It’s a common experience among many Asian American families: skillfully avoiding the topic of sex until absolutely necessary, which is often too late.
Annie Yang, 23, recalled her first official ‘sex talk’ sparked by a permission slip sent home before the start of the sexual health unit of her ninth grade health class. It was really awkward.” It wasn’t until years later — after Annie’s first year of college, when the subject came up again.
A consequence of that is that Asian Americans are the least likely to use protection, with 40 percent of Asian American women having unprotected sex in their lifetime, according to a 2005 study.
Another study found that 44 percent of college-aged Chinese and Filipino women used withdrawal as a contraceptive method, compared to the national average of 12 percent.
My mother did not say much when I got my first period at the age of 14.
Up until that point, I had learned about menstruation in my fifth grade class and had read the human reproduction chapter of my biology textbook several dozen times.
Three decades of public health research has shown that when young people receive education they’re more likely to wait until they are older to have sex; and when they do have sex they’re more likely to use protection than those who receive no sex education or learn only about abstinence.
Teens who receive clear messages about sex from their parents are more likely to use condoms and birth control.
“I knew that it was something you should talk to your kids about,” Hue told me.
“But when I brought it up with your dad, he said, ‘bà nói chi? ’ ‘Why talk about it – why are you encouraging them?
She was busy in the kitchen, in those hasty hours between picking up the kids from school and dinner at six, and walked over to the bathroom and showed me the cabinet where she kept the sanitary pads. “Don’t forget to do the laundry.” That was all my mom said to me from that day forward about menstruation or my sexual health, aside from reminders to clean the blood stains on the sheets, or scoldings if I left my bras or sanitary pads out where they could be seen by my older brother.