Friday, February 4, 2011


How I Learned What Sex Was

Thyra Heder

I remember going to my friend Alexis's house—I must have been seven—and she demonstrated how to give a blow job on a teddy bear. I had no idea what the hell she was talking about or doing. She also told me that every time someone said "do it" they were, in fact, talking about sex, so we thought it was hilarious to giggle every time our teacher said "it." —Doree Shafrir

When I was seven, after I'd just read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, I decided I wanted a bra even though I didn't need one, and wouldn't for another, say, 12 years. I shyly asked my mom if I could get one, or a training bra, and she politely declined, then sat me down at the kitchen table to explain with illustrations what boobs were and how I didn't yet qualify for something to hold them. She made a drawing that showed what boobs looked like when you got pregnant. ("The ducts become enlarged.") What did it mean to get pregnant? Heck if I knew.

About a year later, my troublemaker British friend C.E., who got kicked out of every school she ever went to, informed me that women "have a hole in them" that men "stick their fingers in." I didn't ask her to elaborate (or fact-check).

Three years later, I was over at my friend Dana's house for a sleepover. She had a million cable channels. We camped in front of the TV and there, on some porn channel, around one in the morning, I learned exactly what sex was, once and for all. It was very unexpected, and I was horrified, I think by the repetitiveness and pleasure-seeking of it all, because pleasure to me at that point was getting in fights with boyfriends I'd gone out with for two or three weeks and barely, if ever, kissed. —Liz Colville

In sex ed, as I'm sure you know, there is always an anonymous question time, where students get the chance to write the questions they are too embarrassed to ask out loud—they write them on bits of paper and the instructor reads them aloud and answers them. I forget what the question was that precipitated this whole thing, but someone anonymously asked about ejaculation—how it worked, or how long it took, or something like that.

The teacher told us all about about ejaculation, and then I raised my hand. I had a question, but it wasn't anything so embarrassing that I couldn't just ask it aloud—on the contrary, it showed what a great knowledge of sex I had, and surely the instructor and everyone in the class would be glad I had brought this up. "But, what about the woman's ejaculation? You didn't talk about when the woman ejaculates into the man's penis!!" The instructor straight up laughed at me; other kids straight up laughed; I was just straight up laughed at. And that is how I learned that there isn't a simultaneous exchange of ejaculate during sex. —Lucy L.

I may be one of the only people in history who actually learned about sex from sex ed. Coming from a single-parent household, I had no opportunities to walk in on parental sex. I had a fairly uncommunicative mother who pretty much ignored—ignores! she does it to this day—things that are unpleasant to her. It was also in sex ed that I learned about periods, which was right around the time I got mine: terribly early. It was traumatizing, actually. Looking back, it's adorable how teeny those little pantyliners were. Bringing them to school was like show and tell. All the other girls asked if they could have one, and I imagined them all taking them home and carefully unfolding the little pink wrappers to inspect them, figure out how they work, so that they'd know how to use them when it was their time.

My best friend, however, had an older sister who taught her EVERYTHING. She became my sexual liberator. She got me my first vibrator, as well as my first set of matching underwear, accompanied by the sage advice: "Calvin Klein underwear makes you feel so sexy!"

I was a late bloomer. I had to pretend to have crushes on guys when girls would corner me during recess to ask which boy I liked, which would then lead them to grabbing me, running me over to, and throwing me into said guy. It probably would have been mortifying had I actually had a crush on any of the boys, but I never did. I didn't have a single boyfriend in high school and didn't get my first kiss until I was a junior in high school (and had to kiss someone in a play, so it was a fake stage kiss at that). Wow, I sound weird and broken, but I'm not. I SWEAR. —Jasmine Moy

My mom was into being eloquent and subtle—which, now that I'm older, I can see where she was going, but at the time it was like, what? So yeah, she was big on things like "They lay like spoons" (WTF?) and when she explained that the penis goes inside the vagina, I was like (inwardly) how does a penis even get inside a vagina? Because she hadn't explained erections, so I figured he put his penis in, and they slept head to toe, all night long, "having sex," asleep. Does that make sense? Basically, imagine your two hands are scissoring. But so gross. —Edith Zimmerman

For years I understood sex to involve a vague rubbing together of bodies, which meant I was completely unequipped when I happened across a hardcore male porn magazine when I was nine. My parents and I were on a trip to Italy and while we were walking through this square I lagged behind and noticed a magazine on the ground, which I picked up and leafed through, quickly determining it demanded further study. So I put it in my backpack.

