All Girls High School Education Taught Me More About Sex Than Any Backseat Fumbling

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By far the most important thing that I learned was about consent. In my sex ed class, we certainly covered rape and assault in detail, but the class fell a bit short in terms of consent. From hanging out in our student lounge, I learned about consent in a way that I hadn’t put together despite being well educated about rape: consent is not the absence of no but the presence of yes. We had comfortable and open conversations about desire that I simply cannot imagine having around male friends and classmates at that age, and the idea of owning your own desire wasn’t foreign to me because of it.

Certainly a lot of this is indicative of not just the all girls school facet, but privilege. I’m not going to lie to you and say I had a normal high school experience–it was a prep school of affluent girls who had the education and the money to find their own agency in their teens. Our privilege allowed us to have the safe space to talk about sex, to get excellent academic information, and to have the training to think critically about it. That privilege is an important factor that shouldn’t be overlooked. However, I had many friends in similar academic situations to mine, where the only real difference was coed versus single sex. Not a one of them had an experience like mine. Most of them still struggle to say the word vagina.

I spent ages 12-18 in an environment where I didn’t have to hate my body, or rather, to hate my femaleness. I faced the same body pressure that anyone else would and struggled with an eating disorder for years–single sex education isn’t a cure all, and I’m unconvinced that it’s even the best way to educate young women. But after a few years of being there having entered with the knowledge that my body was gross, it stopped occurring to me to hate being female. I had no qualms about what my body does, what menstruation is, or having an apparently disgusting vagina. And because my femaleness wasn’t something to be ashamed of, I didn’t have to be ashamed of my role in sex, either. It made me open to learning–both formally and informally–and I learned more than I ever could from just flailing on my own.

Photo: Vibrant Image Studio/Shutterstock, Howard Klaaste/Shutterstock

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