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A Stern Sex-Ed

June 16, 2011

I first learned about sex in the 2nd grade. It was lunchtime at the girl’s table, and one girl had just dared another girl to go have sex with one of the boys. All the girls giggled furiously at this bold dare, and I was left dumbstruck.

Of course, I giggled, but I didn’t know what we were giggling at. What was this “sex” they spoke of? And why was it so funny?

After lunch, I turned to my friend Maggie, who was more knowledgeable than I on such matters. After giving me the “don’t you know?” look, she provided a horrifying but intriguing explanation. Something about the P in the V. Or was it P on the V? Either way, it was icky.

With no older siblings to educate me, this crude understanding of sex stayed with me for quite some time. My parents never gave me “the talk”, and I wasn’t really boy-crazy enough to figure it out for myself.

My naïveté continued well into the 7th grade, when my mother took my biffle Millie and I on a trip to San Francisco. All decked out in rhinestone and pleather, the Betsey Johnson store caught our eye. It was 2003, and t-shirts with first name initials prints were super in style (along with Hollister mini-skirts and Ugg boots, completing a skanky trio of pre-pubescent frocks).

So Millie and I were positively thrilled to find t-shirts with our initials on them.

“Look, Mom! S and M! It’s for Stephanie and Millie! This is sooo cool!” Millie and I clutched bright pink t-shirts, with a bold “S&M” written in curly font. I thought we had struck gold.

In retrospect, I wish I had paid more attention to my mother’s reaction. At the time, I truly thought the letters stood for the friendship between girls with ‘S’ and ‘M’ names. I was fuming when Mom wouldn’t let us buy them.

When I look back on my early understanding of sex and sexuality, I realize that there was one particular influence that taught me lots of inappropriate stuff—way more than I learned from any of my galpals or my Judy Blume books. My first true sexual education came primarily in the form of the…wait for it…The Howard Stern Show.

Ahhh, yes. The E! channel played re-runs of The Howard Stern Show on late-night TV. I had to be very sneaky about watching it. With one hand always lingering on the remote, I would quickly revert back to America’s Funniest Home Videos every time I thought the parental units were nearing.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, it’s pretty filthy. (I’m referring to the Stern show, of course…although AFHV gets a little wacky too sometimes! ROFLMBO, right?). “Shockjock” Stern, one of the highest paid radio personalities in the world, is known for conducting (often topless) interviews with strippers, Playmates, porn stars, and aspiring porn stars. Sometimes young women would come on the show and do humiliating things. The harsh judges’ panel would determine whether or not the women had embarrassed themselves well enough. If they had, Stern would pay for their boob jobs.

Watching the show was like rubbernecking peoples’ poor life decisions. For the obedient/conservative/Christian/good girl that I was, each Howard Stern episode held more surprises than an Oprah finale.

The first thing Howard Stern taught me was quite a revelation. I learned that if I was desperate for bigger boobs, I could simply go on national TV, swim in a pool of jello, make out with some other girls, and let some dudes gawk at/feel up my breasts in order to decide whether or not I “really needed a boob job”. The male judges would not be attractive. They would be the kind of guys who persist solely on a diet of freezer pizza, YouPorn, WoW, and Mountain Dew Code Red.

I learned that girls making out with other girls was hot. However, it was only “hot” if the girl wasn’t actually into girls. The girl had to like boys, but kiss girls, to make the boys like her more. Plus, she had to make it look like she liked girls, even though wasn’t supposed to, so the boys (who wouldn’t kiss other boys) would like her. It was all very confusing to a 13-year-old me—and frankly, it still is.

Next, I learned that if you have an intelligent, black woman on as your sidekick, it’s slightly easier to get away with being a tasteless pig. The Howard Stern Show‘s thinly veiled guise of “balance” came in the form of Robin Quivers. A co-host for over two decades, Quivers often backed up Stern’s offensive comments and cackled at some of his cruelest jokes. Although she was supposed to be the voice of reason, it is likely that she is either filled with self-hate or extremely high all of the time.

Howie Boy also taught me that the vag-gasm was not as important as the orgasm of the peen. It would take several years for me to un-learn this. Most women eventually figure out the truth one way or another. But it’s usually after irrevocable damage has been caused (i.e. several missed opportunities for orgasm), which pisses us off.

 Nevertheless, I thank Howard for introducing me to our crazy, messed-up world of sexuality. I will never forget that episode about the girl who stuck vegetables up her hoohoo. Never.

I’m still sending Mr. Stern the bill for my weekly therapy sessions.

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