Back at the hotel I sequestered myself in the bedroom and gave the magazine a closer look. It was interesting, but it was also perplexing—without any real understanding of sex, hardcore homosexual sex was a little hard to grasp. It felt important that I try, though, so I took the advice my parents were always giving me and overlooked some of the more complex activities (bondage, orgies, role-playing, etc.) and tried to break down the things I could at least recognize into more manageable pieces. Which in this case took the form of my getting a pair of scissors and cutting out all the penises in the magazine (which were, as you might imagine, numerous). Then I got some glue and paper and made a beautiful collage in which I ordered all the penises across the page by size, smallest to largest.

Luckily I did mange to hide this collage away somewhere my parents wouldn’t find it — in the trash — which now seems a shame. But while the experience left me somewhat versed in homosexual pornography, I remained confused about how heterosexual sex worked until a few years later, when an older and racier friend explained the basic mechanics. The problem was she finished by adding, “And when that happens, your cherry will burst!” and it wasn't for a while after that before I understood that I didn’t need to take that literally. —Molly Langmuir

One huge sex education memory for me was being in sixth grade and on a trip to the Cleveland Zoo's Rainforest exhibit. My friends and I were sitting at a table outside waiting for lunch and for the monkey stench to leave our clothes. My friend Courtney told us how she had read in her brother's Rolling Stone that Marilyn Manson had gotten a rib removed so he could give himself a blow job. I had never even heard of a blow job before that moment, and so my first image of it was Marilyn Manson bent over at the waist, forever. I literally could not go to sleep that night because I kept mulling it over. I... never really got over it. —Halle Kiefer

69 Comments / Post A Comment


Molly Langmuir. Your mind is amazing.


I would like to second that.




So! Much! Oh my God, PENIS COLLAGE!!




Is there a reason there is no recreation of the penis collage attached to this?


slightly OT, but my mom used to work as a newspaper reporter & she had a relationship with her mostly male coworkers that would not be possible in today's sexual-harassment-aware society.

when I was 11, she thought it would be fun to go through all the cards she received congratulating her on my birth. one of the first ones in the box contained a porno collage not unlike the one described in this post, with a coworker's name signed underneath each specimen.

I don't remember what eventually became of this card, but knowing my mom (& how mortified she was) I'm guessing it was thrown away immediately after its discovery.


My best childhood friend has a much more interesting story to tell, I'm sure, as I learned all about it because I went with her and her mom on a trip back to the library to return a HIGHLY scientific book on sex. It had enlarged microscope slides of eggs and sperm and talked about everything in very technical detail, which we still managed to giggle about in the back of the station wagon.

Anyway, despite all of this super scientific info we both maintained for most of our childhoods that all sex was, essentially, tantric sex that lasted 8 hours at a minimum, sex could be done butt to butt (????,) and all you really had to do was align your parts (for 8 hours, butts optional,) and the rest would take care of itself. Oh also once I got called out for saying that Batman and Poison Ivy "had sex with their clothes on," when that is really just "making out." The shame!


I thought that girls peed out of their butt until age 10.

gabba gabba hey

Ditto, although maybe only til 8ish.


Since my mother has a PhD in child psychology, I learned about sex age 5, with a gift of "Where Do Babies Come From?" and a conversation with many big words and opportunities to talk about feelings. Also this sentence. Verbatim. "Sexual intercourse between two LOVING and MARRIED people is a wonderful and pleasurable experience." Thirty years later the word 'pleasurable' still makes me vomit a little in my mouth.

