This place matters

This place matters

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Even educated fleas do it

It is super weird that Americans refer to "the sex talk" as "the birds and the bees." As I've mentioned before, bee mating is kind of like the Hunger Games of reproduction. A virgin queen goes on a little flyabout, a male bee buzzes by, mounts her, puts his endophallus (tiny bee weenie) inside her, gets busy for a minute, then ejaculates so hard his freaking penis explodes, part of his abdomen gets ripped off, and he falls to his death. Then, mate #2, apparently having learned nothing from mate #1, flies up, mounts the queen, sucks out all the previous bee's sperm, and then repeats the whole exploding penis procedure. Finally, the queen, I don't know, gets bored with all the phallic pyrotechnics and heads back to the hive with about a hundred million sperm stored in her oviducts, and then she just makes babies at her leisure. Eventually she'll lay a new queen, whose first order of business is to eat all her siblings before, I don't know, beheading her mother and wearing her head as a hat to teach all the other bees who's in charge? 
I'm just saying, there's not much in there that's analogous to human reproduction. Unless you're in Westeros, I guess.

Bird sex is, I guess, a little bit closer to how humans get it on in that it doesn't involve exploding penises. Actually, for most bird species, there's no penis involved at all. Most boy birdies don't have anything resembling a penis, instead they've got a cloaca that's externally identical to the cloaca of the ladies. To mate, they kind of smoosh their cloacae together. And then there are waterfowl, who do tend to have penises and vaginas, but like, really freakishly weird ones. Lady ducks, for instance, have corkscrew shaped vaginas to go along with gentlemen ducks' long, twisty, noodly man meat. And when I say long, I don't mean that it's long for a duck, no. That sucker can grow to seventeen inches and twice the length of the duck's actual body. Oh, and it's got spikes. 
Rubber Ducky I'm awfully fond of--
oh for the love of god put that thing away
what in the hell is wrong with you
do do be do.

So again, not really all that analogous to human sex. Although it would be pretty freaking hilarious to try and convince your kid that his penis is gonna explode the first time he has sex.
There's a reason I don't have kids.
Oh, and I'm just gonna let this video of mating bald eagles speak for itself.

Speaking of reasons it's good I don't have kids, the point of this post, yes, it has a point, is that I want to talk to you about sex. Or anyway, I want to talk to you about a woman who is striving to change the way we talk about sex when we talk about sex with kids. The author is my professor, my mentor, my kinda hero, Bonnie J. Rough. The book is called Beyond Birds and Bees (you should NOT confuse it with "Beyond THE Birds and THE Bees," by Greg and Lisa Popcak), and if you've got kids, or you're a teacher, or if you just want to learn about bodies and sex divorced from shame, this is a must freaking read.

I didn't really think I was the right audience for this book, what with the fact that I don't have kids. But then I discovered that actually, the book helped me think of my own body differently. Bonnie talks about how in The Netherlands, people are way less weird about teaching their kids about sex. They're frank and open, using correct terminology and explaining without euphemism or moralizing. Dutch parents are less likely to pull an after-school-special on their kids, describing all the ways their children will get pregnant and die if they even think of bumping cloacae. Sex ed starts in kindergarten there, and parents of young kids think nothing of letting the munchkins run around naked in the park. 
And probably not coincidentally, The Netherlands have some of the lowest rates of teen pregnancy, abortion, and STIs in the world. Are The Netherlands some kind of sex utopia? Bonnie says no - there are problems there, just as there are here. But wouldn't it be good, wouldn't it be better to raise children unashamed of their bodies, unafraid to talk about them, willing to assert their agency? That's the question Bonnie explores in this amazing book that you should absolutely freaking read right now. 

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