Let’s Ask: Lies My Mother Told Me About the Birds and the Bees

My mother is a pretty awesome human being by all accounts. It’s important that I make sure all of you know this. She’s been through a lot of crazy, tough stuff over the years and has clawed her way to the other side like a fucking grizzly bear. But what she did not do was prepare me in any way, shape, or form to have any semblance of a functional adult sex life.

All the sex “advice” my mom ever gave me had but one simple through-line, one motive: to convince me to never even think about having sex. EVER. For any reason. To instill in me a crippling fear of the anatomy of the opposite sex. “I’ve been there. I was a teenager in the 70s, okay?” And I had to believe her, how could I not? Now, to be fair, most of these pearls of wisdom were handed down to me when I was only about 10 years old, the year my mom awkwardly left the “What’s Happening To My Body?” book on my pillow and never spoke of it. So… maybe the whole G-rated fright-fest makes sense. But a G-rated lie is still a lie!

“Sex hurts. It’s not fun for girls, only for boys. Girls who tell you they like having sex are sluts who are just trying to make you feel uncool.”

Yikes. Way to make sure I’d grow up to be a total bitch ice queen with ZERO friends, Mom. And what exactly was I supposed to think of myself, the day I had sex and realized that I liked it? Was I, too, a slut? Are we all sluts? What’s the meaning of life? Are we alone in the universe? These are the questions.

“If you give him the milk for free, why should he buy the cow?”

Thanks, Mom, now you’re calling me a cow, too? I think this one is fairly common, textbook advice for girls. It’s also fairly ridiculous. I know plenty of people whose stable, happy relationships were borne of a random, sexy encounter one random, sexy night. The act of having the sex you want when you want it doesn’t hold the same cultural weight that it might have years ago. Guys don’t typically “lose respect” for girls if they “put out” right away. Also, can we as a generation sign some sort of pledge to do away with the phrase “put out?” It’s so dated, so very look-at-me-I’m-Sandra-Dee. It sounds so dirty, too: Put. Out. She puts it out there, guys. It. Her vagina. Shudder.

Anyway. I fully support a lady waiting a little while to sleep with a guy she’s just started dating, so she can get to know him better and make sure he’s a solid choice. But that’s different. That’s not a decision made out of fear because you’re worried he won’t respect you anymore if you do the deed. And if that fear turns out to be true, that he does lose respect for you after you sleep together, then this guy might actually be the worst. So… good riddance.

“Ten minutes of good sex is not worth the pain of childbirth.”

Because obviously every time a person has sex it automatically results in a baby being born nine months later. OBVIOUSLY. I don’t doubt that having a baby hurts like the dickens, but that’s kind of neither here nor there. Because of this, for the longest time, I thought that people’s parents only had sex the day they decided they wanted a baby. The concept of birth control didn’t really factor into this discussion until I was several years older, and I already knew what it was thanks to my friends who had courageously bought condoms and put them on bananas at a sleepover.

“Having sex is worse than saying the worst swear word you can think of.”

So… the F word? Wait. Is this what a conundrum feels like? I am ten years old and my brain just imploded. This might be my self-destruct code. Send help.

“You’re not allowed to get married if you’ve already had sex with someone else.”

It’s worth mentioning that my family was not very religious. We were the swing-by-church-on-Easter-and-Christmas variety of Catholics. But for some reason, my mom would rev up the Pope-mobile whenever it came to the subject of pre-marital sex. You didn’t do it. Period. Those were the rules—God’s rules. You can’t break God’s rules because he’s definitely gonna hear about it, being God and all. And that’s not necessarily uncommon: a lot of parents tell their kids that they shouldn’t have sex until they’re good and hitched. But my twisted, 10-year-old mind took this warning to a whole new, disturbing level by assuming that a doctor had to examine you and give you a certificate of “Nope, Never Done It!” before you could walk down the aisle. And the worst part? When I asked my mom whether or not this pre-marital medical exam actually existed, she said yes.

“Penises are really ugly.”

Well… okay, fine. I’ll give you this one, Mom. I’m glad I was prepared.

Photo by Meaghan Morrison

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6 Comments

    • Well, I’m sure some penises are ugly. Perhaps the mother had seen only one, and it was ugly. Therefore, poorly extrapolate.

  1. You wrote a good article about the ways you came to understand sex. Props. Also I like my penis. I don’t really feel good about hearing it called ugly. I find it hard to imagine it would be cool with you if you read an article ending with the assertion that vulvas are ugly.

    • You mean like wizard sleeves… or beef curtains?? They’re all special little butterflies! At least they weren’t butchered by some weirdo with a knife before they had a chance to object.

  2. Why do you think they call it “bumping uglies?” Neither of us are pretty princesses down there!

  3. It was a good article, right up until your threw away all the goodwill you built up by calling penises ugly.

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