Jenny Cox

My mom explained to me that having sex makes babies, and during that time a man's sperm meets a woman's egg.

For years I thought, in order for a couple to have sex, the woman had to spread her legs as far as she could at the head of the bed while the man shot ejaculate out of his penis, aiming for her vagina.

Later on, my sister made a joke about sex. I giggled, fully in the know about the whole squirtgun carnival game. But I guess my sister assumed that mom had given me that same sex-ed lesson she had given her, and added: "You know sex. A penis goes in a vagina."


are you there vajayjay? it's me, your owner. (thanks, liz!)


I was under the impression that sex was sleeping naked in the same bed until sixth grade Catholic school "sex ed." We were to quietly read the sex chapter in our Family Life books to ourselves, and I just read the sentence about p in v over and over thinking "that cannot be right."

I also was luckily enough to get my period way ahead of schedule, at age 10. I was too embarrassed to tell my mom so I just kept throwing away my bloody underwear. Genius! She never found out! (She figured it out within the week).


I also got mine early, but not as early as I wanted it! Before it came, I just knew that there was blood involved, but not how much. So when I accidentally cut my finger, I smeared a tiny drop of blood on my underwear and ran to show them off to my mother.


I think I actually learned about sex from sex ed as well. When they told us the penis goes inside of the vagina, I thought it meant it sort of just slid between the labia for a little while. I watched a ton of Skinemax as a kid and y'know, that's pretty much all they did.

Much later, in a high school health class, the teacher (the closeted gay football coach) printed various sexual acts on 8.5x11 paper and taped them up on the board. He then told us we'd be ranking them from "least bad" to "most bad". The class settled on masturbation at one end of the spectrum and "anal-oral stimuation" at the other. Aww, public school in the Midwest.


I wonder what his rankings would be now?


In seventh grade I stupidly - STUPIDLY - told a female friend that giving a handjob was like "shaking your best friend's hand." This made its way around my middle school, and I was dealt endless hours of ridicule by girls and boys alike.

I had never given a handjob.


I thought diamonds were!


My parents had The Joy of Sex, More Joy of Sex, Xaviera Hollander's Guide to Sex, and Sexual Behavior of the Human Female on the bookshelf in their bedroom. I think I snuck them into my bedroom one night in 3rd or 4th grade, and that was that. I knew WAY TOO MUCH about sex for a 9 year old.


I can't remember how I knew about sex but I do remember being totally shocked at about age 6 when I was told that that's how babies are made.


For a good while I thought sex was just topless hugging under a comforter, because my grandmother introduced me to daily viewing of One Life To Live.
Then my mom got knocked up. I was furious and demanded to know how and why, and the rest is history.


My mom opened the illustrated encyclopedia to the 'Reproduction' page, left it on the sofa, said "Why don't you read this?" reallllly casually, and realllly casually hid in another part of the house for a few hours.


This is how I would handle it, were I to have to explain sex to a child. Exactly like this.


Most of my misconceptions (hee) have been represented way better than I could tell them, except for one. Since sex scenes in movies always cut to people sleeping and/or waking up, I believed -- until at least 15 -- that after having orgasms people immediately fell asleep like they'd been poleaxed. "YES!zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ..."


Ha ha, I also had "Where Did I Come From?" and "jumping rope and getting tickled at the same time" was one of those phrases that I worked over in my head for years wondering what it could possibly mean in practice. Also great but incomprehensible until you experienced it was their description (albeit without using the word) of what an orgasm was like: "You know how when you have to sneeze for a really long time and you finally do, it feels really good? It's kind of like that."


Even when I was very young, my mom was totally straightforward and answered all questions with scientific precision. Which, of course, didn't help one bit.

I understood the basic mechanics (dag, how many holes do girls *have*?) but somehow had a very detailed idea that when a loving couple wanted to have a baby, they went to a special clinic. There they were ushered into a large, unfurnished room that was painted lime green and had a low drop ceiling and wall-to-wall carpeting. At which point they "did it," standing up, with the guy behind.

