By Crystal Lowery of Creepy Ginger Kid
In the 1990s, our high school lunches were fat-free, our lipstick was maroon, and our sex education was practically non-existent. School administrators were under the impression that the less information we had, the better sexual choices we would make. A typical lecture went something like this:
“Fallopian tube, fallopian tube, ovary, sperm, menstruation. And also AIDS. Those of you who are curious for more answers are perverts, and if you call your genitals by their anatomical names it will be like summoning Beetlejuice, only instead of a frenetic Michael Keaton materializing, you will get AIDS.”
Here is a look at sex education has changed since the 1990s.
Then: We learned about the dirty from a street-wise neighbor girl who spoke with much bravado and very little experience. Some of us also stumbled upon a copy of “The Joy of Sex” in the back of our parents’ closet, which we peered into with equal parts inquisitiveness and horror.
Now: Thanks to ubiquitous smart phones, kids have access to anything at any time. They can Google slang words for sex positions I don’t even know exist. Much of this information is graphic and beyond their maturity level, and that scares the feculence right out of my backside. It is enough for me to want to move my pre-schoolers to a technology-free bunker in the woods where we’ll subsist on foraged berries and squirrel kabobs.
Grooming After Puberty
Then: 1990s girls got our periods and began to apply Teen Spirit deodorant and over-pluck our eyebrows. Our only “hairstyle expectations” involved a crimper and a scrunchie.
Now: Teenagers send Snapchat selfies of their Brazilians–and I don’t mean their South American exchange students named Juan and Rosa.
Then: It was a taboo topic. One of my striking memories is when a friend became pregnant and a couple of us accompanied her to her first check up. I waited in the lobby for two hours and read Seventeen Magazine while another friend held her hand in the doctor’s room. I was a naïve virgin, so when she re-emerged sans-pregnancy, I figured her original test was just a false positive. Only as an adult did it dawn on me that she had had an abortion. Surely, it was a scary and confusing time in her life, and she could have used more support than a couple of half-wit peers could provide.
Now: Pills and condoms and Implanon, oh my! Adults are finally taking their heads out of the sand and coming to terms with the fact that some teenagers are going to have sex. Teens always have, and they always will. Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. It is a river in Egypt where Egyptian teens go to have sex.
Then: We waited by the phone for hours for a boy to call and if our tech-nerd fathers were using the dial up internet, all bets were off.
Now: Guys and girls can keep instant tabs on relationship statuses. They can either crush or elate a romantic interest’s spirit with the click of the “like” button.
Then: Boys would over-serve girls high class drinks like Boone’s Strawberry Hill and Fuzzy Navel in the hopes of getting them inebriated enough to take advantage of them. If they succeeded, they’d be a hero, and the hung-over lady would be slut-shamed.
Now: Kids understand that the aforementioned scenario is date rape–plain and simple.
In some ways, teens today have it worse than those of us who grew up in the 1990s. In some ways, they have it better. One thing is certain: things are different, and as the adults in their lives, we need to be brave and start conversations with our kids. Because we can’t all hunker down in the forest, sheltering our children from technology and sex–there is simply not enough squirrel meat to go around.
About the Author
Crystal Lowery is an American mom working in England. By day, she does medical research, by night she wrangles two toddlers, a boy and a girl. She has made millions laugh on The Huffington Post, Scarymommy, Sammiches & Psych Meds, In the Powder Room, Mumsnet and others. You can find her blogging at Creepy Ginger Kid and she’d love for you to follow her on Facebook.