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.
Hello, my name is Anna.
Like many who write stories for Homeschoolers Anonymous I grew up in a legalistic, controlling, and abusive homeschooling Christian household. When I saw that Homeschoolers Anonymous would be posting a series on sex education I knew I had to write something. My story may be appalling to some, but to others I know it will sound all too familiar. I hope that my story will give you insight and encouragement, and I thank you for taking the time to read it.
My sexual education was completely nonexistent.
I remember that there was a book on one of the living-room bookshelves entitled “Preparing For Adolescence.” I don’t know if the book was intended to prepare parents or children, but neither my parents nor I ever read that book. At 11 and 12 years of age I had long since learned to be ashamed and scared of my body; the lectures on modesty and roles of women had made sure of that.
When my body started changing I didn’t know what was going on, but I stayed silent. My parents were not people I could go to with my fears and questions. My period started without me ever having heard the word before. I had no clue what was happening, and it was probably the most horrifying experience of my life. Again, freaked out as I was, I didn’t tell a soul. My mom noticed the blood when doing laundry weeks later, and she had the only “talk” she ever had with me. Her little discourse included only what do about the “problem” and nothing else.
I got the message: another female attribute to be hidden and feared.
Because my mom seemed oblivious to my needs, my older sister gave me her old bra and bought me my first razor and deodorant, and even these items I felt the need to hide. I was always too scared and shy to ask my mom to buy me anything of an intimate nature. I would use the same razor and wear the same bra for years at a time. My fears were somewhat justified; I remember the time that my mom found a receipt for tampons in my purse and asked me severely if I had bought some. I panicked, lied, and said that I had accidentally picked up someone else’s receipt.
Mom let me know that tampons were strictly off limits.
Throughout my teenage years I gained knowledge about sex years by various covert means. I looked up words in dictionaries and read the books about pregnancy that I found on our bookshelves. I found some answers on the internet when I was able to use it without my mom monitoring me, but I always felt like I was doing something wrong. It wasn’t until I was 18 years old that I went on a research binge and learned the complete picture, including things I should have known much earlier, like the names for my own anatomy.
Though my parents never talked about sex directly, I picked up on their attitudes and beliefs, and sexual thoughts and questions were always accompanied by fear and shame. We were told to save our first our first kiss for our wedding day, that women should never make men “stumble” (I never even knew what that meant, hell, I still don’t know what it means), that dating was giving your heart away to strangers, that to Your Future Husband the most valuable thing about you was your virginity and your pure heart. A fear that consumed my life for years was how I would explain to My Future Husband that I masturbated (at the time I didn’t know the word). I knew he wouldn’t want me, and that it would always be my biggest secret.
I felt I wasn’t a virgin, I was sullied.
I was strange, surely no one else did this. Above all, I was letting God down. I began to lose my faith, because I knew I couldn’t think these thoughts and feel these feelings and still be a Christian. Almost the entirety of my teenage years was spent severely depressed and suicidal, and the overwhelming shame attached to my sexuality certainly contributed.
My mom once told me that when a woman looks at a person, she first looks at their face, but when a man looks at a person, he first looks at their crotch.
Hence, the need for women to wear skirts, (can’t let those men “stumble”). This lovely piece of wisdom made me feel even dirtier, because I began to realize how much I was noticing other people’s bodies. When I saw a person, my eyes would travel up and down their body and linger on their butt and (if a girl) her boobs.
I was clearly some sort of freak, only men were supposed to be this way.
Good grief, was I “stumbling?” I hated the girls I saw walking down the sidewalk in tight jeans. How could they flaunt themselves this way? And how could I help but stare? Deep down though, I envied them. When I was around 15 or 16 I was noticing women’s bodies more and more, and women began to enter my fantasies. In a year or two I was thinking about women in a sexual context just as much as I was thinking about men.
I now had another secret to keep, and this one was absolutely damning.
I heard the sermons and speeches; I read the blogs and articles; I listened to the conversations happening around me. Christians hated gay people. God hated gay people. I knew I could never admit my attraction to women and still be accepted by literally anyone I knew. It hurt me every time someone would talk about gay people as if they were evil beings bent on destroying everything good in America. They were a problem that needed to be fixed, and they were certainly not welcome in a church. I felt better because I knew I wasn’t completely gay; I was still attracted to boys. But then what was I? Where did I fit? Would I always be an outcast?
Today as I have left homeschooling physically as well as mentally, I finally have the freedom to discover and embrace the person that I am.
For the first time I am perfectly happy and confident in my sexuality. I am attracted to the entire range of sexes and gender expressions; masculine men and feminine men, femme women and butch women, androgynous and genderqueer men and women, and everything in between. Would I take a magic pill that could make me be attracted to only masculine men, one color in a whole rainbow? Fuck no! I love my orientation.
I don’t know if I believe in God, but if there is a God who made me, he made me the way I am and he doesn’t have a problem with it.
I have yet to tell my parents or anyone in my old homeschool circles about my more fluid sexuality. It’s really none of their business. But I feel the desire to throw it in their faces. I want to say, “Look at me! A real live non-straight person. Tell me to my face that I’m going to hell. Tell me that I am destroying the moral fabric of America. Fight to keep me from having the right to marry a woman if I wish. Shove a Bible in my face and lecture me about the morality of who I am. Give me pat answers and tell me to pray more. I’m a person, right in front of you, not an ideology or an obscure Bible verse. Do you want to cut all ties to me and keep me away from your children? Am I any different now than you always thought I was?”
But I know I can’t look back; I have to look forward. I can’t worry about how my old acquaintances might view me; I have to focus on making new friends. Vibrant, fun-loving, intelligent, creative, accepting and open people, like me.
As for what I wish to say to my mother, the cause of my thoroughly shitty childhood, “You told me what it meant to be a woman. You were dead wrong. You told me what my future would be. You were wrong. You told me what was right and how to please God. You were wrong. You told me who I had to be. You were wrong. You were wrong to deny me an education; never giving me basic information about my body and sex caused me a lot of pain for many years. You created an absolute hell and kept me prisoner there, but I have come out beautiful and strong. I am now one of those “femi-nazis’ that you spoke about with such derision. I will forever be exactly who I want to be and love who I want to love.
“I no longer follow any of your rules or subscribe to any of your ideologies, and I have never been happier.”
My sister has also written about her sexual education experience; the link to her story is here.