Not sure where I got this or when I was disabused of it. I hope to hell I never encounter a room like that though.


I can't remember not knowing what went where, and why. My dad was a wonderful but emotionally tortured gay man who kept a few hundred videocassettes (remember those??) in his living room shelves - some classic films, some gay porn. My brother and I, age 5 or so, used to watch things like "Run Little Sailor Run" and "The Young and the Hung" and giggle. It was YEARS before I learned that "12 Angry Men" was not a gay porn movie.
Then my folks split up, so we went to live on a Marxist commune in Oregon, like many people were doing around that time... there was a 'Free Love' doctrine there, and everyone slept with everyone else. It was considered impolite to say No. Unfortunately, this extended to children, so I started having sexual experiences way, way too young. I was about 9 when a man first tried to have intercourse with me, and by then, I'd given blow jobs (to boys my age). The kids aped the adult behavior, so we used to play 'Orgy' and things like that. The man who tried to penetrate me when I was 9 was, no doubt, a messed-up person with bad intentions, but at the time, it was considered admirably free behavior on his part... teaching the kids how to get pleasure from their bodies, blah blah. Anyway, it didn't work, logistically; I spent the next few years being terrified of eventually having sex because I thought it would always hurt like that.
Then we moved, to a tiny place in the Northern California coastal area... hippies and rednecks. I was the only girl in a group of 15 or so kids, and there was nothing to do except run around in the woods barefoot, build forts (which was fun), and play around. I was a sort of guinea pig, I think, for the boys to practice things on that they had heard about or seen, in many cases, since a lot of these boys were hippie kids too. I acquiesced to it all, because I didn't know I COULD say know, much less have the ability to. So I guess I had sex for the first time at age 12 - but it consisted of a bunch of boys taking turns on top of me, some rubbing in between my thighs, a couple of the older ones managing penetration. None of it impressed me much. I remember thinking that penises were disturbingly similar to Oscar Meyer hot dogs - sort of stiff/rubbery and weirdly smooth.
These days, when someone asks me how old I was when I first had sex, I say 16, because that's how old I was when I first initiated sex with a guy I had a crush on, and was the leader/instigator. It was fun. I climbed on and had sex with him, vs. the other way around, and I remember being astonished and amazed... it was great! So that's what the fuss was about! And he was so nice about it, too - we never did it again, but the next day he brought me flowers and kissed my hand, and never, ever slagged my name to his friends. Which was nice, because years of promiscuity followed that event, and a lot of the guys I slept with were absolute jerks about it afterward. Calling me a slut, talking about me behind my back, snickering when I walked by... I could never understand that. Hadn't they done it, too? Why did that make ME a slut, and them not?
Now I'm 40 and happy, and have a wonderful husband that I can't keep my hands off of, and the other way around. He had the same kind of childhood I did, and both of us had years of not enjoying sex much, until we found each other - and it's the hottest, best sex of my life. I'm really lucky to end up with someone like him, and vice versa, after all that weirdness!


Yeah, yeah, whatever...in other words, your typical upbringing and sexual awakening. Yawn.


Pretty much. Seems that way to me anyways. All the kids I was around had the same experiences, so it's always seemed blandly normal to me, which is why other people's stories who didn't grow up this way are so damn fascinating to me. My best friend's Baptist-restrictive upbringing is the most lurid, interesting stuff I've ever heard… dunno, takes all kinds, don't you think? And hey, don't knock sexual awakening (except for the cheesy wording, it's pretty heady shit!).


This is a familiar story from that time. I know of similar experiences, with the addition of Hell's Angels.


Hell's Angels?? Yikes.

Joey Camire

The sixth graders on the bus sang "Let's Talk About Sex" by Salt N' Peppa on the bus and taught all the first and second graders what it meant. I didn't understand how I was going to stick my soft penis into a girls pee hole to make babies, but I knew my dad must have done it, so I resigned myself to it. To be a man, it seemed, entailed hurting your penis, and damn it I would be a man!


