There is one class that I distinctly remember from my time at UC Santa Barbara (which is probably the average for all Gauchos considering the reputation of the school) and if anyone has taken it, they probably feel that this class left an impression on them as well.
This was not your college version of the fifth grade sex ed course. Oh, no. Far from it.
This was like a weird, masochistic mind game of a course that was oddly attractive because of all the wieners and vaginas on the projector screens, yet oddly disturbing because of all the bumpy, rashy wieners and vaginas on the projector screens.
What also made it oddly disturbing was that this crunchy, older couple who probably only wore Tom’s deodorant like a bunch of hippies and composted in their backyard, taught the course.
This is how much the class has stuck with me. The name of the course. The professors. If you went to UCSB, this course was a required course, even if your general education didn’t require it.
There are all kinds of stories from that class that I recall, but one has stood out for many years. And now that I am a parent, it has stood out even more.
The Baldwins told a story of how their young daughter once interrupted a dinner party they were hosting …
Tangent: wouldn’t you LOVE to go to a dinner party hosted by the sex ed teachers from UCSB? Holy crap. Could you imagine that conversation? It would be enlightening, yet so disgusting … you’d walk away wondering if these people actually were so sexually beyond normal humans, or if they were closet asexuals and only read about this stuff in books. Fascinating.
Their young daughter walked into the living room and started rubbing her Raggedy Anne doll on her crotch. The Baldwins claimed they laughed about it and then spoke about this with their friends.
Most normal people would be horrified. I am horrified if my kid sits on the floor at the grocery store. Let alone trying to get some sensation from an inanimate object during a house party.
This is where the Baldwins work in a different stratosphere than we do.
They explained that no matter how young a person was, they had feeling down there. Apparently, it’s just hidden until we all explode with hormones around 13 (OK, that last part was mine. Not theirs).
So, they laughed it off and said something to the effect of, Oh, that’s Jeanine. She loves to feel good with her dolly!
Fast forward nearly 20 years and here I am, trying to bathe my kid. In our new place, we only have showers – no baths – and one has a retractable showerhead. Which is key when washing a four-year-old.
The stream of water hits her in the crotch.
Oh, Daddy! That tickles! Do it again!
Umm, how about no, Scott?
But there’s not much else I can do.
Am I supposed to wash everywhere but there? Kids are smelly enough. You can’t purposely not wash a known smelly spot. That will lead to a bumpy, trashy picture that could lead to being broadcast in Sociology 152A.
It’s a weird Catch-22. I want my child to enjoy sex. When she gets older. Like late 30s older when I’m senile as hell.
Other than the last sentence, I really do. I don’t want her to be some Quaker-prude. It’s something that everyone can enjoy if done with the right people and in the right ways.
Yet, I get kind of grossed out when I am bathing my child and she now points to her crotch and asks me to spray water there because “it tickles.”
Look, I want my kid to be happy … but not that happy. At least not from me.
But I also want her to be clean. Because a dirty vagina leads to her itching it during class and that will cause a stigma she will never shake. We can’t have that, either.
So, I guess, right now my lot in life is making sure to spray enough water to clean my child, without spraying too much to make her act like The Baldwins’ daughter. It’s like choosing my own personal drought warnings.
And, it means that I need to get online and get that Sociology 152A course book again.