Breaking Through Taboo – Zoe Njemanze’s Story

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Very seldom do we get to make decisions that are totally ours when we are tweens, teens, and that awkward three-year period from 18-21. Most of the decisions we make up until then are overseen by our parents, done in tribute to or to honor our parents, or left to the scrutiny of our parents.

Sex, culture, and parents have an intermingling that is too difficult to uncouple. Our parents’ culture and upbringing are long determined before we are born. It’s hard sometimes to think our parents existed before us, but they did, and in doing so, created their own complex relationship with sex.

Growing up, sex never came up as a conversation of its own in my life. When it came to the “reproductive system”, my father – ever the microbiologist – approached it in the most scientific way possible. “It is just how we are, these are the parts, here’s how they work.” My mom had a gentle approach, passing me the American Girl classic, The Care and Keeping of YOU. And as great as all that material was, we still never talked about s e x.

I realized that my sexual journey was one that I had to embark on solo, which might not have been (be?) such a bad thing.

For some cultures, sex is such a taboo topic to discuss that in its wake leaves closeted, secretive children to figure out their sex life on their own. I was able to find joy in this independence. During my final year in college, my gal pals were getting birth control and I wanted in. I looked up the services offered by my university and realized I could get Nexplanon inserted with little to no cost. The implant gave me such a relief, I felt a wash of reassurance and—-empowerment. My decision was 100% my own and whether I chose to include my parents in that decision was well, frankly none of their business.

Alongside changing my major in college, getting birth control feels like a decision for Zoë, a power move if you will 😉😎. Eventually you may find that your parents will come around, mine surely did.

Quotes from my parents today:

“I was surprised when you told me you had gotten birth control, but ultimately my trust in you to make the right decisions for yourself and your happiness superseded any hesitation that I had.”

“Fathers do not like thinking about their daughters having sex. They would rather believe that their daughters are asexual. But they have the expectation of having grandchildren. What an oxymoron! It’s like being desirous of going to heaven, but not wanting to die.”

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