Friends, I have had a really diverse life. Now on the other side of middle age, I reflect on what the phrase “let’s talk about sex” means.
In the ’90s, I worked in a difficult, but rewarding, position as a SANE, a sexual assault nurse examiner. My job was to examine someone on the worst day of their lives in the most intimate way. I showed up at the ER after the police to isolate a victim for the next four or so hours. It became my job to not only do exams, but also to provide interagency and public education through classes I taught.An opening lesson many didn’t forgetImagine a room full of police, sheriffs, lawyers, social workers, doctors, and interns. For whatever reason, it frequently seemed to have a disproportionate amount of men attending the class.I always started the class by passing out blank papers to each person. My directions were: “On this sheet of paper, I want you to write down your most explicit sexual fantasy. Don’t leave any of the details out. When you are finished writing, fold the paper and hand it to the person seated to your right. Then I will have the person to your right stand up and share it by reading it aloud to the class.”I let that sink in for about a minute, while I busied myself in the front of the class arranging my anatomically correct female pelvis mannequin. After the awkward silence and the increasingly panicked looks on everyone’s faces in my captive audience, I laughed and said, “No, I don’t want to know any of that stuff about y’all!”Everyone nervously laughed, and they instantly destroyed anything they had started to write on the paper. I followed with, “That’s what you ask a victim of rape to do; tell you explicitly every detail about a sexual occurrence.”Now, it’s scrunchy timeI then ask the attendees to pick up the neon hair scrunchy on their tables and put them around their fingers and begin opening and closing it. Everyone started to relax … and then I dropped the BOOM with: “That’s your hymen.” Palpable shock.(A brief break)Before I address that jewel, let me give you the lay of the land. The primary reason for that class was to drag out my vagina mannequin, Virginia, to provide education of the female anatomy. Unfortunately, Virginia stayed housed in my car most of the time, where I feared of getting in a wreck and having to explain or search for her. My job was to teach all these folks the normal and abnormal appearance of the “vagene” related to trauma.I talked about the physiology, the psychology, and, gosh darn it, the sociology pertaining to sexual behavior. As a nurse, you’re forced to learn the pieces and parts, but nobody really delves into what all those Latin words relate to.Most people and I walk a jagged edge by saying we have at least a general idea of the workings down under. At least that is what I thought, until I started taking information from some of the clients and realized some of those around us lack this knowledge.For example, a grown woman told me she got pregnant from sitting on the radiator; and couples have said taking Geritol was what made them pregnant. I once asked a sex crimes detective, “Do you know what I’m talking about when I say there was a tear in the posterior fourchette?” She looked blankly at me and responded, “Is that one of those pop-up things sorta like a canopy?” I went into great detail, explaining to her of which I spoke. I’m sure she will remember it forever. It’s that area right above your taint. Google that term if you’re not sure. I think Siri will shut you down on it!Back to scrunchyAs a culture, we are taught the hymen is the gatekeeper to virginity. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s just not true. It is not some magical portal to the promise land. It’s merely a band of stretchy tissue that can be torn, ruptured, or otherwise made no longer. It actually has nothing to do with being virginal. With all the misinformation, how can we possibly communicate what has happened, what is happening, and if we need more information?I recall a part of a study that encouraged nurses to take a mirror and take a peek under their own hood. You would have thought you were asking them to string Christmas lights on their hooch and light it up on national TV. Yet, this exercise was a simple yet effective way to learn normal anatomy. In a circumstance of assault, knowing the difference between what’s what and what’s not could be the difference in pushing a case forward, or it being dropped for lack of evidence.Welcome to the classLearning more about your body and how it functions will lead to improved sexuality, sex, and overall well-being. Sadly, many people are so ashamed to gander below the beltline that they sacrifice themselves by not getting proper evaluations, causing “things” to be left untreated. Pop-quiz: Guess what Al Capone, Ab Lincoln, and Napoleon all had in common? Three letters class: STD.The overall message is this: Keep your junk clean and healthy! That way, you can be the riveting sexual being you were destined to be. Follow Marvin Gaye’s advice and get some sexual healing and get it on!