“You Don’t Want Cauliflower On Your Junk”
This may be on of my more famous, and shocking, Power Points. I know it’s one of the more memorable of the bunch. And it speaks to the importance of choosing wisely when it comes to sexual choices.
When I was growing up, we were shown a video in health class about sexually transmitted diseases, now known as STIs. The entire thing was a cartoon. It depicted the various infections as rebel soldiers, marching towards an invasion of your body. They even wore red coats because of course, they threatened your freedom. It talked about building good defenses, with pacifism (abstinence) being the most effective. I remember the entire class laughing through it. No one took it seriously because it was so incredibly silly. In its attempt to deal with the topic as gingerly as possible, it failed to make an impact or convince us that STIs are a thing to be taken seriously. As a result, the STI rate in my generation was fairly high.
While in college, I was required to take a Human Sexuality class to complete my Bachelor’s degree. The class was interesting & also horrifying. At that time a rather large scale research study came out that examined the average Sexual IQ of high school seniors. The large number of young adults that had no clue about the realities of birth control, STIs, etc. was astounding. One 18-year-old girl surveyed actually believed that if she stood up in high heels following intercourse, she could prevent pregnancy. Seriously? When the questions turned to STIs it became clear that the current course of sex education going on in this country was insufficient. With the rise of AIDS, the days of just telling kids not to do it until they were married were past.
When we got to the STI section in the text book, I found the most convincing reason to be sexually responsible. Pictures. The pictures of venereal diseases were disgusting. These were not the red coats coming for our nether regions, these were real life, scary looking things that grew in and even on you. And one of the pictures reminded me of a staple of the dinner table, cauliflower. I decided right then and there, that my textbook for that class would stay in my library. I knew that those pictures would become part of my arsenal in the campaign to educate my future children.
(This is where I have to put in a disclaimer that yes, I know all these things are now available on the internet. However, I’m so old that the worldwide web was in its infancy then. In fact, I had one of the very first .edu email addresses on campus due to my research work, but at that point we had no idea how the internet would one day rule the world. And replace my textbook.)
Cut to many years later, and it was time to deal with the heady subject with my children. And of course, in my all things blunt manner, when we got to the subject of STIs I blurted out, “You don’t want cauliflower on your junk.” There was a little shock, lots of laughter, and then a long, frank discussion about what I meant. We talked about all the options available when it came to your sexual decisions. After making it clear that the very best possible course of action, to protect yourself & your partner, is to wait until you have married, we continued on. We talked about abstinence, unplanned pregnancy, infection rates, the differences between treatable infections and lifelong ones, etc. My outburst, and the ensuing giggles, opened the door for a meaningful, edifying time. And it continues to do so.
At least in our family, laughter is often both the best medicine, and conversation starter.