None Dare Call It Education: Anna’s Story

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 7.48.57 PM

Series disclaimer: HA’s “Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed)” series contains frank, honest, and uncensored conversations about sexuality and sex education. It is intended for mature audiences.

*****

Hello, my name is Anna.

Like many who write stories for Homeschoolers Anonymous I grew up in a legalistic, controlling, and abusive homeschooling Christian household. When I saw that Homeschoolers Anonymous would be posting a series on sex education I knew I had to write something. My story may be appalling to some, but to others I know it will sound all too familiar. I hope that my story will give you insight and encouragement, and I thank you for taking the time to read it.

My sexual education was completely nonexistent.

I remember that there was a book on one of the living-room bookshelves entitled “Preparing For Adolescence.” I don’t know if the book was intended to prepare parents or children, but neither my parents nor I ever read that book. At 11 and 12 years of age I had long since learned to be ashamed and scared of my body; the lectures on modesty and roles of women had made sure of that.

When my body started changing I didn’t know what was going on, but I stayed silent. My parents were not people I could go to with my fears and questions. My period started without me ever having heard the word before. I had no clue what was happening, and it was probably the most horrifying experience of my life. Again, freaked out as I was, I didn’t tell a soul. My mom noticed the blood when doing laundry weeks later, and she had the only “talk” she ever had with me. Her little discourse included only what do about the “problem” and nothing else.

I got the message: another female attribute to be hidden and feared.

Because my mom seemed oblivious to my needs, my older sister gave me her old bra and bought me my first razor and deodorant, and even these items I felt the need to hide. I was always too scared and shy to ask my mom to buy me anything of an intimate nature. I would use the same razor and wear the same bra for years at a time. My fears were somewhat justified; I remember the time that my mom found a receipt for tampons in my purse and asked me severely if I had bought some. I panicked, lied, and said that I had accidentally picked up someone else’s receipt.

Mom let me know that tampons were strictly off limits.

Throughout my teenage years I gained knowledge about sex years by various covert means. I looked up words in dictionaries and read the books about pregnancy that I found on our bookshelves. I found some answers on the internet when I was able to use it without my mom monitoring me, but I always felt like I was doing something wrong. It wasn’t until I was 18 years old that I went on a research binge and learned the complete picture, including things I should have known much earlier, like the names for my own anatomy.

Though my parents never talked about sex directly, I picked up on their attitudes and beliefs, and sexual thoughts and questions were always accompanied by fear and shame. We were told to save our first our first kiss for our wedding day, that women should never make men “stumble” (I never even knew what that meant, hell, I still don’t know what it means), that dating was giving your heart away to strangers, that to Your Future Husband the most valuable thing about you was your virginity and your pure heart. A fear that consumed my life for years was how I would explain to My Future Husband that I masturbated (at the time I didn’t know the word). I knew he wouldn’t want me, and that it would always be my biggest secret.

I felt I wasn’t a virgin, I was sullied.

I was strange, surely no one else did this. Above all, I was letting God down. I began to lose my faith, because I knew I couldn’t think these thoughts and feel these feelings and still be a Christian. Almost the entirety of my teenage years was spent severely depressed and suicidal, and the overwhelming shame attached to my sexuality certainly contributed.

My mom once told me that when a woman looks at a person, she first looks at their face, but when a man looks at a person, he first looks at their crotch.

Hence, the need for women to wear skirts, (can’t let those men “stumble”). This lovely piece of wisdom made me feel even dirtier, because I began to realize how much I was noticing other people’s bodies. When I saw a person, my eyes would travel up and down their body and linger on their butt and (if a girl) her boobs.

I was clearly some sort of freak, only men were supposed to be this way.

Good grief, was I “stumbling?” I hated the girls I saw walking down the sidewalk in tight jeans. How could they flaunt themselves this way? And how could I help but stare? Deep down though, I envied them. When I was around 15 or 16 I was noticing women’s bodies more and more, and women began to enter my fantasies. In a year or two I was thinking about women in a sexual context just as much as I was thinking about men.

I now had another secret to keep, and this one was absolutely damning.

I heard the sermons and speeches; I read the blogs and articles; I listened to the conversations happening around me. Christians hated gay people. God hated gay people. I knew I could never admit my attraction to women and still be accepted by literally anyone I knew. It hurt me every time someone would talk about gay people as if they were evil beings bent on destroying everything good in America. They were a problem that needed to be fixed, and they were certainly not welcome in a church. I felt better because I knew I wasn’t completely gay; I was still attracted to boys. But then what was I? Where did I fit? Would I always be an outcast?

Today as I have left homeschooling physically as well as mentally, I finally have the freedom to discover and embrace the person that I am.

