Tag Archives: Education

Sex Education

Over at The Other Side of Sixty  Wisewebwoman has an interesting piece about Sex and Irish Girls.

“Girl people in my time were sent out into the world with absolutely no knowledge of sex. None.”

We are the same generation, but I grew up in Dublin, the capital city of Ireland. WWW, was reared in rural Cork, down on the south coast of Ireland. My experience was slightly different to hers.

In fifth year (16-17 years of age), we had a new teacher for RE & Irish, she was a nun. A total contrast to all the other nuns. She forgot all about:

Miracles, parables and prophets.
Daily prayers for purity.
‘Impure’ thoughts.
Keeping our knees covered. 😆 a couple of years before The mid-1960s – when Mary Quant created the micro-mini.
The occasions of sin – There were more of them than beads on a rosary!
Being able to slide a sheet of paper between our dancing partner and ourselves.
Not leading young men on!!!! Holy Mother of Merciful Maisie. I grew up in a houseful of men and the only thing you could lead any of them on with, was a table full of hot food!

I could go on…… and on…….!

Our 30 minute RE class for five mornings a week and the Irish classes for the week, became sex education classes. She had a BOOK.

One copy of a so called sex education book, covered in a double layer of heavy brown paper and each student in turn, was given THE BOOK to take home for a few days to read. I do not recall the title, a double layer of heavy brown paper made more of an impression on me!

Yes. There were diagrams, but so do books on car maintenance. It could have been our ‘All in the Cooking’ with lists of ingredients, or Home Economics Hygiene book (which had a chapter with pixtures that the Home Economics teacher (another nun) blushed at and skipped over every time!).

When my turn came, I brought the book home and handed it to mammy. What did she say?

“You read it first, love, then give it to me to read.”

I did.

When she gave it back to me, mammy asked if I had any questions. I didn’t.

Books like the one covered in a double layer of heavy brown paper, and ‘All in the Cooking’, talk the mechanics of the topic, not a mention of touch, feel, smell, taste or emotion. I learned all that at my mother’s side about cooking AND relationships. I learned from my four brothers: I saw them go through puberty,  from pimply chins and knobbly knees to hogging the bathroom even longer than I did! I learned what they thought about girls: the traits they liked, respected, and the dreaded ‘man eaters’ who would do anything for a free meal. I saw women like them in my working years too. At one stage I thought I understood more about how male minds worked, than my female ‘sisters’ of the world.

My brothers and their friends showed great respect for me. Yes, they teased me endlessly, but they never over stepped the mark or put me in danger. When we were out, if any of them saw me in danger or if a stranger was misbehaving towards me, they would step in and get them to back off. I treated them all like brothers and that is how I treated all the men I met and worked with, over the years.