I spent most of today trying to remember what my official “birds and bees” talk was like. My memory was just so fuzzy—didn’t my mom walk into my room one day during junior high, sit down on my bed, pat the seat next to her, and ask if I’d been feeling a little different lately? Something like that?
Oh wait, that was a Full House episode or something. My mom never gave me the talk. Like, NEVER. We NEVER TALKED ABOUT SEX.
I mean, when my sister ran away from the house her senior year in ’88 to stay with her awesomely white trash boyfriend’s awesomely white trash family, a long period ensued during which my aunts and mom would call each other from their respective homes in Michigan, Indiana, Missouri and California to speak in hushed tones about the filthy indiscretions. “Your sister, she lays with boys,” my aunt said to me while I was playing with my Barbies. “No man will ever marry her.” (She was wrong, by the way.)
When I was 17 and snuck my then-beau up into my second-story Southern California bedroom, my mom became suspicious at a noise and barreled down the hall, bursting through my door. He swiftly jumped to a hiding spot and I was discovered alone, laying awkwardly atop my fully made bed in a star-patterned bra and panties, looking guilty. My mom was confused and disturbed. She looked me in the eye and said, “You’re… I… I know what you do.” She left the room with no further talk about sex, even though my night probably included it.
I think the conversation, if we’d ever had one, would have been one-sided: “Don’t have sex.” Conversation over.
Hyphen Magazine recently addressed this kind of no-talk policy in an article called “Asian-American Women Who Accept Abortion as a Way Out.” Writer Lisa Wong Macabasco explores how deeply ingrained the denial of sex is in Asian cultures, and how categorical aversion to sex (or proof of it) has shaped generous Eastern attitudes towards drastic measures like abortion over generations. In short: abortion is less shameful than the truly disgraceful act that it functions to hide, sex.
But for Asian Americans, whose familial cultural values are at constant odds with environmental Western ones, the denial can become dangerous. Macabasco cites Asian Americans as the second-highest racial/ethnic group in the country for pregnancies ending in abortion, at 35%. Kinda shocking, right? It seems downright silly that a population of would-be med students could also be plagued with such a high rate of unexpected pregnancies. It’s not like everyone thinks babies come from storks, do they?
Hard to say. We never talk about it.
Filed under: Abortion, Aunts, Awkward Moments, Culture Clashes, Denial, Hardass Asian Parenting, Hardass Asian Parents' Nightmares, Hyphen Magazine, Let's Talk About Sex Baby, Sex, The Birds And The Bees, The Talk
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