For the first time I am perfectly happy and confident in my sexuality. I am attracted to the entire range of sexes and gender expressions; masculine men and feminine men, femme women and butch women, androgynous and genderqueer men and women, and everything in between. Would I take a magic pill that could make me be attracted to only masculine men, one color in a whole rainbow? Fuck no! I love my orientation.

I don’t know if I believe in God, but if there is a God who made me, he made me the way I am and he doesn’t have a problem with it.

I have yet to tell my parents or anyone in my old homeschool circles about my more fluid sexuality. It’s really none of their business. But I feel the desire to throw it in their faces. I want to say, “Look at me! A real live non-straight person. Tell me to my face that I’m going to hell. Tell me that I am destroying the moral fabric of America. Fight to keep me from having the right to marry a woman if I wish. Shove a Bible in my face and lecture me about the morality of who I am. Give me pat answers and tell me to pray more. I’m a person, right in front of you, not an ideology or an obscure Bible verse. Do you want to cut all ties to me and keep me away from your children? Am I any different now than you always thought I was?”

But I know I can’t look back; I have to look forward. I can’t worry about how my old acquaintances might view me; I have to focus on making new friends. Vibrant, fun-loving, intelligent, creative, accepting and open people, like me.

As for what I wish to say to my mother, the cause of my thoroughly shitty childhood, “You told me what it meant to be a woman. You were dead wrong. You told me what my future would be. You were wrong. You told me what was right and how to please God. You were wrong. You told me who I had to be. You were wrong. You were wrong to deny me an education; never giving me basic information about my body and sex caused me a lot of pain for many years. You created an absolute hell and kept me prisoner there, but I have come out beautiful and strong. I am now one of those “femi-nazis’ that you spoke about with such derision. I will forever be exactly who I want to be and love who I want to love.

“I no longer follow any of your rules or subscribe to any of your ideologies, and I have never been happier.”

My sister has also written about her sexual education experience; the link to her story is here

9 comments

  • Pingback: Ignorance is Safety?: Christina’s Story | H . A

  • No tampons in our house growing up either. In college they were giving them out, and I quickly gave it to my roommate because I had no idea how to use them. Then I googled it a few years later.

  • I think we’re same orientation. She’s a BISEXUAL and me too. No need to explain yourself to people of what you are and what you want.

    • if she’s attracted to all genders, not just male and female, then she’s pansexual… not bisexual.

      • Untrue. It’s a common misconception that bi means men and women, but actually the definition that’s been used by every major bisexual organization for decades has been either “same and other genders” or “two or more genders”, which could certainly be all genders. So she could identify as bisexual, pansexual or both (many, many people I.D. as both!)

  • I remember the first time I heard about tampons my mom said they were bad and could “damage” you inside.
    I remember my dad planning this huge trip (that included swimming) only to have half of us girls be on our periods. I remember hearing him try to convince my mom to let us use tampons so “no one would have to know” and she argued him down (I think I remember it because he actually relented).

    My first tampon was at age 20plussomething after I left home. I still feel like they are uncomfortable and I cannot wear them unless I know that I will be in my own bathroom to insert and remove them. 😦

  • Oh man, yes. “I’m a freak, I’m not supposed to think this way.” We were given a speech about dressing modestly to keep men from sinning, but what about me? I was sinning when I looked at them, why weren’t they covering up to keep ME from sinning–I thought I must be the only woman with thoughts like that. I was surrounded by asexuals and blessed with a raging libido. Had I lost all my purity over masturbation? I sure thought so.

    And the women, when it turned on to the women, it just made my homophobia grow. I hated them like I hated me.

    I am pansexual, and I go to church with my female partner, to a fortunately liberal, loving, beautiful church that welcomes us and prays that others would also find their way into loving us. And I am monogamous, pansexual doesn’t mean slut.

    I am mostly just sad because I don’t think the people who hurt us growing up even knew they were doing it.

  • Take a look at this: this is GOOD. It’s called “Mothers and Daughters at Menarche” by Dr Sharon Maloney. She’s a feminist. She’s spiritual. And she speaks of loving the period as God’s own creation, as indigenous peoples did. It’s a book I highly recommend to everyone – females AND males. Oh, and google books sells this one – Positive Menstruation by Jennifer Rebecca Brown (http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Positive_Menstruation_Exploring_the_Atti.html?id=lLkrdRThmdYC).
    Here’s the link (pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/jarm/article/download/18049/16812). I hope you appreciate it. That book changed my life. My last period was good because of it – not painless but good. Take a read. Celebrate sexuality – and periods – and womanhood – and POWER!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s