Education

M'sian Millennials Tell Us About The Very First Time They Discovered What S-E-X Was

  • Sex education in Malaysia is lacking, with there being plenty of tales of teen pregnancy and STDs due to a lack of awareness among the youth.
  • I surveyed Malaysian millennials about the first time they learned of sex, and asked for their thoughts about sex education in Malaysia.

I still vividly remember the day I first learned about sex, fertilisation and how everyone was first a very fast tadpole.

I was 12, it was the middle of the lunch break, and a very knowledgeable friend was telling us about erections, ejaculations, ovulation, pregnancy, and everything else in between. As far I can remember, his explanations were detailed, and also accurate.

I was equal parts fascinated and horrified. I’d never considered that a man’s “sausage” and a woman’s “cheeseburger” could interact in such a way. At the end of it all, I headed back to my books feeling enlightened, weirded out, and scared all at once—everything I’d known about human genitalia, romantic relations, and human reproduction had been turned on their heads completely.

Although that exchange might have been one of the most eye-opening and memorable dialogues I’ve ever had, I learned about sex through an inexperienced peer, and not from my place of education or authority figures.

This brings us to the main topic—the education of sex and all its related issues, especially at the school level. The general consensus in today’s Malaysia is that there isn’t enough of it, and you only need to look at the news to see the unsettling amount of teenage pregnancies happening locally.

So being quite curious, I sent out a survey to urban Malaysian millennials to ask them about the first time they ever heard or learned about sex. Here are their honest (and sometimes hilarious) recounts.

Note: Some names have been changed upon request.

Iylia, 27, Female

When did you first learn about sex?

I was 11 years old. I accidentally overheard my parents doing the deed and thought that my dad was hurting my mom, which had me banging on their door and yelling at my dad to stop, haha!

They had to come into my room and explain to me afterwards on what was actually happening, which is probably the most embarrassing thing any child can go through with their parents. Safe to say that I avoided their bedroom for a solid year after that.

How did you feel when you first learned what sex was?

It was definitely a shock because I found out at an age when I still thought boys had cooties and were gross in general. So the idea of sex made me go, “Why would you subject yourself to something like that?”

Do you think sex education in Malaysia is sufficient?

I’d say in urban areas it’s not bad, but I can’t say the same for the more rural zones. I do think there’s not enough being done at the earlier stages.

Because of the internet, kids are getting easier access to sexual content so it’s actually more important for schools, especially high schools, to step up and start talking about it early. The more we treat it like a taboo topic, the more people are going to remain uneducated on what needs to be done to protect themselves.

Wayne, 23, Male

When did you first learn about sex?

I was eight, and I learned about it through a book my parents got me as they weren’t too open to talking about it. I always wondered why they locked their door at midnight, and that was when I found out what they were doing.

At around 12 or 13, my dad sat me and my brother down and took out a f***ing condom and showed it to us! I was playing Runescape at that time and couldn’t be bothered about these kinds of things so I just brushed it off.

How did you feel when you first learned what sex was?

Hmm, I was pretty surprised but not that amazed because I didn’t give two sh*ts about it at that point in time—it was more disgust than being in wonder. I also didn’t have that many questions as that book I got had all the freaking information I needed.

Do you think sex education in Malaysia is sufficient?

Obviously not. The only time you learn about anything close to sex education is in Form 3 Biology or chapter four of Science, and you only learn about the anatomy of it, not about what to or not to do, or even about STDs.

It should be compulsory for every student to learn it when hitting puberty around 10 to 12, so that dudes won’t be wondering why their “little brothers” are getting hard.

Goh, 24, Male

When did you first learn about sex?

The first time I learned what sex was through porn. I recall those weird pop-ups when I was about ten or so. It was slow, but the pop-ups eventually led me to the porn sites which was where I learned about it, but the science and reasoning for it was through biology class much later in life.

How did you feel when you first learned what sex was?

I was strangely intrigued by it but didn’t understand why. I was just like what are they doing?

Do you think sex education in Malaysia is sufficient?

I don’t think there’s much at all and it feels like it’s practically non-existent. Personally I think it’s just important that parents talk to their kids about these issues rather than schools. There’s definitely not enough in schools.

Ven, 30, Female

When did you first learn about sex?

I think I was about seven or eight, and it was in a book. As a kid who loved reading, I read everything, so I wonder if my parents slipped that book into my reading pile. It was very kid-appropriate but with clinical explanations and mannequin-like illustrations.

How did you feel when you first learned what sex was?

Honestly I didn’t think very much of it. At that age, you’d think all the stuff like that is just gross. But I was never very confused about it growing up thanks to that book.

Do you think sex education in Malaysia is sufficient?