Ha ha, yes! Salt N' Peppa's "Let's Talk About Sex"! I have a distinct memory of being in a car with my mother, windows rolled down, radio blasting and me: age five singing my heart out to that song.

So I guess I learned about sex from 90s hip hop, go figure.


For my seventh Christmas Santa gave me a book called something like "Where do babies come from?". I thought this was the best and most educational gift ever. I was fascinated! When family friends came over for Christmas dinner I'd take any of them aside who didn't have kids and be like, Hey guys what's up have you heard about sex? And they were trying to be nice so they kind of played along and I sat them all down and was like "ok well, PAGE ONE – THE PENIS" and went through the whole book and they did the whole nodding "oh, I must try that sometime" thing.
Then I took the book with me to school and on the bus to swimming lessons I clambered up onto the front seat and was like "PAGE ONE – THE PENIS". I got to about "PAGE SIX – THE SPERM MEETS THE EGG" before the book got confiscated. The teacher sat me down later and told me I couldn't bring the book into school anymore, and then gave me a new pencil case and packet of sweets because I was so upset.

Lila Fowler

Hahaha. This is the best one.


I read "Where Do Babies Come From?" to my then-four-year-old daughter several years ago, because she'd asked The Big Question and I kind of panicked.

Big mistake. My (highly verbal) daughter memorized the book, and then would recite various parts at inopportune times. When she shouted "Mama, Daddy's penis gets stiff and hard!" in the dairy aisle at the grocery store, I wanted to drop through the floor.


apparently, i was born having sex because i can't remember not knowing how to do it??? my mother used to tell me to treat your vagina like it's gold....i wish she would have used the word "diamonds." i'd be a completely different person, surely.


That's great... treat your vagina like it's gold OR diamonds, either one is a good idea.


I would 100% definitely incur unspeakable injuries if I thought I had a diamond pussy


Where does vajazzling stand in this concept?


On a field trip to Shedd Aquarium in sixth grade, a classmate divulged to me that she had a boyfriend who was 15 years old (which would make him a freshman or sophomore in high school...dating an 11-year-old). She informed me that she regularly gave him blowjobs. I acted properly impressed then asked my bus seatmate what a blowjob was, and she whispered, "It's when you blow all over a guy's naked body." That is what I thought a blowjob was until my freshman year of high school, when a rumor sparked that I had been giving a castmate of mine in "Bye Bye Birdie" blowjobs post-rehearsal. I was neither performing actual BJs nor blowing air through my mouth onto his body.

Edith Zimmerman

i feel like that's an OJ/Princess Di moment. "Where were you when you found out marilyn manson got a rib removed so he could suck his own dick"

Eureka Rochelle

High school art class. We discussed this after trying to figure out the words to "Lithium" and writing our best guesses out on notebook paper.


I have to thank my parents' hippie-ish friends and their stash of seventies-era sex manuals like those listed above, Xavier Hollander, Joy of Sex, The Sensuous Woman. If it weren't for them and their collection of books about hirsute men and women doin' it, I might be trying to give blow jobs like poor SarahB above.
ps my confusing term was "petting" as mentioned numerously in various ann landers "for teen" books. boys, they just want to pet! watch out!


I have a 16mm projector and a couple of big boxes of old reel-to-reel movies from the 30's to the 70's that I picked up cheap at a yard sale... one of them is a movie from 1961 called "Will Bobby Still Respect Me?" - in which tow-headed Bobby asks shy freckly Alice to the "Weiner Roast" (!!) and then they go "Petting" on a plaid blanket that has to be seen to be believed... Answer: Bobby does NOT respect Alice, because Alice gave it up. Stern music followed, fade to black.


I am assuming everyone's parents had the awesome 70s "Joy of Sex" wherein acts are rendered in watercolor and pencil and everyone has lots and lots of hair? Okay, good. Because I also concluded at a young age that sex involved a leather vest, lace-up boots and peasant blouses.


I thought "blowjob" meant "really good sex," as in "she blew his mind by doing a great job of the sex." According to some men I know, this isn't far from the truth.


