The Birds and the Bees – Say it Ain’t So!
I was eleven when I learned about sex. My classmates and I had snuck into an empty classroom at recess, and one of them had drawn diagrams on the chalkboard explaining what a daddy does to a mummy at night to make babies. I was horrified. I mean, we had a kids’ book at home that explained the difference between male and female bodies – it was called Peter and Caroline – but nothing about how they fit together. (Or maybe I skipped that chapter).
I went running home in tears. “Mummy, Mummy, please, tell me it isn’t true”. I was practically hyperventilating. I tearfully recounted the horror story that was told to me earlier that day. God bless my mum because she kept a straight and serious face throughout while she must have needed to laugh so hard. She took me in her arms, and corrected a few minor details, but said that yes, for the most part, what I had been told was true. I don’t remember anything she said after that, because well, it was disgusting and I was never going to let any man do that to me.
Anyhow. When it came to Kallah classes (where brides learn about the laws of family purity) before my wedding, I pretty much knew the nuts and bolts of marital relations. Just to make sure, my grandma sat me down before my wedding to tell me what to expect. That was a most uncomfortable ten minutes – but one that makes me giggle now, decades later. My Kallah teacher met with me a few times to go over the laws and the traditions, but there was an expectation that I knew what sex was, and that she didn’t have to be the one to tell me what to expect on my wedding night.
I listened to this sound clip the other day – Chussen and Kallah Teachers – and I was shocked. I know this piece is satire, or semi-satirical, but one thing that I have known from before is that many many ultra-orthodox / chassidic brides and grooms have no clue what is supposed to happen on their wedding night.
At eleven the idea of sex scared the pants off me (wrong analogy but you get my point) – how can a fully grown person deal with the shock of what sex is when the whole subject has been taboo all their lives? How does one get to marriageable age and know nothing about how babies are made? How does one deal with that – you’re getting married next week. Your husband is going to do x, y, z; or your wife will expect you to do a, b, c.
I just cannot get my head around it. I want to tell myself that these days every bride and groom knows about sex – at least the basic theory. (Although by reading some posts on ImaMother.com you wonder what some women have been taught)
How old were you when you learned about sex? Do you remember your reaction?