Sex was taboo in China and talking about sex in public was considered shameful and embarrassment. Sex education was next to zero and we only had one puberty course that offered some basic knowledge on the human reproductive system. The course was called Hygienic Physiology (HP).
“Only a virgin deserved to teach such a thing,” my classmate whispered to my ear as the teacher was walking into the classroom.
I quickly drew the connections from her words as I casted a glance at the picture of human body she hung on the board. In China, an old virgin was a woman who wasn’t wanted by anyone, and HP was a course that no one wanted to take. Apparently, only a loser deserved to teach such a sickening course.
“All girls will have a period once a month. Boys have wet dreams!” she barked in front of a class as her teaching stick pointed to the human’s reproductive organs on the picture.
Before her words tapered off, the class of over 40 boys and girls erupted into a sudden laughter. Chaos ensued as the boys drummed on the desks and the girls exchanged their disgust with each other. What was she talking about and what a crazy subject! Who would need to learn this crap in an academic world that was dominated by math and science?!
Unsurprisingly, the class wasn’t able to go on any further. We were thrilled to see the teacher wrapped up her “dirty materials” and left the classroom blushing.
And we were all proud of what we did -- we kicked an old virgin out of a pervert class! But our pride didn’t last long. Just weeks after the class, we learned that one of the girls in our class got pregnant by our gym teacher. As a result, the teacher was expelled and the girl suspended.
How did that happen? We were baffled and clueless. Despite that there were books on reproduction that were available at the time, the thought of shame and embarrassment had stopped us from pursuing that knowledge.
But hormones were lurking behind the ignorance and constantly played havoc among the young and the restless. Fear and confusion gripped us as we witnessed more boys and girls being punished after pregnancies were exposed. Some even lost their privileged university degree and back to their hometowns that destroyed their career and future. By the time we realized that had we been equipped with sex knowledge, this type of disaster could have been avoided. However, that realization came too late.
Decades later, sex taboos still haunts us parents in the ethnic communities. Like many of my peers, I have never ever discussed anything about sex with my children. But I am grateful to find that they have gained that knowledge from school, and that they are perfectly aware of how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.
Would the knowledge about sex at young age lead school children into earlier sexual activities? My personal experience could not provide an answer. However, what I do know is that depriving children of sexual knowledge certainly does not prevent sexual activities or even unwanted pregnancies.
Amid this widespread protest against sexual education curriculum, I hope that the protest would not prevent students – especially those in the ethnic communities --from gaining the sexual knowledge at school, as they are unlikely to get it from parent like myself.
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