Sex is a pretty bewildering concept for kids – hell, for many of us it still is… Living in a world where the closest form of intimate connection with a partner was the slow dance to Chasing Cars at the Year Seven Valentine’s Disco, it’s not very surprising that our ideas of sex when we were young were oh-so misguided, and even more embarrassing to remember.
Personally I can’t remember any truly cringe-worthy misconceptions (perhaps I had erased them from my memory in shame), with exception to the initial shame I felt for masturbating that lead my younger self to bawling my eyes out and telling mother dearest that her loving son had been ‘blowing off some steam’. Unfortunately, my poor mum then was left to defining the basics of male masturbation to my innocent self.
Finding this one anecdote a bit paltry to spread over an article, I did my ‘investigations’ and came across an FAQ on the NHS site titled ’15 things you should know about sex’ which is more unintentionally hilarious than informative, the true standout of the lot being ‘a boy’s balls will not explode if he doesn’t have sex’-but hey, you can’t say that the article doesn’t do what it says on the tin. But of course, the NHS isn’t just making these up: these ‘15 things’ do voice genuine concerns that linger in the minds of many kids, until they are swiftly rejected with experience.
Funnily enough many of these ‘myths’ concern the use (or lack thereof) of condoms, probably craftily formulated for eager yet unprepared teens, not possessing the Casanova’s sock that will prevent him and his partner becoming ideal candidates for next season’s 16 and Pregnant…
Standing up whilst having sex prevents pregnancy – Standard myth dispelled in sex ed. class, perhaps an understandable one given basic knowledge of Key Stage 3 Physics and gravity. Most likely an enduring belief for the ever so slightly more exotic positioning. Often reinforced with the other myth that pregnancy can be avoided if the girl jumps up and down after sex, as if a little exertion will shake out the little blighters. Unfortunately, as we all know, efforts like this are fruitless, and just leave the girl feeling like a bit of a berk for the Skippy the Kangaroo impression. In short, what comes up does not come down, or at least not for another nine months.
Cling film is a perfectly acceptable substitute for a condom– I admire the DIY nature of this venture: I mean the finished product looks relatively like a condom, right? But I heavily doubt you could use your Sainsbury’s Non PVC Cling Film to wrap up your sandwiches after having seen it enveloping your or your partner’s todger. More importantly the ‘cling’ nature of clingfilm probably wouldn’t be desirable for anyone involved: clue’s in the name people. But admittedly there are some more grimy variants to this condom substitute: I’ve heard people using a sock or even a Dorito’s packet secured with an elastic band to do the deed, let’s just hope for the benefit of the male it wasn’t Chilli Heatwave flavour…
Alcohol makes you better in bed– Strange one this one as many Durham students, including myself, can testify to it being complete tosh. I can only imagine after a couple of WKDs stolen from their older sister some teenagers might feel like a less wrinkly Hugh Hefner before passing out in a drunken stupor. But of course we all know that we were probably more flopping cod than sex god the night before, and the situation’s worsened when your unfortunate partner can confirm it… every sobering detail of it.
You can get pregnant through oral sex– In all honesty I did brush this one off as a lapse in judgement by the NHS, until my friend from another university told me that his very concerned, 20 year old friend had asked the very same thing… Probably part and parcel of everybody’s fear of impregnating/ becoming pregnant and its terrifying consequences, embodied in the gym teacher in Mean Girls: ‘Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant. And die.’ Guess the ‘sex’ in the name could be misconstrued but a simple grasp of anatomy could probably tell you that your mouth can’t act as standby vagina.
In all seriousness though, these naïve ideas do boil down to a lack of education, and can have serious repercussions: it is a widely-held belief in African cultures that having sex with a virgin will miraculously cure HIV. Misguidance in sexual practices is something that has been quelled fairly quickly for the most part in Britain. This is the case, thanks to unsuitable-at-dinnertime television programmes such as Embarrassing Bodies and The Sex Education Show. And whilst we look back at our sexual misconceptions and fumbles in our awkward teen years as if these acts were crimes against sexuality, committed by lesser, more embarrassing shadows of ourselves, really we should be glad that we’ve learnt and are no longer those kids whose lives would give the entire American Pie series (yes, every single film) a run for its money in the sexually awkward stakes.