When I was in fifth grade, my teacher wheeled in a VHS-equipped television, plucked in a tape, and let the folks on the screen teach me and a dozen other 10-year-olds about penises and sex and menstruation and condoms and all of the lil details that accompany all of the above.
Some people weren’t so lucky, if you can call it that. Some people—whether due to a backwards education system, religious fundamentalism, or teachers projecting their own terrible sexual hangups—some people were taught…very, very wrong things. Here are 22 of the wrongest, as shared by the poor folks on an AskReddit thread launched by u/woollyhammock.
22. That condoms are useless:
Mine brought in and cut up condoms to show us how flimsy and useless they are.
There were so many pregnant girls in my graduating class.
21. That vaginas ‘run’ different directions:
When I was little back in the 70s, I used to hear men joke about how sex with an Asian woman was exotic due to their vaginas running sideways. Since mine ran north to south, for longer than I should have I thought women of every other race had theirs go east to west.
I never talked about it or was shocked or anything; I thought that was just how things were until I learned otherwise.
20. That using tampons was a route to virginity loss:
When I got my curse (period) for the first time I asked about tampons. It just seemed like it would be less messy than pads. Also, my periods were very inconsistent. I would go without one for a few months, then have my period for three to four weeks in a row with heavy flow and terrible cramps.
Tampons would have made life easier, but my mom insisted I couldn’t use them because I was a virgin. Smh!
19. And that condoms don’t work:
‘Condoms are latex and latex is like a net, so all condoms are full of holes so the only safe sex is married sex.’
We then all threw a giant sperm puppet through a basketball hoop to demonstrate how obviously useless condoms are. We also did the tape thing, the passing around of an unwrapped piece of candy (I shit you not, it was a fucking cherry cordial Hershey’s kiss), got shown slides of genitalia with untreated STDs, and got exactly zero useful or even true information.
Also, the giant sperm puppet was made out of a horrible orange and black quilting fabric and had googly eyes for some fucking reason.
My husband affectionately refers to my sense of style as ‘gothstitute’, so we can see how well that worked.
18. Having no sex ed at all, as a result of religion
I received absolutely no sex education. I was raised a religious fundamentalist, married at 19 to a girl that was as ignorant as I was and lost our virginity on our wedding night.
Married for 13 years. I learned what and where a clitoris was from my 2nd sexual partner at the age of 32.
17. Not knowing about pressure. Or periods.
I always thought you were supposed to be really gentle with the penis. So my first time giving a hand job I had the lightest grip possible so I wouldn’t hurt him. When he showed me just how tightly you should squeeze I was shocked lol.
I also thought your period was supposed to be just a dot of blood, hence the name “period.” Had a rude awakening with that one.
16. These false statistics:
My middle school teacher told the class that condoms were not effective at all for protecting against STDs and only worked 50% in stoping pregnancies, and that anyone who told you otherwise was a diseased pervert trying to trick you into sex.
Abstinence teaching, ladies and gentlemen.
15. This contradictory statement:
My mum told me there was no such thing as ovulation when I was 9. To this day I haven’t had the courage to ask her how she thinks I got here!
14. That women don’t feel sexual arousal:
In addition to the usual (condoms aren’t effective, sex before marriages gives you cancer, zero information about discharge or where clitoris is located) I was taught that women don’t feel sexual arousal. At all. Those who think they do are just confused.
Women have sex to please men and make babies, no other reason.
I still wonder if the woman who taught me this was just asexual and didn’t know it, and she assumed this was the norm.
13. This absolutely heartbreaking tale:
My cousin thought that women couldn’t get HIV if they were menstruating. So she and her HIV+ boyfriend would only have (unprotected) sex while she was on her period. You can probably guess how that turned out.
Edit to answer a couple of ?’s: Yes, her boyfriend told her this information. I don’t know if he believed it himself, or if he just decided to lie to her. She took his word for it, unfortunately. She’s a very sweet girl but she’s never been the brightest bulb. And yes, this happened in the US.
12. This demented, strange, and yet poetic thought process:
Our sex ed teacher also taught history and turned anal into a civil rights abuse.
“You know the Help had to enter through the back door back in the day but Dr Martin Luther King Jr fought so y’all could enter through the front. So stay out of the back of the bus and park your you know what up front.”
11. Wait, women aren’t all werewolves?
I read in a book once that women either have their period on the full moon or the new moon. I actually believed this for years.
Then one day I was out with my mom and I saw the full moon. I said, “I guess all you women are having a bad day today.”
She was like, “What do you mean?”
“Because all women have their periods when the moon is full.”
She laughed. “We’re not frickin’ werewolves!”
10. That physical touch causes pregnancy and AIDS.
That you can get pregnant from hugging and that you can get AIDS from kissing. It was 1999 when it had been proven that HIV was not spread through casual contact.
