Hollywood actress Jessica Biel has signed up for an important role. No, it’s not in a film; she plans to start her own sex education series online. Inspired by questions she had while trying to conceive, the actress teamed up with activist Saundra Pelletier to educate women and girls on how their bodies work.
The series of videos will discuss issues that affect women — from puberty to contraception. Their videos will be shared on Woman Care Global’s website (which was founded by Pelletier), and the women hope that by helping girls better understand their bodies, they won’t feel embarrassed or afraid of what’s happening.
In the introductory video to the series, Pelletier discusses the importance of educating women on all of the myths and misconceptions of a woman’s body, stating, “There’s no topic that’s off limits. Get educated. Because if you don’t tell them, then who will?”
Biel told Glamour magazine, “I was in a school play [when I started my period], wearing a gray beard and this pad the size of a skateboard and thinking what is happening to me! We want girls to know what their [body is going through] so they don’t feel scared or ashamed or gross.”
Pelletier added, “More than half of our nations pregnancies are unplanned, and just 22 states require public schools to teach sex education. Jessica and I realized we can help change this.”
I support this endeavor for many reasons — not least because I grew up completely confused by my body and not very aware of what changes would happen to it. After finding a booklet in my mom’s drawer about menstruation when I was 9, I was nothing short of terrified. That discovery coupled with other obvious bathroom sightings that my mom chalked up to “Oh, I bled because I cut my finger” only created further confusion.
My lack of knowledge only instilled fear in me about my body and how it worked, which I am certain contributed to my birth phobia, resulting in me having two C-sections when I had my children. I’m sure I would have felt more secure if I had known more; instead I felt too embarrassed to ask. Getting your period was almost like a competition at school and I worried endlessly because I didn’t start menstruating until I was 14 — the last girl in my class.
My joy at “becoming a woman” was short lived, as I got the sense that having a period was something women hid and were ashamed of. I remember being mortified trying to be excused from class, hiding a tampon in my hand! It has always made me wonder why schools don’t provide free sanitary care for girls in their restrooms. I also remember every twinge and pain I ever had made me worry that something more serious was wrong with me and thinking I would never ever have sex, because then who knows what could go wrong with my body! My over-riding emotion was one of fear.
At my son’s school, the girls in year four (when they are 8 and 9 years old) are given a talk alongside their moms about the changes that will happen to their bodies. I really applaud the school for doing this, for discussing menstruation so openly. But here is my issue — they only invite the girls. On one hand, I appreciate this; it can be overwhelming and embarrassing, so tackling the whole subject with the sex who is going to have to endure the monthly cycle makes sense.
But what about the boys?
Naturally with the subject of periods comes the link to reproduction. Following “The Talk” at school, my friend’s daughter asked her mom about the facts of life and looked traumatized, saying, “You stand there and let Daddy do that to you?!”
I wish there was a similar online sex education directed towards boys. The week after the mom and daughter talk at school, my son was gong away with his class for a three-day school trip and I fretted that maybe the girls would begin talking about the “Talk” and my son would be: 1) horrified, and 2) terrified. So I bought a “Where I Came From” type of book and offered to explain everything to him. He put his hands up to stop me. “I don’t need to know, thanks,” was his reply and off he strode.
I kind of breathed a sigh of relief that his (then) 8-year-old ears didn’t want to hear the details, but now I am waiting to see when he will want more information. Boys’ bodies change too and as a mom, I never went through those changes, so how do I explain all that to him?! It would be amazing to be able to bring up some information online that is way cooler and clearer (and calmer!) than me.
While I 100% support Biel and Pelletier and think this is an amazing idea (I love anything that normalizes what all women go through!), I only wish we could have one for the boys too. Maybe Justin Timberlake could team up with an activist and fill the dudes in on what to expect? Great idea, eh?More On