A while back, a very heterosexual male friend came to me with a real problem; apparently some gay guy he had met was coming on too strongly, and had even convinced himself that they were meant to be. My friend was at a crossroads – should he keep laughing it off, taking it lightly and ever so gently letting this man down at the risk of leading him on, or should he just rip off the Band-Aid at the risk of becoming the ultimate jerk? When he asked me for advice, I had SO MANY techniques to suggest on how to shut down the whole thing, giving alternatives for each plan that might fail…I probably had a “Plan Q” or something. He was both shocked and amused when he asked why and how I had gotten so good at shutting these advances down, and it really got me thinking.
For most of my life, I have been taught, mostly indirectly and by observation, how to shut down advances. Attending a Christian Secondary School, where every other student had mastered the holier-than-thou way of life didn’t help matters much. It was all the girls ever talked about doing, if they were ever approached. I was that naïve, oblivious, and reserved little girl that observed and absorbed what people said and how the girls reacted in those dorm discussions, but had her nose stuck in too many books to notice all that was going on behind closed doors, and when night fell.
So, it was no surprise that people were being very naughty and scandalous in boarding school and most of it just went over my head! I was stuck believing what those “coy” girls said, and how they behaved when there were other girls around. Coyness was an act that a lot of girls had mastered: an act that was probably only needed around un-approving adults and oblivious girls, and could easily be shed when a charming-enough guy came along. It was often those girls who were “never” attracted to anyone, the ones who would “never” be caught flirting with some guy, or leading him on, those girls who would trash talk any guy, just to deflect any accusations of maybe being involved with him, and the very same ones who would shame another girl for being more outspoken about her more-than-platonic relationship. Looking back now, it was all so childish, but it was secondary school, and a Christian one at that…back then, these acts must have seemed very important to the ones who kept them up. It was a way of maintaining that pristine image that was expected of them.
Born out of a culture that strongly discourages public displays of affection, and deems it scandalous for a young-ish unmarried woman to know anything about sex or even dare to ask questions, this system is only logical. The expectation is that as a young woman, you remain, or pretend to remain naïve and oblivious until you are “ripe for marriage” (whatever that means) then you automatically become acquainted with all those topics that up until then were “beyond your ken.” Unfortunately, some of us don’t catch onto the “pretense” aspect of this whole system on time, and for some that ends in them being perceived as crass or abrasive or very flirtatious, for others it translates into a lot of naivety and obliviousness.
To avoid such egregious imbalance, it only seems reasonable that at some point in children’s lives, you actually sit them down and teach what you would like them to know in the way you would want them to learn. Around age 13 seems like a good enough age to educate them. At this age, a child is old enough that he/she definitely has some kind of knowledge about sex, and can hear about it without being utterly robbed of all innocence, but he/she is not old enough to be completely set in any misconstrued ideas about it, so a knowledgeable adult still has a chance of positively influencing their outlook.
Teach them what sex is about, and how it was created by God to serve a beautiful purpose, and how it should not be abused or misused. I personally think that a lesson like that, if done right, could be worked into one of those often tedious CRS/CRK (Christian Religious Studies/Knowledge) classes that most of us had to take in Nigeria. I really don’t see a lot of African parents seating their kids down to do all this, so it seems reasonable to teach this in school. Kids already learn way more in school than what the teachers actually teach, so we can either teach them the Godly way, or have them learn it in whichever perverted way the knowledge gets to them.
Maybe this way, we can save girls like me the trouble of being so good at saying “No” that they might not know how to say “yes” to a potential Mr. Right.