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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex in Media: Books, Magazines, Films, TV & More » the book way

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Author Topic: the book way
Scarleteen Volunteer
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Written Stuff often plays a large role in sex ed. Sometimes, parents go “the book way” when they are a little shy about having the “Birds and Bees” talk with their kids. And sometimes kids & teens prefer the privacy of reading a sex ed book and coming back to the parents with any left over questions instead of having a full blown awkward talk. In addition, teen mags sport a variety of sex ed stuff, too.

What kind of written materials did you get your sex ed from? Did your parents give you the books?
Did you learn from teen magazines?
What did your biology book say about sex? Did you think you got good info from the written materials you could access?
What kind of books would have been more helpful than those that you had at hand?

For me, personally, written materials played a big role in my sex ed. I first started reading (as soon as I could read, basically) about sex in my parents large dictionary (and was very ashamed about that and didn’t even understand most of it).

A little later, I started regularly reading a book called “Peter, Ida, Minimum”, a Swedish comic book on sex ed in my mom’s book shop. It basically showed how a pregnancy influenced a family and how the whole deal about sex was explained by the parents to their kids. From that book, I first learned about menstruation. It was very basic, but at 8 years or whatever, I thought it was the best book in the world. I think if I ever get pregnant when I already have a child, I’d try to find a similar book that deals with all things surrounding why and how pregnancy happens and what kind of changes happen in a family once another member arrives.

My parents were pretty shy & uncomfy about sex ed and hence left a book called “The growing up-Book” in the living room that my brother and I could access any time we wanted. The first half dealt with puberty and physical development, the second part with getting pregnant, pregnancy, birth and basic parenting. It only had drawings in funky 1980’s colours. I had a look at it again, when I was at home a short while back, and it really is one shabby book, looking back at it: it had like 4 sentences on being gay (and said the attraction to people of the same sex would “most likely go away after a while”), dealt little with the emotional aspects, and only had like two pages on contraception. Not terribly useful. But I know my rents were well meaning with that book.

In addition, I frequently read the German teen mag ”Bravo” that my brother bought every week. They always had two pages called “Ask Dr. Sommer” which was catchily titled “Love, Sex and Affection” and where they answered just the same questions we get here at Scarleteen and every week, someone would tell the story about their first intercourse (basically as an erotic story), too. I remember that in the first few months at grammar school, Bravo was the mag we all died to read and that went around all the bloody time. A few years later, when I was out of the Bravo reading age, they got even more bold with their sex ed and started featuring teen age couples or teens talking about sex with full frontal nudes and very sexual photos and got in trouble for that (authorities thought that was a little much for a mag that’s been read by under 10 year olds).

Only when I basically already had all the stuff I needed to know, in my late teens, I got a sex ed book that was the way I wanted & would have needed it. It was called “Longing for your strawberry mouth” and not only had lots of info on physical changes, first intercourse, birth control, sexual abuse, STDs (even though that part could have been more thorough) and all, but also on identity, abortion, emotional stuff, relationships and whatnot and a big bunch of contact addies, too. It had lots of quotes from teens and was very well layouted.
It had (apart from drawings) very pretty black and white pics of teens that I could relate to and as much piccies of same sex couples as of hetero couples. Nudity & different body shapes were displayed as something normal and cool. - It was almost like “Scarleteen in a book”. I still have that one book here, just because I like it so much.
A book like that (with more emphasis on STDs) is something I’d definitely use for sex ed myself, one day in the future.

And when I thought I knew it all, Scarleteen came along (Well, I rather stumbled over it) and I discovered there were some small things I hadn’t known. These days, I read almost any sexuality book that crosses my path (plus lots of online things). In addition I love to read medical textbooks these days, simply because I sometimes wish I had indeed done med, and because they are still the best for all the physical information.

So these are some of the books I checked out long before I found Scarleteen.

What are or were yours?

[This message has been edited by Alaska (edited 04-27-2001).]

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Scarleteen Volunteer
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*See, I told you I'd get here *

Anyway, so my mom didn't have much trouble talking to us about sex. She's a nurse, so I think I must have been in about 6th grade when she sat me down and we had "The Talk". She broke out the nursing textbooks, and I got a very detailed, very technical explaination of how Tab A fits into Slot B (so to speak) once you get married. There really wasn't much discussion of other types of sexual contact. But the entire thing left me still wondering, because while I had this technical knowledge about how it happened, I really couldn't see why one would really want to mess with that.

