MY JOURNEY of Menstrual and Sex awareness classes.
It all started 3 years back when we met at my friend Shyam’s house for a cup of tea. We were chatting about the biology classes in high school where the teachers were too shy to explain to us how we reproduced! One chapter that everyone will make use of in their lives than integration and differentiation.
Subsequently the discussion concluded that we were not taught anything properly and also that the situation persists in the current education scenario. This led us to think and bring out a smart class that would tell the students what the reality is and girls are proud of bleeding. It would also make them understand properly the sexual behavior during adolescence. So we did some brainstorming and found out what adolescent kids need to know and how we can educate them without hiding the intricate details. We researched and found out that in one of the European countries they have actually made a video of a doctor explaining adolescent anatomy and behavior on live nude models. Of Course this cannot be done here as it will be ‘A’ certified. Then we looked up YouTube and saw this wonderful funny video that takes a dig at our sex education. Surely we are better than what is portrayed in the video but is worth for a light watch. Sharing the link below.
As we were not educated properly it was easy to find out what the kids should know regarding the topic. So we jotted down some important points and also made sure we covered the modern products like tampons and menstrual cups. As a trial I took the class in one of the schools in Calicut. I made a power-point presentation and everything was explained in them and I also made sure they understood what it was all about. During the Q & A session questions were as expected and I could easily answer them in simple terms. It all went well and as planned but we were not satisfied as I could see through these kids and knew that they know more than this and have doubts that they want to clear on some delicate matters.
After this I knew that these kids have looked up the internet and other sources and have their own idea of sex. At this point we understood that different topics have to be covered for different age groups. So the next time i went to take a class for the late teens, i took sanitary napkins, tampons, menstrual cups and condoms with me. The response was absolutely wonderful. Each of them inspected the objects and had hundreds of doubts. That is when i thought - mission accomplished !
This gave me the confidence in thinking that I was right, as the classes were making the students ask questions and thus educating them correctly. I got my friend to get in touch with his friend who is a psychiatrist at AIMS and learned from him what the syllabus should entail. I also got myself trained by Eco Femme, Auroville on the methods of teaching these topics to youngsters. Delivering this knowledge correctly and bluntly was my responsibility and I stuck to that. I took this project to many schools covering thousands of students. Some classes were offered to teachers and parents also. Most important aspect of these classes was its feedback. One of the feedback I received was by a student who was not sure if she was abused or not by her driver. I informed the situation with the concerned authorities and was relieved that immediate action was taken against the driver by the authority and parents.
We expected feedback questions to the standards like, what is masturbation, is it OK to fall in love? How many times can we masturbate ? is there anything immoral to masturbation etc.
But the questions from the kids were of a different standard. Some of them are listed below:
Q. Why do condoms have flavors?
Q. Is it true that the snakes will curse us if we don't wash the sanitary pads before burning them?
Q. Does it not become boring to have sex with just one person throughout your life ?
Q. Why is it not OK to go to a temple while menstruating ? are we impure ?
Q. I am attracted to my teacher. What should I do ?
Yeah, that puts the whole thing in place. These are just a few abstracts from the thousands of questions asked. I then shifted my focus to girls and concentrated more on menstrual health and hygiene classes along with their sex education as I believe women empowerment should start from their health. We don't want our kids to get sex education from porn websites. It is our responsibility to teach them what sex is and there is nothing wrong in teaching them.
Once I was asked by a Mathrubhumi reporter Mr. Aby P Joy that there are innumerable ways to get sex education and on menstrual health and hygiene, so why is it that kids should listen to me. I told him that is the exact reason why they should hear my class as these innumerable sources teach kids more fantasies than reality. In one of the classes organised at a government project for women skill development classes it was shocking to learn how little they knew about their own body. This resulted in organizing classes for colleges and for other groups of women.
Menstrual education is not just about menstrual cramps, vaginal discharges, pcos, nutrition, exercise etc but is a valuable culture that has to be developed in women for a better world.
I sincerely hope that many will take this as an opportunity to be responsible in educating our youngsters. My request to them is not to become a glorified biology teacher and complicate it by complex terminology and unnecessary cultural stigma. Keep it simple. Keep it realistic. The essence of education is in spreading it.