Daily Life

Why we need to change the way we talk about safe sex

“KEEP yer PAYNTS AWN.”

So went the battle cry of Pam Stenzel, or “Pants-On Pam” as we called her at my all-girls Anglican high school. Every week in Christian Studies, we were forced to watch her abstinence-only, pro-life diatribes. With her twangy American accent, she was a real-life version of the sex ed teacher in Mean Girls (“Don’t have sex! You WILL get chlamydia… and die”).

We never learned about contraception. We never learned that sex could and should be fun. We never learned about any kind of sex that wasn’t heterosexual. We never learned about the importance and nuances of consent, or how to talk about sex with partners.

All we learned was that we shouldn’t be having premarital sex, and if we did, the consequences were all our fault. We were shamed into fearing sex and, coming from a conservative Vietnamese family, I wasn’t hearing anything different at home.

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