Then I discovered her collection of trashy romance novels. That right there completed my education. Yeah, I know the sex in there is unrealistic, and nobody uses protection...but at least I had finally figured out why one would want to do that.


"What is the odds so long as the fire of soul is kindled..."
~Charles Dickens

[This message has been edited by KittenGoddess (edited 04-28-2001).]

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Books, books, books. I was a voracious reader from a very early age, so I'm having a hard time remembering if I first learned about sex from my mom or from novels...

Come to think of it, I must have gotten my first intimations about sex from books. My mom and my aunt (who is a gynecologist) later filled me in on anything I needed to know, but the basic knowledge came from...well, written words.


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The first and only book my parents ever bought me was 'The Facts Of Love,' by Alex and Jane Comfort (if Alex sounds familiar, it's because he also wrote 'The Joy Of Sex, to which this is quite similar). The book has a lot of nice black and white photograph/sketch (combined) pictures, and the messages were basically that it's bad to get pregnant if you're not ready for a baby, it's bad to get diseases, but they can be cured, being homosexual is alright, nudity's okay too, being a virgin's not a bad thing, you shouldn't do things just to fit in, and that the Pill is 100% effective. Masturbation's normal, puberty happens to everyone, and condoms are never once called by that name. The book was a nice, warm-fuzzy late seventies one, but unfortunately, it is out of date, and could have had a lot more specific information on how to use contraception, and deal with puberty.
Posts: 5122 | From: I *came* from the land of ice and snow | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I just noticed; this book, like every other one of the sort I've seen treats gay people like they're alright, but they're not us. I mean, like it's okay to be one, but, of course, none of the readers of the book could be. What's with that?
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Member # 802

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Ah, Milke, I know what you mean. At school in sex ed, whenever they talked about gay people (which was seldom,) they were always some distant "other".
I remember the teacher saying to our (female) class that HIV infection was fastest growing among straight young women. "That's you folks," she said. Not all of us, I thought...

Posts: 582 | From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Welcome to life as a queer. In a word, it sucks. Always has, though the rumor is things are supposed to be getting more inclusive. I'm waiting for verification on that one, still.

You know, the crazy part is that if you switch the words to exclude another group, like say "asians" or "women" or "parapalegics" (and the disabled are often left out of such material anyway) it looks about as biased as it really is.

Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson

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Aww KittenGoddess, my mom's a nurse too (well, she was before she became a teacher this year) and she broke out the nursing books too, lol. To make it even better, she was an L&D nurse, so we got to see the cute little babies and stuff, heehee. My mom just sat us down (us being my brother and I), told us a little bit about menstration, pregnancy, and STD's. Broke some common myths (you can't get pregnant y our first time, haha) and that was basically it. This happened when I was in fourth grade, the same time I got the internet, and the internet basically...furthered my education. I can't ever really remember learning about all I know (the school most certainly didn't tell me half the stuff I know) but it all got in there somewhere. And then I found scarleteen last year and it filled in any blanks I've had. But for some reason my friends always came to me with whatever sex problems they faced, asking any questions about if they were pregnant, what's up with their period, etc etc. Just the other day my friend called me up, I'm barely 15, she's 17, because she was raped and wanted to know what the chances were that she was pregnant (thankfully she's not, the bastard used a condom).

So I suppose I'd say I had an ecclectic education. When it the time comes for my kids I think I'll talk to them, and give them a few books, and send them here

Scarleteen Advocate

This person is a natural product. The slight variations in color and texture enhance its individual character and beauty and in no way are to be considered flaws or defects.

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Lady Moonlight
Member # 384

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My experience was similar to KittenGoddess' except that my mom was getting her doctorate in marriage and family therapy at the time, so when I was around age 13 she talked to me some, then brought out her sex therapy textbook, handed it to me and said, "Ask me if you have any questions." I spent a facinated afternoon mostly hanging out on the couch and saying things like, "Wow!" and "Oh my gosh, is that physically possible!"

When my sister hit the same age (6 years after I did) my mom was done with her degree so she basically turned the book over to my sister (she took it back from me!) and my sis and her friends used to spend hours being amazed and getting educated.

The funny thing was, though, that I think both my sis and I felt Mom was a prude at heart, and neither one of us told her when we started having sex. We each took care of our own birth control and made some mistakes that I don't think we would have if we'd really talked to her. I know Mom did the best she could, but I hope to do better with my kids.

