The school system failed us.

Anonymous, Junior

Dec 18, 2021

We never received any advice or tips on consent and how to say no.

Dear Mom,

Did you know that the fastest growing cosmetic procedure right now is labia surgery? Isn’t that insane? I learned that this semester in my communications class. Yes-- you read that right, my communications class. While I didn’t expect this chapter to give me more information I didn’t already know, I was shocked. It has been an eye opening and educational experience for me, one that most people don’t get to have. We learned about the long-term effects of pornography and how it affects our relationships, rules on consent, and sexual violence induced by pornography. I’m writing you this letter so that you can hopefully teach my younger sister some of the rules on consent. Rules that had I known before- things would have been different for me. Rules that I think she needs to know before going off to college herself. For instance, did you know you aren’t able to give consent if you have been drinking? This would have been a game changer for me and kept me out of numerous uncomfortable situations. Situations where I felt like I needed to say ‘yes’ just because I thought I was doing what was expected of me. Situations that a sixteen-year-old girl shouldn’t have been in in the first place.

For extra credit in the class, we watched a TedTalk about young women and sexual pleasure. They stated that most young women feel entitled to have sex, but not necessarily entitled to have pleasure or orgasm. While topics like this can be seen as ‘taboo’, I believe that they are one hundred percent necessary to have- especially when you have two teenage daughters. I believe this bias came around the time that the school separated the boys and girls to watch videos on puberty. The boys watched videos on erection and pleasure, while girls watched videos about their periods and how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. That was the last time before this communications class where we were able to talk openly about sex and our bodies changing. We never received any advice or tips on consent and how to say no. This is where the school system failed us.

While you and I can talk more openly about sex and relationships now, we never went covered consent when I was younger. I think this is the case for most parents as well. I know you probably didn’t cover this because you didn’t want me to think you were “lecturing me” on something that all women should know. But, had I known all of this earlier- I believe I would have had a much different sexual experience.