Dear Wise Woman,
Tonight I watched those puberty videos you told me about. First I was only going to watch one and see how it was, but it was so interesting I ended up watching all eight of them.
It was kind of embarrassing that they showed real people’s bodies. And she actually touched some guy’s penis and some girl’s breast and stood next to a girl whose menstrual blood ran down her leg, and I don’t see how those people could just show their bodies like that! But even though it was embarrassing, and I’m so glad I didn’t watch it with other kids from my school, the truth is it was good to see what things really look like. Because otherwise you always think your own body must be weird, if you don’t know all the different ways bodies can look.
Isn’t it interesting that the videos come from Norway, not from the U.S.? Do you think that maybe in Norway most people aren’t as embarrassed about their naked bodies? I was thinking that if that’s true, then maybe being ashamed of our bodies isn’t necessarily something natural. It is more like something cultural. And if it’s cultural, I mean culture is important, but it’s also changeable.
In the last video she showed how the penis goes inside the vagina when people have sex. (I can’t even believe I am writing about this. Don’t show it to anyone!) And she said it can be painful if the woman’s vagina isn’t wet or something like that. And I never heard that before, and I was just wondering how that happens. Does it always happen and what if it doesn’t? Then does it hurt a lot? Sometimes people act like sex is more fun for men than for women, or you read something like that in a book, and is that why? You don’t have to answer if it’s too embarrassing.
Also is French kissing really like moving your tongue around inside a tomato? That is so weird! I want to try that but I don’t want my family to know.
I think this whole topic is super embarrassing or at least it is for most people. Although the woman in the video or actually all the people in the video acted like it was just a pretty normal thing. I wish more people could talk about it like that. I wish I could talk about it like that. I’m glad you showed me those videos, and I’m glad you said we could talk about bodies and sex, and I’m glad they made those videos in Norway but put English subtitles on them.
Later I will read that webpage you told me about. And you can come back to my room and talk to me about this some more. Because my parents and my school and my society obviously do not know how to teach me about this in an un-embarrassing way, but it seems to me like something normal we should all learn about.
See you later and thanks so much,
Thank you for letting me into your class. Is it OK for me to be here? I won’t tell anyone about it, OK? Why am I hurting so much again, all of a sudden? I was OK 15 minutes ago. Best for me to disappear now.
Are you not okay? Why? I am so sorry! I hope it’s not because of the class. I want you to be well. Please be kind to yourself.
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hello 12 year old q, i’m kia, and i’m 11, and an insider in our system. I want to say that you did real good watching those videos. you were brave to try it out. I hope we can be friends. xxoo
Hi Kia, I don’t think I’ve met you before. I am definitely up for having friends, especially the real kind of friends, who know how your life is, don’t judge you, and still like you even when things are messed up and confusing.
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I think the comfort about bodies is definitely cultural. In Sydney where I lived as a teenager there were quite a few nudist beaches, including one near us that I used to go to myself quite a bit, and the people at that beach were completely unselfconscious about their bodies which was actually really nice. In many ways I felt safer with that group of people, who didn’t seem to view bodies as sexual objects, than I did on the street fully dressed.
I also spent a year as an exchange student in Sweden, where communal (but sex segregated) change rooms and showers at sporting facilities was the norm, as was being fully naked in the sauna (men and women together). Again, people seemed to be completely casual about it and there was no ogling or inappropriate behaviour.
Unfortunately Americans tend to be uptight about bodies, which means too much silence, which in turn fosters misinformation. There was a recent study of young people here that revealed that they end up learning a lot about sex and bodies from online porn, because there are so few other options. That is just messed up.
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