And I've got no illusions about you.
Guess what? I never did.
When I said, when I said, "I'll take it."
I meant, I meant As Is.
--Ani DiFranco, "As Is"

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Where Did I Come From
I flipped through that one in the bookstore. It's a really good book, I think, for shy parents.

How did I learn? I seriously cannot remember. I learned about menstruation from my sister, and that's about all I remember learning. I learned the complicated stuff from Scarleteen, such as the difference between HPV and Herpes, or the different parabolas formed by penes.

My menstrual diary
Updated as often as my uterus

If I run by the window real fast no-one will notice I'm naked.

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Only In Dreams
Member # 3661

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My mom pretty much explained the basics of sex to me when I was little. She was very open and not nervous about it at all. (Of course, I was very young, so it was years before I could even understand what the heck she was talking about.) However, despite her openness, I remember her telling me when I was very young, premarital sex is wrong, etc. etc. It wasn't until I was older that I realized, hey, most people do have sex before marriage, and it wasn't as big a deal as I thought it was.

I was a Girl Scout for several years, and in one of my GS books, there was a little section about puberty and pregnancy. It just told the basics, but it had a few good stories/articles about hormones and emotion.

When I was about 10, and relatively mature for my age, my Orthodox-Jewish cousin gave me a book called, I think, The Wonder of Becoming You. It taught me a lot about puberty, but there was lots of religion involved and very little talk about sex.

Our sex ed books were actually very thorough on the topic of STDs/STIs. I learned a lot about them in that class. On the other hand, though, it didn't teach us about hormones or emotions involved with sex. I learned most of that by talking to my friends, and several teen magazines.

And of course, scarleteen is a big help!

"Only in dreams
We see what it means
Reach out our hands
Hold on to hers
But when we wake
It's all been erased
And so it seems
Only in dreams..."

"Wow, someone slept in sex ed!"

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When I was in third grade, my older brother was in fifth and so my parents got him a book called It's Perfectly Normal. I had a friend sleeping over that weekend, and we "booknapped" it, and read it cover to cover. I learned a little bit about the basics of puberty and sex (up until then, I had thought it was kissing naked), but there was not a lot of STDs, except a little at the end, and I don't recall there being any discussion at all of homosexuality, bisexuality, transexuality, or really any sort of alternative lifestyle.

When I reached fourth grade, the school did a 40-minute so-called sex-ed class, in which they basically passed around a model of the internal sexual organs of a female only, told us we needed to use deoderant and wash our hair, and showed us a few pads and tampons. That is the extent of my school's sexual education, excepting a 30-minute optional contraceptive class in 8th grade and a week-long abstinence course which tells us sex is a no-no, your body is bad-bad-bad, you can't fall in love until you're older, and all these things. The school board, it goes without saying, is run by a bunch of old guys who have no desire to think about the sexuality of the district's teenage population.

Anyway, my parents really didn't have much to do with my sexual education. My mother tried to bring up conversations occasionally, but she would get nervous, and it was always awkward. Besides, by the time she began these "talks," I was already pretty well-read on everything she was willing to talk about. I got no STDs, no pregnancy options, just period, cramps, and "Sex is a beautiful thing, honey, and that's why it should wait until you're married."

Actually, almost everything I know about STDs, abortion, and "alternative lifestyles," I've learned at Scarleteen. You guys are awesome!


Nobody knows what you know, nobody's seen what you've seen, nobody's lived what you've why let them judge you?
~Personal Quote~

You know, Hobbes, sometimes I think the surest sign of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.

Posts: 176 | From: Middle of Nowhere, PA | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Miz Scarlet: True, it can be very informative to take quotes and replace one group for another. People seem to think it's okay to make gross generalizations about certain groups, but not others.

Anyway, my book was "What's Happening to my Body" by Linda Madaras. Yeah, the title is cheesy, but I thought it was pretty good. The seventies-ish picture on the front appealed to me, so I'd probably like "the Facts of Love" too. It was quite informative, and taught me what masturbation and orgasm were (oh, I've been doing that all along?). It was pretty good on STDs, but I would have liked more than that half page blurb about homosexuality. I must have read that half page 100 times...

mophead: parabola of penes, lol!

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It was quite informative, and taught me what masturbation and orgasm were (oh, I've been doing that all along?).

Amen!! That's so true, it took me years to realize I was masturbating and orgasmic, when some 40 something women aren't.

My menstrual diary
Updated as often as my uterus

If I run by the window real fast no-one will notice I'm naked.

Posts: 752 | From: Canada | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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