9. The first issue here is the use of cassette tapes to ‘teach’:
My sex ed was cassette tapes of an old man basically just saying don’t have sex before marriage, but one of the things he said was “I grew up on a farm, and I learned all I needed to know about sex by watching the animals”
8. All of this:
If you have sex in a hot tub, you can’t get pregnant. When you go to sleep, your period stops. My friend also believed that girls only had their periods on the full moon cycle.
These are things I had other people come to me about, because they had no sex ed and I was the one friend who actually learned something from their parents.
7. That masturbation can lead to unwanted pregnancy:
First year of highschool.
In f*cking 2012.
“Women can get pregnant by masturbating. See, when they masturbate, they start to create spermatozoon and they get pregnant”.
Mind f*cking blown.
EDIT : To clarify, this wasn’t in the USA, it was in France and in a public high school. I’m not sure if the guy was a teacher or a special intervenant but he was a full blown grey hair mid 40’s/early 50’s adult.
Basically the guy asked “WHo believes women can get pregnant alone ?” and no one raised a hand, and then he explained us that when women get excited, they get wet, and in the wetness they carry little spermatozoon and can impregnate them.
The room was dead silence for 45 minutes, we got out of there like “wtf”, if it reassures you, I don’t think anyone believed what he said on the subject.
6. Basically, the idea that sex is bad and sinful and not for pleasure:
They taught us that if you have sex, you are dirty and disgusting. It became confusing to me as a child to be excited when someone announced they were pregnant, I thought it was only good if you ended up pregnant.
5. Post-sex aerobics leads is a nice way to prevent pregnancy:
Not me, but my suite mate in college. “Girls should jump up and down after sex to avoid pregnancy.”
Also, he told the girls to have an aspirin with Coke before or after sex to avoid pregnancy. They played a movie and said talk to your parents or preacher if you had questions.
She graduated with 3 girls who had children already. So, yeah, all that jumping up and down didn’t exactly work.
4. Periods last for half an hour:
I was a 20 year old guy, and had been having sex for a couple years before I found out that a woman’s period lasted for several days. I knew all the feminine mechanics of uterine wall build up and shedding, hormone changes… I even understood that vaginal discharge often changed at ovulation.
My mom was an RN and was pretty open about that stuff. When my girlfriend at the time kept telling me she was still on her period – once in the morning, and later in the evening… I was legitimately concerned for her. I had NO CLUE that the bleeding lasted for days, and thought she was messing with me when she explained. I thought it lasted for 30 minutes or so… about like a bad nose bleed.
And yes… she laughed her ass off and told her friends, who also found it completely hilarious.
Edit: Pro-Tip – Men, a woman’s period can last anywhere between three and seven days. Some women’s periods last even longer. Sometimes chunks come out along with the blood. Now you understand why some women need iron supplements… they actually get anemia from blood loss! Think about THAT in terms of a nose bleed for a moment.
3. That women do not like sex:
Probably the biggest thing that fucked me up was learning girls don’t actually want sex, it’s something they give up for guys they like. And guys who want sex from girls are manipulative assholes who aren’t interested in girls’ personalities.
I blame movies and TV, and a lack of openness about the subject from my parents. Eventually though I learned that it’s totally possible, as a guy, to both want sex and be a decent, respectful person. Another big one was that female sexuality isn’t just centered around men. Girls have a sex drive too and have their own needs to fulfill.
I had a bit of a wake up call when a girlfriend told me I can just say I want to have sex instead of awkwardly trying to romance her with random compliments. I also realized I’d been under the impression that when she asked me if I want to have sex that she was telling me what she wanted, not offering to do me a favour.
2. This blatant lie:
“If you both keep your virginity until your wedding night, you will have an amazing sex life forever.”
Kinda late, BUT. Gotta chip in here. I taught that a woman releases a special chemical in her brain during/right after sex that makes her attached to the man for the rest of her life, because he made that happen. Only women tho, and only your first.
My parents were so hellbent on this that me and my mom often argued about it… she was adamant that I could barely know the guy, yet this would happen and it would ruin my life, she was that convinced (as a teen, they didn’t like my boyfriend and used this to say I won’t know who he will grow up into, in highschool you’ve known him only a few years, this will forever taint your life when you eventually get married etc…. very strong belief they hold).
Many other misconceptions as well, but that’s the craziest. Others include:
*Tampons cause infertility because the ovaries cannot ‘air out’ *Having cold feet outside leads to infertility by ‘freeze damage’ to the ovaries
*Sex is a donation to a man, not at all something to share as it can never truly be pleasurable for the woman. However, you’re in luck because women happen to release a forever-bonding chemical when she loses her virginity so you won’t mind “doing what is needed to him when do you have to”.
*Women/girls do not discharge. It’s either dry, or period time.
EDIT: People, stop pointing out that oxytocin exists. We are all aware, I’ve replied to many comments explaining what it is. You’re not insightful, this isn’t any new information.
Yes oxytocin exists and it helps form a bond. No it is not female only, it is not for your first time only, it is not regardless of your feelings for the partner, it does not last a lifetime and it is not nearly as intense. Enough already.