Yahoo Answers is the gift that keeps on giving. Whenever I'm feeling down and out, I head on over to YA to cheer myself up. The level of WTF-edness over there is just endless. But unfortunately I've noticed a trend that's kind of sad. There are literally hundreds of sex and pregnancy questions, presumably written by teens, that show just how dismal the state of sexual education is. Questions not only about the basic mechanics of one's body, but also about emotions and sex. Some of them are humorous, most are heartbreaking, and all of them show a serious lack of knowledge about sexual health. These kids (and some adults) shouldn't have to feel like random Internet strangers are their only recourse for finding this information. Below are 15, but I could easily have shown you 50.
1. Could I be pregnant?
That last line slays me. Not only is this kid being let down by a lack of sex ed at school, but she can't even turn to her parents (ya know, the folks conservatives say should be teaching sex ed) for help. I highly doubt this girl is pregnant, but if she is, she's at risk of getting too far along to terminate because she's too afraid to ask for help. She shouldn't have to be afraid.
2. He came inside me last week.
I'm not even going to touch on the consent issue I feel was betrayed here since I don't have enough info to really know what happened, but I do wonder if she lives in an area where abortion isn't an option. "Force a period" sounds uncomfortably close to coat hanger territory, and no one should ever feel that desperate.
3. Can you get pregnant from being fingers on your period?
I don't know how old this girl is, but judging from the quality of the writing, I would guess old enough that she should have at least a basic understanding of how pregnancy works. The fact that she doesn't is heartbreaking.
4. Pregnant on the Depo!?
This question gets me particularly angry because this kid already has a child and it's obvious that no one thought to help her have a basic understanding of her body. Not her parents, not her OBGYN, no one. I'm angry not just because she has a baby and therefore had a whole host of risks and issues surrounding pregnancy and delivery, but because they then put her on Depo and didn't think to educate her on the risks and benefits of the drug.
5. Is it possible to kill an unborn baby with salt?
I seriously doubt this is a legitimate question about her "friend," first of all. Secondly, from what I've read saline abortions are dangerous and rarely performed. The most frustrating part is that even when I Googled saline abortions to try to find more info, I was inundated with anti-choice sites giving out false information.
6. Birth control?!?!
This girl sounds perfectly reasonable and intelligent. She's mindful about the potential risks of having sex before she's ready, and eager to learn more about her birth control options. She should have access to that information. Period.
7. It hurts when I take out a tampon?
It kind sounds like this kid has an issue like PCOS or something similar, which makes it even more important that she have access to not only information but adequate reproductive health care, two things in limited supply (at least here in the U.S.).
8. Is masturbating healthy?
This question is by far the most heartbreaking on this list. I want to reach through the computer and hug this woman for all she's been through. I blame not only the lack of sex education for her worries, but also the puritanical bullshit surrounding self-pleasure. And may I add that I think even the existing sex ed programs fall short when it comes to talking about the deeper issues surrounding sex. They shouldn't just be teaching the mechanics, they should be giving kids the tools they need to make informed sexuality decisions, and that should cover mental health as well.
9. I think my man's junk did something to my bladder?
There are a number of explanations for this woman's issue. She could have a UTI, kidney stones, an STD or something else. And all of this should have been explained in sex ed, so she would know to head to a doctor when this type of thing happens.
10. Male cousin coming to baby sit and I'm on my period.
Something doesn't sound right here. This "male cousin" obviously makes her feel uncomfortable, and the line about bringing two friends sounds ominous to me. A quality sex ed course could cover what to do when an older person makes you feel off, as well as period stuff.
11. What to do if my period starts in the car?
I'm not sure what this questioner thinks will happen if Aunt Flow does decide to visit in transit. Wall of blood, The Shining-style? This might seem kind of humorous at first, but this child's lack of knowledge is very real, and that will only become more of a problem as she grows. If she's this clueless about her period (though no fault of her own) then how is she going to navigate sex and dating?
12. My cherry popped?
First of all, I haven't heard the term "cherry popped" in years and I didn't know people still used it. Whatever is going on, it isn't normal and I hope she gets it checked out. She would know it wasn't typical if she had access to the right resources.
13. Feeling worried.
I would wager to say that many teenage girls feel this way. Even good sexual education courses rarely cover things like pleasure or consent. Sex is either looked at as dirty or as a medical situation. But very real feelings are involved, and I think kids should know that sex can be wonderful and pleasurable when you're ready for it and doing it safely. I suspect this is why so many women have trouble climaxing.
14. Pads or tampons?
For something so common, there are SO many questions about tampons. I could write a piece just on this alone. There are so many misconceptions about tampons. Can they get stuck? Can you use two at a time? Can you use them if you're a virgin? Will they take your virginity? Why aren't girls being taught about this most basic of menstruation tools?
15. Does it mean I'm horny?
Desire is the most basic of basics when it comes to sex. Like hunger, thirst, exhaustion, etc. it is a human instinct. Which makes it all the more baffling that sex ed courses rarely touch on it. If more courses did, I think it would be a decent blow to rape culture. Kids, and especially girls, often don't realize that they should want to have sex before they have sex. It's not some expectation they have to meet, it's a basic human activity that should be fun and pleasurable if they chose to do it. And they should know that they can choose not to as well.