Wow, this is potentially a very short essay. The answer to what the title suggests is easily one of the many synonyms for “Zero.” “Nada” en español. “Nichts” auf Deutsch.
My sex-education history is very middle-class American from the 1950s and early 1960s. You might think I would’ve learned about the facts of life from my mother the registered nurse of many years. And fathers back then were expected to have that “awkward talk” with their sons about birds and bees in such a way that boys would understand about storks being nonsense and cabbage patches with babies in them were only for really weird cartoons.
But when asked, my mother said, “You will be learning about that in school when the time comes.” And my dad said, “You already learned about that, haven’t you?” To which he did not wait for a reply.
Ah, well, I got the information from a school friend who was almost a year older than me, and therefore he knew everything. He described for me how it worked. I was horrified and didn’t believe him. He tried and failed to show me how to masturbate, and tried to explain what a blow job was. So, I learned it all from “Buck” before that was ever even his nickname. And miraculously, everything he taught me had a glimmer of truth in it but was almost entirely wrong.
There were, of course, opportunities to see girls naked at various times. But when we tried to bribe them, we never had what they wanted. And the one birthday party where all the girls in my class got to see the boys skinny-dipping in the creek, an incident I wrote about elsewhere, I was lucky enough to only be standing on the bank, fully dressed, and watching the naked little boys splash and play when the girls were spotted watching at the top of the hill. So, my knowledge of female anatomy consisted of seeing sisters sometimes and wondering if what Brian said about them having sexual organs in the middle of their backs was actually true. How were we supposed to know? Being naked in co-ed situations was forbidden.
But then the worst happened. I was sexually assaulted by another boy, an older, bigger, and stronger boy. I was traumatized. And sexuality became a thing of my haunted nightmares. And nobody had, at that point in my life, ever told me the actual truth about where babies came from and what sex was actually all about.
I truly hated myself from the ages of ten through eighteen. I harmed myself, intentionally burning the skin on my lower back against the heating grate in our house during winter because I felt the need to make sexual urges and feelings go away. I seriously planned to kill myself as a sophomore in high school. My parents never knew anything about it. The high school counselor knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell him what was actually wrong because I was repressing the memory hard at that point, and didn’t know how to put anything into words. He had to settle for assuring me that I could tell him anything if and when I was ready. But the Methodist minister had taken it upon himself to teach us the actual facts of life in middle school. During confirmation class, he drew the reproductive parts both inside and outside, male and female on the chalkboard in the church basement. He explained how babies were made and how everything functioned. He explained that no part of the process was a sin in itself. Only the misuse of the process was frowned upon by God. He explained how masturbation was a natural part of growing up and sexual urges could be transformed into lifelong love and intimacy. It was the first ray of sunlight breaking through the clouds that were killing me.
And then came that Saturday afternoon where I had made up my mind to put an end to it with a kitchen knife. But before I either cut my wrists or stabbed myself in the heart as I had often thought about doing, I called a friend one last time. We didn’t talk about being depressed or what I was planning to do. But he sensed something was up. Of the many things we talked about, he managed to say I was a good friend and he liked being able to talk about things with me. I never told him the truth about it. But his generosity in that moment saved my life. I owe him what I could only repay by living a good life and being a good person. I am fairly sure he has done the same.
So, what does any of this have to do with what Mickey knows about sexuality?
Well, there are a few assertions I can make that are true for my life.
- Sex is a good thing. It allows you to connect intimately with another human being. It nurtures love and family ties for however long the individuals involved are capable of it.
- Children should be taught about sex from an early age. That is the only way to protect them from wrong information and being vulnerable to predators like the one who got hold of me.
- Masturbation is not an evil thing. It helps you learn your body’s abilities and limits and prepares you for a sex life you can share with someone else. It also boosts your immune system and helps fight depression.
- Sex is about love, not exploitation, power, or control over someone else. It is not to be used to harm anyone, although many use it in that way. Sex is only dirty and evil if it is used wrongly.
- People need to hear these things about sex. Too many don’t know what they need to know at the time they need to know it.
- I am not advocating free love, only good love, no matter how it is made good for you.
So, yes, I know… Mickey is an idiot. He is coming from a rather dark place to assert these things are true. But isn’t that what life is for? To use the hard things, the bad things, the dark and evil things, the things you had to overcome in the course of your life to make a little wisdom to pass along to someone else?
Be happy. Be well. And if you are having great sex in your life, you are allowed to enjoy it.