Sexuality Project: Sex Education and the Body, Q. 2

This is an installment of the Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project. You can read the full list of questions here and the posting plan hereThe first six participants whose stories I’ll be posting are Melissa and Haley, Lina and V, Latebloomer and Katy-Anne.

Sex Education and the Body

2. How did your parents and/or church respond to your questions (if any)? How did they (and you) understand and react to puberty?

Melissa and Haley

Melissa:

We didn’t have a church when I was in my teens. I read lots of books on sexual purity and saving every part of yourself for your future husband. My mom talked a lot about how special it would be when I was old enough to marry a man, and that she was praying for that man and that he would be perfect for me. My dad talked a lot about how men were only after sex, and that they were disgusting pigs and that was why we must dress modestly to protect ourselves from them. He repeatedly said that no matter what type of body we had, there would be a man out there that was interested in it, but he always said it in a way that made me feel like he could hardly believe that there were men ok with women who were curvy or fat. I worried that the only kind of men who would be interested in me would be gross men who had some fetishtistic  interest in how chubby I was.

Haley:

When I asked questions that skirted my feelings of same sex attraction or gender dysphoria I got answers that confirmed to me that I was messed up to feel like I did and I never openly shared my feelings. Quite simply I never felt safe enough too. Puberty was very difficult as a transperson, but I suffered alone afraid to voice how difficult it was for my body to change.

Lina and V

Lina:

The Purity Class I mentioned was actually great about sex-related questions. The youth pastor’s wife – and later, another lady who took over the class –was always very frank and pro-sex, just of course not until marriage. “No ding-a-ling until the ring-ring” was this obnoxiously annoying phrase our youth pastor would say. I never talked to my dad and stepmom about anything related to puberty, except the obvious telling my stepmom I had my period. Thankfully I was at my mother’s when I started, and she was at the time fairly areligious and down to earth. My first thought about “parents” and “puberty” goes back to always feeling like clothes were a struggle to find. Jeans were fine, as were most shorts, but tops always seemed to be too low or too tight.

V:

I did not ask any questions of my family or church, or really, of my friends either (I would just listen very carefully and discreetly at the lunch table).  My mother never gave me the “sex talk,” and I never initiated it.  I was, however, given Christian books about puberty and “my body,” and that was much preferred than actually talking to anyone about it.

Latebloomer:

Conversation about our bodies was almost non-existent in our house, and very awkward whenever it was necessary (such as about shaving or using deodorant).  Because of the awkwardness, I didn’t feel comfortable asking my parents questions about puberty or sexuality; I preferred to glean as much information as possible from the family encyclopedia.  However, despite my reading, I was still woefully ignorant of many things.  For instance, I was unprepared to start my period, and I had never heard of tampons until a friend told me about them at age 18.

As I went through puberty, my parents got more interested in teachings about purity, modesty, and courtship.  They started policing my wardrobe more carefully, keeping me segregated from my male peers, and promoting anti-dating books.  They also started telling me everything that was “unladylike” about me to try to push me away from tomboyishness towards femininity.

Katy-Anne:

My parents were always open in answering my questions on those subjects and in this area, my parents weren’t that fundamentalist.


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