Series disclaimer: HA’s “Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed)” series contains frank, honest, and uncensored conversations about sexuality and sex education. It is intended for mature audiences.
Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Ephraim” is a pseudonym.
I first discovered porn in the library.
By “porn,” though I don’t mean porn porn. I mean porn like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart meant porn: “you know it when you see it.”
Well, I saw it, and I knew it.
How did I know it? Well, I was 15 and got a boner in the library.
That’s how I knew it.
“How on earth did a 15-year-old kid find porn in a public library in the early 90’s?” you might ask. Well, see, it wasn’t really porn that gave me a boner. Education gave me a boner.
I got a boner from a book about sex education.
That’s the funny part of the story. Now let’s go back to the beginning.
I was taught nothing about sex or human anatomy up until that fateful day. My parents were fundamentalist Christians, they homeschooled me to shield me from the corrupting influences of the world (read: sex education in public schools), and they emphasized modesty and purity on a regular basis. Everyone I interacted with, from homeschool park days to homeschool co-op meetings to homeschool Shakespeare productions, was similarly into modesty and purity. Josh Harris was our patron saint… and probably our holy pin-up boy, since I got the feeling most of the girls I knew thought he was hot but never dared to say so.
Consequently, everything about sex and sexuality and hormones and puberty was shrouded in a veil of mystery and taboo. Like, why was I growing hair in odd places? Why did the girls always speak in hushed tones once a month? No one would talk about these things. They were off-limits. They were dirty.
My family often went to the library to find free literature to read for homeschooling. We’d get history books, historical fiction, etc. Anything our mom approved of. Sometimes I’d be allowed to check out some Hardy Boys books or a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.
During one visit at the library, however, I stumbled across the Sex Ed for Children section.
I don’t remember the title of the book. But the book was about sex. And bodies. And…
…and omg it had pictures.
Cartoonish pictures, of course. But oh wow there were pictures of naked bodies. Like there was a penis. And a vagina. And a diagram explaining menstruation. And something about an “egg.”
I… I felt like I had stumbled across the dirtiest thing I had ever read (apart from certain Bible verses, of course, because we all know there are some really X-rated Bible verses out there. Emissions like donkeys, anyone?).
Anyways. I found this book. And everything I ever wanted to know as a kid about sex and bodies was there. Out in the open.
And I got hard.
It’s kinda embarrassing to think about to this day. (Ok, it’s really embarrassing.) It’s weird and uncomfortable. But I wanted to tell it today because I’ve thought long and hard (no pun intended) about what happened and something struck me the other day:
The reason why something so non-sexual like education about the human body and natural changes it undergoes was interpreted as sexual by me was because that very education was treated as taboo.
My family and homeschooling community literally turned education into something dirty. Into a fetish. They unintentionally fetishized knowledge.
So when I had to (secretly, mind you, so I wouldn’t get caught) educate myself, I felt like it was something bad, something naughty. Seriously, how messed up is that? I was raised in such a way that educating myself about my body felt naughty.
Sometimes I think about that fact and it puts me in a rage. Other times it just makes me laugh. Really, most of the times it makes me laugh.
I was homeschooled and homeschooling made education sexy. But not in a good way. In a too sexy way.
Here’s to growing up?