YEP Crew Blog Post – Fatema Shalemie: “So…will I get the talk or nah?”

Have you gotten ‘the talk’ yet? I haven’t. It’s been 20 years and counting. Although it would be extremely awkward if I got it now, the question is, why haven’t I gotten it yet?

It seems like a rite of passage for every Aussie kid to get the talk from their parents once they hit puberty. Fortunately for me, I went to school in Australia so I had some idea about reproduction. But that was limited to a biological perspective. The rest, I learnt from my peers. For the most part, I pretended to know what they were talking about. In reality, I had no clue but I didn’t want to feel left out of the conversation. It didn’t help that their level of maturity was abysmal. What’s worse about it is that some of the things they said were unhealthy and misguided. At the time however, it seemed like they knew everything and anything about sex.

While all my friends were getting into relationships, I was trying to avoid sitting next to the boys in class for fear of my parents finding out and scolding me. Assigned ‘boy-girl’ seating was the worst because that would mean I would have to explain not just why I sat next to one boy but why I sat next to two! I grew up with this paranoia that being a culturally diverse girl, I needed to hide any sign of sexual interest. This included my undercover search to know more about sexual health. It’s instilled in a typical culturally diverse parent’s mind, that wanting to know more about sex equates to acting on it! Upon my quest, lo and behold, I found that sexual health is no bigger of a deal than physical and mental health. It’s interesting to see the contrast between what I was like then and how informed and confident I am now to talk about sex. I used to study my sex ed. homework outside of the house just because I didn’t want to get caught looking at diagrams of the reproductive system. I’d even study with caution at the library because you never knew who was watching!

I don’t regret being curious but I do regret being ashamed about it. Perhaps one day, if I do ever get the talk from my parents, probably just before I get boxed up and shipped out from the marriage factory, I’ll probably even be able to correct them through my own findings. I wouldn’t say it was the wisest decision on their part to rely on the school system to cover for them. But then again, some parents actively go out of their way to prevent their children from receiving sex ed. Their cultural and generational experiences may be vastly different to ours but this idea that everything will work out if we don’t talk about it has shown not to work!


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Vanessa Vlajkovic

Hi! My name is Nessa and I’m 20 years old. I’m studying Journalism at Edith Cowan University, with a Public Relations minor. I am an avid reader, writer, traveller and cheerleader. I’m also a passionate advocate for the deafblind community, and for other types of disability. I’ve been on the committee of the Youth Disability Advocacy Network (YDAN) at YACWA for a few months, and through them have developed a desire to become a YEP volunteer, as I want to expand my horizons.

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