Looking at the number of unplanned pregnancies from hearsay, it’s pretty clear there isn’t. I think there’s too much taboo around what is a perfectly natural process that so many people are engaging in.

I’m not up for free porn everywhere or something extreme like that, but there should definitely be more space for conversation, and safe spaces for people to ask questions and be educated about it.

Keith, 24, Male

When did you first learn about sex?

I was 12. A friend of mine brought his old Nokia N97 which had a large and wide screen to school and we went to the cubicle in the boys toilet to watch “educational videos”.

We were all giggling and asking questions like “Why’s he doing that?”, and “Is he supposed to do that?!”

Then a prefect came in and busted us. But fortunately for me, I managed to make quick getaway while my old schoolmates were caught. Needless to say, he’s never gotten back his Nokia N97 and we’ve stopped talking after that incident.

How did you feel when you first learned what sex was?

I felt weird and curious. My face felt hot. I only went and asked my seniors in football what sex was, and I got more than I bargained for.

Do you think sex education in Malaysia is sufficient?

It’s pretty sh*t. There needs to be more sex education in Malaysia so babies don’t get thrown into longkangs and toilets.

Yik Khan, 24, Male

When did you first learn about sex?

At about eight or nine, my mom’s friend’s kids from England came for a visit and they were going through a website of funny videos. At the side, I saw a category for “sexy videos”. Knowing what sexy is, I snuck onto the computer and visited the site after they left.

Voilà, found porn.

How did you feel when you first learned what sex was?

Very surprised. Some thoughts that came to me were “Oh my god, is that how a vagina looks like?”, “Wait, his dick look different from mine.”, “Wait, what is he sticking his dick into?”, and “Why are they screaming [as though] they’re in pain?”, and etc.

Do you think sex education in Malaysia is sufficient?

No. The only sex ed I had was in primary six in 2007, and I wouldn’t even consider that as sex ed. We were taught how our body changes during puberty, how women grow boobs, and how their figures change. Nothing sexual.

In form three, we had this ‘No Apologies’ camp and the most we learnt was about STDs, how to use a condom, and hardcore advocacy of abstinence—let’s be frank, we know it doesn’t work.

-//-

Though it was ultimately impossible to fit every single story from our survey into this article, what I discovered was the fact that almost every single respondent strongly agreed on one thing—there isn’t enough education in schools, especially at the stages of primary and secondary school levels.

Extrapolating the data from the results only served to back up this sentiment—the first time most of the respondents ever learned about the concept of sex was either through friends, porn, or even their parents, but hardly through the initiative of the school system. And even if it was through the school, it was only a brief coverage of the subject through biology studies (with no real education about STDs, unplanned pregnancies, prevention, etc).

Pornography and interactions with peers make up the bulk of the sources from where our Malaysian respondents learned about sex for the first time.

“I don’t think there’s much at all, and it feels like it’s practically non-existent,” said one respondent about sex ed in schools. 

“Malaysia is too hush-hush when it comes to sex,” said another. “There are way too few efforts being made to educate students about it.”

One more said, “I think sex ed and awareness needs to be improved in Malaysia as a whole. It’s ridiculous. At the moment, it seems like our ‘sex ed’ is mostly just abstinence propaganda.”

So, a real problem then? Good to know that the people in power agree. Just last month, YB Hannah Yeoh from the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry admitted to there being active discussions to enforce sex education in schools after reports revealed that more and more youth were becoming sexually active.

“It is about time we overcome the taboo of sex education. If we don’t teach our children about sex education, then somebody else will, and they might teach the wrong things.”
– Hannah Yeoh

Perhaps with this initiative, all of us can hope for there to be more openness in schools when it comes to the topic of the birds and the bees.

While a bit far-fetched and ridiculous, this situation does bring to mind the Netflix comedy Sex Education—a series that combines humour with startling accuracy as a commentary on today’s social zeitgeist (and fans will be happy to know that they’ve already greenlighted a second season just after the first one premiered last month).

In the series, students from a British high school come to terms with sex and all its trappings in the most 21st-century way possible—through open conversations, real-life encounters, and sometimes even with even teachers and parents being brought into the mix, often with hilarious consequences.

Now while the series might be a bit of an extreme example, it’s somewhat accurate as a portrayal about what’s possible with modern-day youth when there isn’t a progressive school-based sex education system in place. And while the events that take place within the series are entertaining to a fault, I personally wouldn’t be keen to see the same happening in our school systems.

Personally, I can’t wait for sex education to become a core subject in schools and no longer a mere academia afterthought. May the entertaining shenanigans of Sex Education stay on our screens on Netflix, and not mirror real life.

Feature Image Credit: One Medical

 

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