The final area of written word that I think was a contributor to my development as a feminist, was sex-ed books. I summoned the courage to check out such a book from my middle school library in 8th grade, and it was the first knowledge I ever received about the existence of the clitoris. The book—written for children going through puberty—enthusiastically included that it is the only organ on the male or female body that was created specifically for pleasure, and talked frankly about masturbation as an alternative to sex with other people.
I was outraged that I was never taught about this part of my own body (I had an entire marking period of sex-ed in 6th grade, but that part of female anatomy was mysteriously left out). I truly do not know when I would have learned about it if it weren’t for my slightly rebellious decision to check out that book. When I asked the girls in my 9th grade heath class if they knew what the clitoris was, and discovered that over half of them didn’t, I asked my female teacher to explain. She blushed and refused to speak about the subject. Now, I know perhaps that is because it went against curriculum (which is ridiculous in and of itself), but she didn’t even give the girls a reputable source from which to learn the information on their own.
Since I wasn’t getting information about sex from the people that were supposed to be responsible for teaching me, I began to seek out information elsewhere. I read trashy magazines and websites whose reliability I questioned even then. Fortunately, I found a sex-ed education Youtuber whose name I can’t recall. She worked in an adult store, and her videos were incredibly straightforward and informative. She made fun of those trashy magazines and encouraged her viewers to actually talk to the person they are having sexual contact with. So, I stopped using said magazines as a resource and began to seek out more reputable sources.
I read through planned parenthood’s website for information about contraceptives, and with some Christmas money, I sneakily bought a book called “The Guide to Getting it On” (nice little hyperlink to the Barnes&Noble site guys, at the time of this blog publication, it’s on sale :P). It was pricy for me at the time, I was just a sophomore in high school, but the website and reviews said it was used to teach college sexuality courses. It is 981 pages of pure knowledge.
I believe a large part of feminism is taking control of your own sexuality, and these books gave me the power and knowledge to do that.