Within a classroom brimmed with twenty plus teenagers you could hear a pin drop. The silence wasn't the type that extended naturally. Rather, a silence that itched your brain and pricked at your skin, urging you to escape. The type that can force you into a state of absolute submission reduced to a pliant figure pleading to shrink away.
Yet, I sat confident barely breaking a sweat at the alleged challenging topic thrust upon the class. While my peers stared at the floor I allowed my eyes to wander about the classroom, taking a twisted pleasure in my typically boisterous classmates turned mute.
Our genetics teacher had joked the day prior that life could be broken down into two categories: sex and food. Being a bunch of 16-18 year olds, many of my classmates let out giggles and unbelievably explicit jokes at the expense of the jest.
But now here we were, watching a TEDTalk covering the infamous Baseball Metaphor: Think “getting to third base” for example. The TEDTalk speaker wanted to do away with the metaphor since it encourages competition and the trespassing of another’s body.
If you ask me though, I think we should do away with sex related metaphors altogether until we can communicate openly using direct, anatomical terms.
Perhaps I believe this because I’m aromantic asexual: someone who experiences very little to no romantic and sexual attraction. The “signs” of my identity presented themselves around high school. As a child I would fantasize about finding my prince charming like a lot of girls my age; one can thank the media for that. Yet when someone directed interest towards me nausea and bated breaths would cause acidic bubbles to croak in my throat. It led me to gagging over a toilet bowl on more than one occasion completely and utterly repulsed.
Partaking in the act and the discussion of sex is common amongst adults and teens (respectively). Despite this, a large portion feel uncomfortable speaking about it outside of gossip.
Ever since I started to publicly articulate my sexuality, people have expressed their displeasure: stating that I was a missed opportunity or how I simply had intense commitment issues. Over time the comments wore me down until I became bitter and resentful. All I wished for was the ability to interact with the world as my genuine self without constantly feeling belittled and quizzed. I became comfortable, perhaps earlier than many others, with the discussion of sex not just because I was intrigued but because I had to be in order to be seen.
Thus, that day in science class where I watched my peer’s struggle to grapple up a hill I had long since traversed brought me vindictive amusement. In spite of what felt like a major victory I started to wonder, “Why did I find so much comfort in my peer’s discomfort?”
Then it hit me “The Baseball” analogy existed long before we were born. Today’s youth, aka my peers, have been raised in such an enviorment where for many of them no one instructed them how to discuss sex in a mature way. This neglect is extremely damaging, because if we can’t distinguish and discuss the nuance of a topic how can they interact with it safely? This creates a divide between people who differ from one another, preventing effective and inclusive dialogue.
We as a collective should look directly at the disservice of what can happen when we only speak with metaphors. That way people like me and people like my peers can finally all feel comfortable when expressing themselves and communicating with one another.
© Jesenia Wilson. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.