The baby boomer generation often gets credit for starting the sexual revolution. But when you find out how many of us learned about the birds and bees, it’s a wonder we ever figured out which end was which.
It all started with how we girls were told about “becoming a woman,” the nearly universal euphemism for getting your period. Here’s a sampling of responses I received when I asked some in-real-life and virtual friends how they got the scoop about Aunt Flo:
We had a pink tea at school – 5th grade – and some pads mysteriously showed up in my panty drawer…that was it.
Oh, god, I think my mom left a pamphlet on my bed when I got my first period.
My mother handed me a book and told me to go down in the basement to read it…like the topic couldn’t even be discussed in daylight.
I learned that a period was more than the dot at the end of a sentence from a friend in third grade who had an older sister.
Mom never did “explain.” She handed me a book and a box of Kotex long after I knew the facts – which I found pretty funny.
My mom gave me that little paper pamphlet from the Kotex company with the 1970s girl on the front. And she made comments such as, “Only married women can use tampons.”
My mom threw a book at us – “You’re a Young Lady Now.” My sisters and I still joke about it.
My mother didn’t tell me anything about getting my period until I actually started bleeding. I was just relieved to know I wasn’t dying.
I could tell mom was a wreck about her first daughter having her first period. The day I started my period, she said, “Now you need to be very careful to not let boys touch your breasts because it leads to other things.”
Frankly, I don’t even remember if my folks even had the birds and bees talk with me. All I remember is that one of my girlfriends in junior high showed me how to use a tampon!
How did my mother tell me about puberty and starting my period? By giving me a book entitled “Now You Are 12.” Scared the shit right out of me! But it did have a very pretty cover of a girl in a white summer dress with a wreath of daisies in her hair. My takeaway was, “I sure hope this doesn’t happen to me.” And I wanted to be like the girl on the cover of the book.
I don’t remember my mother telling me anything. I DO remember her giving me a booklet produced by Kotex called “You’re a Young Lady Now,” about menstruation. That would be a hoot to read now!
There’s another “educational” classic: an animated film – “The Story of Menstruation” – produced in 1946 (the start of our baby boomer generation) by none other than Walt Disney. It’s probably the first film ever to use the word “vagina.” And there’s no mention of sex – just an oblique reference to how having our period is “part of nature’s plan for passing on the gift of life.”
So, fellow boomers, once we young ladies got the period thing under our belts (remember those contraptions for holding pads in place?), the next step in “becoming a woman” was to learn what sex was all about. In next week’s post, I’ll share how some of us were told about those facts of life. In the meantime, here’s this week’s Boomer Haiku:
The best thing about
The Curse was getting out of
gym class – remember?
What about you – how did you learn about menstruation and what it meant? Please share!