”
But study I did and as I was in Honors English, I was able to get an A in Sex Ed.
The last day of the class, the teacher who was very nice and “cool” said that he was going to pass around a paper bag and we were each to write a question that had either not been covered in depth or that we had not covered at all.
We all put our questions in the bag, but classes were only forty minutes or so long. Would he get to my question?? I held my breath, while trying to look cool and nonchalant. And then it came:
“What exactly IS oral sex?”
Of all of the questions, this seemed to throw him the most. He hemmed and hawed. I tried to look as though that was not my question. The class waited. I could tell some of the kids knew and some of them didn’t.
And then he said, “Well there is oral sex and then there is oral genital sex. The person did not ask about oral genital sex and so I would say that oral sex is just….kissing.”
And then he then he threw my question in the garbage.
I was SO disappointed! I was so wronged! Would I ever find out what oral sex REALLY was??
I was a bit of a late bloomer but I did eventually figure it out, and partook in it, about six years later.
And so it begins again as my son has, at four-and-a-half, already asked me where babies come from. “Did you buy me?, Tyler laughed. And I said, “Well, when a husband and a wife love each other very much, they make “crunchies” (his word for heavy kissing, don’t ask, I have no clue where he came up with that one!) and they hug each other and they make a baby.” “Oh”, was all Tyler said.
I wonder if he will ever remember asking me that question…and if he thought my answer was satisfactory or not.