I thought sex was naked aggressive kissing for a REALLY REALLY long time (and that the lady's hair had to be down. If it was in a ponytail or bun... she was not going to get her baby!) I also thought that babies came out of either the woman's belly button and/or butt (BOTH AT THE SAME TIME IF IT WAS TWINS).

Also, that women got pregnant in their stomachs first, but then had a bunch of other fetuses all up in the rest of their body and that's why they gained a lot of weight? I don't know, I was a weird kid.

Lila Fowler

I mostly learned about sex from reading random feminist books left around my house. For the record, The Second Sex is far more dirty than anyone ever gives it credit for. See also: Promiscuities by Naomi Wolf.

This was mostly fine and dandy, until I accidentally stumbled upon a bunch of books by Brett Easton Ellis. Which promptly turned any nice, fun ideas I had about sex into completely terrifying ones.


substitute the best friend's older sister for "best friend of college roommate" (minus the vibrator) and make that first kiss during senior year, and we're almost the same person, ms. moy.

i did have crushes on boys in grade school. we didn't do the throwing the people together thing, though. the girls at my school were wanton little things and actually chased the boys around the playground, usually resulting in a traumatized boy with a torn shirt slinking off while the girls cackled like triumphant hens. being a pudgy and retiring sort, i'd never join in. i got to be the one escorting the poor boy away (usually the boy i had a secret crush on).

so yeah, i never had any misinformed ideas about the origins of babies, though i do like to ask where babies come from at inappropriate times/places.

instructor: "okay, so that's how the development of infrastructure affected the outcome of the civil war. any questions?"

me: "where do babies come from?"

instructor: "well, you see...huzzawhaaa?"

i did have issues with french kissing, however. i was under the impression that it was just people mashing their lips together and tilting their heads from side to side, thanks to copious hours of soap opera viewing. i was pretty horrified when i learned years later that tongues were involved. actually, i'm still pretty horrified by it, and i'm freshlyishly married.

Caitlin Podiak

I learned about sex from an anthology of Native American folk tales, many of which were quite obscene. (That Coyote!)


When I did NOT learn what an orgasm was was in 8th grade when, as a joke, my friend Amanda put "What is an orgasm?" into the anonymous question box (by that time, we all had a general idea of what an orgasm was, if we were a little unclear on the details). My health teacher then explained that it's what happens at the height of sex, and only men can have them.

Epilogue: I went home and told my mother what had transpired, to which she replied, "His wife must be very unhappy." I didn't get the joke until at least 3 years later.

Eureka Rochelle

When I was eight, there was a well-publicized rape in my area. My family always watched the local news during dinner, so when the newscaster kept talking, every night for a week or so, about this rape thing, I finally asked my parents what rape meant. Their eyes got very big, and they looked at each other and told me they'd tell me later. That night, after my mom picked me up from dance class, she told me all about rape and sex and gross things like penises actually going inside vaginas. Ewwwwww!!! I was suitably grossed out, but the biggest lesson I learned was to always use the dictionary when I wanted to know the meaning of a word I heard on the news.


Somehow, even though I devoured the "What's Happening to my Body Book for Girls" (the only sex ed resource available to my 10 year old self) I didn't figure out penises could bend. So for an embarassingly long time I thought a woman had to stand on her head, vag up and legs spread, while a man somehow Houndini'd himself perpendicularly above her.

This of course did not lend itself to thrusting. Just motionless acrobatics. Woman on head, man hovering above her by SHEER FORCE OF WILL. Magical.


i can't remember when i found out about sex, but in line with comments about intelligible friends/siblings I have this offering. The best and probably only advice my older sister ever gave me was out of the blue when I was about 15 and not sexually experienced. She told me that your vagina can fart during sex, that this is normal, and is actually really really funny, so the appropriate response is to laugh. Best heads up EVER! Turned the first time that happened from a potentially mortifying time to a hysterical, strengthen-the-bond by laughing during sex moment. brilliant


