Why didn't we learn this at school?
That was helpful.
This post was written by the All Men Are Liars intern Marlo Begsley*.
"What happens if your girlfriend gets pregnant?" was my question to our school's "Personal Development" teacher. "You keep it," was his reply. And if you ask me, that is both ignorant and irresponsible.
I graduated from a Sydney north shore private boys school just over two years ago. My parents paid a lot of money for me to go there and by all standard metrics, I got a good education.
But now I'm out here in the big bad world, I have to wonder about some of the stuff I wasn't taught, particularly when it comes to sex, relationships and, what to do if I ever get a girl pregnant.
I can't lay all the blame at the feet of my school: in my opinion the NSW Board of Studies did an unacceptable job when it came to educating my generation in what they termed "Personal Development (PD)", a class allegedly devoted to the maturing of students.
Supposedly it takes on the juicy topics of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.
At my school, the latter component meant dances with our local girls college to develop "social etiquette".
As for the rest of that trio, we had just one lesson on sex education, a single lecture on drugs (no questions allowed) in year 11 - long after my peer group had begun to experiment - and, instead, spent four years learning about the major muscles groups in the body.
Which brings me back to that question at the beginning of this post.
In this one sex-ed class, I stuck my hand up and, being the inquisitive little shit stirrer I am, asked the teacher, "What happens if she gets pregnant?"
Shocked and totally not satisfied with his answer of "you keep it", I threw my hand back up and asked, "What if she wants an A?'"
The very word "abortion" would have offended my deeply religious teacher, so for once I chose a euphemism.
He replied you "keep the baby and put it up for adoption".
With an estimated 80,000 abortions performed annually in Australia, I'm sure some would be undertaken by high school students. Having had teenage friends who've been involved in pregnancy terminations, I know some guidance other than "keep it" would have been very helpful to them.
Obviously every school is different and, at the time, I resolved that my conservative Christian educators were ignorant idiots. However, since speaking to my wider social circle, I've discovered that many other students had similar experiences.
So much information, especially regarding contraception, was left out. It feels as if we were told to "always use a condom" and that was it. Wise words, certainly, but one size does not fit all - in prophylactics or advice - especially when it comes to teenagers.
My friend Caitlin's story stands out for me: She said the pill was barely discussed in her sex-ed class, forcing girls in her year to experiment to find out what suited them best.
"Girls would go on it for 'their skin', telling the doctor they just wanted to stop pimples, so they could hide the real reason from their parents," said Caitlin.
"Then they'd change the dosage they were taking, so it'd be for contraception and therefore be incorrectly using it. Alternatively their initial prescription would screw with them in other ways they'd hadn't foreseen so they'd try a series of different pills until they got one that 'worked' for them," she said.
Surely this is not the way teenage girls and boys should be learning about this stuff? And it's not like we're apathetic about this subject. We want to learn.
Once I began this discussion with my friends, we realised there were tons of things - aside from how to put a condom on a banana - that we wished someone, anyone, had taught us when we were at school.
Learning the mechanics of sex is one thing - but how do you get good at it? The consensus among our caucus was:
❏ Learn to kiss well. It's a skill that will never fail you.
❏ Sex isn't porn, it's not the size of the tool, it's how you use it.
❏ Take everything slow, no one wants to be pounded at 16.
❏ Clean up after yourself.
We also questioned why we weren't taught what is socially important (as a teen) and how to communicate with people without making an idiot of yourself. As humans we face these issues daily, things that we supposedly "pick up on" but are never directly schooled in.
❏ It is not appropriate to put xxxx on the end of a SMS. The girl will think you are keen. If you are, there are better ways to show it than xxxx.
❏ Don't status update emotional lyrics with a message about how relevant they are to your life. No one gives a shit.
❏ If a girl is being a "bitch" to you, under no circumstances do you ask her if it is her time of the month.
❏ Everyone stalks everyone on Facebook; if they say that don't, they do. They are stalking you, they are bored teenagers.
❏ Don't put anything online that you don't want to come back to haunt you.
❏ Be smart when trusting someone with contraception: if a girl vomits when on the pill, you are not protected and the consequences are on you.
❏ Don't go to church to pick up, it only leads to problems later on.
Society puts so much emphasis on education, we claim knowledge is power, and yet we aren't educating the next generation on what's appropriate sexually or socially.
Ultimately, this quest for knowledge is what led me to stumble upon people like Sam, but not everyone is as curious as me.
With approximately 250,000 students in each year of high school in Australia, if you ask me, our boards of education are sending an army of teenagers unarmed into an even increasingly sexualised culture.
I hope I'm not one of the casualties.
*Marlo Beglsey is the All Men Are Liars intern. He is a real person, 19 years old and studying communications at university.