I was talking to a friend about my American Girl doll in 4th-ish grade and they had different outfits, one of which was called "The Birthday Suit". My friend then interjected that if a guy wants to see you in your birthday suit, he's just trying to BLEEP YOU. She actually said the word "bleep". And I'm like "they don't make the American Girl outfits in my size anyway". She shook her head at me and proceeded to explain in what in retrospect seems like shockingly accurate detail what she meant.


oh, also I heard that it was Prince that got a rib removed so he could give himself head....I guess Marilyn Manson heard about it and thought it sounded like a good idea?


when I was 5 or 6, I heard my 8 year old sister and her friend discussing sex...which they had no idea about either, because i distinctly remember them talking about a girl who was doing it during class. anyway, when i asked what sex was, my sister responded "it's too cool for you to know about." well, that really did it. if sex was cool, then i was down for sex, whatever it was.

my mom picked me up from my friend jon's house a few weeks later. when she asked me what jon and i had done that day, i grinned like a cool kid and said, "we had sex!" she immediately slammed on the brakes and made me repeat myself. this time i was less sure of myself. she asked me if i even knew what sex was. i said no. so she told me. and the next 5 years were spent playing imaginary sex with friends in the corn field behind my house. ah, good times.

Vera Knoop

When I was 5, a classmate told me that "sexy" meant "cute." Somehow, this didn't lead to me making some sort of disastrous pronouncement about puppies or something, for which I'm grateful.
I asked my mother what sex was when I was around 6, and she said that it was a "special kind of hug that adults do." Then I found a copy of "What's Happening To My Body?" in the school library and learned what was what.


My earliest memory of wondering about sex was being VERY confused about how the dad's "seed" could get into the mom's lady parts through their underwear. This was rectified when I got a children's encyclopedia — I couldn't possibly have been older than 8 — and it actually had an entry for sex. With a diagram!

The diagram was a box-shaped cross section detailing the act of penetration with as little anatomical detail as possible. One half of the diagram was the man, the other half was the woman. They were divided by a line. The line went straight up and down except in the middle, where it swooped off in an upward-angled bend helpfully labeled "penis."

I remember distinctly that the most shocking thing about this, to me, was that "penis" was spelled with an I rather than a U. My parents did not agree.


I'm pretty sure you and I had the same encyclopedia, and discovered it right around the same age. I was incredulous (more about the act itself than any spelling), showed it to my mom, she told me it was true, I told her it was "disgusting" and that I would NEVER do it, and she said "That sounds great to me," followed by a giggle. I later got into pseudo-trouble for showing a friend when I brought in the encyclopedia for show & tell, but considering it was Catholic school, the teacher was pretty chill about it.


when i was in 8th grade me and all my little sisters were kicked out of a christian school for telling all the girls what "eating out" meant. LMAO. me and my older friends were in my room talking about dirty sex things, they were not in the Christian school....and my 3 little sisters were listening through the wall....they went to school on Monday and told ALL the kids in our class what "eating out" meant...we were all called into the office....4 of us...and told we were not allowed to come back. :( it really sucked. and kinda fucked me up! i mean sex is sex...why are we freaking out about it??


I asked way too many questions, so my parents just gave me a bodice-ripping, swashbuckling romance novel to read. I was ten. I was scandalized at the time, but now, I secretly LOVE reading romance novels. It's the best part of having a Kindle -- no one knows my dirty little secret.


Okay, some percentage of the commenters on this thread have got to be lying, because I cannot believe I am one of only two people on this forum who learned about the mechanics of sex from romance novels. "Skye O'Malley" was an eye-opening read for fourteen-year-old me. Unfortunately it also exposed me to some REALLY BAD ideas about how relationships work (droit de seigneur -- not actually that romantic). But on the third hand: Lady pirate queens. So, a net positive.


Due to being a very inquisitive child I learnt it through a combination of bodice rippers romance novels stolen from my nan, Incredibly strange porn sites that I still have no idea how I found and Medical Books. And like Mandax I have unrealistic ideals about relationships now. And agreed on the whole "Kindles are awesome because no one can tell what you're reading".


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